The Baker boys wrestling team finished second in the team standings at the district tournament Friday and Saturday at Ontario, and eight Bulldogs qualified to compete in the state tournament this weekend at Portland.
“That’s right about where we thought we’d be,” Baker coach Brandon Young said.
Young said the Bulldogs have a good chance of duplicating their fourth-place finish in the 2019 state tournament — Baker’s first state team trophy.
“We’ve wrestled in some big tournaments, and I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of stage fright with our guys,” Young said.
He said La Grande, which won the district team title with 503.5 points to Baker’s 218, will vie with Sweet Home for the team title at state, and Tillamook is in a solid position to take third.
“The race is for fourth place,” Young said. “We’re there, along with Cascade and Woodburn. It’s going to go right down to the wire. That’ll help to push our kids just a little harder.”
Ian Feldmeier was Baker’s lone district champion, defeating Gladstone’s Hunter Lehman 3-1 in the final match Saturday at 160 pounds.
Young said he moved Feldmeier from 152 pounds to 160 because he believes the senior has a better chance of winning a state title at 160.
Feldmeier placed fourth at state at 145 pounds last year.
Baker had five wrestlers place second at the district tournament:
• Caleb Shaw, 113 pounds
• Gavin Stone, 120 pounds
• Johnny Niehaus, 126 pounds (fourth at state last year)
• Jake Eskew, 145 pounds
• Hon Rushton, 182 pounds (third at state last year)
The other Bulldogs who qualified for state are River Clark, fourth at 113 pounds, and Gauge Bloomer, fourth at 160 pounds.
Young said Jaden Martin, who finished fifth in the heavyweight division, might also compete at state because the fourth-place wrestler, Damien King of Sisters, was injured and might not be able to wrestle at state.
“Jaden wrestled really well,” Young said.
Rushton, who lost to La Grande’s Nathan Reed by a 4-3 decision in the district championship match, could get a rematch with his Tiger rival in the state championship match, Young said.
The duo has wrestled three times this year, with Reed winning two.
“Hon’s just got to stay focused and not overlook anybody,” Young said.
Shaw, a sophomore, has improved tremendously since his freshman year, Young said, winning 18 matches this season, culminating with his runner-up performance in the district tournament.
“We were pretty proud of him,” Young said.
Other Baker wrestlers who competed at district:
• Ryan Hansen, 0-2 at 120 pounds
• Jordan Cooper, sixth at 126 pounds
• Cody Eskew, eighth at 132 pounds
• Cade Lind, 1-2 at 138 pounds
• Casey Vaughan, sixth at 145 pounds
• Jacob Mills, eighth at 152 pounds
• Hunter Lind, eighth at 170 pounds
• Alex Ritter, sixth at 182 pounds
• Colt Cobb, fifth at 195 pounds
• Adrian Allen, 0-2 at 170 pounds
• Eric Newman, eighth at 220 pounds