After a steady stream of competitions over winter break – some as far away as Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – the Blaine wrestling team will enjoy a four-day break before heading full steam into the second half of their season.
“There was a lot of action over winter break, and we traveled to some big tournaments,” said head coach Craig Foster. “The kids are probably tired, the coaches are pretty tired, so we’re going to keep it light for the next four days and gear up for January.”
The wrestling team won a dual meet against Ferndale and Nooksack Valley December 20 before taking off to Coeur d’Alene for the Tri-State Tournament. Foster said his team displayed confidence to beat Nooksack Valley 66–4 and Ferndale 55–15.
“We had a lot of pins, which is a good sign of solid wrestling,” Foster said. Blaine registered five pins against Nooksack Valley and six pins against Ferndale.
On December 21, Blaine wrestlers made the six-hour journey to Coeur d’Alene for the Tri-State Tournament, where the best teams from Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon face off every year. Now in its 42nd year, it is the longest continually running varsity invitational wrestling tournament in the Northwest.
“Coaches know it as one of the best tournaments on the west coast,” Foster said. “It’s great to be a part of it because we get to face a lot of big schools and really strong wrestlers, and it gives us a taste of state-level competition and beyond.”
Mike Antczak placed sixth overall in the 285-pound division.
“In such a tough bracket against the best wrestlers from across the Northwest, that’s a really good finish,” Foster said.
As a team, Blaine placed 40th out of 64 at the Tri-State tournament. On December 28, the team traveled to Vashon Island for the Rock Invite, where Christian Sharp led the team and the Borderites took second place out of 14 teams.
Sharp won the 152-pound division over Isias Jimenez from Quincy. Second-place finishers for Blaine included Gage Lott, Anthony Frey, Jon Stewart and Mike Antczak. Stuey Rasar and Caleb Frey both placed third in their divisions, Tristan Hunter placed fourth and Billy Dodd placed fifth.
“The Rock Invite was a good indicator of where we are in terms of state tournament contention,” Foster said. “There are three or four teams in the conversation when discussing potential state tournament winners in 1A, and we’re one of them. There doesn’t seem to be any powerhouse out there who will decisively sweep states, so it will probably come down to who wrestles their best at the state tournament.”
Forks is another team that is a state title contender in 1A. Miguel Morales won the 285-pound division, and Ricky Barragan won the 138-pound division.
“They are a solid team that we will be competing against at the state level,” Foster said.
With three pins in the Rock Invite and a second-place finish at 126 pounds, Foster said Gage Lott had a standout performance.
“Gage is starting to really come into his own. He’s looking really tough at 126,” Foster said.
Foster also noted that Christian Sharp wrestled well to win his division at 152 pounds.
“He put together a string of solid matches to get the win, which helped the team earn second place.” Foster said.
The Borderites will face Squalicum in an away meet on Wednesday, January 8 at 7 p.m.