ST. LOUIS -- When looking at colleges during his senior year, Sikeston Bulldogs' wrestler Dustin Wells was searching for the perfect blend of academic and athletic opportunities at prospective universities.
Finding what he was looking for at Missouri Baptist, Wells signed a letter of intent on Thursday to join the Spartan's wrestling program starting next school year.
"It's the first time that I've ever been excited to go to school," said Wells. "It has the best criminal justice program around that I could find and it has one of the best wrestling programs as well."
Though he was also considering Southeast Missouri State University and Lindenwood, Wells said his trip to Missouri Baptist's campus helped seal his decision.
"It went great," he said. "I was excited from the first moment I was there to when I left. Especially after meeting their coach (Brian Jackson).
"He just seemed like a really great guy, I was excited to wrestle for him and the program seemed really good."
Hoping to compete at either the 141 or 149 pound class, Wells will join a Spartans squad that competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) out of the American Midwest Conference.
Ranked as high as 19th this season in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches Top 20 Poll, Missouri Baptist sent eight wrestlers to the NAIA National Championship competition in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
A varsity captain in both his junior and senior years at Sikeston, Wells has over 100 career wins and was honored for having the most takedowns (72) during his senior year.
Having instructed him the past few years, Bulldogs coach Seth Harrell expects Wells' work ethic to serve him well at the next level.
"One thing I definitely think he's got going for him is he's an extremely hard worker," Harrell said. "He knows what it takes to succeed. He's a guy that's just continually had a motor.
"Very rarely did he ever get tired in a match. That's one thing throughout his career that (both of us) feel like is one of his advantages. He could go longer than his opponents."
Having been a part of the Spartans' wrestling program first hand, Missouri Baptist graduate and Sikeston assistant coach Charles Michael was pleased to see Wells decide on his alma mater.
"It feels good," he said. "You see all the hard work and dedication that they put in and then they get to go where you went and experience what you experienced."