The Baker boys wrestling team finished 5th at the Class 4A state tournament this weekend at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum, following the Bulldogs’ school-best 4th-place finish last year.
Pine Eagle placed 4th in the Class 2A/1A tournament.
The Baker girls team, in its first season, placed 13th on the strength of Sydney Keller’s individual state championship at 115 pounds (see story on Page 7A).
The Baker boys were led by junior Hon Rushton’s individual championship at 182 pounds (see story on Page 8A).
Three Bulldogs placed 3rd — sophomore Gavin Stone at 120 pounds; senior Johnny Niehaus at 126; and junior Jake Eskew at 145.
Sophomore Gauge Bloomer placed 4th at 160 pounds.
Pine Eagle was led by junior Seth Butler, who won the Class 2A/1A state championship at 182 pounds.
Butler, whose match record this season was 34-2, won by 2-1 decision over Coquille’s Brayden Clayburn in the championship match.
Also placing for the Spartans were sophomore Coy Butner, 2nd at 113 pounds; sophomore Chase Butner, 3rd at 120 pounds; and junior Cutter Tanaka, 4th at 126 pounds.
Baker coach Brandon Young noted that Niehaus placed at state the past three years, including 4th in 2019 and 6th in 2018.
“He set the all-time pin record at Baker High School, and he’s got some colleges talking to him about wrestling,” Young said.
Young praised Eskew’s resilience in plowing through the consolation bracket to claim his 3rd place finish.
“It’s just so awesome to see someone reach their goal,” Young said.
The Baker coach said Bloomer “kind of wrestled out of his mind. He wrestled the best he ever wrestled.”
Young also noted that Bloomer’s pre-match ritual is, well, unique.
“He’s got this vibe. Rockin’ the air guitar, listening to his music and dancing, smiling and in a great mood all weekend,” Young said. “His enthusiasm is contagious. You want to try and bottle that up and sell that.”
Young said Stone’s extra practice paid off.
“He put in so much time in the off-season and went to a ton of camps,” Young said.
He was also excited about the progress of Caleb Shaw, a sophomore who won 18 matches this season after winning one last year, and about the new Baker girls team. McKay Anderson and Bailey Cole also competed at state for the Bulldogs.
Other Baker wrestlers who qualified and won a match at state are Ian Feldmeier and River Clark.