BLAINE - Blaine heavyweight Mike Antczak, who has already enjoyed his share of colorful victories in the past three years, didn't need to throw any extra excitement into fulfilling one of his many senior-season dreams.
Antczak became the only Whatcom County champion at Blaine's annual Battle at the Border, a 20-team wrestling event in which longtime coach Craig Foster tries to pack as much talent as possible.
Don't bet against the three Blaine runners-up, however, when it comes to dreams.
Senior state meet veterans Jon Stewart and Kyle Gonzales and sophomore Stuey Rasar all displayed plenty of ambition and talent in the two-day show, which tries to provide a hint of state tournament atmosphere.
Perhaps the most ambitious Borderite, however, is the intense Antczak (285). He finished fourth at Class 1A state last season and earned his first Battle at the Border title while holding on for a 6-4 victory over Sedro-Woolley senior Jay Moore, who was eighth at 2A state.
Will anything less than a state title satisfy Antczak?
"Definitely not," said Antczak (8-1), who took a 6-2 advantage with a two-point takedown with 40 seconds remaining. He then held on to deny Moore his 99th career win, although Moore was awarded a stalling point and scored on an escape.
"I felt I could have wrestled better," said Antczak, who went 4-0 with three pins for the tournament. "I should have tried to take more shots."
Stewart (160) suffered a closer-than-it-looks 6-3 loss to rugged Liberty junior Conner Small (9-0), who was fifth at state as a sophomore.
"I gained a little confidence despite the loss," said Stewart (8-2), whose other defeat this season was to Toppenish's Brent Evans, a third-place medalist at state 2A last year.
"I went to three camps over the summer and I was home for only two weeks," said Stewart, who is 40-10 for his career. "I'm under the radar, but I'm in amazing shape. One of my goals is not to lose to any other 1A wrestlers this season."
That's a slick way to talk about state title ambitions.
Stewart trailed only 3-2 into the final seconds of the second period, but could not add to his point total until he scored an escape in the last seconds of the final period.
The only other Whatcom County finalists, Gonzales and Rasar, helped the Borderites amass enough points to tie Class 4A Kentwood for second with 234 points. Sedro-Woolley, looking like the 2A title contender longtime coach Jay Breckenridge hopes to develop, won the championship with 273 points.
Rasar (5-3) lost 9-3 at 106 pounds to Sedro-Woolley freshman Bryce Hornbeck (11-1), renowned as one of the state's finest young prospects. Gonzales (7-2), like Antczak and Stewart a state meet veteran, suffered a 15-0 technical fall in the finals to Todd Beamer senior Brett Dykman.
"I really wanted to win Battle at the Border two years in a row," said Gonzales, who prevailed at 106 last year. "Now I'm in a new weight class, and some of these guys are a lot stronger than what I'm used to, but I still stick in there.
"My goal is to get re-certified at 106 (for the postseason) and go back to state (for the third year in a row). Both Stuey and I can wrestle at 106 in the tournament (the state finals allow two wrestlers from the same school at the same weight)."
Rasar -- the son of Jim Rasar, head coach Craig Foster's longtime assistant at Blaine -- trailed only 3-2 to Hornbeck entering the third period, displaying considerable potential.
"I gained a little bit of confidence, knowing I can compete with tougher guys," said Rasar. "My goal as a sophomore is to place at state."
Foster, in his 24th season at Blaine and 34th overall, was impressed by how stubbornly Rasar competed.
"That other kid is really good," Foster said of Hornbeck.
Next weekend, Foster said he is looking forward to taking his team to the two-day, 65-team Tri-State Tournament in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
"I really like facing a lot of competition at higher levels in good tournaments," said Foster. "Ten of our guys made the podium today."
In all, Blaine had 52 wins (with 20 by pin) and 25 losses, with third-place medals going to Billy Dodd (120), Riley Fritsch (126), Gage Lott (132), Caleb Frey (145) and Christian Sharp (152). Tristan Hunter (160) took a sixth.
In other Whatcom County accomplishments, Squalicum's Anthony Krause (113) claimed a fifth and teammates Spencer Wallace (120) and Luke Jordan (126) were sixth. Sehome's Zack Zimmerman (195) took a sixth.
Rochester's Lucas Eastman (152) was named Outstanding Wrestler by vote of the coaches. He had four consecutive pins and got a 4-2 decision over Sedro-Woolley's Jacob Farrell in the finals.
The other Northwest Conference finalists were Sedro-Woolley's Adam Adkinson, first at 120; Anacortes' Aaron Tisinger, first over Sedro-Woolley's Nate Vaughn by 2-0 at 182; and Anacortes' Ross Atterberry, first at 195.
BATTLE AT THE BORDER
Team scores: Sedro-Woolley 273, Blaine and Kentwood 234, Everett 190, Todd Beamer 186.5, Tumwater 163, Woodland 113.5, Mount Vernon 113, Liberty 110, Elma 102.5, Kalama 102, Black Hills 97, Anacortes 95, Issaquah 94, Rochester 72, Darrington 68, Sehome 61, Squalicum 52.5, Lynden 32, Sequim 20, Blaine Orange 15.
Championship matches: 106 -- Bryce Hornbeck (S-W) d. Stuey Rasar (Blaine) 9-3; 113 -- Brett Dykman (Beamer) tech fall over Kyle Gonzales (Blaine) 15-0; 120 -- Adam Adkinson (S-W) d. Josh Pratt (Wood) 10-2; 126 -- Brian Dykman (Beamer) tech fall over Adrian Gutierrez (MV) 15-0; 132 -- Walker Meyers (Kentwood) p. Christian Bagdadi (Ev); 138 -- Haftom Tafere (Beamer) d. Gage Keesee (Black Hills) 10-5; 145 -- Dalton Meyers (Kentwood) d. Tyson Dick (Elma) 5-4; 152 -- Lucas Eastman (Roch) d. Jacob Farrell (S-W) 4-2; 160 -- Conner Small (Liberty) d. Jon Stewart (Blaine) 6-3; 170 -- Romney Noel (Liberty) d. Clark Smith (Tumwater) 1-0; 182 -- Aaron Tisinger (Ana) d. Nate Vaughn (S-W) 2-0; 195 --- Ross Atterberry (Ana) d. Zach Wardle (Wood) 3-2; 220 -- Dylan Smith (Tumwater) p. Mason Mckenzie (Darrington); 285 -- Mike Antczak (Blaine) d. Jay Moore (S-W) 6-4.