Led by its cadre of veterans, the Baker High School wrestling team claimed the title at the Enterprise Kickoff Tournament Friday, amassing 156 points to Pine-Eagle’s 123 points.
But though that result wasn’t necessarily a surprise, Baker coach Brandon Young was also pleased by the performances of some of his younger wrestlers.
“For the first tournament of the season, with a young team with lots of freshmen, we learned some hard lessons,” Young said. “These kids are picking things up fast.”
Baker has a school-record five wrestlers returning who placed at the state tournament last season, Young said.
Three of those won an individual title at Enterprise — Jake Eskew at 152 pounds, Ian Feldmeier at 170 pounds and Hon Rushton at 182 pounds.
Young said another of Baker’s returning veterans, Johnny Niehaus, likely could have won at his normal weight class, 132 pounds, but he accepted the challenge to wrestle up a class, at 138, where he won 2 of 4 matches and earned 8 points.
“I’m proud of him for challenging himself,” Young said.
Bulldogs placing second in their weight classes included Trent Ashby at 285 pounds, Seth Rushton at 160 and Isael Duran at 132.
Eric Newman placed third at 220 pounds.
Adrian Allan, Alex Ritter and Ryan Hansen were all 2-2 for the tournament. Caleb Shaw went 1-2.
Pine-Eagle’s individual champions included Coy Butner at 120 pounds, Chase Butner at 126, Cutter Tanaka at 132 and Seth Butler at 195.
Cutter Huff took second at 138 pounds and earned 18 points for the Spartans.
On Saturday Baker hosted a junior varsity tournament during which Baker’s new girls wrestling team saw its first action. Young said he hopes to make the event, dubbed the Anthony Lakes Invitational, an annual event that next year will include a varsity dual tournament, JV tournament and girls tournament.
Individual champions for Baker in the JV tournament were Caleb Shaw and Colt Cobb. Cody Eskew, Jaden Martin, Casey Vaughn and Jordan Bryant were runners-up.
The girls tournament included wrestlers from Echo, Grant Union, Ontario and Imbler.
Baker individual champions were McKay Anderson and Kaci Anderson. Bailey Cole placed second in her weight class, Dakota Ballou and Rylie Shaw were third, Rebecca Daniels and Kayla Springer fourth, and Julianna Sandberg placed fifth.
Saturday evening the Baker varsity had its annual intrasquad match, with Team Feldmeier claiming a 55-40 win over Team Niehaus. All wrestlers had at least one match and some wrestled two matches.
Following the intrasquad event the wrestlers hosted a potato feed in the Baker High School Commons with their families and supporters.
Young said he has broken with tradition this year and Baker will not compete in the annual Muilenberg tournament at La Grande. Instead, Baker will travel to Nyssa. The reason, Young said, is that Nyssa has three separate tournaments, for varsity, junior varsity and girls, whereas the Muilenberg is a single tournament.
“All of our kids are going to get to wrestle at their level of competition,” Young said.