Kasen Williams leads parade of 2011 best efforts from individuals, teams
December 27, 2011
It was a year of state titles for Skyline High School, and the end of a career for a Spartan who always seemed to be in championship form.
When he graduated last spring, Skyline’s Kasen Williams left a legacy that might never be duplicated in the Issaquah School District. He was definitely the most dominant figure in the local sports scene in 2011.
Williams, who now plays football for the University of Washington, concluded a remarkable high-school career last May by winning three individual titles at the Class 4A state meet. Along with those championship medals, Williams also collected numerous national and state honors.
While he was catching touchdown passes for the Huskies this fall, his alma mater did quite well, too. Skyline won Class 4A state championships in girls swimming, football and girls soccer. The Spartans also had a near miss in boys soccer last spring, finishing second in the state tournament.
Overall, the sports programs at all three Issaquah district high schools had something to cheer about in 2011. Liberty High School had incredible achievements in girls cross country, boys track and girls soccer. Issaquah High School had plenty to cheer about in girls soccer, girls cross country and girls track.
Here’s a recap of the top local sports stories in 2011:
Where did he put all the loot?
Hopefully Kasen Williams had enough room on his trophy case for all the awards. Williams was selected as the Gatorade Washington Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year last spring. He was the first Gatorade Washington Boys track and field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Skyline.
The award recognized not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track. Williams maintained a 3.10 grade point average in the classroom.
At the Class 4A state meet, Williams won the triple jump with a leap of 50 feet, 9 1/4 inches, which ranked third in the nation. He also captured the long jump with a 24-5 1/4 effort and won the high jump by clearing 6-10. He ranked among the nation’s top 20 in the long jump and high jump.
At the KingCo Conference 4A championships, Williams won the triple jump, high jump and long jump. It was the third straight year he won those events.
Earlier this year, Williams was selected as Parade Magazine’s National football player of the year.
And, not just limited to track and football, Williams showed skill on the basketball court. Last winter, he earned all-KingCo Conference 4A first-team honors in basketball.
A three-peat for Skyline swimming
Skyline, sparked by senior Katie Kinnear, won its third consecutive state swimming title Nov. 12 at the King County Aquatic Center.
The Spartans rolled up 202 points to finish 55 points ahead of runner-up Stadium.
“I’m just thrilled. I cannot believe how they swam,” Skyline coach Susan Simpkins said. “They performed better than we ever imagined.”
Kinnear, bound for UCLA, won her fourth consecutive 100-yard butterfly title in 53.46 seconds, just .36 of a second off of the state-record time she set as a sophomore at Eastlake. The Skyline swimmer dropped a second from her previous personal best to win the 100 backstroke in 54.6, an automatic All-American time. Her butterfly time was also good enough for All-American status. The two victories were the sixth and seventh individual titles in her amazing high school career.
Kinnear was named the swimmer of the 4A meet.
The Spartans added key points in winning the 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay. Kinnear anchored the 400 free relay team and was helped by Maria Volodkevich, Meghan O’Keefe and Stephanie Muñoz. The relay team finished in 3:32.87, an All-American consideration time.
In the 200 medley relay, Skyline finished first with an All-American consideration time of 1:47.22. Sarah Elderkin, Andi Scarcello, Kinnear and Volodkevich made up the relay team.
Besides the Spartans, Liberty had plenty to celebrate about in the 3A state competition. The Patriots finished seventh, an all-time best for the program. Freshman Mackenna Briggs won the 100 backstroke in 58.62 and took third in the 200 individual medley.
Skyline football back on top
After finishing second in the state tournament in 2010, the Spartans were eager to redeem themselves in 2011. However, when Skyline began the season with a 5-3 record, chances of reclaiming the state title did not seem promising.
But the Spartans got rolling in the post-season and completed their journey to the top by crushing the Skyview Storm, 38-7, Dec. 3 to win the Class 4A championship in the Tacoma Dome. It was the sixth state title in the history of Skyline’s football program.
