By Oliver Lazenby
Last year was another eventful year for Blaine High School sports. Borderite teams saw a few new coaches, some growing sports programs, momentum building from past successes, incredible victories and, of course, some tough seasons for a few teams.
A couple teams showed a lot of promise and potential that didn’t transpire, while others performed as well as anyone could have hoped. Either way, they all put on a good show.
Here’s a season-by-season look at how Blaine High School athletes and teams performed in 2017.
• Blaine’s wrestling team is consistently successful, but this year it had to deal with one major unknown – a new coach. Colt Warren replaced head coach Craig Foster, who retired after leading the program for 23 years, and didn’t miss a beat as the Borderites started the season strong against local opponents.
• Saul Magallon won the state title in the 220-pound weight class, leading the Borderites to an eighth place finish at state. Colton Economy placed third in state at 132 pounds and Riley Fritsch took fifth place at 170. All in all, the program looked solid under its new leader.
• The girls varsity basketball team had a rebuilding season, with younger players getting a lot of playing time. The girls came up short of the playoffs, finishing with a 5–15 record overall. Though not the finish they hoped for, 2017 was an improvement over the 2016 season.
• With a small team and few athletes who focused on the sport, the boys basketball team also had a tough season. They didn’t give up, and earned a spot in the playoffs through tenacity, but lost 74–60 to Archbishop Murphy in a loser-out game. The team finished the regular season with a 5–13 overall record.
• A 2016 playoff run carried some excitement into Blaine’s baseball program in 2017, and enough players signed up to give the program three teams for the first time in at least a decade.
• A deep lineup of powerful hitters and solid pitching by Brandon Watts, Jon Gunderson and others propelled the Borderites through 12 undefeated games to start the season. Blaine’s 17–3 regular season record allowed it to skip the must-win round of playoffs, but the Borderites lost the next two games to baseball powerhouses Burlington-Edison and Archbishop Murphy to end the season just short of the state tournament.
• The Blaine varsity softball team ended its regular season with a 4–16 record. The team, led by Lyric Berry, played well when it mattered most: in conference games. They made the playoffs thanks to in-conference wins against Burlington-Edison, Meridian, Nooksack Valley and Squalicum High School. The Borderites lost 11–1 to Lakewood in the loser-out first round of playoffs.
• Boys varsity soccer head coach Gio Quesada is on a mission for slow and steady growth in Blaine’s soccer program. After a few seasons of minor improvement, the team squeaked into the playoffs in 2017 with a 5–10–2 record overall. Blaine’s senior night, a playoff-clinching 5–0 win over Lakewood, was a highlight for spectators. Alieu Diaw, Liam Lyons, Kyle Sentkowski and Evan Potter all scored in that game. Blaine lost to Cedarcrest 3–0 in the first round of playoffs.
• Thirteen Blaine track athletes qualified for the district tournament – a big year for the Borderites – and three athletes went on to the state tournament on Mount Tahoma Stadium.
• Blaine girls Rani Prasad and Josie Deming both hit personal records in state finals; Prasad placed fourth in shot put and Deming placed fifth in javelin. Sprinter Dalton Mouw achieved Blaine’s best finish, coming in third in the 400 meters and eighth in 200 meters. Last year was also the final year for longtime track coach Carey Bacon, who retired at the end of the school year.
• Blaine’s varsity football team had its work cut out for it to live up to the 2016 team’s playoff success. Despite close losses against some top teams the Borderites struggled to win games. They finished the season with a 1–9 record. They beat Shorewood High School in a 31–26 away game in which Julian Gonzalez scored three touchdowns and Cruz Rodriguez had one. In his first year as starting quarterback, Cam Ellis helped lead the team on offense.
• The girls soccer team got a new head coach in Gio Quesada, the boys head coach. While Quesada and the assistant coaches saw improvement and small successes throughout the season, that improvement didn’t translate to victories. The girls finished with a 1–13–1 record overall. Montanna Klander led the team with a goal in a 1–0 victory against Lynden Christian.
• Blaine’s cross country teams also got a new coach for 2017. Assistant track coach Fryth Rasar stepped up and did her best to bring track athletes onto the team. She built the biggest cross country team Blaine’s had in years and the first official scoring team the girls have had since becoming a 2A school. Jamie Good had the most successful individual season, cutting minutes off of her 2016 times and running all the way to the state finals in Pasco.
• After starting its season with five straight wins, the girls varsity volleyball team didn’t let up and nearly made it to the state tournament. Stand out transfer student Camryn Vosloh joined Josie Deming, Alexis Hallberg and other returning varsity athletes to lead the Borderites into the postseason. Blaine finished one game short of the state tournament in a 3–0 loss to Lynden, which went on to lose in the state finals to Burlington-Edison.