By Tara Nelson
Rooney makes state tournament
Playing what head tennis coach John Freal said was the “match of a lifetime,” Blaine junior Veronica Rooney overcame long odds, a skinned knee and a tough match against a close friend to take the third and final spot at the state tennis tournament out of the Northwest district tournament held last weekend in Bellingham.
Rooney won both matches on the first day of the three-day event at Sehome High School, one of them against Bellingham ace Maddie Pearce, who brought a season record of 15-3 out on the court.
The first set was all Rooney as she sent Pearce off on her shield 6-2. The second set provided a nasty spill with the score tied 3-3 as Rooney slid across the concrete like a macaroon on a sidewalk, leaving little bits here and there and dropped the second set 3-6.
Bloody but unbowed, Rooney came back in the third to force deuce a dozen times before taking three points in a row and with it the set and match. That set up a day two collision with South Whidbey’s formidable Lindsay Newman, who took 12 straight games to win 6-0, 6-0.
That put Rooney into the consolation semi’s against last year’s number one singles player in Blaine (and Rooney’s life-long friend) Alex Dolk.
The winner would earn the right to face Burlington’s maven of underspin Jayne Thomas for a trip to the state tournament, a frying pan into the fire kind of thing where winning would be all but impossible.
If Dolk did anything for her friend in loosing a close one 6-2, 7-5, it was to sharpen Rooney’s game and give her a momentum she carried into her afternoon match with Thomas. She took the first set with a lopsided 6-2 in a match that was all finesse and spin, the upstart versus the old pro, youth versus experience.
Thomas came back to take the second 3-6, but Rooney walked away with the third 6-3 and with it earned a trip to the University of Washington, site of the state AA tournament.
Thomas, Pearce and Newman had all beaten her during the season, but as they say, the trick is to peak at the right time, and the lanky 5’11” junior certainly did.
“She played the match of her life,” Freal said later, “by playing smart and hitting lots of open areas on the court, a different one each time, to score. It was a nice win.” This will be the sixteenth time Coach Freal will take players to state from Blaine in the 20 years he’s been coaching.
Blaine track and field moves on to district
Blaine’s state-ranked track teams had a field day, no pun intended, at last week’s conference meet at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium.
The boys finished third to last year’s top two teams, Sehome and Sedro Woolley, and just nicked state-ranked Lynden by a single point in the process.
The girls also were bested only by ranked teams that last year finished first (Sehome), second (Burlington-Edison) and fifth (Bellingham) in the state tournament.
In addition, three Blaine school records were set as well as two meet records.
Blaine junior Shayne Moore set a school record in the 110 hurdles of 15.32 seconds, edging out rival Jeff Adams of Burlington by just 2 hundredths of a second, literally the blink of an eye.
Moore was dead even with Adams going over the final hurdle but beat him with an effective finishing kick.
Moore finished second in the 300 meter hurdles by 1.6 seconds to Bellingham’s Logan Darling, and was also on the second place mile relay team of sophomore Tim Bradley, senior Freddie Johncox, Moore and senior Douglas Ramirez.
They finished just seconds behind Lynden’s top-ranked 4x400 rely team, but head coach Mike Grambo still felt good about the win given the caliber of competition.
Ramirez, in fact, faced national caliber competition in the 800 meter run, twice around the big oval. He finished fourth in the state last year with a time not far from the 158.2 he got in Friday’s meet, still six seconds off the pace set by Sehome’s Mason McHenry.
In the field events, Bryan Chau was well into the money with a shot put of 48 feet, 5 and a quarter inches.
Alex Bresnan, who went to state last year in the long jump, finished second with a prodigious leap of 20 feet five inches and got a fourth in the triple jump at 40 feet two inches.
The pole vault was won by Blaine freshman Brett Mattson at 12 feet three inches, and Blaise Carey of Blaine got third at 12 feet even. Blaine finished one-two in the high jump, with both Connor Oldham and Nate Tewalt clearing the bar at five feet 10 inches, Tewalt winning on the basis of fewer misses at that height.
Blaine junior Bre Olason won the 200 in 26.33, got a second by just two tenths of a second in the 100 at 12.9 and anchored the four by 200 relay team that set a meet record of 146.8.
Along with sophomore Robin Taylor, senior Alison Raine and senior Lacey Montgomery, the same foursome got a third in the four by 100 just a second behind Burlington.
Montgomery accounted for two of the five records Blaine set at the meet with a first in the 300 hurdles at 47.01 and a second in the 100 hurdles by just seven hundredths of a second that nonetheless was still a Blaine school record of 15.9.
Robin Taylor, who has already made the highest leap in AA ranks in the state this year in the pole vault, easily took the event at 11 feet as well as getting a first in the four by 200 relay, third in the high jump and third in the four by 100 relay.
Her all-around performance is so strong it looks as if we may have a budding decathlon champ coming up through the ranks.
Twenty-one Blaine track athletes moved on to the district meet, held this week in Duvall, by finishing in the top eight in their event.
State awaits those who finish in the top four at this week’s meet, and they’ll meet for the final game Memorial Day weekend at Mt. Tahoma high school in Tacoma.
For the week of May 9
5-9 Class AA sub-district meet at civic Stadium; Boys: Sehome 153, Burlington 120, Blaine 100, Lynden 99 Bellingham 93, Anacortes 64.5, Mt. Baker 29.5 Girls: Sehome 180.5, Burlington 179, Bellingham 108, Blaine 85.5, Mt. Baker 52, Anacortes 44, Lynden 41.
5-13 Northwest District Tournament: Marcus Yu, 79, 81 – 160, tied with three others for tenth place to qualify for state
tournament 5/20-5/21 at Loomis Trail; Nicole Christiansen, 185, finished 16th to qualify for state tournament 5/20-5/21 at Homestead, Lynden.
5-12 play-in game - Granite Falls 10, Blaine 0
5-9 – NW District tournament:
Lindsay Newman def. Veronica Rooney (Blaine) 6-0, 6-0; Alex Dolk (Blaine) def. Karli Hesselman (Lakewood) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6; Veronica Rooney (Blaine) def. Alex Dolk (Blaine) 6-4, 7-5; 5-10: Veronica Rooney (Blaine) def. Jayne Thomas (Burlington) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.