“This is what every high school player wants to experience,” Skyline junior quarterback Max Browne said after the title game. “We got it done. It’s a dream come true.”
Browne capped a fantastic season as he completed 15 of 22 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He earned several post-season all-state and all-KingCo Conference awards.
The Skyline defense, led by junior linebacker Peyton Pelluer, was outstanding against Skyview, of Vancouver, Wash., which had overpowered all its opponents in the playoffs.
Spartans wear another crown
Not all of Skyline’s victories in girls soccer were fancy, but the Spartans always managed to get the job done. And it wasn’t always the same player stepping up and carrying the team.
When the Spartans won the Class 4A state title Nov. 19 at Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium, they had another new hero. Junior defender Lianna Simms, subbing for injured Jackie Wilson, connected on a free-kick in the 22nd minute as top-ranked Skyline defeated Bellarmine Prep, 1-0.
Tough defense and dazzling goaltending by senior Tina Vargas were keys to the Spartans’ success. Skyline had four shutouts in four state playoff games, and outscored opponents 5-0.
The win gave Skyline (18-0-2) its third state title and first unbeaten season in school history.
Vargas posted her 11th shutout of the season. She made seven saves, including four in the final 10 minutes.
In the semifinals, Brooke Bofto and Maddie Christ scored as Skyline stopped fourth-ranked Tahoma, 2-0.
Liberty girls come close to soccer title
The Liberty girls team almost duplicated Skyline’s season. However, the Patriots fell to Seattle Prep, 3-2, Nov. 19 in the Class 3A state title game at Sparks Stadium.
The Patriots ironically opened the season losing to Skyline, 1-0, in a nonleague game. Liberty then won 18 straight games en route to the state championship game. On the way to the final the Patriots repeated their KingCo Conference 3A/2A title.
It was Liberty’s first time in the state championship game in the school’s 34-year history. The Patriots top previous finishes were third places in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
While their final game didn’t end the way the Patriots wanted, senior captain Cassidy Nangle said she was proud of the team’s accomplishments.
“We were able to take the name of Liberty soccer further than it’s ever been,” she said. “We made it to the state championship, and that was something we couldn’t frown upon.”
Liberty earned its spot in the title game by defeating Eastside Catholic, 1-0, in the semifinals. Kailiana Johnson scored Liberty’s goal. Liberty goalkeeper Macaire Ament recorded her 11th shutout.
Liberty boys track team second at state
The Liberty boys track team placed second May 28 at the Class 3A state track and field meet at Tacoma’s Mount Tahoma High School.
Liberty’s strong showing was largely a result of phenomenal performances from Josh Gordon and the school’s boys 4×400 meter relay team.
Gordon, a junior, took first in the 3A long jump with a leap of 22-10 1/2. He took second in the high jump, clearing 6-6. The latter set a new personal best and a school record.
The 4×400 team — Gordon, Devin Bennett, Joseph Bergmann and Hamilton Noel — took first place with a time of 3 minutes, 22.08 seconds.
Also, Liberty’s Hiron Redmon, a sophomore, took third in the 800-meter dash with a time of 1:56.1; Bennett was fourth in the 400 with a time of 51.01; and Noel placed sixth in the pole vault with a jump of 13-6.
In all, it was a big spring for Gordon, who also had a sensational performance in the 3A KingCo meet. Gordon won the high jump, long jump, 200 and ran as a member of the Patriots’ winning 4×400 relay team.
Small player has big impact
One of the smallest players in KingCo Conference 4A girls soccer had a mighty big impact this season.
Audrey Thomas, just 4-feet-11, was a dynamo on the pitch for Issaquah High School. The junior midfielder led the conference in scoring and sparked the Eagles to the 4A state tournament.
She was also selected the league’s most valuable player.
“She won it by a landslide,” Issaquah coach Tom Bunnell said. “She was just so dynamic.”
