Eagles, Spartans retain favorites in move to 4A

March 30, 2009

By Christopher Huber

yle Hansen, of Issaquah, hands the baton to anchor Alex Bell during their winning 4-by-100 meter relay race March 26 against Mount Si. By Greg Farrar

Kyle Hansen, of Issaquah, hands the baton to anchor Alex Bell during their winning 4-by-100 meter relay race March 26 against Mount Si. By Greg Farrar

Skyline and Issaquah high school girls track and field teams always ranked among the best when they were at the 3A KingCo Conference level. Now that both have moved up a level, it appears that nothing has changed.
Skyline, which has won seven straight league titles, captured its 4A KingCo opener March 26 with a 75-71 victory against Woodinville, and then took first place in the Eastmont Invitational the next day.

Issaquah topped Mount Si 76-84 March 26, and then took second place March 28 in the always-strong Kent-Meridian Invitational.

As far as the boys teams, Issaquah won its opener 81-64 against Mount Si March 26. Skyline, which won three straight 3A titles, lost to Woodinville 67-59 March 26. Liberty, which went through the 3A regular season undefeated last spring, lost to Eastlake 73-72.

Unlike in previous years, 3A and 4A teams will compete against each other in regular-season meets.

Longtime Issaquah coach Gwen Robertson said she likes the new mix.

“Some years, the 3A teams were better than the 4A. Some years, the 4A were better,” Robertson said. “I don’t think there is a big difference between the two conferences.

“Our kids are ready for a new challenge. Our coaches are ready for the challenge,” she added. “It should be an interesting year. It will be a little different, but I don’t mind different.”

Skyline teams still strong

Coming off its third KingCo 3A championship in a row, the Skyline boys are looking for equal or better success in 2009 in 4A competition, head coach Nick Lombardo said.

The Spartans will see the return of numerous top-placers at 2008 state, including sophomore high jumper Kasen Williams (who cleared 6 feet, 8 inches last year), seniors Simon Sorensen and Jeff Lestz in distance, juniors Alex Lee and Dustin Bratten in sprints, junior Mike Abboud in shot put and discus, and sophomore Taylor Cameron in the javelin.

Newcomers Anthony DeMatteo (shot and disc) and Jeff Bowlby (sprints) should add to Skyline’s depth, Lombardo said.

He said the outlook is positive, especially because everyone has remained healthy in the preseason.

“So far, so good,” he said. “Everything’s going really well.”

At the Eastmont Invitational, Williams took first place in the high jump at 6-4.

On the girls side, head coach Dawn Geiser said she is hopeful for strong competition out of Skyline in the relays. Overall, though, things are shaping up for the girls to shoot for their eighth straight KingCo title.

“The strength on our team is going to be in our relays,” Geiser said.

It should be. The Skyline girls won the 3A state title in the 400-meter relay for the past two years. At the Eastmont Invitational, where Skyline finished first with 147 points, the Spartans captured the 400 and 800 relays, and placed second in the 1,600 relay.

Top returning team members include Kaylyn Berry, Rachael Butenko, Shea O’Donnell, Kiara Williams and Danielle Matthews in sprints; Michelle Bretl in the 400; Amber Dodd in hurdles; Michelle Ireland and Haley Hunter in distance; Kayli Kohlrus in the long jump and triple jump; and Haley Ziegler in shot-put, discus and javelin.

Freshman newcomer Sydne Tingey should provide some strong performances in the 400-meter, Geiser said.

“We’re going to see some really good things from her,” she said. “I think she’s going to have some great success on the track.”

Geiser said the outlook is good for the Spartans, who went undefeated last year and won their fifth straight Sea-King District 2 Championship.

“If they do remain healthy throughout the season, things will be good for us,” she said.

At Eastmont, O’Donnell had a strong performance, by winning the 100 and 200, and anchoring the 400 and 800 relays. Dodd took first place in the 300 hurdles and Kohlrus won the triple jump.

Eagles hope to fly high

Issaquah has its largest team in numbers, 170, since the opening of Skyline, so depth should not be a problem.

The Eagles have some talented athletes on the girls and boys teams, too.

The Issaquah girls are loaded in the sprints with the return of Johanna Carr, Haley Jacobson, Kim Varney and Kaley Allison. Carr took first place in the 100 meters at the Kent-Meridian Invitational with a time of 12.51 seconds; Jacobson was second in 12.88.

