After falling to three of the county's top-seeded teams in the regular season, Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team found itself matched up against those very same teams, in the exact same order, in the postseason playoffs: Churchill, Kennedy and Sherwood. But after keeping Churchill from reaching finals for the first time in three years and upsetting first-seeded Kennedy, the Blazers were pumped and ready to turn the tables on Sherwood as well. Though the Blazers began their match against the Warriors with a crushing 10-25 defeat, they swept the next three matches 25-17, 25-21 and 27-25, taking home the county trophy.
MAY 17, KENNEDY-- The last time Blair's boys volleyball team went to the final round of county playoffs in 1999, they took home the trophy. This year, they are poised to repeat that triumph once again: The Blazers defeated the Kennedy Cavaliers 25-19, 18-25, 25-17, 22-25 and 15-12 in an intense, two-hour semifinal playoff game, moving on to the final round with a season record of 12-3.
MAY 2, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-- After starting the season 8-0, Blair's boys' volleyball season is showing signs of choking just in time for playoffs. After falling to Churchill 2-3 in their first five-match game of the season just a week ago, the Blazers stumbled their way to a 1-3 loss to the Kennedy Cavaliers, falling 23-25, 25-23, 20-25 and 22-25 and dropping their season record to 9-2.
APRIL 25, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-- Churchill. It is a word with many associations for Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team, a word that conjures up memories of last season's bitter third-round playoff loss and reminds the Blazers that they were not the only team in the county with an undefeated record coming into this game. And for the biggest home crowd of the season, it was a word that meant that Blair was about to play its toughest and most exciting game all season, a match-up between two county powerhouses that may well indicate the course of the post-season bid for the county title.
APRIL 21, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-- Despite the tremendous hitting strength, solid defense, and close team chemistry that has propelled Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team to an undefeated 2005 season, the team still suffers from occasional inconstancies, especially during games against weaker opponents. Despite being much stronger than Wheaton, the Blazers played an indifferent and often sloppy game against the Knights. They finally dragged out a 25-18, 25-15 and 25-17 victory over Wheaton, boosting their season record to 8-0.
APRIL 12, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-- Blair's boys' volleyball team has long been one of its strongest spring teams, and this year is no exception. Since the season started in March, the Blazers have gone 4-0 and won all of its games in three straight sets. Seneca Valley Screaming Eagles 25-22, 25-15 and 25-17, adding a fifth win to their season.
APRIL 5, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-- Although Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team had not played together for 10 days, it came into its first post-spring break match with confidence. After all, Blair had scored an easy victory against Damascus during the 2004 season on the Hornets' turf; they repeated the performance again this year in front of a boisterous home crowd. The Blazers defeated Damascus 25-11, 25-18 and 25-17 in three straight sets, upping their seasonal record to 3-0.
MARCH 23, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM-- After opening the season with an uninspiring victory over a first-year Gaithersburg squad just two days ago, Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team pulled together and played a much more solid game against the Northwest Jaguars. The Blazers defeated the Jaguars 25-12, 25-13 and 25-13 in three straight sets, boosting their season record to 2-0.
For Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team, 2004 was definitely a season to remember: The team went 10-2 in the regular season, captured a divisional trophy, was seeded third in the county, and broke a five-year playoff drought by advancing as far as the third round. With the majority of its starting lineup returning to the court this year, the Blazers are poised to repeat its 2004 success once more.
FEB. 26, MONTGOMERY AQUATIC CENTER" Every year, after the regular season is over and done with, after divisional and county championship trophies have been awarded and the annual inter-division demotions and promotions are finalized, Montgomery County's swimmers get one last chance to race before it's time to leave the pool until next year: the Metropolitan Area Championships. The Championships bring together qualifying swimmers from 46 teams from around the region, including several top-ranked private school teams, and the level of competition at the meet is far more intense than at any county-sponsored equivalent.
FEB. 19, MARTIN LUTHER KING SWIM CENTER-- Blair's boys scored 240 points, placing third in the county after Walter Johnson and Whitman, while the girls scored 29 points for an 18th-place finish. Blair's 269 combined points allowed it to place sixth overall, just behind Division-II champion Churchill, which will be taking Blair's place in Division I next season.
