NYSSA — Baker’s wrestling team had a memorable first visit to the Calhoun Classic, finishing fourth in the varsity standings out of 21 teams in the two-day tournament Friday and Saturday.
Baker coach Brandon Young said he decided to enter the Calhoun Classic, rather than the Bulldogs’ traditional pre-Christmas tourney, the Muilenburg Memorial at La Grande, because the Nyssa tourney has JV and girls brackets as well as a varsity event.
Senior Johnny Niehaus at 132 pounds, and junior Hon Rushton at 182, both team captains, won their weight classes to lead Baker to the fourth-place finish.
“Johnny has been wrestling bigger boys at practice as well as bumping up a weight class last week to look for a challenge and to focus on his technique and not brute strength,” Young said.
After winning his semifinal match 18-10, Niehaus pinned Ontario’s Kyle Wulf, who placed fifth at the state meet last year.
Young said Rushton’s growing confidence was apparent as he won all three of his matches.
“He has worked relentlessly in the offseason and has pushed himself to the next level in wrestling,” Young said. “He is going to be a handful for whoever he faces this season. He is really starting to believe in himself and it is amazing to see.”
Ian Feldmeier placed second at 160 pounds. Gauge Bloomer was third at 170, and Baker had two fourth-place finishers — sophomore Gavin Stone at 126 pounds and freshman Colt Cobb at 195 pounds.
The new Baker girls team, competing in its first road tournament, was led by junior Bailey Cole’s first-place finish at 190 pounds.
“Bailey only had one other girl in her weight class and decided to challenge herself and asked for several exhibition matches,” Young said. “That is pretty awesome to see how motivated she is to get better. She is really pushing herself.”
Freshman Kaci Anderson placed fourth at 135 pounds, and sophomore Dakota Ballou was fourth at 155 pounds.
In the JV tournament, sophomore Adrian Allen placed fourth at 170 pounds, and sophomore Connor Jensen went 3-2 at 145 pounds.
“They have both really bought into wrestling and training in the offseason by lifting and working out to get into shape for wrestling,” Young said.
Baker’s varsity, JV and girls teams will all travel to Boise High School on Tuesday.
The varsity wrestlers will then compete in the Best of the West tournament Friday and Saturday at Pasco, Washington.
The JV boys will compete Friday and Saturday at the John Rysdam Memorial at Elgin, and the Baker girls will compete in that tournament on Friday.
Baker varsity results
113 pounds: Caleb Shaw 0-2; 120: Ryan Brown 0-2; 126: Gavin Stone 4-2 (4th); 126: Isael Duran 1-2; 132: Johnny Niehaus 3-0 (1st); 145: Cade Lind 0-2; 145: Casey Vaughan 0-2; 145: Hector Dominguez Jr. 0-2; 152: Jake Eskew 2-2; 160: Ian Feldmeier 3-1 (2nd); 160: Seth Rushton 3-2; 170: Gauge Bloomer 3-1 (3rd); 182: MaHonri Rushton 3-0 (1st): 195: Colt Cobb 2-2 (4th); 220: Alex Ritter 1-2; 285: Jaden Martin 0-2
Baker girls results
115 pounds: Kayla Springer 0-2; 135: Kaci Anderson 3-2 (4th); 145: Riley Shaw 0-2; 155: Dakota Ballou 1-2 (4th); 155: Julianna Sandberg 0-2; 190: Bailey Cole 1-0 (1st)
Baker junior varsity results
113 pounds: River Clark 0-2; 120: Troy Bennett 0-2; 132: Ryan Hansen 0-2; 138: Cody Eskew 0-2; 145: Connor Jensen 3-2; 152: Jacob Mills 1-2; 170: Adrian Allen 3-2 (4th); 170: Jaden Clark 1-2; 170: Diesel Springer 0-2; 220: Eric Newman 0-2.