Lofty goals accompany Blaine's Antczak

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 30, 2013 

Blaine’s Mike Antczak, top, controls a leg of Mount Baker’s Matthew Scoles on Wednesday Jan. 16, in Deming.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Blaine's Mikey Antczak claims to be quiet in nature - more soft-spoken than anything else.

A disagreement presents itself, though, when the 6-foot, 250-pound senior wrestler graces the mat and proceeds to toss around his Borderite teammates with relative ease.

"We don't have anyone in the room who can compete with him," Blaine coach Craig Foster said in a phone interview. "We have a few workout partners that work out with him every day, but he can score on most of those guys at will."

That's nothing to be ashamed of, since Antczak has presented that same problem to most heavyweights he's faced for the better part of three years.

Antczak is Blaine's top-returning state-finisher from last year, placing fourth in the Class 1A heavyweight division. The Borderites as a team finished eighth amongst all Class 1A teams at the state tournament last year, and they return eight of their 11 state participants from a year ago. Blaine found particular success competing within the Northwest Conference, posting a perfect 4-0 record last season, and its bid for another conference title begins at Meridian on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Antczak isn't too far removed from being the 320-pound freshman Foster remembers from three years ago, coasting in to first team meeting of the season knowing as much about wrestling as he did nuclear physics. What he did see, though, was potential. That and an extra 35 pounds he had to lose before he could even consider wrestling.

"I knew that I had to cut a bunch of weight off," Antczak said in a phone interview. "I've always been bigger than everyone else, and (I) knew we didn't have a heavy weight, so I just tried out."

Half a season passed before he was down to 285, and his first match came in a JV meet against Mount Baker. He was quite a departure then from the kid that became a three-time state wrestler.

"I didn't really know what I was doing," Antczak said. "I went out there and stayed low ... and I lost the match. It was just kind of weird, (and) I didn't know if I wanted to keep doing it, then I just fell in love with it."

The development was rapid, Foster said, because the sizable freshman had "really good mobility" for a kid his size.

High expectations have accompanied his quick ascension in the sport who only barely knew of a few years ago. Last year, the goal was simple: Win the Class 1A state championship. He lost in the semifinals to would-be champion Cody Zyph from Kiona-Benton High School 7-4. Antczak went on to take fourth, but as he stepped off the mat against Zyph, watching his title hopes drift away, no consolation prize was going to be enough.

In his eyes, he had failed in meeting his expectations.

"I thought I was for sure going to win," said Antczak, who led Zyph after the first round. "The rest, it kind of is a blur. I don't remember what happened."

The feeling he does remember, the one of coming up short, lingered the entire offseason. It's served as motivation, with his goals being no different than they were a year ago. The only difference now is that he's not walking around at 285 pounds.

Antczak approached workouts in the offseason with an intensity unlike years past. When rigorous lifting sessions would conclude, and the other Borderites would head home, he would take to the track or run some extra stairs. Come time for wrestling season to begin, the senior was leading the team in sprints at a svelte 250 pounds.

"To me, he just looks good," Foster said. "I was noticing his calves, and they were cut. You could see a lot of definition in them."

Foster admitted having a bit of apprehension seeing the weight he had lost, knowing that his size and strength was a key piece to his past success. That soon dissipated, though, when he saw him move at his new weight, knowing his agility and speed would pose an entirely different problem for most heavy weights.

"You don't have to be the biggest heavy weight to do well," Foster said.

Before matches, Antczak sticks to a fairly simple routine. He thinks of all the people he lost to. He imagines being the state champion, hoisting the trophy he has long sought.

He imagines beating the same kid he lost to in the semifinals, who conveniently was a junior and is returning to defend his state title.

Antczak's reserved tone took to a more serious one in an instance.

"The picture in my mind, that's my motivation to get a rematch with him and show that I can beat him," he said.

Reach Alex Bigelow at alex.bigelow@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service