Community Sports

2023-24 Super Seniors | Peninsula High School

Posted on July 5th, 2024 By:

With the recent finish of the high school sports season, Gig Harbor Now presents its Super Seniors for the 2023-24 sports year. Super Seniors recognizes seniors who had huge impacts on their teams during their careers at Peninsula and Gig Harbor high schools.

Although many senior athletes excelled at multiple sports, an athlete can only be selected once on our list. We selected Super Seniors in South Sound Conference-sanctioned sports, along with water polo and lacrosse.

The award is based on the athlete’s complete high school career, rather than an individual season.

The following are the Peninsula High School Super Seniors for the 2023-24 sports year starting with the fall sports participants.

Girls cross country: Lola Sweet

Sweet was an accomplished distance runner for the Seahawks. She finished among the top 12 seniors at the state cross country meet, which qualified her for the state Senior All-Star Race.

Blessed with strong legs and excellent endurance, Sweet was a varsity competitor for three years for head coach Tyler Nugent. Sweet was the Seahawks’ second-fastest cross country runner behind junior Elektra Higgins in 2023-24, as Peninsula finished 13th at the Class 3A state cross country championships in Pasco.  Sweet came across the line in 20:31.30, good enough for an 79th-place individual finish.

In track and field, Sweet finished fifth in the 1,600 meters and ninth in the 3,200 meters  at the league championships in the spring.

“Lola is an extremely focused and conscientious athlete. She was certainly a valuable team captain and role model for our younger girls,” Nugent said.

Football: Conner Burton

Burton did a little bit of everything for the Seahawks.

As a running back, he supplied physical inside runs and used his punishing stiff arm to toss defenders to the ground. A 6-foot-1, 185 pounder with 4.7 speed, Burton was capable of juking defenders in the open field, catching swing passes in the flat or putting his head down and running over opponents. The senior was rarely tackled by just one defender.

Conner Burton
Photo by Bryce Carithers

On the other side of the ball, Burton was a sure tackler with the speed to cover tight ends or running backs on pass plays. He possessed the demeanor to launch himself into gaps to make punishing tackles at the line of scrimmage.

Burton was also a captain and team leader who the Seahawks rallied around and is certainly thought of as one of Peninsula’s most talented running backs in recent years. He was second-team all-league as a running back in 2023 and honorable mention all-league at outside linebacker in ’22.

Boys cross country: Cooper Leavengood

Leavengood was Peninsula’s fastest cross country runner during his senior season. The four-year cross country runner shaved off an amazing five minutes off his initial 5K time from his freshman year. As a senior, he advanced from the conference and district meets to make the state Class 3A finals, finishing in a time of 17:17.39.

Coach Tyler Nugent described Leavengood as “one of our team’s most exceptional leaders who frequently directed initiatives to strengthen the bonds among our boys team. Many of his teammates have been inspired by his efforts, including his coveted weekly headband award.

Boys tennis: Alec Krishnadasan

Krishnadasan was a four-year player for the Seahawks who used his athleticism and love of tennis to steadily improve year after year until he was one of the Seahawks best individual players. Krishnadasan developed a dependable serve and had the stamina to outlast his opponents as matches progressed, posting a winning record his senior year at his second singles position for Peninsula, who finished fourth in the SSC.

Krishnadasan gave the Seahawks plenty of wins during his sophomore and junior years playing a mix of varsity doubles and singles. He really climbed the singles ladder when he used his intellect and began to mix his pace of play by incorporating drop shots, moon balls and then quick diagonal shots for winners. The strategy worked as Krishnadasan pressured his opponents into unforced errors that helped him to gain momentum and win matches.

Seahawk assistant coach Britt Mayer said of the senior: “We’ve seen Alec grow, and improve greatly over the years. It takes a lot to convince players that winning in tennis isn’t all about power. Alec can certainly hit the ball hard but he’s one of the few that figured out it’s not necessary to play with all power. He mixes it up well, proving that being a versatile player is a better way to win more matches.”

Girls diving: Makenna Post

It is very rare for an individual to win four straight South Sound Conference titles, but Makenna Post did just that. She was the league’s top diver all four years of high school.

Blessed with excellent timing, coordination and balance, Post was clearly on another level from other competitors. Time after time she would rip entries with minimal splash after executing dives with much higher degrees of difficulty ratings than most of her conference competitors.

Post nearly won a Class 3A state diving championship last season, narrowly settling for a second-place finish to cap off an outstanding year that saw her win every other meet. She also placed fourth at state as a junior. The second- and fourth-place finishes solidified Post as Peninsula’s best diver of all time.

