Brandon Young loves wrestling.
And like a lot of people who have a great affinity for an activity, he relishes the chance to introduce others to the sport that means so much to him.
Whether they are boys or girls is irrelevant to Young, who is Baker High School’s wrestling coach.
So when a few girls expressed interest in competing for the Bulldogs a couple of years ago, Young encouraged them.
This year, with more girls wanting to wrestle, he took the next step and suggested that the Baker School District add a separate girls wrestling team at BHS.
Buell Gonzales Jr., the district’s new athletic director, said he expects to hire an assistant this week who will coordinate the girls’ practices. Young will remain the head coach for the entire Bulldog team.
The prospects for this new team are exciting.
Young has molded the BHS wrestling team into a power over the past several years.
In 2015 the Bulldogs set a school record when 10 wrestlers qualified for the state tournament. A year later Baker won its first Greater Oregon League championship. In 2017 the Bulldogs repeated that feat and sent 14 wrestlers to state. And in 2019 Baker earned its first team trophy at the state meet, finishing fourth.
Although girls will occasionally have to decide whether they want to compete against boys, in events that lack enough girls to warrant a separate bracket, they will have their own division at both the district and state meets this year.
It’s a welcome addition to the athletic options for Baker students, and a chance for new wrestlers to understand, and share, Young’s love for the sport.
— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor