Allison Blaine just finished running the Bay Loop – the 1.5-mile run around the perimeter of the Hudson’s Bay High School campus.
The sweat glistened on the sophomore’s forehead as she settled into the couch in her wrestling coach’s office, trying to imagine what her life would have been like if she hadn’t joined in with the roughhousing taking place around on the mats around her when she tagged along with her brother, Aaron, to his practices.
“I wouldn’t be the same person that I am in my life,” Allison finally said before ticking off the ways wrestling made her life better.
- Having respect for others.
- Believing in herself.
- Being able to speak with adults.
- Focusing at school.
- Advocating for herself with her teachers.
“I was a shy kid when I was younger,” she said. “Wrestling helped me to be myself more around other people.”
That’s a lot of life lessons for a sophomore in high school to pick up.
Oh, and did we mention that Blaine is pretty good at her sport as well?
Blaine is the top-ranked girls wrestler in the state of Washington at 135 pounds. After winning the Region 3 championship by pinning all three of her opponents on February 10 in Aberdeen, she’ll be the overwhelming favorite to win the state title the weekend of February 16-17 at Mat Classic XXX at the Tacoma Dome.
She’s looking to improve upon her finish at state from a year ago. One of the few losses she’s suffered during her high school career came in the 130-pound semifinals as a freshman, falling to eventual champion Erin Redford of White River, a senior who eked out a 2-1 victory. Blaine came back to win her next two matches to finish third.
This season started with a bang, finishing second at the Mike Clock Open at Pacific University in Forest Grove – winning three matches over college wrestlers before losing to senior Francesca Giorgio of Simon Fraser University in the 143-pound final.
Blaine followed up that strong showing by winning all seven high school tournaments she’s entered – Yelm (where she beat Snohomish senior Joessie Gonzales, ranked No. 6 in the nation at 132, in the semifinals), Hammerhead, Rogers, Kelso, Clark County, the District 4 South subregionals and regionals – prior to rolling to the regional title.
“The first word that comes to mind when it comes to Allison is amazing,” said Hudson’s Bay girls coach Vernon Bryant. “Allison has the best body position of any girl I’ve ever seen, and most boys as well. Her balance, body positioning – her years of wrestling show through. You can’t just come to high school practice one day and expect to propel yourself to be a state champion.”
Those years of wrestling started when Allison was just 5-years-old and went to practices at the Peninsula Wrestling Club with her brother Aaron, who would go on to be a solid wrestler in his own right, earning medals all four years at the state tournament before enlisting in the US Army.
Allison would see all the other younger siblings finding partners and squaring off on unused mats, and she quickly decided to join in.
“It was either that or sitting on a bench for two hours being bored,” she said. “This was definitely a lot more fun.”
Soon, her parents signed her up to be a club member and Allison entered a few tournaments. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the sport.
“I like the adrenaline that you feel being in the match,” she explained. “I loved being in the battle. You get hit, but you don’t get hurt. You’re not giving up. You just keep going and going until you can’t go any more. That just feels so good.”
When Blaine first started in the sport, girls wrestling was just starting to gain in popularity, so most tournaments she’d be entered into the boys brackets. That sometimes led to awkward situations.
“It was tough finding guys who’d be willing to wrestle me,” she remembered. “Some would even forfeit rather than wrestle me. That was a big problem for me, but I never thought about quitting.”
It helped that Washington has been one of the leaders in growing the sport. It was one of the first states to sanction a separate high school girls championship, starting in 2007. Currently only Texas and California have more girls wrestling in high school.
Hot or Cold
Chinese food or Italian
Cat or Dog
Beach or Mountains
Tom or Jerry
Batman or Superman
Heads or Tails
Freestyle or Greco-Roman
Madden or World of Warcraft
Hamburger or Hot dog
Ketchup or Salsa
It also helped to have a strong support system. Her parents, her coaches and her brother all encouraged her to stick with the sport.
“She loved to wrestle before girls were accepted in the sport,” said Roy Pittman, her longtime coach with Peninsula Wrestling Club. “The one thing that always stood out with Allison was her ability to work hard, especially against the boys. “She would beat them because she would always outwork them, and that hasn’t changed. She is a trail blazer and a good role model for all young people to follow.”
By the time Blaine entered high school, she was on a roll, winning the state freestyle championships and finishing second in the Cadet division at the Cliff Keen Western Regionals in Pocatello, Idaho, as an eighth-grader.
Last season, after winning the Hammerhead, Clark County and Region 3 titles before her third-place finish at state, Blaine decided to take some time off over the summer to recharge her batteries.
It’s certainly paid off as she’s undefeated heading back to the state championships.
“She’ll take on the challenge of next week’s state tournament and come out victorious,” Pittman said. “She can be as great as she wants to be.”
Blaine knows that this summer will be crucial if she wants to achieve her ultimate goal of wrestling collegiately.
She’s planning to wrestle at the state and regional tournaments this spring, hoping to qualify for the Fargo (N.D.) Nationals in mid-July and earn All-American status. There, she hopes to get another shot at Alexandria Liles, a senior at Allen (Texas) High School who is ranked No. 1 in the nation at 132 pounds.
Liles, you see, beat Blaine in the Western Regional finals two years ago, and the two haven’t squared off since. Liles went on to win two national titles that year and repeated at Fargo last summer.
Blaine is ready to step onto that stage and follow in Liles’ footsteps.
“Allison is very coachable, and she’s very humble,” Bryant said. “I don’t take any of the credit for her success. All that club practice that she puts in on top of high school practice, then high school on top of club, that’s what’s making Allison as good as she is. I just feel like I’ve inherited a champion.”