FEB. 12, MONTGOMERY AQUATIC CENTER-- For the last few seasons, the Blair swim team has teetered on the edge between Division I and Division II, its place in the former secured mostly by the strength of its boys' team. After narrowly escaping demotion to Division II at the end of last season after the boys finished fifth and the girls placed sixth at Divisionals (Watkins Mill, with its sixth-place boys and fifth-place girls, went down instead), the Blazers had hoped to avoid demotion once again this year because of an especially strong boys lineup.
FEB. 5, MONTGOMERY AQUATIC CENTER-- After a highly disappointing loss to the Whitman Vikings on Jan. 30, Blair's swim team was determined that it would not end the season on a similarly low note. In today's match against the Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) Barons, the Blazers proved their strength in the pool once more: The boys defeated the Barons 105-78, and though the girls fell 77-107, they achieved their highest team score all season. The results of this meet finalized the boys' and girls' seasonal records at 2-3 and 0-5, respectively.
JAN. 29, MONTGOMERY AQUATIC CENTER " With an infusion of strong freshmen into its already-strong boys line-up and stepped-up performances from many of its girls, the Blazers began the season with high hopes of victory " hopes that were immediately tempered by two consecutive losses.
JAN. 15, GAITHERSBURG AQUATIC CENTER" Squeezed into a tiny building and containing only six lanes, Gaithersburg Aquatic Center is a small and "slow” pool compared to many of the county's larger facilities. Despite the pool's drag, however, the Blazers swam a solid meet against the Sherwood Warriors. The boys' team defeated Sherwood 100-73, boosting their season record to 1-2; the girls' team fell 47-121 to an overall record 0-3.
JAN. 8, MARTIN LUTHER KING SWIM CENTER-- After two weeks without competing, Blair's swim team found a special treat awaiting their return to the poolside today: Instead of the usual dual meet against a single school, Blair joined five of the county's top swim teams at the 2005 Division I Relay Carnival for a morning of intense, boisterous racing. Though the Blazers put up a good fight, they were only able to score 40 points through thirteen events, finishing the Carnival in fifth place.
Two months ago, basketball player Cate Rassman, a junior, would not have thought twice about marking "no" on question 24 of the Penn State University application: "Have you ever been dismissed/suspended for disciplinary reasons from any secondary school, Penn State or any other institution?"
With Santa at the poolside and parents crowding the stands, Blair's swim team had a sizable audience turn out for its second match of the season. Unfortunately for the spectators, however, both the boys' and girls' teams were defeated by the Richard Montgomery (RM) Rockets, who were hosting the meet. The boys' team fell by a razor-thin margin of 87-81, while the girls' team was overwhelmed 129-40, dropping both teams' records to 0-2.
For both Blair's boys' and girls' swim teams, winter 2003-2004 was a rebuilding season. After graduating over 20 seniors the year before, the boys' squad ended the 2004 season 2-4, while the girls finished at 1-5. The teams took a combined fifth-place finish in Division I standings last year, which was particularly disappointing in light of the boys' 2003 Division I Championship title.
When JV boys' soccer coach John Haigh walked into his team's eighth-period study hall on Oct. 19, he was clearly elated by JV's 2-0 victory over Walter Johnson the night before. "You have a winning formula,” he told his players, expressing his pride in the team's then 9-0 season record. "You guys are on the verge of something big.”00
MAY 12, CHURCHILL—After two successive playoff victories against relatively easy opponents, the boys' volleyball team entered the semifinal round of the post-season tournament against the Churchill Bulldogs prepared to fight harder than ever: unlike the two teams that Blair has previously faced, Churchill is one of two county teams seeded above the Blazers, and it had served Blair an 0-3 loss early in the season. Unfortunately for Blair, however, Churchill was just as intent on winning, and the two teams battled for over two hours and five matches before Churchill finally eked out a razor-thin victory, defeating Blair 19-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-17 and 9-15 and ending the Blazers' bid for the county title.
