Wrestler’s season cut short, career in question

Caleb Baxter had a promising freshman season as a Yellow Jackets wrestler with a 27-11 record, which resulted in him finishing third on the team in wins and second in pins. 

Baxter also capped his freshman season with a second place finish at the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships. Baxter dealt with an ACL tear at the beginning of his sophomore season in practice, and took more time to recover from the injury and surgery.

Now as a junior, Baxter was supposed to be, and has been, one of the key contributors to the Waynesburg wrestling team. Throughout the season, Baxter carried a 14-6 record. However, he sustained another knee injury early in the 2019-20 season and was visibly in pain for most matches, which led him to injury default out of tournaments.

Headlee acknowledged that Baxter was dealing with knee pain the entire week and he wasn’t certain if Baxter would wrestle at the Will Abele tournament back on Jan. 18.

“He wanted to take the week off and I kind of wanted him to go get one more good tournament before regionals,” Headlee said.

At the tournament, Baxter strapped on his singlet for what would be the last time as a Waynesburg University wrestler, not only for his junior season, but maybe even for his career. He won his first match of the day with a fall in 38 seconds. Then in his second match, his career was thrown into question.

“It was the start of the second period, I stood up right away, and the kid’s arm is around my arm so my arm is trapped around my side, then he does a crotch lift, he picks me up, and I do like a front flip in the air, and land right on my shoulder,” Baxter said. “I heard the cracking from my shoulder and I was in immediate pain.”

Headlee is upset that the decision was made, and Baxter wrestled at the Will Abele tournament.

“I felt really bad when the injury came because he was thinking about waiting to wrestle W&J and it makes me feel horrible that we lose him indefinitely,” Headlee said. “Baxter would do anything I’d ask him to do, that’s the kind of kid he was.”

Baxter was not upset at Headlee or their choice for him to take part in the tournament.

“I’m not upset that it [the injury] happened, it’s a part of the sport,” Baxter said. “I’m more upset at the fact that I just started performing better and felt better.”

Baxter may not get an opportunity to finish out his wrestling career at Waynesburg because of injuries.

“After my ACL injury, I told my parents ‘Next serious injury and I’m done,’” Baxter said. “As of right now, I’m done, but I’m not saying that there is no chance I’m coming back.”

Headlee wasn’t surprised at Baxter’s attitude following the injury, and believes in will continue in the ensuing weeks.

“He’s a team player,” Headlee said. “Caleb came back from his doctor’s appointment and was at practices over the week supporting our team. I respect him for that and I feel bad for him.”