For the first time in roughly 40 years of wrestling, Baker is bringing home a state trophy after placing fourth at the Class 4A tournament.
“We would like to thank our community for all their support, Baker Mat Club, and all our coaches, parents and wrestlers for their efforts. Without you, none of this would be possible,” said Baker coach Brandon Young.
“We knew we had a great shot and expected Junction City and Cascade to be right there with us. We earned a lot of extra points in the first two rounds by earning several pins.”
After going 0-5 in the state semifinals Baker had to regroup and raise team morale, Young said.
“This is the toughest sport out there, because you have to pick yourself up after a hard loss and give it everything you have got,” Young said. “Wrestling is life, you get knocked down sometimes, but you have to get back up. That’s what we call character. No sport instills that as much as wrestling.”
The team points race was tight at this point with Baker having a slight lead over Cascade and Junction City. At this point Baker was worried about Cascade, which had four wrestlers in the finals.
“The thing was, though, all seven of our wrestlers were in the consolation and had two matches, which gave us a good opportunity to build our lead. We needed to be over 24 points ahead of Cascade to hold them off for certain, and were able to build that cushion to 34 points and hang on to finish fourth,” Young said.
Baker’s individual state placers:
• Isael Duran, 3rd, 106 pounds
• MaHonri Rushton, 3rd, 170 pounds
• Johnny Niehaus, 4th, 120 pounds
• Ian Feldmeier, 4th, 145 pounds
• Mariano Duran, 5th, 113 pounds
• Colton Anderson, 6th, 132 pounds
Baker had five wrestlers who made it to the heart break round, two of them won — Colton Anderson and Jake Eskew.
“Jake set out on a vision quest and nothing was going to get in his way,” Young said.
Gavin Stone lost a hard fought battle by a few points, and Alex Duran had a rough weekend.
“That’s all it was for him, just one bad weekend,” Young said. “He had a great season and career, setting several school records. Gauge Bloomer wrestled really tough to make to the top 8.”
Young said he expects Bloomer to be a top competitor next year.
Freshman Alex Ritter won by a fall, scoring 3 team points.
“For him to qualify as a freshman at 182 pounds and then win a match is a big deal,” Young said. “Looking forward to watching his growth in the seasons to come.”
Other wrestlers who qualified for state but did not place are Trevor Tidwell at 113 pounds, Alex Davila at 138 and Lucien Yervasi at 195.
“Trevor, similarly to Ritter, got to see the big show as a freshman,” Young said. “Now he knows what to expect and will be ready for next season. Lucien Yervasi in his two years of wrestling was able to qualify as a senior. His personality was contagious. He can really get our guys pumped. We will miss him,” Young said.
For the third time, Coach Young was nominated for the Class 4A Coach of the Year.
“This speaks highly of our program and also our assistant coach Torrey Roberts, volunteer coaches Zack Feldmeier, Josh Anders on, and Jeris Stephens,” Young said.