MAY 10, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—After winning its first playoff game in five years on May 7, the third-seeded boys' volleyball team entered quarterfinals confident about their chances against the 11th-seeded Einstein Titans. Despite the absence of Coach JJ Rathnam, who is away on business in Miami, the Blazers managed to pull a solid win over the Titans, defeating Einstein 25-22, 25-21 and 25-15 in just three quick sets and securing Blair's spot in the semifinal round of playoffs.
MAY 6, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—For the last four seasons, the boys' volleyball team has been plagued with an unfortunate "post-season curse”: despite consistently strong regular season records and top-ten seedings, Blair has been upset in the first round of playoffs by lower seeds every year since 1999, when the team claimed the county title. This year, however, the Blazers finally broke the curse, defeating Whitman 25-14, 15-2,5 25-23 and 25-20 in four sets to capture its first playoff victory in five years.
MAY 4, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—After running a spectacular nine-game win streak, the boys' volleyball team returned home for it's last game of the season eager to score one last victory against the Sherwood Warriors. Unfortunately for the Blazers, however, the team had played an exhausting five-set match against Kennedy just the night before and had not quite recovered its strength. Despite putting up a good fight, the Blazers narrowly missed out on the victory, falling 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 20-25 and 11-15 to the Warriors in yet another intense five-set game and ending their season with a strong 10-2 record.
APRIL 26, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—After winning five straight games against several of the county's toughest teams, the boys' volleyball team entered its game against the Poolesville Falcons with a confident expectation of easy victory. This overconfidence nearly cost Blair the game, however; though the boys' eventually defeated the Falcons 25-13, 26-28, 25-14 and 25-15 for a record of 7-1, Poolesville came far too close to victory for comfort, capitalizing on Blair's complacency to serve the team its first losing set since its March 25 loss to Churchill.
APRIL 14, SENECA VALLEY— After nearly two weeks off the court, the boys' volleyball team returned to action against Seneca Valley, defeating the Screaming Eagles 25-22, 27-25 and 25-16 in three lively matches and boosting its record to 4-1.
APRIL 21, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—Just two days after defeating Quince Orchard, the boys' volleyball team returned to the court determined to add a fifth victory to its impressive four-game win streak. Despite the absence of two starting players, the Blazers scored an easy win over Magruder in just three sets, defeating the Colonels 25-13, 25-13 and 25-18 and raising their record to 6-1.
APRIL 19, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—After falling to Churchill on March 25, the boys' volleyball team vowed that it would never again taste defeat for the rest of the season. After triumphing over its next three opponents, the team made good on that promise yet again by trampling Quince Orchard in three sets, defeating the Cougars 25-13, 25-20 and 25-15 to claim its fourth consecutive victory and raise its record to 5-1.
APR. 14, SENECA VALLEY—After nearly two weeks off the court, the boys' volleyball team returned to action in a game against Seneca Valley, defeating the Screaming Eagles 25-22, 27-25 and 25-16 in three lively matches and boosting its record to 4-1.
APR. 1, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team scored a clean 3-0 victory over the Wootton Patriot's in their first home game of the season, bolstering their seasonal record to 3-1. The Blazers began the night with a shaky 28-26 victory, then pulled together and played a cohesive and powerful game, ending the night with two easy 25-11 and 25-10 victories.
After a tumultuous 8-5 season that ended in a first-round playoff loss to Bethesda-Chevy Chase last year, the boys' volleyball team enters the 2004 season with a strong roster of ten returning players and several promising new additions. Though the team faces a tough schedule, with games against county powerhouses such as Churchill and Wootton, Coach J.J. Rathnam is confident that his players will step up to the challenge and prove their abilities on the court.
MARCH 6, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND—The Blazers entered the Maryland State Wrestling Tournament with high expectations, encouraged by five top-three seedings and recent wins at the 4A/3A West Regional Tournament. Reality dealt a harsh blow, however, as the matches progressed: The west has traditionally been the weakest of Maryland's four districts, and the Blazers who had placed well at regionals found themselves overwhelmed by lesser seeds from other parts of the state. Though the Blazers fought valiantly, their combined 35 team points only merited a 20th place ranking. Sophomore Josh Osorto (103) and senior Muamba Muanankese (215) were the only Blazers to capture top six-finishes.
