Depth, talent place local high school squads atop KingCo

October 6, 2009

By Staff

Cross Country Preview

Kevin LeMond (left) and Chris Brasino, of the Issaquah cross country team, run side by side at a class 4A meet. By Lawrie Robertson

Kevin LeMond (left) and Chris Brasino, of the Issaquah cross country team, run side by side at a class 4A meet. By Lawrie Robertson

In high school cross country meets, it always helps to have some talented runners who can finish near the top of the pack. It also helps to have depth. When a team has talent and depth, it has a chance to be very competitive.

This year, the Issaquah, Skyline and Liberty boys cross country teams have talent and depth, a major reason they have ranked among the top KingCo Conference squads.

The top individual runners this season include Kevin LeMond and Chris Brasino, of Issaquah; Kyle Branch and Mark Frerker, of Skyline; and Eric Bice and Josiah Sherwood, of Liberty.The girls teams aren’t quite as strong as the boys, although Skyline posted a big victory last week. Among the top runners this season have been Arielle Walton and Nicole Migotsky, of Issaquah; Elise Pletcher and Haley Hunter, of Skyline; and Megan and Michaela Chucka, of Liberty.

Prior to the KingCo and district meets later this month, there are some big league events in the next two weeks. Skyline and Issaquah compete against Newport and Eastlake at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at Beaver Lake Park.

The big showcase meet is at Klahanie Park at 4 p.m. Oct. 14, when the three Issaquah schools compete in their annual district meet.

Skyline boys are still strong

The boys of Skyline ran well in 2008 — they went 10-0, won KingCo 4A and placed fifth in state 4A competition. The team lost standout Simon Sorensen, as well as Travis Lund and Jeff Lestz, to graduation and hope to stay strong in 2009 with numerous experienced returning runners.

Captains Ben Ressler and Frerker will lead the pack for the Spartans, but they won’t be alone, as Branch, Evan Botsch, Jay Bowlby, Brandon Clark and newcomer Keegan Symmes should provide needed support against competitors like Redmond and Issaquah.

Branch is one of the top runners in the area. At the recent Nike Invitational in Portland, Ore., he finished sixth in the 5,000-meter race. In a Sept. 30 KingCo meet, Branch finished first at Klahanie Park in 15 minutes, 42 seconds. He nipped Bellevue’s Michael Williams by a second.

Williams is one of the top runners in KingCo and the state. Bellevue, though, won the meet with 31 points. Skyline was second with 43 and Bothell came in third with 49.

Last year, Branch finished fourth at the KingCo championships and 11th at district. He also took 17th at the state meet.

Earlier this season, Skyline topped Redmond and Liberty in a big meet.

The Skyline girls look to develop some depth from their newcomers as they try to improve on last year’s 6-4 league record. Captains Melissa Krieg and Heather Copenhaver will rely on teammates Haley Hunter, Yina Moe Lange and Lindsey Nicholson to earn points against the dominant Redmond girls.

Skyline finished first in a Sept. 30 meet with Bellevue and Bothell. The Spartans had 33 points, Bellevue compiled 43 and Bothell finished with 48. Pletcher, one of the promising newcomers for Skyline, finished second in the race in 20:20. Hunter was fourth and Erin Vanderwall placed sixth.

Pletcher, a freshman, also took sixth at the prestigious Nike Invitational.

Issaquah boys are unbeaten

The Issaquah High School boys team entered this week unbeaten in KingCo meets.

The Eagles also finished first at the Kelso Invitational and the Tahoma Relays. In their most recent invitational Oct. 3, Issaquah placed seventh in the prestigious Sunfair Invitational in Yakima. The meet featured top teams from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Issaquah has one of its top boys teams in recent years with LeMond, Brasino, Isaac Robinson, Jon Wallis, Turner Wiley, Dennis Leigh, Ty Morton, Connor Higgins and Brandon Pearson all returning from last year’s team that finished third at the 4A KingCo championships. The Eagles later placed 11th at state.

Brasino finished seventh in both the KingCo and district meets last year. LeMond has been Issaquah’s No. 1 runner in recent meets. Both figure to be among the top runners in every meet.

However, the real strength of the team is its depth. In a recent victory against Redmond, Issaquah had six runners finish among the top 11 placers.

“They have done well in the meets this season, but they can still get better. They have the ability to be one of our better teams in recent years,” Issaquah coach Gwen Robertson said. “They have really worked hard, especially this summer.”

At Sunfair, LeMond finished 20th in the varsity flight seven, which consisted of each school’s No. 1 runners. Wallis was seventh in flight six, Brasino placed third in flight five, Leigh came in sixth in flight four, Wiley placed third in flight three, Robinson was second in flight two and Morton came in 22nd in flight one.

The top returning runners for the girls team are Walton, Brianna Fowler-Lindner, Emma Ogilvie and Katherine Vlahovich. Migotsky, Kendra Olson, Nikita Sirohi and Kim Varney are some of the promising newcomers.

Liberty boys are stronger

The Liberty High School boys team has more depth this season with the return of seniors Bice, Sherwood, Brandon Thomas, Connor Moseley, juniors Scott Turner and Riley Mackey, and sophomore Tyler Westenbroek.

Top newcomers include freshmen Jared Bales and Nick Turner.

Bice is one of the top runners in KingCo again. He finished second at last year’s 3A KingCo championships and placed 12th at the Sea-King District meet.

He is also one of the top distance runners in track and field. Bice took first in the 1,600 meters at last spring’s 3A KingCo and Sea-King meets.

On Sept. 23, Bice finished first to lead Liberty to a one-point victory against Garfield. Roosevelt was third and Inglemoor came in fourth. He also finished 21st at Sunfair.

In invitational meets this season, Liberty had a strong showing by taking third at the Fort Steilacoom Invitational and the Patriots were 19th at Sunfair.

Liberty’s girls team has more depth this season, too. Returning for the Patriots are Kaily Davies, Madison Birdsall and Madison Hughes. Among the top newcomers are Aimee Christensen, and Megan and Michaela Chucka.

Davies was Liberty’s top runner at last year’s 3A KingCo championships, taking eighth. She later took 16th at district to qualify for state.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com

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