Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

Led by two-time state champion Clay Keller, Baker finished seventh at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament Saturday at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

Keller, who won the 145-pound title last year, claimed the crown at 160 pounds Saturday.

Keller, 53-1 this season, earned a 5-1 decision over La Grande’s Nathan Reed in the title match. He had won his three other state matches this season by fall. Keller, a senior, finished 83-2 the past two seasons.

“I had wrestled the La Grande kid twice before so I pretty much knew how he wrestled,” Keller said. “I was just making sure I wasn’t overconfident.”

Keller said entering the tournament as a returning champion helped him be prepared.

“It gave me a lot more confidence because I knew what to expect,” he said.

Keller will enter the U.S. Naval Academy this summer.

“I just got a letter of acceptance in the Naval Academy Prep School. I travel there in July and it will be a redshirt year for my wrestling. Then in 2019 I’’ll be in the Naval Academy,” Keller said.

He noted that at the Classs 4A tournament he was approached by the coaches from Oregon State University trying to convince him to wrestle for the Beavers.

“I was interested but after traveling to the Academy and seeing what it was like it would be hard to pass that up,” Keller said.

Keller said he has taken the past two seasons in stride.

“With the success I had last year and my record this season it was like there was a target on my back,” he said.

“Because of that later in the season a lot of my opponents had scouted my moves so I had to switch things up and add some moves.”

Five other Bulldogs placed in the top six in their weight divisions at the state meet.

Alex Duran placed third at 120, Colton Anderson fifth at 126, Elijah Banister sixth at 132, Johnny Niehaus sixth at 113 and Hon Rushton sixth at 170.

The Bulldogs’ seventh-place finish is two places lower than last year’s school-record fifth-place finish.

Baker also finished seventh in 2016.