PHS swim coach Athena Petterson credited Post’s inquisitiveness and work ethic: “She always wanted to learn the newer things in order to make herself better. At practice I would watch her learn new drills with her diving coach Troy Olsen, as they made plans to execute exactly the dives she needed too. She was never unprepared for a meet and she was always challenging herself.”

Makenna Post
Photo by Bryce Carithers

Girls soccer: Addi Sebren

Sebren played all four years on the Peninsula varsity, starting every game for the Seahawks unless injured or on a minute restriction due to injury. Her teammates voted her the team MVP and best defensive player her senior year.

Sebren, a two-year captain, was a terror to opposing offensive players as she had a rich blend of talent and desire, speed and physicality.

Peninsula tied a school record last season by making their third consecutive appearance in the state tournament and Sebren played a huge part in the Seahawks’ success over that period. Sebren had a strong leg, as she took 49 free kicks her senior season alone and ended her career with 10 assists, which is significant for a defender. Seahawk head coach Kim Demianiw said of Sebren: “She gave 100% every game and played different positions, depending on what our team needed from her. I’m really proud of her resilience, perseverance, and accomplishments. She was such a valuable player!”

Addi Sebren. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Boys basketball: Reece Redal

Redal was an athletic shooting guard for the Seahawks who could get to the hoop to score in traffic or bury jump shots from three-point range. He led the balanced Seahawks in scoring several times during his senior season and was one of Peninsula’s best ball handlers in the open court.

Redal was a team player who could step up and score when his team needed it or be content to deliver nifty assists to his teammates. Redal was also aggressive on the defensive end, as he headed the Seahawks’ three-quarter court press that looked to trap in the corners and speed up the game. He would often finish the play with an athletic score after securing a steal.

The Seahawks had quite a few injuries over the last couple of years, but Redal was a consistent contributor during that time span.  It’s often said a player’s best ability is availability and the dependable Redal made Peninsula better with his versatility and maximum effort playing style.

Reece Redal. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Boys swimming: Ethan Berard

Berard started competitive varsity swimming during his sophomore year at Peninsula and then followed that season with a rigorous summer club schedule as well. The outcome was impressive, as his strokes became more technically advanced and his times consistently dropped. By the time he was done with his senior year he was the fastest 100 meter butterfly swimmer in the South Sound Conference.

His dominance in the butterfly stroke also earned him a spot on the Seahawks’ 200 meter medley relay team that was undefeated all season until they were barely out-touched at the district finals by Bainbridge Island. The butterfly is hard to perfect and relay teams often lose ground during that leg. But with Berard in the pool, the Seahawks consistently gained ground and finished 13th at the Class 3A state championships in 2024. Peninsula head coach Athena Petterson said: “Ethan stepped up and led this season, always inspiring the rest of the team, with his work ethic and consistent improvement.”

Girls basketball: Kaylia Heidelberg

Heidelberg closed out a storied basketball career in a familiar place to end her senior year, at the state tournament. The Peninsula shooting guard with different-area-code shooting range led her team to three straight state appearances and scored over 1,000 points in her career.

Kaylia Heidelberg. Photo by Bryce Carithers

The talented scorer was much more than just a shooter. But when you’re as good a shooter as Heidelberg is, that’s what people tend to remember most — especially when she broke a school record by dropping nine three-pointers in one game last winter.

But Heidelberg was a complete player who could put it on the deck and drive to the hoop, scrap for a loose ball, grab key offensive rebounds, post up smaller guards, and defend the perimeter. Scoring 1,000 points is a rare accomplishment in high school, especially when Covid-19 disrupted her freshman season. But  Heidelberg was blessed with talent and a consistent work ethic that allowed her to excel.

Opposing South Sound Conference coaches were more than happy to see her graduate. Seahawk coach Hannah Lekson said: “She is one of the greatest three point shooters our school has ever seen and a great leader, who will be impossible to replace.”

Boys wrestling: Justin Phipps

Phipps was a 120-pound wrestler who qualified for three straight Mat Classics in the Tacoma Dome. The Seahawk wrestler was even talented enough to have a move named after him. He used the “KP (Key Peninsula) Cradle” to pin multiple opponents over the last few seasons. Displaying a blend of quickness and wiry strength, Phipps was a virtual lock to win for the Seahawks in conference action. He proved that by winning SSC and regional titles in his senior season.

