2008: What a year in sports it was
December 29, 2008
By Jim Feehan
The year 2008 was a memorable 12 months for the city’s sports scene. Many of the top events revolved around state titles (three team and one individual). And the journey to the top often earned some recognition, even if the ultimate goal fell short.
The highs of the year in sports contained astounding tales of achievement (participation in Olympic swim trials and even a Cy Young winner). Unfortunately, even the sports pages were not immune to tragic lows, as the community lost a beloved former coach.
So, here are the Top 10 sports stories of 2008, in no particular order:
Football: Skyline beats Issaquah in final
What else can be said about Skyline High School football?
The Spartans finished ranked fifth in the nation, according to the USA Today Super 25.
The team ended the season with a perfect 14-0 record, its second undefeated season in as many years, after beating district rival Issaquah 20-15 in the Class 4A state final game at the Tacoma Dome Dec. 5.
Skyline did it with arguably the most impenetrable defense in the state and three of the top recruits in the region — receivers Gino Simone and Kasen Williams and junior quarterback Jake Heaps. William Chandler and Jake Knecht added to the best receiving corps in the state.
When it was all said and done, Heaps completed 203 of 312 pass attempts for 2,910 yards and 38 touchdowns. He threw only four interceptions all season.
Said to be the most difficult receiver to cover in the state, Williams led receivers with 56 catches for 939 yards and 13 touchdowns. Simone had 861 yards and 14 touchdowns on 51 receptions. Knecht finished with 39 receptions for 552 yards and seven touchdowns.
Liberty grad Tim Lincecum wins National League Cy Young award
Tim Lincecum won’t forget 2008. The 2003 Liberty High School graduate was named this year’s National League Cy Young winner.
In his first full major league season with the San Francisco Giants, Lincecum, 24, went 18-5 with an earned-run average of 2.62 and a major-league leading 265 strikeouts in 227 innings.
During a news conference at AT&T Park, Lincecum said he was surprised he won the award by such a large margin.
“I figured it would be a lot closer race than it was especially with the tough competition out there,” he said. “I thought (Brandon) Webb, (Johan) Santana or perhaps C.C. (Sabathia) had it. My reaction was, ‘Woohoo!’”
Lincecum led the Patriots to the state baseball title his senior year before playing three seasons at the University of Washington, where he was an All-American in 2006. In three season with the Huskies, Lincecum set a Pac-10 record with 481 strikeouts.
The Giants selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
Mark your calendar — Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants visit Safeco Field May 22-24 for an interleague series with the Mariners.
Issaquah wrestlers win KingCo crown
After four straight seasons of finishing second, the Issaquah wrestling team finally got over the hump and captured its first KingCo championship since 1998 on Feb. 2.
The Eagles finished with 198 points, easily topping second-place Mercer Island by 34.5 points.
Issaquah also crowned three individual league champions — sophomore Brandon Pearson at 103, senior Drew Mermel at 130 and senior Nick Marzahl at 171. Mermel’s league title at 130 was his third straight.
Pearson actually had to go through a teammate to win the 103-pound weight division, as he defeated Ty Morton 10-6 in the finals. Morton had qualified for the varsity event by going through the junior varsity tournament. Dalton Baunsgard at 112 and Jordan Tanner at 119 also finished second place in their respective divisions and picked up valuable points for the Eagles.
In all, Issaquah managed to qualify 11 wrestlers for the Region I tournament. Other qualifiers included Ben Tickman (125), Jacob Borin (140), Lyle Ratcliffe (145), Jon White (152) and Chris Widener (171).
Skyline’s Andie Taylor at Olympic Trials
Skyline High School junior swimmer Andie Taylor swam in eight events at the Olympic Trials June 29-July 6 in Omaha, Neb.
The local standout did not qualify for the Olympics, but ended up breaking the all-time state record in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1 minute, 58.23 seconds, earning All-American status.
She won the state title with that time at the Class 4A meet in November. Taylor helped Skyline perform better than ever at the state meet, leading the team to a seventh overall finish.
The same day, Taylor achieved All-American status in the 100 freestyle. Although she placed second in that event, Taylor broke a five-year-old state record with a time of 49.97 seconds.
“If the race would have been 101 yards, Andie would’ve won,” head coach Susie Miller said of how quickly Taylor closed in on Kentlake’s Chelsea Bailey.
Kara Chin wins gymnastics title
A robot routine earned Kara Chin high marks from judges, as she captured a state championship in the floor exercise at the Class 3A/2A individual state gymnastics championships at the Tacoma Dome Feb. 16.
Chin’s winning score of 9.675 capped a three-meet sweep for the senior, who also won the floor exercise at the district meet and the league meet.
Chin was the first Issaquah gymnast to win a state title since 1999 and just the fourth in school history.
