2009: The year of the champion
December 29, 2009
It was a championship fall for the Skyline High School athletic program with the girls swimming, girls soccer and football teams all capturing state titles. That itself, was quite a story for 2009.
There were also championships by the Issaquah High School lacrosse club and the Lakeside Senior American Legion baseball team. There were gallant efforts by other teams, too.
In all, every Issaquah School District high school had something to cheer about in 2009.
However, in reviewing the year, the one title story that seemed to have the edge was the Skyline girls swimming team capturing its first state championship. Unlike the football team, projected as one of the favorites for the state title entering the season, or the girls soccer team, which repeated its title, the Skyline girls swimming program, despite having some individual standouts over the years, had never come close to winning a state title in its history.
Here are The Issaquah Press’ top 10 sports stories for 2009:
1. Skyline swimmers splash to state title
Skyline, under the guidance of first-year head coach Susan Simpkins, captured its first title in swimming Nov. 14 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The Spartans compiled 234 points to win the 4A championship. KingCo Conference rival Garfield was second with 173, and Issaquah was fourth with 131.
Prior to this year’s 4A championships, Skyline had never won a relay of any kind at the state meet. Yet, Skyline won both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
The relay teams were composed of Nina Zook, Meghan O’Keefe, Maria Volodkevich and Andie Taylor. The 200 freestyle relay team’s time of one minute, 38.71 seconds was the second fastest ever at the 4A state meet.
The state meet capped the incredible high school career of Taylor, a double winner and anchor on both relays. Taylor, who went 7 for 8 in her career in individual events, broke her own state record in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:46.55. Her winning time of 4:45.47 in the 500 freestyle was the second fastest by a Washington swimmer.
For her efforts, the Washington Interscholastic Coaches Association selected Taylor as the Swimmer of the Meet for a record-breaking third time.
Volodkevich, a freshman standout for Skyline, also won the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.25.
2. Spartans snatch another football title
The Spartans, led by senior quarterback Jake Heaps, won a third straight state championship earlier this month. Skyline defended its 4A title with a 45-21 victory against Ferris, of Spokane, Dec. 5 in the Tacoma Dome.
The title game capped a brilliant career for Heaps, who completed 15 of 25 passes for 254 yards and threw a state-title game record four touchdown passes. During his career, Heaps compiled a 40-2 mark. As a sophomore, he led the Spartans to the 3A state title.
Recently Heaps was named the Associated Press state player of the year and was also selected to the USA Today US All-America first team.
The state championship game wasn’t all the Heaps’ show. Junior wide receiver Kasen Williams had eight receptions for 89 yards and caught a state title game record three touchdown passes. Senior running back Nick Washburn rushed for 115 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown. The defense, led by all-state linebacker Anthony DeMatteo, held Ferris to seven yards rushing.
3. Soccer team repeats
The Skyline girls soccer team defeated rival Issaquah 2-1 in an overtime shootout Nov. 21 at Lakewood’s Harry Lang Stadium to repeat as Class 4A state champions.
Skyline goalkeeper Tina Vargas blocked two of the Eagles’ four penalty kicks as the Spartans won the shootout 3-1. Junior forward Michelle Bretl scored the winning penalty kick.
In regulation, Shea O’Donnell gave Skyline a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. However, Issaquah’s Kristin Maris, KingCo’s leading scorer, tied the game in the second half to send it into overtime.
Prior to the title contest, Skyline and Issaquah split two earlier games. The Spartans defeated Issaquah during the regular season, and then Issaquah beat Skyline in the 4A KingCo tournament championship game.
The stage for a third meeting was set when both teams won their semifinal games. Skyline defeated Kentwood 1-0 in a shootout while Issaquah downed Kamiakin 3-1.
4. Patriots end up second
The Liberty High School football team came within six points of its first 3A title in 21 years Dec. 4. However, the Patriots lost to Bellevue 23-17 in the championship game in the Tacoma Dome.
Prior to the title game, Liberty won three dramatic contests.