The previous week, Jacobson took first place in the 100 at the Chuck Randall Relays. Varney placed first at Kent-Meridian in the soph-frosh 100. Allison was first in the 400 at Kent-Meridian in a time of 1:00.96.

In the meet with Mount Si, Issaquah’s 800 relay of Carr, Allison, Varney and Jacobson posted the fastest time in the state in 1:45.7. The Eagles also won the 800 relay at Kent-Meridian in addition to the 400 and 1,600 relays.

Issaquah also has strong distance runners returning with Haida Ikeda, Arielle Walton and Laura Kasser, as well as hurdler Elaine Tran, Kelley Chan in the javelin and pole vaulter Olivia Goree.

Among the promising newcomers are Stephanie Balkman in the throws, distance runner Nicole Migotsky, sprinters Blaire Brady and Madison Callan, pole vaulter Eva Perry, distance runner Jocelyn Eng and Carson Powers in the throws.

The Issaquah boys should be strong in the distance events. In fact, the boys cross country team did some training during the winter in preparation for the spring track season.

“They are looking pretty good,” Robertson said.

Among the returning distance runners are Chris Brasino, Isaac Robinson, Rory Montgomery, Turner Wiley, Kevin Lemond, Jon Wallis and Jeff Hjort. Brasino took second at the Kent-Meridian Invitational in the 3,200 with a time of 9:49.06.

The Eagles will also see the return of their 400 relay team of Jack Duffy, Ryan Tiernan, Kyle Hansen and Alex Pearl. Tiernan is also one of the top hurdlers in KingCo and Hansen is a strong long jumper. Josh Martyn returns in the hurdles and Michael Baba will be back in the javelin.

Dillon Reagan, an all-league football player, has looked strong in the shot put this spring.

Among the newcomers are sprinter Alex Farmer, hurdler Jorrell Dorsey, jumpers Adam Dondoyano and Allen Su, Kevin Lindsey and Christian Rennie in the throws, and sprinter Blake Wedekind.

Patriots still powerful

Although the Liberty boys lost their league opener, the Patriots will be a tough opponent for any team this spring.

The Patriots will score points in the running and field events. One of the top returning athletes is thrower Peter Stacy, who captured the shot put, discus and javelin against Eastlake.

“He worked real hard in the off season. Our throws coach expects a big season from Peter,” Liberty coach Michael Smith said.

Liberty has talented runners in Eric Bice, Mitchell Byron, Josiah Sherwood, Connor Mosely, Bryce Merritt and Nick Knoblich. Bice won the 800 and 1,600 against Eastlake.

Other top returning athletes include hurdler Troy Solly, sprinters Alex Leonard and Jay Chakavarty, and jumpers Chandler Jenkins and Devin Bennett. Jenkins, an all-league football and basketball player, is one of the top all-around athletes in the league, and he’s only a sophomore.

Bennett, whose older sister Kara was a state champion, is another top athlete.

“He can do just about anything. He’s good in the long jump. He has the talent for the 800 and the mile. He is just a natural talent,” Smith said. “We’re having a tough time finding out where he needs to be.”

The Liberty girls have depth in the sprints, especially with the return of Kelsey Werre. She took first place in the 100 two weeks ago at the Skyline Jamboree. Against Eastlake, she won the 100 and 200.

Other sprinters include sisters Aimee and Stacy Christensen, Elizabeth Ryker, Madison Birsdall, Hannah Blue and Alli Agnew.

“We have a ton of girls who want to be sprinters, so we are a little light on distance runners,” Smith said.

The Patriots should be tough in the relays, especially the 800 and 1,600. Liberty won both against Eastlake. The 800 relay of Hailie Erickson, Birdsall, Agnew and Werre are so fast that they could break the school record this spring.

Liberty does have a strong distance runner returning in freshman Kaily Davies, who went to the 3A state cross country meet last fall.

Among the top athletes in the field events are Christina Huff, Amanda Bard and Sofie Safley in the throws, and Krista Lockhart and Hannah Robbins in the pole vault. Lockhart and Robbins qualified for district last year.

“I think our pole vault kids will do really well,” Smith said. “I expect one of them to break the school record.”

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