As a succession of wrestlers struggle with their opponents at the 4A/3A West Regional Tournament, senior Hansel Cedeno saunters along the sidelines, pausing to chat with a few admiring fans as he fiddles with the straps of his headgear. As the referee calls the 189-lb finalists to the center of the ring, however, Cedeno drops his casual demeanor, his eyes hardening with determination as he steps onto the mat.
FEB. 28, SHERWOOD HIGH SCHOOL—Just a week after capturing fifth at the county tournament with a team of just five wrestlers, the Blazers repeated a strikingly similar performance at the 4A/3A West Regional Championships. Once again, Blair placed fifth despite its short roster, ending the meet with a team score of 103 points. Sophomore Josh Orsoto (103) and seniors Cesar Sosa (119) and Hansel Cedeno (189) all added regional crowns to their county champion titles, while senior Muamba Muanankese (215) and senior co-captain Scott Nguyen (112) repeated their respective second and third place finishes.
FEB. 21, NORTHWEST HIGH SCHOOL— Despite receiving only an honorable mention in the county's official top-ten team rankings at the end of the regular season, Blair scored a coup at the Montgomery County Wrestling Tournament, edging out several strong teams for a stunning 140 point, fifth place team ranking and tying B-CC for the most first place finishes. Sophomore Josh Orsoto (103) and seniors Cesar Sosa (119) and Hansel Cedeno (189) all captured county championships in their divisions, while senior Muamba Muanankese (215) placed second, and senior co-captain Scott Nguyen (112) placed third.
FEB. 9, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—With six of its members graduating this year, the Blair varsity wrestling team hoped to end the last match of its season with a strong victory over the Paintbranch Panthers, both in honor of its seniors and to avoid a losing seasonal record. The Panthers, however, had won their last six matches and had no intention of ending their winning streak. Despite a valiant effort, the Blazers fell to the Panthers with a score of 22-60, closings their seasonal record at 6-8.
FEB. 5, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—After a disappointing three-game losing streak, Blair's varsity wrestling team returned to its home court pumped and ready to reassert its dominance of the mat. The Blazers scored a 47-35 victory in a spirited showdown against Richard Montgomery, raising their seasonal record to 6-5.
JAN. 13, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—After winning three of its last four away games and placing well in several weight classes at the Damascus Holiday Tournament, Blair's varsity wrestling team returned to its home court full of confidence and energy, trampling the Seneca Valley Screaming Eagles in a decisive 64-18 victory and boosting its record to 5-2.
Blair's varsity wrestling team rallied together for its last match of the year, defeating Kennedy 54-24 in a quick, decisive match and raising its overall record to 1-1.
Just four days after successfully placing fourth at Magruder's "Mad Mats” tournament, Blair's varsity wrestling team officially opened its season with a disappointing 30-40 loss against Springbrook, dropping its record to 0-1.
After two days of intense matches, Blair's varsity wrestling team scored 182 points to place fourth out of 19 schools at the countywide "Mad Mats” tournament, an invitational competition hosted each year by Magruder High School.
After a disappointing 3-11 season last year, Blair's varsity wrestling team has been training all year in anticipation of the 2003-2004 winter season, determined to regain its former glory as a MCPS powerhouse.
Blair's English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) department has raised concerns about a new county policy that requires all ESOL students except seniors to take the English 9 High School Assessment (HSA) test in order to graduate, warning that the policy will be difficult to implement and may lead to drastic future consequences.
As the first bell rings through the halls of Blair, 18-year-old Patawee Khieowarn is cruising by on University Boulevard, utterly oblivious to his apparent tardiness. There is no rush in his movements as he steers through the tangle of morning traffic, no hasty turn into the student parking lot to park and run to class. It has been nearly six months since Khieowarn has walked into a classroom, after all, long enough to erase any urge to obey Blair's bells.