Sports -- February 07, 2008

Published on Thu, Feb 7, 2008
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Borderite grapplers score second among 13 teams

“It’s a young team,” said Blaine head wrestling coach Craig Foster of his varsity squad, only five of whom are seniors, “but they’ve got heart. They work hard and show courage.”

The fifth-ranked and undefeated Borderites came away with a second place out of 13 teams at the Northwest Conference tournament at Sedro-Woolley, and followed that with a decisive win at the sub-regional tournament at Lynden last weekend.

Six wrestlers made it to the finals in their weight classes, and both Jacob Humphrey (119) and team captain Shane Hicks (215) won their divisions in the league tournament.

At Lynden, five Borderites won their weight divisions and another 11 also qualified for the next level, this weekend’s regionals at Mt. Vernon. Division winners from Blaine included Jacob Humphrey (119), DJ Duncan (125), Kyler Mackowiak (130), Jeremy Holdaas (171) and Shane Hicks, wrestling as a heavyweight (285). It was Duncan’s first tournament win, and his timing couldn’t have been better.

Camden Nix (130), Tyson Foster (140), Jesse Kilthau (145) and Cody Dobbs (285) got second places. Nick Barnes (103), Tony Jordan ((125), Jacob Martinez (152) and Darrell Price, Jr. (189) got thirds. Jamal Mallak (135) and Shaffer Hicks (171) got fourths, and A.J. Piecznyski (145) got a fifth, good enough to move on to the next tournament as an alternate.

Foster’s squad has four state-ranked grapplers in its ranks plus a full slate of dedicated athletes in all the weight classes. Their goal is to move ten wrestlers through to the state tournament and they’re well on their way.

Though the team is young, as Foster pointed out, with almost as many freshmen as seniors, several of the less competitive wrestlers are surging, peaking at the right time for the regionals this weekend that will lead to the state championships, held February 15 and 16 at the Tacoma Dome. All the qualifying wrestlers from all the divisions, 1-B through 4-A, come together for a two-day phantasmagoria of mat mayhem.

Blaine’s chances for a top 10 team finish are by no means guaranteed but could happen.

Here’s the run-down by weight class.

103 – Freshman Nick Barnes, a new wrestler, is finding his groove as evidenced by his super-aggressive start in the last dual meet of the season, where he out pointed his opponent 11-8 after nearly taking off his head (which is illegal). “Hopefully he can earn his way through,” said Foster. Barnes lost to Zak Lepper of Mt. Baker after winning two matches but still managed to pull a third place finish.

119 – Junior Jacob Humphrey finished second last year at the Mat Classic and is currently ranked second in the state with a record of 28-2 with 19 pins. Though he sometimes goes up a class to 125, Foster said that 119 is his preferred weight. “It’s a tough class but he’s one of four or five guys who have a chance to take the title,” Foster said. Humphrey’s competition will be last year’s state champ at 103, Nick Burham from Black Hills, and Levi Zaborozny from Deer Park whom Humphrey beat in the semi’s last year in OT. At Lynden, Senior Mike Petronella also wrestles at 119 pounds.

125 – Junior DJ Duncan, 15-13 with seven pins, and freshman Tony Jordan (14-12 and ten pins) and their opposite numbers at 130, frosh Kyler Mackowski (22-9 with 11 pins) and sophomore Camden Nix, (15-12 with 6 pins), are all four good wrestlers improving and all four have a good chance of getting to state.

135 – Sophomore battler Jamal Mallak (15-10 with 5 pins) is inspiring even in a loss and has been winning consistently.

140 – Junior Tyson Foster (21-6 with 11 pins) is good athletically but is also a smart wrestler in knowing his situation and location on the map, and can figure out ways to beat you.

145 – Senior Jesse Kilthau (21-8 with 14 pins) has a lot of experience as a three time state tournament wrestler, is currently ranked fifth in the state and is as technically sound a wrestler as anyone on the squad. He’s joined in the class by sophomore A.J. Piecznyski.

152 – Freshman Jacob Martinez and senior Brian Brock are both new to the sport but have what Foster calls “the courage to go out there anyway against older students. That really helps us as a team.”

160 – Sophomore Shaffer Hicks (15-14 with 9 pins) has gone from being a very green wrestler last year to becoming a much tougher competitor this year.

171 – Sophomore Jeremy Holdaas (23-8 with 6 pins) has a phenomenal record for an underclassman. He’s become a guy to count on getting into the finals in most tournaments, and has a real shot at the state tournament.

189 – Junior Darrell Price, Jr., (23-11, with 7 pins) beat a state placer from Burlington last week, ranked fourth in the state. He’s starting to really figure out how to use his athleticism and speed just in time to peak for the qualifying tournaments.

215 – Senior and Team Captain Shane Hicks (25-3 with 17 pins) is ranked second in the state in his weight class, He placed fourth at the Mat Classic last year. His competition as always will be Selah’s Dan Escamilla.

285 – Senior Cody Dobbs (21-12 with 8 pins) is having a decent season, “and with focus can finish off right make it through to Tacoma,” Foster said, “and become one of our state wrestlers. We’ll end up with anywhere from three to as many as eight or nine going to Tacoma. We’ve had as many as ten, but we’re not there yet.”

Tournaments are: February 9, 10 a.m. Regionals at Mt. Vernon High School and February 15, 16 Mat Classic in Tacoma.

Slivers from the bench...

Sportswriter eats crow as
Blaine goes undefeated again

Blaine head wrestling coach Craig Foster corrected a statement reported in last week’s sports section in which he was quoted as saying that he didn’t know of any other Blaine wrestling teams that had gone undefeated for a season.

“I teach PE daily in a gym featuring a banner honoring Blaine’s 1990 undefeated team (12-0 record, state champs), so I am well aware that the feat has been accomplished at least once before,” Foster said, adding that what he actually said was that he couldn’t remember an undefeated season during his 17-year coaching tenure.

To be accurate, Blaine’s 1989-1990 team under coach Randy Deming went undefeated and won the state championship, with state champs Rod Dohner, Troy Olason, Gary Abel and Tim Sandford on the roster.

Many members of that team are still in the area. Blaine teams won the league wrestling championship every year from 1978 through 1996, the first 12 under Deming and the last six under Foster.

Blaine (8-0) returned as league champs in finishing its first perfect dual meet season since 1990 last week with a 48-23 win at Bellingham (2-7).

Borderite Scoreboard
For the week of February 8

Wrestling
District sub-regional tournament, February 1 & 2, Lynden: Blaine 318, Burlington 283.5, Bellingham 237.5, Lynden 188, Mt. Baker 153.5, Sehome 120 and Anacortes 68.

Boys Basketball
1-31 – Bellingham 59, Blaine 55
2-4 – Sehome 74, Blaine 48

Girls Basketball
1-30 – Sehome 47, Blaine 26
2-1 – Bellingham 54, Blaine 41
2-5 – Lynden 40, Blaine 37