Track teams hope to follow 2010 title successes

March 22, 2011

By Bob Taylor

The Skyline and Liberty high school track and field programs had banner seasons a year ago and both have high hopes for the 2011 season.

Kyle Branch, of Skyline, runs in last year’s KingCo 4A 3200-meter championship race. By Greg Farrar

Skyline, which has become one of the elite track and field programs in the state, had a very strong boys team last spring. The Spartans captured 4A KingCo Conference and district titles, and finished the year by taking second at state. It was most successful season ever for the Skyline boys.

Spartans coach Marc Hillestad said he is excited about the prospects for this season’s squad as many key athletes return.

Liberty’s boys team had a sensational season a year ago by winning the 3A Sea-King District title. The Patriots have some top talent returning from that team, but might not be strong enough to duplicate last year’s feat. However, the girls team looks stronger than ever and should contend for top honors in the 3A/2A KingCo Conference and Sea-King District.

The Issaquah High School program, which annually fields some of the stronger KingCo teams, will have competitive boys and girls squads this season, too.

Kasen Williams leads Skyline boys

By far, the most famous name on the team is senior Kasen Williams, one of the best all-around athletes in the state and perhaps in the country. Williams, best known for his exploits in football where he earned Parade Magazine National Player of the Year honors, also excels in basketball and track.

In track, Williams is a point machine. He scores points in the jumps and relays. Last year, he won the long jump, triple jump and high jump at the KingCo meet. At state, he won the triple jump and took second in both the long jump and high jump.

Another returning standout for Skyline’s boys team is distance runner Kyle Branch, who finished third at KingCo in the 1,600 meters and fourth in the 3,200. Sprinter Drew Matthews and distance runner Keegan Symmes also return.

Matthews got his season off to a good start March 17 by winning the 100- and 400-meter at the Skyline Jamboree. He won the 400 in 49.8 with Williams second in 51.7. Branch won the 1,600 with Symmes placing fourth in the event.

Skyline showed depth in the throwing events with Jake Monroe winning the shot put and Bryan Lee capturing the discus. Garret Corlis placed second in the javelin.

Williams, who has gone 7 feet in the high jump during his career, was in good form at the jamboree. He won the high jump by going 6-9, an outstanding mark this early in the season.

The Skyline girls team had its string of eight KingCo titles snapped last year when the Spartans finished second to Inglemoor. Coach Dawn Geiser, in her 15th year, is ready for the Spartans to reclaim the top spot. However, she notes that this is going to be a rebuilding year with only a few returning seniors on the squad.

The top returning athletes are Haley Ziegler (javelin, discus, and shot put), Elena Frerker (javelin and discus), Michelle Bretl (400 and relays), Sydne Tingey (high jump), Kathryn Steele (distance events), Lindsey Coutts (high jump, long jump), Marissa Fortier (triple jump) and Kaylie Greninger (400 and relays).

Ziegler finished first in the javelin at last year’s KingCo meet and Steele placed third in the 3,200.

Newcomers include Alex Daugherty (200, 400, relays), Maria Volodkevich (200, 400, relays), Dorie Dalzell (200, 400, relays), Jordan Branch (distance events) and Aleeya Neal (100, 200, relays).

Bretl had two first places at the Skyline Jamboree. She won the 200 and 400. Branch, a freshman, won the 1,600. Ziegler captured the discus and javelin.

Skyline opens its KingCo season at 4 p.m. March 24 at home against Woodinville.

Liberty girls look powerful

The Liberty boys team, despite some key returning athletes, might find it difficult to duplicate last year’s performance. Among the graduation losses were thrower Peter Stacy and distance runner Eric Bice.

“It’s going to be difficult to replace Peter Stacy, because he was a point machine for us last year,” Liberty coach Michael Smith said. “We’re a little bit light on the throwing side this year.”

But the Patriots have three athletes returning who will rank among the best in 3A KingCo season.

Junior Josh Gordon won the high jump and long jump at last year’s KingCo championships. He also competes in the triple jump and sprints.

Senior Devin Bennett is another talented long jumper and high jumper. He also runs the 400 and 800. Bennett was third in the 800 at last year’s KingCo meet.

