Football cedes spotlight as other sports reach milestones, memories

December 28, 2010

By Staff

Skyline High School swimmers Nina Zook, Katie Kinnear, Jessie Dart and Maria Volodkevich (from left) celebrate their 200-yard medley relay team state 4A swim championship victory Nov. 13 in Federal Way. By Greg Farrar

Football often dominates the sports scene at Skyline High School, with good reason. The Spartans have won five state football championships in 10 years.

Yet, even football had to take a back seat in 2010 to the Skyline girls’ swimming team. The Skyline girls won their second straight Class 4A state championship in November. Meanwhile, the football team made another strong run at a championship, but came up second in December.

Overall, the sports programs at all three Issaquah district high schools had something to cheer about in 2010. At Issaquah, the volleyball team had its highest finish ever at the state tournament, taking second. Liberty had incredible achievements by the girls cross country and girls soccer teams, which both ranked among the state’s best.

And, there were noteworthy individual performances by Skyline’s Kasen Williams and Liberty’s Chandler Jenkins.

Here’s a recap of the top local sports stories in 2010:

Swimmers pack up trophy again

Skyline swimming coach Susan Simpkins had to pack the massive Class 4A girls swimming state championship trophy from Sammamish to Federal Way last November for the state meet. While it might have been somewhat tedious, she didn’t mind lugging the trophy back to Skyline after the Spartans won the state title at the King County Aquatic Center.

Despite the graduation loss of Andie Taylor from the 2009 title team, the Spartans continued their pool mastery because of newcomer Katie Kinnear. She won two individual events and swam as a member of two winning relay teams to help the Spartans’ roll up 220 points. KingCo Conference rival Newport was second with 157.5 points.

Kinnear, who transferred to Skyline from Eastlake, won the 50 freestyle in 23.5 seconds and defended her 100 butterfly in 53.95. Teammates Meghan O’Keefe finished fifth and Nina Zook was sixth in the 100 butterfly.

Skyline won the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. The Spartans could make another run at the title in 2011, because six of their top swimmers will return. Every member of the 400 freestyle relay team returns — Maria Volodkevich, O’Keefe, Stephanie Munoz and Kinnear.

Issaquah was sixth at the 4A state meet with 109 points. Sophomores Stacy Maier and Kayla Flaten had solid efforts. Maier was fourth in the 100 backstroke and fifth in the 100 freestyle. Flaten was fourth in the 100 breaststroke and eighth in the 100 freestyle. Both swam as members of the 200 medley relay team, which placed fifth, and the 400 freestyle relay team, which was sixth.

Issaquah volleyball hits new high

The Issaquah volleyball team finished the 2010 season 27-3, the best record in the program’s history, and placed second in the 4A state tournament.

Issaquah lost to Jackson 25-13, 25-22, 25-12 in the championship match Nov. 12 in Kennewick’s Toyota Center.

The second place finish was the highest place by a KingCo Conference school since Interlake took second in 1986.

“The girls know they gave their best and that is how we judge success. Wins and losses happen, but giving your best is the measure of success. And these girls were the most successful team I have ever coached, because they gave their best more times than any other team I have coached,” said Issaquah coach Todd Parsons.

Issaquah’s highest finish at state prior to the tournament was third in the 3A tourney in 2005.

The Eagles defeated Curtis, Woodinville and Olympia en route to the title match.

Seniors Rachel Roeder and Riley Sorenson were named to the all-tournament team.

Roeder was the KingCo MVP this year, leading the Eagles to the league title. She was also selected as the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

Alexa Batiquin, another senior, was selected as the KingCo’s top defensive player. Batiquin, Roeder, Sorenson and Sarah Hanna all were first-team all-KingCo selections. Parsons was selected as the league’s coach of the year.

Skyline football reign ends

Despite staging a near comeback in the second half, Skyline’s run of state titles ended at three Dec. 4, when the Spartans lost to Ferris, of Spokane, 24-16, in the Class 4A title game in the Tacoma Dome.

Skyline finished the season 12-2. The loss snapped a 12-game winning streak for Skyline, which lost to Liberty 39-34 in the season-opener.

Both Skyline touchdowns against Ferris came on 5-yard passes from sophomore quarterback Max Browne to wide receiver Nic Sblendorio.

“It sucks, but we had a lot of plays we could’ve made in the first half,” Browne said as the sting of defeat set in. “The story at the half was we just didn’t make the plays. We just didn’t come out firing.”

The road to the state final wasn’t that easy for Skyline, which rallied in the second half to beat Curtis 35-34 in the semifinals. The Spartans also had to come from behind to defeat rival Issaquah 42-21 in the quarterfinals.

Browne, who earned all-state honors, continued Skyline’s legacy of talented quarterbacks. He threw for more than 3,600 yards and tossed 46 touchdown passes.

Liberty girls win district

Liberty cross country coach Michael Smith did a dive, but his girls team did an amazing leap upward last fall. The Patriots won the 3A Sea-King District championship for the first time Oct. 28 and became the first Liberty cross country team to qualify for the state meet.

Smith had promised his team that if it won the district title, he would dive into Green Lake, near the Lower Woodland Park race course. He kept his word.

The Patriots won the district title with 78 points, beating out KingCo champion Mercer Island by 21 points.

