Borderite spring sports preview


Clocks are set to “spring forward,” the bite of winter wind is beginning to subside, and the sun is finally staying out longer and longer. The spring sports season has arrived for the Blaine Borderites, and with it comes a swath of new teams eager to get the season underway. Here’s a preseason update on the seven teams set to compete this spring.


Borderite baseball will return to Pipeline Field with nine seniors on its varsity squad, a number that should be encouraging after a strong 2023 season was cut short in district playoffs.

Managing the team will be first-year head coach Hunter Anderson. Anderson came to Blaine in the fall from Burlington-Edison as an assistant football coach along with head coach Andy Olson.

For Anderson, coaching a sport such as baseball that constantly throws failures at young athletes requires building mental fortitude and a supportive team culture. Anderson said that starts with teaching his team how to stay in the moment.

“With our culture, our structure and our attention to the present moment, everything that we do – no matter what type of playing time, no matter what type of involvement – you’re going to become a better young man moving forward after graduation,” Anderson said. “I’m really looking forward to giving kids lifelong habits that they can take with them.”

Of the crop of seniors ready to tear up the new season, Anderson highlighted a trio that he believes will have standout years.

Kieran Markusen will be the Borderites ace pitcher, and could have an even more successful season than last year, where he went 4-1 in eight appearances with a team-leading 1.24 ERA and 62 strikeouts. Markusen is committed to continue his baseball career at Skagit Valley Community College next year.

“[Markusen] is going to be one of the top pitchers in the Northwest Conference,” Anderson said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are very, very talented pitchers in this league, but Kieran is going to put himself right up there.”

Along with Markusen, Hunter Vezzetti is set to stand out as Blaine’s everyday centerfielder and utility player Mason Akre will likely see playing time across the diamond, maybe even taking some innings at catcher, Anderson said. 

Blaine finished last season with a 13-8 overall record, going 10-5 in the Northwest Conference (NWC) before being eliminated by Lynden Christian in the 1A district 1/2 tournament.

The Borderites’ first game of the season is set for Friday, March 8 on the road against Burlington-Edison, and its first home game will be on Monday, March 11 against University Prep at Pipeline Field at 4 p.m.


Last season, Blaine softball had a deep run to the state playoffs, where the Borderites were finally beaten by eventual 1A state champions Montesano in the semifinal round.

Head coach Sean Miller knows that with that success comes a giant target on the back of the 2024 team.

“When you do that kind of thing, it makes you the target, the hunted,” Miller said. “So I’m excited about that. I want to see what this group does.”

Miller says this year’s team will have the same focus toward playing solid defense and relying on good pitching. Last season the Borderites held conference opponents to less than two runs a game, which Miller said allows the team to always stay competitive in close games.

“If you play good defense and have good pitching, you can probably win a lot more games than having a mediocre pitcher and having 10 Babe Ruths in your lineup,” Miller said.

Opening day for softball is Friday, March 15, when the Borderites travel to face Cedar Park Christian. The first home game will be Wednesday, March 20 at 4 p.m. against Oak Harbor at Pipeline Field.

Track and Field

Blaine track and field is boasting a much deeper roster heading into the 2024 season, with a total of 51 athletes set for the Borderites’ first meet on Wednesday, March 13.

With 20 new athletes compared to last year’s team, head coach Mark Schultz said there is much to learn, but no shortage of enthusiasm.

“The team’s attitude and their work ethic is much improved,” Schultz said. “They’re supporting each other so much better this season. The first week of the season has already blown me away by how they’re working together, how serious they’re taking the workouts and how open they are to trying different events outside of their comfort zone.”

Multisport athletes Deja Dube and Justin Minjarez were two names Schultz highlighted for breakout 2024 seasons, while many other returning athletes are slowly ramping up from injuries sustained through the fall and winter sports seasons, Schultz added.

“We definitely have a few holes that we don’t have athletes in,” Schultz said. “But what we’re probably going to do best is the sprints, the jumps and the throws.”

