What a difference a year can make.
Ryan Wallen started last season as an obscure freshman newcomer to the Blaine golf team. As he improved through the year, he managed to qualify for the state tournament and then stunned the rankings by finishing second in the state overall. That was just his freshman year. Entering the 2011 season, Wallen finds himself as one of the golfers in the conference with cross hairs on him.
“I anticipate Ryan Wallen will compete to be one of the best golfers in the Northwest conference,” said Blaine boys head golf coach Steve Barthlow in an e-mail, “I also anticipate that he will once again earn the opportunity to compete at the state 2A tournament. From last year, I know Ryan to be one of the best golfers I have coach as far as preparation and use of practice time. He is very committed to improving his game, and his goal this year is to be better in all phases of our season than last year.”
Returning with Wallen is Dimitri Sampson. Sampson demonstrated strong improvement through the season last year, trimming 30 strokes from his first round to his last of the year.
“If he can continue to improve like that this year,”Barthlow said, “he is going to have a solid year.”
Blaine’s only two seniors are transfers that return to the district after playing here before. Michael Andes qualified for the 3A state tournament for Ferndale last year.
“Michael has improved his game the three years I have know him,” said Barthlow, “He will be very competitive, which will help to strengthen our overall team.” Barthlow anticipates that Andes will make a state tournament run.
Senior Clint Richardson previously played on varsity for the Borderites before leaving the district.
“Clint has been looking real good in the few practices we have had thus far,” Barthlow said. “Again, I anticipate Clint will help add a stabilizing influence to our team as well as be competitive.”
The Borderites will be a young team this season but Barthlow is intrigued by two freshman on the roster in Devan Boucher and Josh Miller.
Blaine’s first outing will be a strong indicator of their strength, as Burlington hosts seven Northwest conference teams at Skagit Golf and Country Club Thursday March 17.