Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 12:37 pm
March 14, 2010

Out with the cold, in with the new

During the winter months, Blair's varsity sports teams sent shock waves across their respective courts. This season, Blazers broke records and overcame injuries, making playoffs in many cases. Although seniors will be leaving their winter teams behind, Blair will see a group of younger players rise to the occasion and fill the places of their graduating teammates.

Varsity Boys' Basketball
By Gardi Royce

Senior Ben Hukill makes a jump for the rim as fellow senior Cooper Neimand looks for the rebound. Lorena Kowalewski
Senior Ben Hukill makes a jump for the rim as fellow senior Cooper Neimand looks for the rebound.
Entering the season with high hopes, the Blazers hoped to improve from last year's record and form a solid team that could go far in the playoffs. As the season began, the Blazers played well, but weren't quite able to be consistent. Early woes, such as a lack of successful rebounding and decreased hustle, allowed other teams to get easy baskets and put backs. But the combination of seniors Dennis Mesidor (MVP) and co-captain Cameron Reed (Outstanding Senior) helped the Blazers produce an offense that was explosive and energized at times. Junior Josh Kickenson provided a exciting glimpse into next year's possible success, exploding for 16 points in a key game leading into the playoffs.

Despite the Blazers' occasional offensive success, crucial missed opportunities and basic plays proved to be their downfall. The Blair team constantly missed free throws and turned the ball over. Although they failed to capitalize on frequent opportunities, the Blazers maintained a solid defense through out the entire season. They were able to consistently hold opponents to 50 points or less, a decent average for a high school team. Unfortunately, their offense was unable to take advantage of this opportunity. The combination of solid defense and late season determination allowed the Blazers an unexpected playoff berth, as they upset Sherwood and almost beat heavily-favored Richard Montgomery in the second round of the playoffs.

Throughout the season, the Blazers relied heavily on their seniors; Mesidor, Reed and Cooper Neimand logged most of the minutes during the games. Reed and Mesidor's play made Blair fans continue to support the sinking team, as each game provided the players another chance to shine. Reed was the heart behind the team; he sacrificed his body for success by constantly hitting the deck and diving for loose balls. His calm composure kept the Blazers competitive in tough games. When Reed was tightly covered, Mesidor proved he was able to lead the team in rebounding and scoring. The tandem of these high school stars helped the Blazers continue through a 4-19 season and leave the court with dignity and grace.

Varsity Girls' Basketball
By Masha Lafen

Junior Janet Henkai takes a jumpshot early in the game. Lorena Kowalewski
Junior Janet Henkai takes a jumpshot early in the game.
The girls' varsity basketball team ended their season with a 10 - 12 record after their first playoff game against Wootton. The game was a highlight of the season, as the Lady Blazers were eliminated by just a four-point margin. "We played really strong in our last game," head coach Erin Conley said.

Junior captain Janet Henkai also mentioned the win against Clarksburg as a season highlight. In this game, the Lady Blazers beat on by a buzzer beater in the last seconds of the game.

Although the team was disappointed that they did not win more games throughout the season, Conley said the team faced tougher opponents than last winter, which allowed them to improve their play. "The quality of basketball was better," she said.

According to Conley, the team improved their defense, shot selection and turnovers during the season. Sophmore Johanna Lopez and senior Inkera Patterson were crucial members of the offense. "It's hard to play without either of them on the court," Conley said. Lopez, who was named team MVP, was also the team's highest scorer.

Conley is looking forward to future seasons. Since nine members of this year's team will be returning as juniors, the Lady Blazers will have time to practice together for two more years. Conley hopes the team will advance farther in the playoffs next season and make it to the state championships.

Ice Hockey
By Eli Okun

Senior Logan Schwebel defends against an oncoming B-CC player. Lorena Kowalewski
Senior Logan Schwebel defends against an oncoming B-CC player.
The Blair ice hockey team capped off one of its most successful seasons in years with a coveted playoff berth, finishing at a 6 - 6 record after losing on Jan. 29 in the first round of the postseason to Walt Whitman, a team that eventually made it to the state championship game.