The program also boasts a pair of new assistant coaches; Roy Anthony and Blaine cross-country coach Roberto Aguilera.

The team’s first meet is set for Wednesday, March 13 against Ferndale and Sedro-Woolley, but the Borderites’ first home meet won’t be until Wednesday, April 10 at Borderite Stadium.

Boys Soccer

Head coach Gio Quesada-Ruiz knows this year’s team has a lot to prove, and as always, his expectations are set high.

The reigning 1A NWC coach of the year will be without his conference defensive MVP, Roberto Mott Prado, and goalkeeper of the year, Kael Evinger, and eight other departed seniors. But what this team lacks in experience it makes up for in raw talent, Quesada said.

“It’s exciting to see how we can play with these new players, and see how the returning players respond and take on a bigger role,” Quesada said. “I'm very interested to see how these guys are going to react to their new roles.”

Quesada said he expects to see growth from his new core group, especially senior midfielder Leonardo Blanco, who he said could become “one of the best players in the conference,” and team captain, junior Maxim Yuryev, who will be taking on more responsibility on defense after three starting defenders graduated last season.

Boys soccer will start the year with four home games in seven days, starting against Anacortes on Tuesday, March 12 at 7 p.m.

Girls Tennis

The late winter snow may have put a slight delay into the ramp up of the girls tennis season, forcing the Borderites to practice indoors, but it hasn’t put a damper on the preseason excitement.

“The team has been showing up every day ready to work,” head coach Amanda Dahl wrote in an email to The Northern Light. “They listen, they apply their learning and they’re pushing themselves on the courts.”

Dahl said she’s excited to see how the group of senior standouts lead the team this year, with Sabrina Boczek, Abby Schmidt and Sara Olinger-Stirrat all expected to set the tone as skilled, experienced veteran leaders.

The team is younger than in previous years, with a crop of sophomores joining the varsity squad for the first time, and the Borderites compete in a historically strong 1A Northwest Conference, so expect this year to bring a host of challenges.

“From what I’ve seen from our team so far though, they will always show up ready to play and will give their best to every match,” Dahl wrote. “Coaching these girls is the highlight of my day – they are amazing.”

Girls tennis will hold its first meet of the season on Wednesday, March 13 at Sedro-Woolley, and its first home meet will be on Tuesday, March 19 at 4 p.m. against Squalicum.

Boys Golf  

This season will be head coach Rick Shockey’s last year coaching Blaine boys golf, but his high expectations are no different than before.

“My expectations are always high, I want the kids to do well and enjoy the game and play to their capabilities,” Shockey said. “I’m excited, this is going to be my last year coaching golf, so I’m excited to see what these kids are going to do.”

The program is growing, with 21 boys on the team, and Shockey said he’s anxious to see how his seniors shoot, particularly Uno Navarez, Cameron Saunders and Noah Tavis.

After its first few practices of the season were forced inside due to snow on the Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club greens, the Borderites will start the season at home, with its first round of the season teeing off on Thursday, March 14 at 2 p.m.

Girls Golf

It’s supposed to be spring, but a snow flurry meant the first week of many spring sports practices were forced inside. Girls golf coach Connie Pilon was planning on working on her team’s putting game anyways, so they set up sticky notes on carpet inside the school and called it a green.

“When it’s snowing and you can’t get on the course, you have to improvise,” Pilon said. “You would think a cement floor with carpet would be perfectly flat, but there were some turns.”

Coming off 2023 1A district tournament win and multiple state tournament placements, expectations are high for this year’s team, and a core group of four seniors could be set to make some serious noise throughout the season, Pilon said.

“The girls are working hard for when we can get out there, and I see a lot of potential in all of them,” Pilon said. “My hope is that they all drop a few strokes over the season that we can get back to the district tournament and win for the second year.”

Girls golf will travel to North Bellingham Golf Club on Thursday, March 14 for a conference match, first tee at 3 p.m.


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