Sports

State champion epitomized sport

Dale Blad earned the Hornets’ first wrestling title since the 1970s. -
Dale Blad earned the Hornets’ first wrestling title since the 1970s.
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In 1986, Dale Blad became Enumclaw High School’s third state wrestling champion.

He was the Hornets’ first title winner since the 1970s and would hold that distinction for more than a decade.

The then-junior won the state 122-pound title at the 3A state tournament in Cheney, Wash., leading the Hornets to a fifth-place finish.

The year before, Blad had won the 108-pound title while wrestling for Deer Park, a Class 3A high school north of Spokane. Deer Park finished third as a team that year.

He also finished fourth at state his freshman year (spent at Deer Park) and third his senior year at Enumclaw.

“In two years, he only lost one match,” said then-coach Bob Kilmer. “It just so happens to be in the semifinals of state tournament his senior year.”

Even then, Kilmer said Blad had the fire to come back in the consolation and win two straight to finish third.

“They weren’t even close,” Kilmer said of those final two contests.

“He’s everything a state champion is,” Kilmer said. “He’s an outstanding technical wrestler. Mentally, he’s tougher than anybody around, except maybe his older brother, his older brother would argue that, and he loved to compete.”

Scott, his older brother, was also a standout wrestler for the Hornets.

After graduation, Blad wrestled at Ricks College, now Brigham Young University-Idaho, for a year before heading on his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He spent his time in Italy and now speaks fluent Italian.

He returned to Ricks College and the wrestling program in 1990, placed seventh in the nation and became an all-American.

In 1991, he married and joined the Air Force as a fireman. He spent four years at Milden Air Force Base in England. He worked as a fireman in Federal Way, Wash., for some time and then returned to school at Central Washington University where he studied to become a paramedic.

He joined the National Guard’s 81st Brigade at Fort Lewis in 2001 and in 2004 was deployed as a medic to Iraq. Upon his return home, he joined the U.S. Army full time and spent time in Hanau, Germany, before arriving at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he spent two years in a Special Forces course.

Currently, Sgt. Blad is in the Qualifications Course For Special Operations and Warefare Command at Fort Bragg. He and his wife have three children. He plans to stay in the Army and become a physician’s assistant.

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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