Although on the small side, Thomas commanded respect from every team she played against.
Thomas scored a league-leading 10 goals and had 11 assists to tally a league-leading 31 points.
Thomas, who was named to the all-KingCo first team, hauled in an even bigger post-season honor. She was selected the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Washington State High School Player of the Year.
In addition, Thomas was selected to the association’s All-Far West Region Team and named an All-American.
“She had a pretty good year,” Bunnell said.
Liberty girls cross country takes eighth at state meet
The Liberty girls cross country team entered the 3A state meet with high hopes of finishing among the top four teams. However, the Patriots ended up eighth Nov. 5 at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Nevertheless, it capped an outstanding season for the Patriots, who reached the state meet for the second straight year.
“I am not unhappy with eighth,” Liberty coach Michael Smith said. “Last year when we went to state, we were just happy to get there. This year, the girls really wanted to get fourth. However, that meant everyone running perfect.
“We had three girls who ran outstanding races, but we had four others than ran well but not at their best.”
Junior Allie Wood, a standout softball player, was Liberty’s top placer at state. Wood finished 27th in 19:27.9. Freshman Sarah Bliesner was 43rd in 19:47.7 and sophomore Megan Larson was 44th in 19:49.9.
Rounding out the Patriots’ top five were junior Megan Chucka (94th) and sophomore Amy Broska (101st). Junior Rachel Shaw was 102nd. The only senior on the team was Aimee Christensen, who finished 133rd.
Prior to the state meet, Liberty won a second straight Sea-King District 3A title.
Eagles land in top 10
Issaquah, which had five freshmen on its girls cross country team, finished eighth Nov. 5 at the Class 4A state meet in Pasco.
The Eagles had the second-highest finish for a KingCo Conference 4A team. Redmond was third.
“We finished just about where I thought we should have been,” Issaquah coach Gwen Robertson said. “I was hoping for a top-10 finish and that’s where we were. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect. The girls all performed very well.”
Senior Rachel Osgood was Issaquah’s top runner, finishing 32nd on the Sun Willows Golf Course in a time of 19 minutes, 17.4 seconds. Ellie Clawson was next for Issaquah in 42nd. Rounding out the Eagles’ top five were Cayla Seligman (100th), Ellie Hendrickson (112th) and Emily Winterstein (113th). All will return next season along with freshman Abby Wilson and sophomore Amanda Chalfant, who finished 118th and 122nd, respectively.
“I am pleased that they got to see what state is all about. Hopefully they will go back next year when all the mystery is gone,” Robertson said. “It was pretty exciting for them. I think it could get them pretty motivated for the future.”
For Issaquah, it was the first time the girls team had competed at a state meet in 13 years.To put it into a different perspective, some current members of the team were just 2 years old when the Eagles last sent a girls team to the state championship meet.
Prior to the state meet, Issaquah finished fourth at the Wes-King Bi-District 4A meet. A week before district, Issaquah placed second at the KingCo 4A meet to qualify its team to the district competition for the first time in 13 years.
Perry overcomes injury to win state title
Issaquah’s Eva Perry missed a portion of her junior track season because of an injury. However, she came on strong when it counted.
At the Class 4A state meet, Perry cleared 11-3 to finish first in the girls pole vault. It was a case where the third time was certainly the charm for Perry, who had been one of the top placers the previous two years.
She placed eighth in 2009 as a freshman and fourth in 2010 as a sophomore.
Despite her previous performances at state, Perry was bit of long-shot to win the title after placing third at district by going just 10-6.
However at state, Perry became the first Issaquah pole vaulter to win a state title. She was also the first Issaquah individual to win an event at state in six years.
With Perry and senior Haley Jacobson, who placed second in the 200 meters and fourth in the 100, Issaquah finished sixth in the team standings.
Prior to the state meet, Perry repeated her title in the KingCo championships by going 11 feet.