Another key returning team member is Hamilton Noel, who won the pole vault at last spring’s KingCo meet. Noel, who also excels in wrestling and football, will also run the sprints.

“He’s one of the fastest sprinters we have and our best pole vaulter. He has so much motivation that he could probably do anything,” Smith said.

Liberty also has distance runners Tyler Westenbroek and Scott Turner, and middle distance runners Ron Redmon and Nick Knoblich back.

“We will have some kids who will have good performances this season, but we lack depth,” Smith said.

The Liberty girls team has depth. The Patriots have strong runners, who helped win the Sea-King District cross country title last fall, in the middle distance and distance events.

Among the top returning athletes are Megan Chucka, Emily Pestl-Dimmitt, Elizabeth Ryker and Madison Birdsall. Chucka finished second in the 800 and third in the 1,600 at last year’s KingCo championships. Pestl-Dimmitt was second in the high jump and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Ryker took second in the 400 and third in the 200.

Liberty also has its entire 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams, who finished first at the KingCo championships, returning. Birdsall, Ryker, Delane Agnew and Michaela Chucka composed those relays.

“The whole team looks strong. There are lots of girls who have ability,” Smith said. “The team looks strong in the 400 and 800. There is more depth on the girls team this year than on the guys team.”

Smith has often reminded the girls what they could accomplish this season.

“They should do really well. I’ve told them there is no reason why you can’t do what the boys did last year — win district,” Smith said.

Liberty opens its league season at 4 p.m. March 24 at Lake Washington. On March 26, the Patriots host the Liberty Invitational. Mount Rainier, Mariner, Eastside Catholic, Kennedy Catholic, Yelm and Steilacoom are entered in the meet, which begins at 9 a.m.

Issaquah teams take third

Both the Issaquah girls and boys teams placed third March 19 at the Seattle Academy Relays in West Seattle Stadium. Not all of the key members competed in the meet. However, Issaquah still had some strong performances.

“We had a good day,” Issaquah coach Gwen Robertson said. “Our kids got out and competed real well.”

In the girls meet, Issaquah had 233.5 points to finish behind Olympia and Kent-Meridian. Olympia won with 290 points and Kent-Meridian was second with 257.5.

Eva Perry, who won the pole vault title at the KingCo and district meets, took first place in her specialty. She went 11 feet. Teammate Amelia Meigs was second.

Haley Jacobson, one of the top sprinters in KingCo who is headed to the University of Washington, won the 100 in 12.32.

“Haley looked pretty good,” Robertson said. “She has been working real hard.”

Issaquah won the 4×200 and 4×400 relays. Kim Varney, Jacobson, Juliana da Cruz and A.J. Bowers composed the 4×200 relay team, which had a winning time of 1:48.86. The 4×400 relay was composed of da Cruz, Madison Callan, Jacobson and Varney. The only newcomer to those relays is da Cruz, a freshman.

Katie Zhong, who was third in the javelin at last year’s KingCo championships, placed second.

Other top returning athletes for Issaquah are Lauren Bruner (hurdles), Mallory Cooke (pole vault), Joceyln Eng (distance), McKenna Hogan (sprints), Nicole Migotsky (distance), Rachel Osgood (sprints), Shelby Parthemer (distance) and Jasmine Watters (throws).

Mack Wieberg, Amanda Chalfant, Amanda Levenson and da Cruz are among the promising freshmen on the team.

“We have some good ones. We will see how they develop during the year,” Robertson said.

The boys team had two first places at the Seattle Academy Relays. Mike Baba won the javelin with a throw of 166 feet and Jason Hollaway captured the pole vault by going 13 feet.

Jonathan Martyn took second in the discus and Jorrell Dorsey was third in the long jump. Issaquah showed good depth in the long jump with Alex Rylander and Kyle Farmer placing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Among the other top returning boys are Andy Meigs (javelin), Connor Pearl (triple jump), Isaac Robinson (distance), Allen Su (sprints), Blake Wedekind (jumps), Jack Wheeler (pole vault) and Turner Wiley (distance).

Issaquah opens its conference schedule at 4 p.m. March 24 at Garfield.

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