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June 3, 2010

Best of Blair Sports

by Gardi Royce, Page Editor
BEST GIRLS' TEAM: Varsity Soccer- After a phenomenal season in which the girls' varsity soccer went 14-2, the 2009 season was filled with high expectations. Anchored by a team of experienced and talented girls, the Blazers took the county by storm, beating all teams except Bethesda-Chevy Chase en-route to a 12-2 season. However, B-CC proved to be their Achilles tendon, beating them in the regional semifinals. Lead by a stringent defense anchored by senior Imani Pierre. The Blazers consistently forced bad shots and irritated offenses with their lock down play. Head coach Robert Gibb attributed their success to their consistency and experience as a team. "A lot of our success was built from the previous year. We gained a lot of confidence and went into the season trying to win Counties and possibly even have success at the highest level. It all came down to the commitment and desire that we played with." With graduating seniors including Imani Pierre, Sarah Frank, Elana Gold, Erica Horne, Kelly Pelz-Butler, Darcy Pelz- Butler and Jenna Williams, the Blazers were an experienced and battle-tested team. Despite losing so many seniors, the Blazers look to the leadership of junior Sofia Read and sophomore Jamie Kator.

BEST BOYS' TEAM: Tennis- During a year in which the boys' teams have displayed lack luster performance, the boys' varsity Tennis team proved once again why they are a force to be reckoned with. With a talented group made up of highly dedicated players, the team was able to end the season with a 8-3 record, sending multiple pairs to Counties and Regional's. This rejuvenation lead first time tennis fan junior Benson Welles to become extremely impressed with the play and intensity of the Blazers. "I never realized tennis was this serious but after watching those guys play, I was just blown away." Welles's newfound respect for the sport reflected the Blazers' work ethic that made the sport fun to watch. Head coach David Ngbea attributed the team's success to their hard work and intensity during practice. "We are always competitive and in the past we've lost some close matches, but we've laid a lot of emphasis on basic fundamentals. At every practice, we do drills that prepare our players for game time situations." Senior Dukyong Park has been a standout player this year, placing second at Counties and representing all of MCPS in the upcoming state championships.

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: Emily Haislip- One year after being named to the First Team all County softball team in 2008-09, junior Emily Haislip came into the 2010 season with high expectations and increasing notoriety. Known as one of the strongest defensive catchers in the area, Haislip is also one of the best hitters in the county, helping to give the Blazers a definitive edge on the offensive side. With a team leading .438 batting percentage and 24 Runs Batted In, Haislip proved during the season why she was considered such a force on offense. Her ability to stay strong in stressful situations helped her become one of the true leaders on the team. Despite her success and abilities however, Haislip took a humble approach to her success. "I really think my success comes from the team and coaches around me, and I have to continue working and getting better for next season." This humble attitude has helped her become not only a leader on but also off the field. Teammate junior Kaitlyn Harmison credited Haislip's success with to her dedication and team-first attitude. "She's so consistent, we can always rely on her in tough situations and can count on her to keep everyone's attitude and moral up." While her on field accolades continue to pile up, Haislip has also maintained strict practice routines that she hopes will benefit her in the future. "I plan on working really hard this off season so that I can come back next season stronger and able to push further in the playoffs," she said.

BEST MALE ATHLETE: Andrew Gondor-Following a break-out 2008-09 football season, senior Andrew Gondor harnessed his potential and became one of the best players in the area. With over 1300 all purpose yards and 11 total touchdowns, Gondor established himself as an intimidating force on both offense and defense. Gondor was one of the most productive safeties in the county, recording eight interceptions and 60 tackles. His speed contributed to an extremely successful Track and Field season where he recorded eight wins and two losses in the 100 and 200-meter events. His dedication to practice paid off when he placed fifth at Counties in the 100-meter dash, which he will run in the upcoming State Championship. Senior football Co-captain Alex Egbar believes Gondor's success at both sports resulted from one factor. "He's unquestionably the fastest player I've ever seen. He has an understanding about football that allows him to see plays developing before they happen." Concord University recognized his dedication and passion and rewarded him with a full football scholarship.

BEST MOMENT- Down 5-3 to Sherwood in the top of the seventh inning, the Blair girls' varsity softball team were stuck in a grave situation. As the inning progressed, the Blazers were able to muster one run, but still trailed 5-4 as the end approached. For most fans watching, the game seemed over unless the Blazers were able to pull off a miracle. With the tying run on third, junior Blake Morgan-Gamber managed to get on first base and potentially secure the game-winning run. Despite the tense situation, junior Kaitlyn Harmison felt the team was in a good position to win. "We felt that if Emily could muster some strength, we'd be able to pull off the win. She's so clutch and we kind of expected her to come up big." With two outs remaining in the final period, junior Emily Haislip stepped up to the plate with the game on her shoulders. As the fans roared, the first team all county catcher eyed the pitcher with determination and confidence. As the pitch sailed in, Haislip crushed the ball deep into right center field for a two run triple that finished off the Blazer's improbable comeback. While the win provided great motivation for the Blazer's season and confidence, it also gave them a sense of redemption, as Sherwood ended the Blazer's playoff dreams last year.




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