Blaine wrestler wins state championship
By Jack Kintner
Blaine senior Shane Hicks won the state wrestling championship in the heavyweight division and veteran junior Jacob Humphrey nabbed a second place trophy as one of the biggest contingents of wrestlers ever to go to state from Blaine came home with a well-earned second place out of 55 teams represented in the double A ranks.
Head coach Craig Foster, who guided 12 wrestlers through two tough qualifying tournaments to make it to the tourney, known as Mat Classic XX, was named state AA coach of the year.
“That meant a lot,” Foster said, “because it’s voted by other coaches, your peers.” Foster put together this stellar team out of a bunch of over-achieving newcomers and underclassmen.
Although seven of the 12 who went brought home medals, only three on the state delegation were seniors, Hicks, fellow heavyweight Cody Dobbs and first-time state medalist Jesse Kilthau (145). Next year, with state veteran Alex Pennington returning from an injury, Foster will have nine wrestlers with state tournament experience all of whom figure to return.
For Hicks, the achievement was even more impressive as he is probably one of the lightest wrestlers to ever capture the heavyweight crown. At 208 pounds he’s seven under the weight limit for the next lower class, 215, and was outweighed anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds by all his opponents.
He got to the championship bracket by pins in his first two matches and then decisioned his third-round opponent 7-3. He met Aberdeen’s huge Ben Seath in the finals and even though the score was fairly close, Foster said the outcome was never in doubt. Hicks scored with a take-down early on, and whenever Seath tried to stand after that for an escape, Hicks would just pick him up and body slam him back to the mat, like dropping a beluga off a cliff. “That kid’s probably never been picked up like that,” said Foster, “and Shane had him up over his head five times in that match. He’s a very strong kid.”
Blaine’s other solid hope to win a championship, Jacob Humphrey (119), met returning state champ (at 103 pounds) Nick Burnham of Olympia’s Black Hills high school in the championship round after quickly going through earlier opponents.
He had control of the match until the closing seconds when an ill-advised move cost him enough to tie the match and send it into sudden death overtime. Burnham got the first points in a takedown and just like that Humphrey ended up with second place. You can be sure that such lapses are a thing of the past for this determined junior who will now enter his senior season with something to prove.
Other Blaine wrestlers, some of whom failed to place in the medal standings, acquitted themselves well in this arena where a win is very tough to get. Freshman Tony Jordan (125) pinned his first opponent before losing two in a row. Junior D.J. Duncan (125) beat last year’s runner-up to get into the finals for eighth place.
Freshman Kyler Mackowiak (130) wrestled the eventual runner-up first and gave him a good battle before succumbing 15-10. Sophomore Camden Nix (130) went 3-2 on the weekend to place seventh in his division.
Sophomore Jamal Mallak wrestled way over his head to go 2-3 for an eighth place finish, doing it from having barely made it into the tournament with fourth place finishes at both sub regionals and regionals. Junior Tyson Foster (140) lost his opening round match, then won, and then barely lost his third round match 2-0 to miss medalling by a whisker.
Four year tourney veteran Jesse Kilthau (145) managed to go 2-3 to medal for the first time with an eighth place finish. Sophomore Jeremy Holdaas wrestled the top competitors in his division, going 0-2 and out, but promises to be back in a big way next year.
Junior Darrell Price (189) got a fifth place by going 3-2 in a division in which four of the top five state competitors are part of our region, meaning that the competition has been state-level tough for three weeks.
Senior Cody Dobbs (285) wrestled well, Foster said, losing two close decisions. Hick’s win, which came at the end, catapulted Blaine into second over Black Hills.
The wrestling isn’t over, either. Foster’s Blaine Barracudas program for wrestlers of any grade level begins this next week on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
The younger kids up through the sixth grade begin at 6 p.m. and the older kids from grade seven though 12 meet at 7 p.m. in the wrestling room at the high school.