Baker High School’s girls wrestling team is new, but it’s already making its mark.
The Bulldogs finished seventh in the team standings at the regional meet this weekend in Hillsboro, and two wrestlers — Sydney Keller and Bailey Cole — qualified for the state meet Feb. 28-29 in Portland.
Two other Baker grapplers — twin sisters McKay Anderson and Kaci Anderson — might also compete at state, Baker coach Brandon Young said.
Both placed fifth, and the top four wrestlers in each weight division qualify for state.
Young said Sophia Redwine of Newberg, who won by fall over McKay Anderson in the quarterfinals at 110 pounds, might compete in the boys tournament. If she does, then Anderson would advance to the state meet.
Kaitlyn Lemmon of Echo/Stanfield, who won by 6-0 decision over Kaci Anderson in the third-place match at 130 pounds, suffered an injury in the match, Young said.
If Lemmon isn’t able to wrestle at state, then Kaci Anderson would also advance, Young said.
Keller and Cole, meanwhile, have already qualified for the state meet with their performances at regionals.
Keller, who is 13-1 on the season, won four matches to claim the individual title at 115 pounds. She pinned Aloha’s Ortiz Nadeen in the championship match.
Keller’s relatively small number of matches this year reflects her unique position as a two-sport athlete — she’s also a starting guard on Baker’s third-ranked basketball team.
Young said the schedules of the two sports will allow Keller to compete at the state wrestling tournament, which takes place a week before the basketball playoffs start on March 6.
Young said Keller’s winter schedule has been, well, hectic.
“Every spare moment she has she’s either training for basketball or wrestling, or working out on her own,” he said. “She doesn’t have much down time.”
Cole’s route to a third-place finish was a difficult one.
She lost by fall to Centennial’s Sade Davis in the quarterfinals.
Cole, who is 25-3 on the season, then plowed through the consolation bracket, winning three straight matches to earn a rematch with Davis for third place and a berth at the state tournament.
Young said Cole used a new technique she’s been working on in practice to catch Davis in a cradle. Cole pinned Davis to win the match.
“It was cool to see her use that move,” Young said. “Bailey’s got that growth mindset. She’s mentally tough.”
Both Andersons also showed resilience, Young said.
McKay was losing to Astoria’s Emma King in the third round of her consolation match before rallying to pin her opponent and advance, Young said.
In the fifth-place match against Hania Halverson of Lincoln, McKay “hit another gear that we haven’t seen out of her,” Young said. “She gave it everything she had.”
McKay pinned Halverson to win the match.
Kaci also had two come-from-behind wins, including the quarterfinal match against Lemmon, when Kaci employed an armbar that led to a pin.
“It shows that it doesn’t matter what the score is, you’ve always got the chance to come back and get the pin,” Young said.
Other Baker girls who competed at the regional tournament:
• Dakota Ballou won two of four matches and scored 5 team points.
• Julianna Sandberg lost two matches
Young, who has over several years built the Baker boys team into a state power — the Bulldogs finished fourth at the state meet in 2019 — said he’s pleased with the progress the Baker girls have made in their first year.
“I think this is a great start,” Young said. “They have definitely improved a ton. They’ve worked really, really hard and they listen, they’re coachable. I think they’ve passed most people’s expectations.”
Young pointed out that none of the six wrestlers who competed at the regional meet is a senior.
The Andersons and Sandberg are freshmen, Ballou is a sophomore, and Keller and Cole are juniors.
Baker boys at Pine Eagle
Although some Bulldogs weren’t able to compete, having reached their maximum allowed number of matches for the week, Baker still managed to place second overall with 161 points.
New Plymouth, Idaho, was first with 213 points. Pine Eagle was fourth with 95 points.
Baker had three individual champions — Gauge Bloomer at 170 pounds, Hon Rushton at 182 pounds, and Jaden Martin in the heavyweight class.
Gavin Stone won two of three matches to place second at 126 pounds.
He lost in the championship match to Pine Eagle’s Cutter Tanaka, the Spartans’ lone individual champion.
Other Baker wrestlers who competed:
• River Clark, third at 113 pounds
• Colt Cobb, third at 195 pounds
• Hunter Lind, third at 160 pounds
• Jake Eskew, third at 145 pounds
• Alex Ritter, fourth at 220 pounds
• Cody Eskew, sixth at 132 pounds
• Casey Vaughan went 1-2 at 145 pounds
• Adrian Allen went 1-2 at 170 pounds
• Jacob Mills went 0-2 at 152 pounds
• Cade Lind went 0-2 at 145 pounds
• Ryan Hansen was 0-2 at 126 pounds
Pine Eagle wrestlers
• Chase Butner, second at 120 pounds
• Seth Butler, second at 182 pounds
• Cutter Huff, second at 132 pounds
• Coy Butner, third at 120 pounds
• Dusty Melchior, fifth at 132 pounds
• Kyle Roe, sixth at 145 pounds
• Hunter Simpson, sixth at 145 pounds
• Will Seggerman, 0-3 at 126 pounds