The Blazers' showing was their best since 2005, resurging from a 2 - 5 start to slip into the playoffs after clinching crucial wins over Sherwood and Bethesda Chevy-Chase. Blair's speed and skating talent propelled the team to victory, with particularly effective performances from seniors Jens Josephs, Max Pollacco and Logan Schwebel and freshman goalie Michel Devynck.

Head coach Kevin McCabe said he was proud of his team's achievements on the ice this winter. "They played with speed and tempo, and the way we finished I'm thrilled with [it,]" he said.

Blair managed to fight through a variety of obstacles to make it to the playoffs. A rash of injuries and a tough schedule early on threatened the Blazers' stability, but they were able to pull together as a team and rally past well-matched opponents.

This season, Blair fulfilled its primary goal by snatching one of the four league playoff spots, along with traditional powerhouses Thomas S. Wootton, Whitman and Winston Churchill. Although the Blazers will lose several experienced seniors who have been on the team for four years, a strong crop of underclassmen including Devynck and freshman forward Rudy Carson indicate that Blair hockey will remain competitive for years to come.

Varsity Swim and Dive
By Blake Morgan-Gamber

Sophomore Nik Hamond dives in to anchor the Men's 400 Free relay, the last event of the day. Lorena Kowalewski
Sophomore Nik Hamond dives in to anchor the Men's 400 Free relay, the last event of the day.
The swim and dive team ended their season with a winning record. The boys were undefeated with a record of 4-0 and the girls finished with a record of 3-1.

The boys defeated the favorite team, Sherwood, to take first place in the Division II competition. They also placed fourth out of 24 teams at counties and ninth at the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships (Metros), which was their final competition. The girls swam a lot of close races; they placed fourth in Division II, eighth at Counties and twentieth at Metros, which coach David Swaney noted as the girls' best showing ever. At Metros, the Blair team overall placed eleventh, which was their best ever combined score.

This year's team broke several Blair records during their successful season. Senior captain Jeff Lin broke the 200 yard Individual Medley Relay record for the boys, while Lin, along with senior captain Nate Hukill, junior captain Eric Ruggieri and sophomore Nik Hammond, broke the 400 yard Freestyle Relay record. Lin, Ruggieri, Hammond and junior Winston Liu also broke the Medley Relay record.

For the girls, senior captain Jennifer Arai and senior Molly Branson broke the 200 yard Freestyle record and 100 yard Breaststroke, respectively. Senior captain Jenna Williams broke both the 50 yard and 100 yard Freestyle records, and freshman Emily Lathrop broke the 100 yard Backstroke and 200 yard Individual Medley. Arai, Williams, Lathrop and junior captain Laura McGehee also broke Blair's 400 yard Freestyle relay record.

Swaney admired the seniors for their hard work and dedication during the season and explained that he will be sad to see them graduate. However, he is optimistic about next year's team due to a large amount of talent among ninth graders who will continue on the team next year. "We're going to miss a few graduating seniors, but we've got strong freshmen," he said. "I predict we'll be better next year!" he said.

Varsity Wrestling
By Anya Gosine

Billy Saturno wrestles at the county tournament. Anya Gosine
Billy Saturno wrestles at the county tournament.
With a team comprised dominantly of underclassmen, the wrestling team finished off its season with a record of 2 - 11. Head coach Jacob Scott said that he anticipated a weaker season, as the team was more focused on training the inexperienced wrestlers. He did note that an upward trend was evident. "Everyone improved a lot," he said. Senior captain Johni Meeks also saw many of his younger teammates step up to challenges and learn lessons through their matches. "I hope they take that going into next year," he said.

Though the team as a whole placed only 23rd in the county, individual wrestlers Meeks and sophomore Billy Saturno advanced further. Meeks competed as the number six seed in the 152 weight class at the regional tournament. Saturno, who competed as the number eight seed, became the 125-lbs regional champion, continuing to compete at the Maryland state tournament.

Scott said that the team will hold extensive off-season training to prepare for higher expectations next year. "I look forward to the others rising up," he said.

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  • ~ on March 15, 2010 at 6:06 PM
    To add to the swim and dive team wrap-up, freshman Jennifer Arai broke the 500 freestyle record AND the 200 freestyle record.
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