Phipps finished sixth at state as a junior, then compiled an impressive 38-9 record as a senior. “Phipps often smothered his opponents with an unorthodox style that catches his opponents in precarious positions when they least expect it,” Seahawk assistant coach, Mark Nichols said.

Girls wrestling: Kylie Michalke

Michalke was a three-year varsity wrestler for the Seahawks who closed out last season with a 27-15 record and a team Class 3A state championship at the Tacoma Dome. Blessed with natural strength and athletic ability, Michalke was a brute at the 125-pound classification. She finished fourth at the regional tournament by very rarely allowing her opponents to recover and reverse once she gained the top position.

She also provided excellent leadership for a championship team that needed her calming influence and experience. The seven points she provided during the state tournament were key to the Seahawks’ come-from-behind state championship over the second place Curtis Vikings by the score of 122-119.

Girls volleyball: Evalyn Sutherland

Sutherland was a four-year varsity player for the Seahawks, who have been one of the most successful Class 3A volleyball programs in the state during recent years. Sutherland played the important libero position, which is a defensive specialist who is not allowed to serve or rotate to the front line.

But Sutherland was a front-line competitor for the Seahawks. She was tough as nails and excellent at coming up with diving digs a few inches off the floor or running head-first into the bleachers to return shots for Peninsula.

Evalyn Sutherland. Photo by David Turley

Time and time again Sutherland would anticipate where outside hitters were aiming their shots and be there to return rockets to the Peninsula setters. The fiery Sutherland was a team leader and the straw that stirred the drink for the successful Seahawks, who made back to back-to-back state tournament appearances that included a second-place Class 3A state finish in 2022.

Boys golf: Luke Lipsey

Lipsey was the Seahawks’ lone representative at the Class 3A state tournament this spring. His consistent drives  repeatedly found fairways and his smooth short game kept scores low. He also displayed a smooth putting stroke and a clutch gene at the district tournament, as he was down by a stroke on the 18th hole with a state tournament birth on the line.

Lipsey stayed calm and delivered a high fade approach shot to the green on 18 at the Auburn Golf Course and then dropped a birdie putt on the final hole of regulation. His final round 85 forced a playoff, and advanced after the first hole.

Boys baseball: Tristan Miller

Seahawk head coach Matt Thomas trusted Miller as the starting pitcher in one of the biggest games of the year, the district title game against Stadium.Peninsula won 5-4 to get to the state tournament. Miller allowed just four hits and one earned run in that game, striking out three.

He kept batters off balance through the year and was a big part of a pitching staff that was probably the South Sound Conference’s best. Miller also dealt an array of pitches against the crosstown Tides late in the season as he pitched five innings of shutout ball, only allowing two hits and one walk.

Tristan Miller. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Girls fastpitch: Malia Coit

Coit had an excellent high school career that included a Class 3A state championship in 2023, when she ripped off 10 home runs in the postseason and a homer to start things off in the state title game as well. Coit was a four-year starter and team captain for head coach Mike Paul with a quick and powerful bat. When opposing pitchers made even the slightest mistake, Coit would make them pay with laser line drives or powerful moon shots that sent center fielders to the fence to watch the ball fly beyond. She earned first team all-SSC honors three times in a row and was a big part of a Peninsula team that didn’t lose a conference game for three straight years.

Malia Coit. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Coit hit a remarkable .481 for her career and was a smooth defender at both second base and in center field. The Seahawk dugout was always full of energy even during a tough senior season when wins were difficult to come by. But the loudest voice of encouragement heard was often Coit’s. She refused to ever give up on a game as the Seahawks’ unquestionable team leader.

Boys soccer: Jackson Ray

Ray was a quick, versatile forward who paced the Seahawks in goals his senior season even though opposing defenses were keying in on the talented senior. Blessed with top-end speed, the twitchy Ray would often split defenders with impressive footwork before scoring goals from difficult angles.

His ball skills often stood out on the pitch and scoring came natural. But Ray was also an unselfish and accomplished passer with unique vision, who often found other Seahawks with assists when the defense would converge on him. Ray played on the varsity level for three straight years, culminating in a first-team all-SSC selection in 2024. During his career the Seahawks advanced to the state tournament twice and secured a district playoff birth in Ray’s senior season.

Jackson Ray. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Boys track: Tyler Posey

Posey had a breakout senior season and was one of the Seahawks’ top boys track and field point scorers during the year. He was part of Peninsula’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams and one of the SSC’s top 300 meter high hurdlers. But his most impressive ability was the long jump, where he used his speed and leaping ability to win the SSC title with a leap of 20 feet, nine inches.

