The next time Tanner Baldwin is down on a wrestling mat, he is going to remember the people who helped him raise $4,200 to make it to New Zealand and Australia this summer.
“I want to thank the Washougal community and all the businesses that helped out. It really meant a lot to me,” Baldwin said. “I did a lot of training, a lot of fund raising and a lot of plane travel, but it was definitely worth it in the end. I got to see a lot of cool places and meet a lot of cool people.”
The Washougal High School junior helped lead Team USA Red to fourth place at the Down Under Duals in Auckland, New Zealand. He teamed up with wrestlers from Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana and other U.S. states. Baldwin also won a match in the single’s tournament that took place before the team duals. And finally, he wrestled on the beach in Brisbane, Australia.
“You didn’t have much traction on the sand, but it was fun and the weather was beautiful,” Baldwin said. “We also stayed in a penthouse on the 56th floor. The view from up there was incredible.”
Baldwin said he learned a lot of different freestyle techniques to add to his repertoire. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with National Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Scot Davis. Davis has 996 victories in his career.
“He is the winningest high school coach of all-time,” Baldwin said. “He really knows what he’s talking about.”
Baldwin immersed himself in the native culture. He was amazed by the Haka dance, a warrior’s ritual used to intimidate their opponents.
The adventure continued with a few more days of activity along Waikiki Beach, in Honolulu. Baldwin enjoyed relaxing on the beach, surfing and snorkeling.
“I’ll remember all the people I met and how nice everybody was,” Baldwin said. “They were all very respectful. They would have welcomed anybody.”
After wrestling on the other side of the globe, Baldwin is back in Washougal with one destination in mind. He wants to take another trip to the Mat Classic inside the Tacoma Dome.
“I’m training twice as hard now because I know what it takes to get to that next level,” he said. “My goal is to be a state champion. That’s what I’m training for every day.”