By Oliver Lazenby
Blaine’s track team won three out of 35 events and came in second in many others against two bigger schools in its second home meet on Thursday, March 31.
“We were facing much bigger teams. Lynden and Ferndale are both quite a bit larger than us,” said head coach Carey Bacon.
Nearly half the Blaine athletes are competing in track and field for their first time and Bacon saw a lot of improvement in the young team, he said.
“For new athletes it is kind of a steep learning curve,” Bacon said. “There were a lot of PRs, and that’s really what you’re hoping for. We had a bunch of kids improve.”
Tucker Jensen won the shot put, tossing the metal ball 43′ 3″. Jensen also placed second in javelin and third in discus, with throws of 150′ 4″ and 109′ 10″, respectively.
Mariah Minjarez also had a big day, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 17.89 seconds and coming in second in the 300-meter hurdles in 54.41 seconds.
Isaiah Russ turned in Blaine’s other winning performance, finishing the 400-meter dash in 55.37 seconds.
Other notable performances include sprinter Alfonso Dermendziev’s second place finishes in both the 100-meter and the 200-meter events with times of 11.66 seconds and 23.52 seconds. Ben Fletcher came in second place in long jump, clearing 20’4.5″. And Haden Anthony placed second in pole vault, sailing over an 11’6″ bar.
It’s too early to tell whether any Blaine athletes will make it to the state tournament, Bacon said. Last year, seven Borderite seniors made it to state, but this year’s team has no returning state-level athletes.
The young Blaine team has an uphill battle to the tournament, as the Northwest District is one of the best – if not the best – in the state, Bacon said. Both Sehome and Bellingham high schools are known for track and field prowess, Bacon said.
“It’s hard to get to state and usually kids from Blaine who do are very competitive,” he said. “There are several who are going to be in the mix.”
Another factor making it tough for Blaine is that only the top three athletes in the division will go to state this year. For the past several years, four division athletes qualified for the tournament. The change has to do with the number of schools in each division and could change again in the future, Bacon said.
At this point in the season, Blaine athletes are still working on building fitness and improving technique.
“You have to really keep the focus early on. You have to make it fun and try to keep the intensity there.” Bacon said. “Don’t get swallowed up by the stats, just keep the focus on improving.”
New athletes are also learning the pace of track meets. The meets can be confusing since events often overlap and athletes are responsible for keeping track of when and where their events are.
Blaine’s next track meet is the Birger Solberg Invitational, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 9 at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. The invitational will include athletes from more than 15 schools, and it helps athletes prepare for the environment of bigger meets, Bacon said.
Blaine’s next home meet is Senior Day on Wednesday, May 4, at Blaine High School.