She didn’t begin using the robot routine that earned her so much praise from the judges until halfway through the season. It included a number of challenging tumbling passes, a round-off backhand spring layout full, as well as a front pike stepout roundoff with a backhand spring back layout.
Chin was eighth at state in the floor exercise the previous year.
As a team, Issaquah was second at the state meet with 176.4 points. Newport won a close race in the team standings with 177.425 points.
Lady Spartans win state soccer title
The Skyline High School girls soccer team won it all after beating the Woodinville Falcons 2-0 in the state Class 4A final game in Lakewood Nov. 22.
The Lady Spartans surprised many as they trudged through the gauntlet that is KingCo 4A competition last fall.
While adjusting to the jump from 3A in 2007, the Lady Spartans went 15-2-2 overall in 2008, both of their regular-season losses coming against cross-town rival and defending 4A champion Eastlake.
In the playoffs, Skyline outplayed reigning 3A champs Issaquah as well.
Head coach Don Braman was voted the 4A Coach of the Year. Forward Kiara Williams made the second team, all-state and midfielder Madi Barney was honorable mention.
Goalkeeper Jill Stika had 10 shutouts for the Lady Spartans in 2008, and Williams and Coral Anderson led the team in scoring with eight goals each.
Issaquah High School lacrosse takes state crown
Five years ago, if you mentioned lacrosse in Issaquah, you would have drawn blank stares or perhaps a vague reference to “that sport with sticks,” said Matthew Balkman, co-president of Issaquah Youth Lacrosse.
“In five years, we’ve gone from zero to 600 players,” he said. “For a nonmainstream sport, that’s pretty incredible.”
Issaquah and Skyline boys lacrosse teams advanced to the Final Four of the state playoffs in 2008, with Issaquah defeating Bainbridge Island High School 11-8 in the state championship game in May at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.
Alex Bates, a senior on the Issaquah team, began playing lacrosse as a freshman. He was so enamored by the sport when he was introduced to it that he rushed down to the local sporting good store to buy the equipment. Bates earned first team All-State honors and in June played in the 2008 National Senior Showcase, an all-star game in Chicago featuring the top 100 high school players in the U.S.
Issaquah and Skyline should excel once again this year. They’ll be joined by Liberty High School, who will field a team for the first time.
Purple pride comes through as Issaquah takes third in baseball
Coming into 2008, the Issaquah High School baseball team was the defending champion. They had high hopes to return to Safeco Field to defend their crown only to lose in the semifinal game against Kennewick, 4-1.
The following day at Safeco Field, the Eagles used some timely hitting to go along with an outstanding pitching performance by senior Tyler Vanderboegh to defeat Meadowdale 7-2.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Issaquah crushed Hazen, 20-2, and then shutout Franklin Pierce 7-0 on May 17 at Bannerwood Sports Park in Bellevue.
Perhaps the only thing hotter than the Eagles’ bats that day was the 90-degree weather. Issaquah’s offensive prowess was matched by two stellar complete game pitching performances by Adam Kemmerer (in the Hazen game) and Vanderboegh, who combined to allow only one earned run and nine hits.
Liberty football advances to quarterfinals
Coming on the heels of a 5-5 season in 2007, Liberty High School coach Steve Valach was optimistic for the ‘08 season.
His senior-laden team provided valuable experience as the Patriots advanced through the playoffs. Liberty finished second in the KingCo 3A conference to Bellevue. Liberty crushed North Kitsap 52-17 in the opening round of the playoffs.
The following week, the Patriots staged a thrilling come-from-behind win against sixth-ranked Kennedy 21-17 at Highline Stadium in Burien. The Patriots were down 17-0 at halftime and in the closing 13 minutes, scored 21 points against the Lancers.
The Patriots’ magic carpet ride season came to a halt Nov. 22, when the top-ranked Bellevue Wolverines downed them 35-7 in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Liberty finished the year 9-3 overall. The cupboard won’t be bear come next fall as the Patriots return Trey Wheeler, a first team KingCo selection at quarterback and punter. He also made the all-state team as a punter.
Eagles former coach Gary Moore dies
The Issaquah football community was shocked when former head coach Gary Moore died of a stroke Sept. 11 at the age of 68.
A graduate of Franklin Pierce High School, Moore played football for four years at Western Washington University. He then spent his entire professional career as a high-school teacher and football coach.
As the head coach at Issaquah, his football teams went 137-72-3 with three league championships and four playoff appearances, including an appearance in the 1980 King Bowl.
He was chosen as the state Coach of the Year in 1984 by the National High School Coaches Association.
Issaquah honored Moore with a moment of silence before its football game with Mount Si Sept. 12. At each game after that in 2008, school officials honored Moore’s memory with a statement about his legacy of winning and strong coaching ethic.
Compiled by reporters Jim Feehan, Christopher Huber and Ryan Piersol. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.