Posey impressed Peninsula track and field coach Dylan Hall on and off of the track. Posey is already a small business owner with entrepreneurial skills. “Tyler has serious toughness and never backed down from a challenge, it will be cool to see what he does with all his talents in the future,” Hall said.

Tyler Posey. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Girls track: Anne Shipp

Shipp won a league championship in the triple jump with a leap of 35 feet, one inch. She also finished third in the long jump and sixth in the high jump at the SSC championships and 13th in the state in the high jump with a leap of four feet, 10 inches.

Shipp was a versatile athlete who was also an excellent leader according to coach Dylan Hall. “Anne is extremely coachable, consistent, and a hard worker which paved the way for her continual development over her career. She was a tremendous leader within our jump groups and could always be counted on to help direct and mentor the younger athletes. Anne will leave PHS as on the most successful jumpers of all time but we will remember her most for what a great person and teammate she was.”

Girls tennis: Lindsey Kilcup

Kilcup reached the Class 3A state doubles tennis tournament with teammate Margaux Mayer. Kilcup combined excellent ground strokes with a nifty net game and always seemed to anticipate her opponent’s next moves. She used her considerable foot speed and consistent serve to help advance the pair through the conference regular season with an undefeated record before advancing through the district championships to the 3A state tournament in Vancouver.

Kilcup was an inspiration to her teammates and the entire community as she played with a prosthetic on a deformed right hand that certainly made the difficult game of tennis even harder. But in the end it was her overall physical talent, mental toughness and positive attitude that stood out the most from her game as she continually made athletic plays on the court that made her prosthetic an after thought to all that watched or played against her.

Girls water polo: Olivia Christensen

Christensen was one of the Seahawks’ top water polo players during her career and helped Peninsula advance to within one game of the 3A state tournament her senior season. She is best known for being an accurate outside shooting threat as she continually found the net from long distances. She was also known as a strong defender who had the strength and stamina to cover the opponents’ best scorers. Another aspect of her game that stood out was her strong drive for continual improvement as she dedicated countless hours to expand her game with the Seahawks and the Narrows Water Polo Club over the last three years.

Christensen was described as the foundation of Peninsula’s success over the past few years who used her strong swimming skills to outrace opponents to loose balls before unleashing laser shots that led to scores. Christensen combined her skill with an extensive work ethic and was also a popular and supportive teammate who commanded respect from peers and opponents alike.

Boys lacrosse: Robby Akulschin

Akulschin was a goal scoring machine for the Seahawks lacrosse team that won three out of four Baggataway Bowls during his time on the field. Akulschin used a combination of speed and skill to score with spinning, leaping and reverse shots on goal. He led the Puget-Pierce 3A league in average points per game and was fourth in the state in scoring during his senior year.

Robby Akulschin. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Part of an accomplished lacrosse family that includes older brothers who are collegiate standouts, Ackulschin more than held his own, displaying a tenacity despite being the center of opposing coaches defensive game plans. He scored 168 total goals in an impressive career that saw him selected as a first team all conference player three years in a row.

Girls lacrosse: Katie Tibbetts

Tibbetts came to the Riptides from back east in her sophomore season after playing extensively as a youngster and  started every game since. She was a defender when she arrived, but because of her great stick skills Riptides coach Madison Lancaster converted Tibbetts to high attacker. She found the net plenty of times in her distinguished career. Tibbetts led her team in scoring and opposing coaches voted her first-team all-conference.

The team captain and MVP, Tibbetts displayed a high lacrosse IQ that helped younger players excel. Lancaster appreciated the senior’s efforts: “Katie is an incredibly talented player, but also has a work ethic and drive to back it up. She was a great role model and teammate and brought a definite competitive edge, but also a lot of joy and positivity as well.”

Boys water polo: Marcus Reum

Reum was a tough and physical attacker in the pool for the highly successful Seahawks water polo team. Reum used his swimming speed and strength to break away from defenders who tried to hold, grab and obstruct the senior from obtaining the ball and scoring. It didn’t really work though as Reum — was also a star wrestler for the Seahawks  — possessed the strength and flexibility to escape.

Reum lead the Seahawk seniors in scoring and was voted all conference by league coaches. His best performance may have come against his crosstown rival Tides in an emotional game. Reum came up big when it mattered most and led his team to a come-from-behind win, scoring five goals to help the Seahawks defeat the Tides for the first time in 10 years.

Next week we go across town to announce the Super Seniors from Gig Harbor High School’s successful athletic programs.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was first posted. An earlier version included a player who was a junior during the 2023-24 school year.