The Patriots rallied for a 38-35 victory against O’Dea in the first round, and then overcame Lindbergh 20-17 in a triple overtime battle in the quarterfinals, when quarterback Trey Wheeler connected on a game-winning touchdown pass to Jake Bainton.
In the semifinals, Dean Byron kicked a last-second field goal as the Patriots upset previously unbeaten Lakes 17-14. The victory against Lakes was particularly impressive, as the Lancers had previously outscored their opponents 134-0 in the state playoffs.
5. Issaquah cross country takes third
The Issaquah High boys cross country team achieved all of its post-season goals. Issaquah entered the fall aiming to win the 4A KingCo championship, the District 2 title and finish among the top three teams at state. The Eagles went three-for-three.
Issaquah finished behind first-place Ferris and second-place Jackson at the state meet Nov. 7 in Pasco.
Senior Chris Brasino led the Eagles at the state meet by placing 18th in a personal best time of 15:53. Dennis Leigh, Isaac Robinson, Turner Wiley, Jon Wallis, Kevin LeMond and Spencer Hildie were other members of the team.
6. Lacrosse repeats title
The Issaquah lacrosse club entered the season with some question marks as it had several untested players at the varsity level. However, the team got stronger throughout the season.
Issaquah defended its Washington State League Division I title with a 10-9 victory against rival Mercer Island May 30 in Seattle’s Memorial Stadium. Goalkeeper Cameron Danforth’s save with two seconds left enabled Issaquah to hold off a late charge by the Islanders.
Jordan Goldstein and Jake Fritz each scored four goals in the title game. En route to the championship game, Issaquah defeated Skyline 13-5 in the quarterfinals and Bainbridge 5-4 in the semifinals.
7. Issaquah boys soccer reaches state
The Issaquah High boys soccer team qualified for the state tournament for the first time last spring. The Eagles’ miracle season ended in the quarterfinals with a 3-2 loss to Marysville-Pilchuck on a shootout.
Issaquah earned its state tournament berth with a 2-1 overtime victory against Evergreen, of Vancouver.
Issaquah ended the season with a 12-5-2 record, not bad for a team that had won just three games the previous year.
8. He can jump, too.
Skyline junior Kasen Williams is more than just a football star. He starts in basketball, and definitely shines in track and field.
Last spring, at the 4A state track and field championships, Williams won the high jump by going 6-10. He also took second in the triple jump and third in the long jump.
Prior to the state meet, Williams won the high jump, long jump and triple jump, and ran as a member of the winning 400 relay team at the District 2 meet.
9. Lakeside wins state title
Issaquah and Skyline baseball players are rivals throughout the spring. However, some of the best baseball players from both schools, along with players from Newport, become teammates in summer on the Lakeside Recovery Senior American Legion team.
Last summer, Lakeside, despite the loss of some key pitchers early in the season due to injuries, won the state AAA championship.
Lakeside defeated Yakima Valley Pepsi Pak 8-0 July 29 in the title game at Tacoma’s Heidelberg Park.
Spencer Rogers, an Issaquah outfielder, was selected as the tournament’s offensive most valuable player. He went 9 for 20, hit two home runs and drove in six runs.
In preliminary contests, Lakeside walloped the pre-tournament favorites Twin City Titans 12-2 and the Kennewick Bandits 16-0.
10. Issaquah volleyball takes fifth
The Issaquah volleyball team capped an inspirational run at the Class 4A state tournament Nov. 13 at Kennewick’s Toyota Center. The Eagles lost their first-round contest Nov. 12, and then won three matches in the consolation bracket to grab fifth place.
Issaquah defeated Jackson 25-17, 25-23, 27-25 in the match for fifth place. Stephanie Stoll and Alyssa Schultz combined for 25 kills.
The Eagles, who lost to Kentwood 3-2 in the opening round, fought back to oust Richland 3-2 and Woodinville 3-1.
For the Eagles, fifth place was their highest finish since taking third in the 3A state tournament in 2005.