by Jack Kintner
Blaine wrestlers end Mt. Baker’s nine-year run
wrestlers lost a dual meet to Mt. Baker 76-0 two seasons
ago, losing every match, and lost last year twice, 58-18
But with clutch performances by Tyson Foster, Derik Stremler and Shane Hicks, and first-round pins from the three senior co-captains Calvin Moore, Nick Jordan and Blayne Brandenburger, Blaine finally defeated Mt. Baker 41-25 in a dual meet last Wednesday to hand the Mountaineers their first dual meet loss in 61 matches going back to the 1995-96 season. The victory was decisive, and cheered on by a much larger crowd than normally is present.
Blaine was the last school to defeat Mt. Baker before the victory string began. Baker coach Larry Lepper, a close friend of Blaine’s Craig Foster, named wrestling coach of the year last season, put together a string of nine league dual meet titles, nine regional championships and 10 district championships. Prior to that, Blaine had owned or shared in the league championship for 19 straight years.
Blaine knew it had a chance to win but the atmosphere was tense and focused going in. Following some preliminary JV action, including four exhibition matches between members of Mt. Baker’s girls’ wrestling team, Blaine freshman Jacob Humphrey won at 103 pounds by default over Mt. Baker’s competent senior J.J. Chilcote, left behind since he hadn’t attended school that day. Baker sophomore Dawson Patrick then pinned Blaine sophomore Mike Petronella with 53.3 seconds left in the second period to tie the score 6-6.
a dual wrestling meet, three team points are awarded
for a decision, four are awarded for a decision where
the winner outscores his opponent by eight or more points,
five team points are awarded when the difference is 15
or more and six are awarded for either a pin or a forfeit.
The next Blaine wrestler was the head coach’s son, freshman Tyson Foster (119). He scored two points early on a take-down but lost his experienced opponent, senior David McCracken, who scored on an escape.
In the second period McCracken scored four quick points as the wrestlers struggled more or less evenly, McCracken’s experience showing in his ability to score on the younger Foster. With the score 6-2 in McCracken’s favor, Foster got a two-point reversal to narrow the gap to 6-4. In the third period Foster came out like he’d had a two-hour nap, refreshed and loaded for bear, and put five more unanswered points on the board to carry the match 9-6.
The decisive win “was the best feeling of my life!” Foster later exclaimed, finally old enough to wrestle on his dad’s varsity team and coming through big time to set the tone for the evening.
Mike Broyan (125) majored Baker sophomore Tommy Williamson to put Blaine up 13-6, and then Baker’s Colten Steagull (130) majored Blaine’s gutty senior Sam Abrams to cut Blaine’s lead to 13-10. Jesse Kilthau (135) then came out and basically mopped up the mat with Baker’s Eli Jacoby, majoring him 13-3 for a 17-10 Blaine lead.
Enter Calvin Moore (140), who traded weight classes with Derik Stremler (145). Moore walked out and flattened his opponent, Pat Olcott, with a 40-second pin to make the score Blaine 23, Baker 10. Stremler took on Baker sophomore Ben Lavergne and wrestled him evenly for most of the tough match. After a scoreless first period Stremler put together a 2-1 lead in the second, and with less than two seconds left in the third managed a one point escape to take the match 4-3 and a 26-10 Blaine lead.
Baker’s Kyle Brown (1252) then ended the Baker scoring drought with a come-from-behind 12-7 win over Blaine’s John Brady, who lead 5-4 at the end of two on the strength of a two-point escape with less than five seconds left. Team scores now stood at Blaine 26, Baker 13.
Co-captain Nick Jordan (160) was next, introducing Baker freshman Matt Cronk to varsity level competition with a first period pin with 45.2 seconds left. “This is great,” said Jordan, who suffered through some of Blaine’s darkest athletic moments in reaching this goal, “to be so focused, so confident.”
Blaine sophomore Shane Hicks, the toughest 171 pounds in the room, then squared off with Baker senior Alex Sigmon in a match that Baker had to win to keep their hopes of winning the meet alive. The two circled each other warily, and with 20 seconds left in the first Hicks scored two points. At the end of two the score stood at 5-2 in favor of Hicks, and in the third Sigmon scored a one point escape to narrow the lead to two. At the end of the period Hicks received a one-point penalty for clasping his hands together (all that’s allowed is a so-called “Indian Grip”), but he held on to score a one point victory, 5-4, and clinch the dual meet for Blaine.
Baker’s Scott Johnson (189) pinned Blaine’s Niko Rehon to narrow the team score to 35-19, but Blayne Brandenburger (215), wrestling up one class, pinned Baker’s Zach Gorne in the first period for a 41-19 Blaine lead. Heavyweight Evan Smit of Baker, probably their best wrestler, pinned Blaine sophomore Cody Dobbs for a final meet score of 41-25.