Sports -- February 22, 2007

Published on Thu, Feb 22, 2007
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by Jack Kintner

Blaine wrestlers earn top spots at state

Jacob Humphrey didn’t win his class at state, but prevailing in his semi-final match, he won a lot more – the respect of everyone in the Tacoma Dome after wrestling Levi Zadorozney in what coach Craig Foster called the most exciting match he’s ever coached.

Humphrey, a sophomore, marched through his first two matches at Mat Classic XIX, the state tournament held annually in the Tacoma Dome. He began with a 9-5 decision over Kenny Sanders of Ellensburg and Pinned Washougal’s Daniel McElhaney in 2:39 in his quarter final match.

That set the stage for Humphrey’s first encounter with Zadorozney, last year’s runner-up in 103 to Humphrey’s nemesis J.J. Garza of Toppenish. Garza, who has a physique like a freshly cut stump, pinned Humphrey in 30 seconds in last year’s semifinal at 103 pounds. Humphrey won his last match to finish third in 2006, and Garza crushed Zadorozney to take the 103-pound title.

This year all three wrestlers have moved up to 112. In their semi-final match Zadorozney moved ahead of Humphrey 5-0 in the early going but Humphrey caught him and tied it at 10 toward the end of the third round. Then things got interesting as both wrestlers began scoring fast, as happens in the lighter classes where things are often just a cobra and mongoose blur.

These two moved so fast the officials lost track of who was doing what to whom when where and how, and after initially giving Humphrey the win 13-12 officials conferred and decided that the two were tied at 11 after all, and the match went into overtime.

The first overtime is sudden death and lasts a minute if no one scores. No one did. The second and third periods are each 30 seconds long and are not stopped. Points are added at the end, like in a regular wrestling round, but the winner must finish the 30-second period.

Humphrey deliberately let Zadorozney up for a one-point escape so he could score a two-point takedown for the one point 13-12 lead, but officials failed to start the game clock for the third overtime. After another lengthy conference officials put 18 seconds back on the clock but Humphrey held on for the narrow win and a shot at Garza and the title.

Humphrey wrestled Garza evenly in the title match going into the third period tied at 4. Late in the final period Garza caught Humphrey in a double-leg take down to break a 4-all tie and move ahead, winning the match and the title 8 to 5.

With the win Garza’s record went to 37-0, although Foster praised Humphrey’s determination. “He nearly got pinned, so to recover like that and to come back from being down 4-0, that was good,” Foster said.

Blaine junior Shane Hicks finished fourth in the most competitive bracket in the tournament, the 189 pound class, that had seven former state placers including a defending champion. Hicks went 2-0 the first day with decisions over Marc Chitwood of River Ridge 9-1 and Kyle Druffel of Pullman 9-2. On Saturday he faced eventual – champion – Erich Schmidtke of Aberdeen in the semifinals and lost, eventually going 3-2 for the tourney and finishing a respectable fourth. Alex Pennington lost his first two matches and did not place in his first trip to state.

In team scores, Blaine finished in twenty-second place with 33 points, well behind Mt. Baker’s third place with 101.5 points but ahead of both Sehome and Lynden.

Blaine girls give as good as they got

In an anti-climactic finish to a promising but uneven season, Blaine dropped its last home game to the undefeated Anacortes Seahawks 61 to 32 in a contest that meant little beyond seeding placements for post-season play.

“We’re in the post-season,” said head coach Rob Adams, “so we’re just going to go up against the best double-AA team in the state and see what happens.”

With the score tied at 0 Blaine surged to an early 2-0 lead for a nanosecond or two but then Anacortes took off like a rocket and was quickly out of sight. And that was it for Blaine’s offense until Alyssa Hendrickson sunk a trey with a minute left in the first quarter. At the half the score stood at 37 to 11, and at the end of the third quarter 50 to 17.

But then, in one of those cosmic turnarounds, Blaine began to play ball at the end and actually outscored the Seahawks by four, 15 to 11. Adams remained calm as his team got picked apart like a fourth of July watermelon by the Anacortes defense. Still, Kellee Harbst got her double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Hendrickson gave as good as she got.

Borderites fall just short of victory

The Borderites played their most distant league opponent last Friday night, traveling to Anacortes for a valiant effort that fell just short, 68-59, in overtime.

The fairly large number of Blaine fans who made the trip spent much of the evening trying to decide which was worse, the lackadaisical officiating or the tuneless banging of the Seahawk pep band, amplified to a tooth-rattling pitch by a sound system that seemed designed more for medical experiments than entertainment. Between the two the evening was about as pleasant as sitting on tacks.

Blaine’s Joey Paciorek, who is maturing into a solid performer week in and week out, came up large in this last regular season contest with 19 points and a number of key rebounds, as did Nate Tewalt with 17 points, both of whom helped make up for double and triple-teamed Mike Pianki’s sub-par six points.

Paciorek’s solid defensive presence and sure handed defensive rebounding kept Anacortes’ big man Scott Kovach, from dominating.

Blaine led by two at the end of the first quarter but Anacortes came back to tie at 27 at the half. Blaine trailed by one at the end of three quarters but went ahead in the fourth quarter, Mike Pianki just missing a shot to win with seconds left. In overtime some poorly chosen fouls put Blaine down by five almost immediately, and in the end Anacortes walked off the winner by nine.

Dubious officiating didn’t help, but Blaine failed to put the Seahawks away, something they had more than one chance to do.

However painful the loss after such a disciplined and productive effort, the game meant little as Blaine, now 8-13 over-all and 4-8 in league play, defeated Sultan 59-57 in Tuesday night’s play-in game to move forward in post-season play.

The Borderites will face Mt. Baker in Deming Thursday night February 22 at 7 p.m., the winner to go to the district tournament in Mount Vernon.

Marathon runner: ‘Wind can kill you’

Five-time winner of the Birch Bay marathon and Birch Bay resident Pete Hansen was relegated to second place in this year’s race when Air Force sergeant. Michael Bergquist’s travel orders to an east coast race got fouled up, leaving him with a free weekend with no place to go. Bergquist, 50, drove to Birch Bay and ran a 2:49:20 race, eight minutes short of his personal best and eight minutes ahead of Hansen’s 2:57:22.

Jennifer Yogi of Seattle, visiting Birch Bay for the first time, was the fastest woman at 3:22:45. Jennifer Stack, a Birch Bay resident forced to sit out the race with an injury, said the wind played havoc with the racers on what was otherwise a good day for running, dry, sunny and cool. “It’s a good race to run, a qualifier for the Boston Marathon,” Stack said, “but wind can just kill you.”