The Borderite wrestling team ran the mats at the 2013 Northwest Conference (NWC) Tournament at Sehome January 12 and beat out the 12 other NWC teams to earn the championship title. Led by 220-lb. senior Caleb Johnson and 285-lb. junior Mikey Antczak, who both won their divisions, the Borderites earned the top spot with 223.5 points and 14 top-six finishers. The last time the wrestling team won the NWC tournament was in 2009.
Blaine put on a team-wide performance at Sehome to earn the conference title. Blaine athletes scored points in all 14 weight classes, “which is hard to do,” head wrestling coach Craig Foster said.
“Our good guys did well, which you expect,” he continued, “but everybody contributed and some guys won in matches that they weren’t favored to win. That was the best part – everybody got to be a part of it. It’s not an easy conference,” Foster added. “It’s a big thing to win it, and it gains us some momentum and confidence heading into the post-season.”
Antczak won the 285-lb. class with four pins, including a decisive pin in the championship match against Squalicum’s Patrick Schjelderup.
Johnson dominated the 220-lb. weight class, winning what Foster called the toughest weight division at the tournament by pinning Ferndale’s Kam Williams in the championship match.
Four Blaine wrestlers came in second place in their weight class after making it to their championship match: freshman Stuey
Rasar at 106 lbs., sophomore Billy Dodd at 113 lbs., junior Christian Sharp at 145 lbs. and senior captain Justin Belding at 152 lbs.
Dwayne Ortega, Jon Stewart, Eddie Fontes, Gage Lott, Israel Hernandez, Anthony Frey and Caleb Frey all placed in the top six for their weight classes, earning points for the Borderites. Blaine won the tournament against 12 other NWC teams with 223.5 points.
Junior Kyle Gonzales, a standout in the 106-lb. division, missed the tournament due to an elbow injury that occurred during practice.
“He’s working with doctors, and we don’t have a clear diagnosis,” Foster said, “but we’re hoping he has a swift recovery.”
Foster credited the wrestlers in the lower weight classes for gaining momentum for their team at the tournament.
“If the smaller guys who wrestle first get some wins, it gives the team a big boost and takes some of the pressure off the bigger guys,” he said. “I give credit to them for wrestling well in the finals, in particular Christian Sharp, Billy Dodd and Stuey Rasar.”
The wrestling team has a positive outlook heading into the post-season, Foster said.
“A win like this gives a little momentum and confidence,” he said. “The post-season is all about confidence.”
On January 9, Blaine hosted Nooksack Valley and Friday Harbor for a dual-double tournament. The Borderites defeated Nooksack Valley 68-9 and Friday Harbor 78-0.
The two opposing teams could not fill certain weights, so many of the Blaine wrestlers won by forfeit, but two recorded their first varsity pins at the home meet: freshman Preston Bellville pinned his Nooksack Valley opponent in one minute, 38 seconds to win the 132-lb. matchup, and sophomore Ethan Childers pinned his Friday Harbor opponent in three minutes, 37 seconds to win the 160-lb. match.
The two team wins advanced Blaine’s record in dual meets to four wins and no losses.
The Washington Wrestling Report currently ranks Blaine eighth out of 20 teams in Class 1A. Mount Baker is ranked ninth, and
Granger is ranked first.
The Borderites faced Mount Baker High School in a dual away meet on January 16, but the results were not in by press time.