The key at district for Liberty was its ability to run as a pack. Aimee Christensen led the way for the Patriots by taking 14th. Megan Chucka was 15th, Rachel Shaw came in 17th, Allie Wood placed 18th and Amy Broska finished 19th. All return next fall for Liberty, which placed ninth at state.

During the regular season, Liberty went unbeaten against other 3A KingCo teams.

Kasen Williams named all-state player of the year

No athlete in the district received more attention last year than Skyline’s Kasen Williams. Recognized as one of the top football talents in the nation, media centered on him during the summer as he mulled offers from several colleges. He chose the University of Washington.

Last fall, Williams, a talented wide receiver, concluded his high-school football career with 235 receptions for 4,121 yards and 56 touchdowns. He helped Skyline win three state titles in four years.

Williams earned many honors for his playing skill. He was the 4A KingCo Crest Division offensive player of the year, the Gatorade state player of the year and the Associated Press Player of the Year. He was named to the All-USA Today All-America first team and was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 8 in San Antonio.

Not to be overlooked was his performance in track and field. Williams won the triple jump at last year’s 4A state meet. He also placed second in the high jump and the long jump. Prior to the state meet, he took first place in the high jump, triple jump and long jump at the district and league meets.

And he also started in basketball, earning all-KingCo second team honors as a forward.

Skyline girls ranked No. 1

The Skyline girls soccer team received national notoriety last fall. The Spartans were ranked No. 1 in the nation.

But it didn’t end as a perfect season. The Spartans lost to Tahoma 1-0 Nov. 19 in the semifinals at the 4A state tournament. Skyline, which entered the tournament as defending state champions, took third after beating Skyview 2-1 Nov. 20.

The National Soccer Coaches Association selected Skyline coach Don Braman as the Washington large school coach of the year.

Skyline won the 4A KingCo title and had seven first-team selections — goalkeeper Tina Vargas, forward Michelle Bretl, midfielders Maddie Christ and Madi Barney, and defenders Jackie Wilson, Dom Randle and Brittanee Randle.

Liberty girls win soccer crown

The Liberty girls soccer team had its best season in several years. The Patriots won the 3A/2A KingCo title and earned an automatic entry into the state tournament.

Liberty lost to Bonney Lake 2-1 Nov. 9 in the first round of the tournament. Nevertheless, it was quite a turnaround for the Patriots, who finished the season at 11-3-3. In 2009, Liberty went 4-9-4.

Liberty, under new coach Malia Arrant, went undefeated in conference play. Midfielder Kimi Fry was selected as the league’s co-most valuable player. Forward Cassidy Nangle was selected to the all-league first team.

Issaquah girls take sixth in state

The Issaquah girls basketball team overcame a variety of adversity throughout the 2009-10 season, but still finished sixth in the 4A state tournament. Issaquah defeated Lewis & Clark and Lake Stevens before falling to eventual state champion Auburn Riverside in the semifinals.

The Eagles finished the season with a 23-6 record.

Issaquah went into the tournament as one of the younger and shorter teams. The Eagles were also minus guard Dayna Talley, at tough defender who tore her ACL in the final regular-season game.

During the regular season, Issaquah finished first in the KingCo Crest Division. Forward Maddey Pflaumer earned first-team all-league honors.

Jenkins did it all

Chandler Jenkins couldn’t have done any more for the Liberty football team last fall, other than perhaps drive the team bus.

He was certainly the driving force of the team. He was the most dominating player in the 3A/2A KingCo Conference. He was selected as the league’s offensive player of the year.

There was a good reason for the award. Jenkins led the league in rushing with 1,402 yards, scoring 114 points and all-purpose yardage with 2,302 yards. He averaged 37.9 yards on kickoff returns, and ranked fourth in the league receiving 26 catches for 453 yards.

Jenkins also started on defense and was holder on extra points and field goals. He never came off the field.

“He had a great senior year. We put a lot on him. We relied on him to carry the load,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “He is not just a great athlete, he is an amazing competitor. I don’t think we will see one like him for a while.”

Jenkins was selected to the Associate Press All-state Class 3A team last week.

In addition to football last year, he started on the basketball team and earned second-team all-league honors.

Liberty boys win track title

Liberty won the 3A Sea-King District title for the first time May 21. The Patriots compiled 100 points to beat out 3A KingCo champion Bellevue, which had 87 points.

Liberty had two individual district champions and also won the 1,600 relay.

Peter Stacy, who had an exceptional senior year in the throwing events, took first place in the javelin with a toss of 179-3. He also placed second in the discus with a throw of 145-10.

Joshua Gordon won the long jump, going 21-10 1/2. Teammate Devin Bennett was third at 21-5 1/4. Bennett also placed second in the triple jump by going 41-11 1/2.

The Patriots beat out Bellevue in a thrilling 1,600 relay — Liberty finished in 3:23.66 and Bellevue was second in 3:23.98. Eric Bice sparked Liberty down the stretch as the Patriots, third earlier in the event, pulled out the victory. Troy Solly, Bennett and Gordon were other members of the Liberty relay team.

Liberty finished seventh at the 3A state meet. Gordon was second in the long jump at 22-2 and Stacy played third in the javelin at 175-5.

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