SEDRO-WOOLLEY - Blaine's wrestling team left no doubt who owns its half of Region 1.
As the Borderites lined up to receive their championship-winning T-shirts from coach Craig Foster, it seemed nearly half the team's wrestlers had first-place medal dangling from their necks.
Ten Borderites won titles, and Blaine ushered in the beginning of postseason wrestling with a dominant victory during the Class 1A Sub-Regional Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Sedro-Woolley High School.
Blaine scored 379.5 points, Mount Baker finished second with 217, South Whidbey followed with 173, Nooksack Valley took fourth with 167, Friday Harbor had 39 and Meridian scored 10 points.
"I think we had 10 champions - never done that before," Foster said. "I feel good about it, because the thing here is not thinking about winning the tournament, but it's to place well and get yourself aligned well with your ones and twos."
The Borderites set themselves up nicely for next week's regional, when Mat Classic berths will be handed out.
Blaine's long list of champions included Kyle Gonzales (106 pounds), Colton Economy (113), Billy Dodd (120), Riley Fritsch (126), Anthony Frey (132), Caleb Frey (138), Christian Sharp (152), Jon Stewart (160), Israel Hernandez (220) and Mikey Antczak (285).
Mount Baker's Travis Lindsey (170), Alex Ray (182) and Max Martinson (195) also won titles.
But the day belonged to the Borderites.
Blaine even had two championship matches featuring teammate against teammate. It was that kind of skillful performance.
"We got a lot of really good wrestlers, and everybody is really solid," said Stewart, who won his title by beating Mount Baker's Alex Tyska with a 5-2 decision. "Even like the JV guys, they aren't thinking about anything else but trying to make this team win state this year, and that is our biggest goal."
Next week's regional will be more telling, but again Blaine's depth was on display during sub-regionals, and a talented well-balanced group is what it takes to place well at state.
Foster had difficulty highlighting a single wrestler but loaded praise onto Dodd, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed in his weight class.
Dodd pinned Baker's Skyler Cannon in the semis before scoring a pin in 3 minutes, 36 seconds against the Mountaineers' Shelby Miles in the championship round.
"Billy Dodd beat a kid that pinned him a couple times the year before," Foster said. "Billy is going to wrestle for six minutes. He got behind early but kept going hard. He has internal fight, and that is going to win you a lot of matches."
Foster also said Caleb's 8-4 title decision over Nooksack Valley's Taylor Gardner was extra special. Caleb went to the Mat Classic last season but surprisingly had never won a tournament before Saturday.
"Everyone is working hard in the wrestling room, every single day," Sharp said. "We really want a title this year, so that is what we're hoping for. This is a good example of what we hope it can be like."
Another first-time champ was Baker's Martinson. The Mount Baker senior pinned South Whidbey's Trevor Miller in 3:03.
Like Martinson, Lindsey also earned a title-round pin. It was his second straight year winning the sub-regional, and it took him 4:43 to accomplish the feat.
"It feels pretty good," said Lindsey of the win. "Getting first last year really gave me the confidence to go ahead and get another first this year."
Baker coach Ron Lepper said the Mountaineers advanced 12 of their 13 wrestlers to regionals.
"Overall, I'm probably not happy with four matches out of the whole day, so that is a pretty good day for us," Lepper said.
Pioneers Gardner, Felix Rojas (106) and Gonzalo Mendoza-Lopez (220) each finished second, giving Nooksack Valley its top finishers. Treven Elgersma (152), who placed fifth, was Meridian's top finisher.
Up next for 1A wrestlers is the regional tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at Blaine High School.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
Class 1A Sub-Regional Wrestling Tournament
at Sedro-Woolley High Schoool
BLAINE 379.5, MOUNT BAKER 217, SOUTH WHIDBEY 173, NOOKSACK VALLEY 167, FRIDAY HARBOR 39, MERIDIAN 10
106: Kyle Gonzales (Blaine) pin Felix Rojas (Nooksack Valley) 3:32. 113: Colton Economy (Blaine) pin Jesus Torrero (Mount Baker) 1:04. 120: Billy Dodd (Blaine) pin Shelby Miles (Mount Baker) 3:36. 126: Riley Fritsch (Blaine) dec. Gage Lott (Blaine) 2-1. 132: Anthony Frey (Blaine) pin William Casados (Mount Baker) 3:58. 138: Caleb Frey (Blaine) dec. Taylor Gardner (Nooksack Valley) 8-4. 145: Andy Madsen (South Whidbey) dec. Kyrell Broyles (South Whidbey) 17-8. 152: Christian Sharp (Blaine) inj def. Jose Contreras (Blaine). 160: Jon Stewart (Blaine) dec. Alex Tyska (Mount Baker) 5-2. 170: Travis Lindsey (Mount Baker) pin Tristan Hunter (Blaine) 4:43. 182: Alex Ray (Mount Baker) dec. Tanner Anthony (Blaine) 6-4. 195: Max Martinson (Mount Baker) pin Trevor Miller (South Whidbey) 3:03. 220: Israel Hernandez (Blaine) pin Gonzalo Mendoza-Lopez (Nooksack Valley) 5:08. 285: Mikey Antczak (Blaine) dec. Pierce Jackson (South Whidbey) 9-2.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.