Skyline looks to be more competitive with a greater depth of talent

September 21, 2010

By Staff

Cross country preview

Nicole Migotsky, of Issaquah (right), puts on a burst of speed with 50 yards to go to overtake the Spartans’ Kathryn Steele (left) and Sam Krahling for second place in the 4A KingCo meet with Skyline and Bothell. By Greg Farrar

For the Skyline High School girls cross country team, it’s been hard to compete with the nearby Eastlake squad in recent years. However, Skyline coach Brandon Hyland is very optimistic about the Spartans this season.

Hyland says Skyline has one of its “strongest girls team after the 2001 state champs.”

In fact, Skyline’s entire cross country program could be very strong this fall.

On the boys’ side of things, Skyline went 7-3 in 2009 and sent a couple of runners to the state meet. Even though Simon Sorensen, one of Skyline’s top runners in recent years, graduated, senior Kyle Branch should settle easily into his role as captain and leader of the pack. Co-captain Ryan Rixon will look to score points, too.

As any team seeks to feature at least five consistent leaders, Skyline could surprise some opponents with sophomore Keegan Symmes and freshmen Brendan Long and Joe DeMatteo backing up Branch and Rixon.

“The team trained hard this summer and looks forward to being the top team in the KingCo Conference,” Hyland said. “It will be tough competition, but the team is in place to be one of KingCo’s best.”

For the girls, seniors Yina Moe Lange and Jill Wolken will lead the pack, along with seniors Lindsey Nicholson and Erin Vanderwall. Newcomers Jordan Branch, Sam Krahling, Haley Smith and Kathryn Steele may help Skyline climb in the rankings in 2010.

“The girls feature a lot of returning talent,” Hyland said. “The team also has a lot of new runners who will make an impact in KingCo.”

The Skyline teams got off to a strong start last week. In the Spartans’ 4A KingCo opener Sept. 15, both teams won easily at Kirkland’s Big Finn Hill Park.

In the boys meet, Skyline finished first with 21 points. Issaquah was second with 50 and host Bothell took third with 64. Kyle Branch and Symmes finished first and second, respectively. Jamon Rogers was fifth, Kevin Tidball sixth, Jay Bowlby seventh and Rixon eighth for the Spartans. Times of the Skyline runners were unavailable.

In the girls meet, Skyline won with 19 points and Issaquah was second with 50. Bothell ended up third with 67. Jordan Branch won the race in 21 minutes, 9 seconds. Skyline had eight runners in the top 10.

The Spartans also had a solid performance at the Sundodger Invitational at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Kyle Branch won the boys race in 15:39 with Symmes close behind in 15:42. In the girls race, Jordan Branch was sixth in 19:32, Smith seventh in 19:39 and Krahling 10th in 19:49.

Eagles could be reloading

The Issaquah boys cross country team had one of its greatest seasons ever in 2009. The Eagles finished third at the 4A state meet after winning the 4A KingCo and District 2-4 titles.

However, this could be a reloading season for the Eagles as only two of Issaquah’s top runners from the 2009 team are back. Turner Wiley and Isaac Robinson return, but the rest of the boys squad will be composed of younger runners. Look for Wiley and Robinson to be ahead of Issaquah’s pack. Certainly, that was the case last week.

Wiley and Robinson finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Sept. 15 meet with Skyline and Bothell. They also competed in the Sept. 18 South Whidbey Invitational with Wiley taking 17th and Robinson coming in 18th.

Other runners that coach Gwen Robertson is counting on this season are Ryan Higgins, Patrick Violette, Jack Corscadden, Tom Howe, Sean Radcliffe and Aidan Heninger.

Issaquah’s top girl runner will likely be Nicole Migotsky, who finished second in the 4A KingCo meet with Skyline and Bothell. Rachel Osgood should be close behind, too. Other runners for Issaquah include Nikita Sorohi, Eva Perry, Kaileen Dougherty, Sam Salmon and Amanda Chalfant.

Liberty boys off to winning start

Liberty coach Michael Smith might not have a front runner like he’s had in recent years, but his boys and girls teams figure to be very competitive in the 3A/2A KingCo Conference this season.

The Liberty boys cross country team placed five runners in the top 10 and cruised to a victory Sept. 15 at home against Interlake and Lake Washington. The Patriots took first place with 20 points. Interlake was second with 35 and Lake Washington ended up third with 83 points.

Tyler Westenbroek, of Liberty, finished first in the 5,000-meter race in 18 minutes, 34 seconds. Teammate Alex Velasquez was second in 18:36. Nick Knoblich and Scott Turner were fourth and fifth, respectively, for the Patriots and Hiron Redmond was eighth.

“Our first-through-four runners looked great. We still need some others guys to step up and run as a pack,” Smith said.

Chris Turner, brother of Scott Turner, could be one of the runners who will move up.

“He worked real hard during the summer,” Smith said.

Other runners who could make an impact are Riley Mackey, Jared Bales and Nicholas Turner.

The Liberty girls team finished second in its league opener to Interlake. Liberty had 38 points while Interlake, which has one of its strongest teams in several years, had 18.

“Like the boys, we don’t have a front runner, but we do have some good runners. The key will be for them to work hard and stay healthy,” Smith said.

In the KingCo meet, freshman Amy Broska was Liberty’s top runner, finishing fourth in 22:25. Megan Chucka, Aimee Christensen and Michaela Chucka all cracked the top 10, too.

Rachel Shaw, Liberty’s top runner at the Sept. 18 Fort Steilacoom Invitational, could be another strong runner for the Patriots. Liz Ryker, who runs the 200 and 400 in track, is competing in cross country for the first time. As she gets more acclimated to distance running, Ryker could be another force for the Patriots along with Megan Larson and Kaily Davies.

Ida Bakke, Shayla Anderson, Victoria Hoffman, Stacy Christensen, Madison Smith and Rachel Werner are among the other runners Smith is counting upon this season.

“The girls team is stronger and has more depth. With Mercer Island and Bellevue not quite as strong as in the past, our girls team has a real good chance to do well at KingCo, and at district,” Smith said.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or Comment at

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