By Oliver Lazenby
Blaine seniors Jacob Westfall and Aidan Button won their weight classes and led Blaine wrestlers to a second place team finish against 20 schools at the Battle at the Border on December 7-8 at Blaine High School.
Though Blaine is almost always in the top three at its biggest home tournament of the wrestling season, head coach Tom Hinz hopes success at the tournament will help Blaine wrestlers mentally.
“One thing to work on as a team is our confidence. We’re better wrestlers than we believe we are,” he said.
Two of six wrestlers who placed at the tournament have only wrestled for a year and some beginners on the team have potential to wrestle into the postseason, they just don’t realize it yet, Hinz said.
Westfall, who placed third at the state championship last year at 182 pounds, pinned his way to a victory in the 195-pound weight class with relative ease. Westfall’s performance earned him the “outstanding wrestler of the tournament” award. “It was a great tournament for him,” Hinz said. “He’s coming into his own and his wrestling was just really solid.”
Button, Blaine’s other winner, faced stiffer competition on his way to the top of the podium, wrestling Julian Kennedy of Black Hills High School in the finals. Kennedy placed sixth at 160 pounds at last year’s state tournament (Button placed fifth at 152 pounds at state).
Button’s match against Kennedy came with high stakes; he wrestled last for the Borderites and stepping onto the mat he knew he had to win to secure a second place team score for Blaine.
“It was the most nerve-wracking match, definitely,” Hinz said.
Button got off to an early lead against Kennedy and wrestled defensively through the second and third round to win.
Blaine senior Ethan Deming placed third at 160 pounds, junior Gavino Rodriguez placed third at 220, senior Alex Hall placed fifth at 145 pounds and sophomore Colton Pedersen placed fifth at 182 pounds.
Steilacoom High School won the Battle at the border, scoring 155 team points to Blaine’s 135.5.
Next, Blaine wrestlers travel to the Paul Reiman Classic at Mount Vernon High School and the Lynnwood Classic at Lynnwood High School, both on Saturday, December 15.