HILLSBORO — Baker’s wrestling team went up against the top grapplers in Oregon last weekend at the Resers Tournament of Champions, and coach Brandon Young is pleased with the Bulldogs’ progress.
“I think we’re right on track to finish in the top 4,” Young said.
He’s referring to Baker’s potential place in the team standings at the Class 4A tournament in March.
The Bulldogs placed fourth last year, its best performance ever at state.
The Resers event is a benchmark because it brings together the top teams not only from Class 4A but from the state’s largest high schools as well.
Baker finished 17th in the team standings, led by Hon Rushton’s third-place finish at 182 pounds.
Rushton advanced to the championship quarterfinals, losing by an 11-4 decision to Hayden Walters of Crescent Valley, which won the team title.
Walters finished second at 182 pounds.
Rushton then won four consecutive matches to place third.
The third-place match was especially noteworthy because Rushton avenged a loss earlier this season to La Grande’s Nathan Reed, who’s ranked first in the state at 182 pounds.
“I told Hon that all the other times you’ve wrestled him don’t matter, the only one that counts is your next match,” Young said.
Rushton responded to that advice, beating Reed in overtime, 6-5.
Young said Rushton and Reed could very well resume their rivalry in the championship match at both the district and state meets.
Johnny Niehaus won 2 of his 4 matches to earn 9 team points at 126 pounds.
Niehaus lost in the championship quarterfinal round to Ayden Garver of Newberg, who won the individual title in their weight class.
Ian Feldmeier went 3-2 at 160 pounds and earned 7 team points. Feldmeier also defeated a district rival, winning by 4-2 decision of La Grande’s Brody MacMillan.
Feldmeier lost in the quarterfinals to West Linn’s Justin Rademacher, who finished second overall at 160 pounds.
Gavin Stone beat Cascade’s Connor Stapleton in the consolation second round to earn 4 team points.
Young said Baker is generally healthy, and the Bulldogs will try balance conditioning with healing any minor injuries as they prepare for the district and state meets.