Pittsburg’s Barber embracing wrestling after unexpected high school debut

Caiden Barber made his high school wrestling debut on three days notice last week.

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Caiden Barber joined the Pittsburg wrestling team about two weeks ago.

He joined as a way to stay conditioned for football, with no intention of actually competing at a meet.

“Wrestling conditioning is a good way to condition,” Barber says, “Wrestling and football mixed together is a good type of conditioning.”

“He came in the room just kind of using wrestling to get better for football,” says Pittsburg head wrestling coach LC  Davis, “That was our plan.”

That plan changed last week.

“I think I told him on Tuesday or Wednesday. I told him hey I need you to wrestle,” Davis says, “and he wrestled on Saturday.”

On just three days notice, Davis asked Barber to step in and compete for the Dragons last Saturday in a tournament in Columbus.

“He said yes sir, what do you need me to do? And he made the weight, which is hard,” Davis says.

“He said he had an opening for me, because one of our players was injured,” Barber adds, “I had to cut a couple pounds. I made the weight and then I went with it.”

Barber went 2-2 in four matches with one pin in his debut on Saturday.

“He shined when the lights came on, and he was better than expected,” Davis adds.

After getting a taste of the action, Barber is now ready for more.

“I want to keep doing tournaments, and just keep getting better,” Barber says, “It’s not really a matter of wins and losses, it’s me getting better as an athlete.”

Davis is hoping Barber’s story becomes a trend.

“We’re a 5A school. We’re the only 5A school in the area. In order for us to compete with those Kansas City and Wichita schools, we have to have our best athletes out here on the mat,” Davis says, “Caiden Barber is one of the best athletes in our school. Matt Smith, another football player, joined the team last year. If we keep getting these football players out in the wrestling room helping our wrestling team, then we can compete with those bigger schools.”

Barber’s goal will always be playing football at the next level.

But until fall arrives, he’s found a new home for the winter.

“I want to go Division I somewhere,” Barber says of his football goals, “I think LC, being the good coach he is and the experience he has, can get me there.”

“I think he could be a two-sport All-State athlete,” Davis finishes, “We’re really glad to have him in the room. We’re going to try to take our time with him, but he’s such a great athlete, I think he can help this team a lot. We’ll definitely plan on wrestling him some more.”

Pittsburg will be back on the mat following the holiday break, hitting the road for a dual against Columbus on January 8th.