by Jack Kintner
Blaine track advances to state championships
baton was passed during the District One track meet last
weekend at Kings in Edmonds.
Well, maybe not a baton, but a pole, when Blaine junior Alisha Fisher won the district pole vault at 9- 6.
Erin Lippie, a senior who missed the state meet last year after a freak injury to her ACL, will miss the biggest show in AA track for the second year in a row, having disqualified at the district meet, where she is, ironically, the meet record holder at 10-7.
Fisher is no stranger to top-flight competition, having set the Blaine stadium record for the long jump as a freshman.
And despite coming off a serious injury of her own, she also qualified for a state berth in both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays. She runs the second leg in both events.
Five other girls and two boys will be making the long trip to Eastern Washington University in Cheney this week to compete in the state track meet.
Along with Fisher, junior Julie Meaker notched a decisive win in the 400 meter and anchored all three relay teams to a second in the 4x100, .17 seconds behind Sultan in a fast 50.77, and thirds in the 4x200 and 4x400.
Freshman Breanna Olason just nicked Blaine sophomore Cassie Acidera by a tenth of a second in the 100 for third place and qualified on all three teams. Acidera and Jettie Wilce also qualified.
For the boys, Jason Vasquez finished second in both the 100 and 200 meter dash, and sophomore Douglas Ramirez got second in a fast 800, finishing just under two seconds off the pace after running twice around the track at Kings’ Woolsey Stadium in Edmonds.
Blaine junior hurdler Bryant Williams just missed qualifying for state by a half second in the 110 and by a narrow 16 seconds in the 300, and Blaine’s 4x100 relay team was nipped at the wire for third, finishing just out of the money by a scant .09 seconds.
The state meet in Cheney begins Thursday, May 25 and runs through Saturday.
Coaches in transition
Coach Rob Adams has stepped down as girls fast-pitch coach to have more time with his family, and coach Rob Bouma resigned as girls golf coach to take a two-year teaching assignment in China.
“I told Adams I was a little worried,” said Blaine athletic director Gary Clausen, “since if he does both basketball and fast pitch that’s two varsity seasons back to back, and that’s a lot of time for someone with a young family. When he took over five years ago he said he’d try it, and we’ve appreciated all his hard work.”
Blaine’s team had one of the worst imaginable beginnings to Adams’ final season when a car accident took the life of their star pitcher, Kailey Walter, and severely injured another key player, Krissie Hammer, days before the season began. Dori Binder, whose daughter plays on the team, said that the girls often spoke of their “angel in the outfield” in dealing with the tragic loss.
The girls began the year with wins over Concrete and AAA Squalicum before dropping league games to Lynden Christian and Meridian. They finished the year 2-10 in league, beating only Nooksack early in the season and Meridian in a one-run thriller earlier this month. Their overall record was above .500 at 7-13.
Bouma, a high school science teacher, will be moving to Shekou, China, near Hong Kong for a two-year teaching commitment. This year his lead player, Blaine’s Girl of the Year Tegan Bukowski, medaled in every league tournament this season as the team won the league championship, going undefeated and sending four players to the state tournament.
State golf tournament mid-point
Of the five Blaine golfers who went to the state tournament at hot and sunny Downriver Country Club in Spokane, only senior (and Blaine’s Girl of the Year) Tegan Bukowski survived the first day’s round to continue play with the top 20 finishers. Bukowski’s 9 was good enough for a ninth place tie. Hannah Hillard carded a 99, one of her best rounds, on the tough and fast course, followed by Karissa Bland at 100 and Katie Richardson at 111. “We’re all going to follow [Tegan] around tomorrow,” Hillard said after first round play, “for good luck.”
For the boys, John Dudley’s 81 missed the cut at 77 by just four strokes.
Bukowski, a fiercely competitive chatterbox on the fairway but tomb silent on the tees and greens, managed to climb into second round contention despite three first-round bogeys, a dig-a-hole and the climb out style not unlike Arnold Palmer, designer of her home course. She said that at one point it was as if the trees in the Spokane Valley had developed a taste for golf balls. “They literally ate them up!” she said, only half joking. Perhaps after she gets her fighter pilot’s wings (she’s headed to the Air Force Academy this summer) there might be a few more stumps on the fairways outside Spokane.
All league selections in baseball and softball announced
Blaine placed three boys and one girl on the all-league diamond in addition to junior Joe Paciorek’s winning a well-deserved league MVP for the second year despite playing hurt much of the year. Paciorek, who has a baseball pedigree through his dad and uncle, both long-time major leaguers, plays a lot like they did in the old days when you didn’t come out with an injury until broken bones poked through the skin. When hurt he usually says nothing, and is suspected of not even telling himself when he’s got anything wrong.
Paciorek ended up batting .486 in league, and went 2-1 with three saves as a reliever. His ERA was a miniscule 0.39 with 28 strikeouts, and when not pitching played shortstop like a vacuum cleaner that can throw an 88-mph fastball.
He’s joined by Blaine seniors Rob Bleecker, a pitcher who found his groove big time this season with a 4-0 league record, a low 1.81 ERA and 25 strike-outs. Another senior all-leaguer is Jackie McDonald, the pint-sized outfielder for Rob Adam’s fastpitch team and as tough and tenacious a competitor as Blaine has produced in any sport, ever. “It’s not always such a good thing, I guess,” she said recently. While that may be true, it’s easier to dial that spirit down a notch for situations that require a head as well as a heart than it is to dial it up from an attitude that has a player yawning on the bench.
Junior slugger Aaron Johnson joined Bleecker on the all-league first team as a catcher, whose solid presence behind the plate went along with 13 RBI’s and a .323 batting average. Lefty Curtis Richardson, also a junior, was named to the second team with a .304 batting average. He also lked the team in triples.
Finally, Alex Walter continued Blaine’s tradition of high-powered pitchers in girls fastpitch by making second team all-league as a freshman. She’s only one of two (along with Nooksack pitcher Erika Ramstead) of the 44 players named in both sports to get this honor as a freshman.