Community Sports

Sports Beat | Gig Harbor dance team wins 2nd state title in 3 years

Posted on April 4th, 2024 By:

The Gig Harbor High School dance team, H2Whoa, won the Class 3A state championship in the Hip Hop category at the Yakima Valley SunDome on March 23. The Tides accumulated 287.7 points to win comfortably over second-place Hermiston (Ore.), which had 279.2 points.

The team almost pulled off a rare double. H2Whoa missed a state title in the Pom category by just 1.6 points. This was the team’s inaugural season in the Pom division.

It is the second state title in three years for H2Whoa, which won in 2022 and finished second in 2023.

Head coach Tifny Eicher, a former Seattle Seahawks Sea Gal, had the team work with Tribe 99 for advanced choreography this season. They also formed a partnership with local studio Harbor Dance to improve their routines. It showed as the team continually executed vibrant and intricate routines that were both entertaining and precise.

“The journey to these accomplishments comes from a relentless determination that propelled us forward,” Eicher said. “We are delighted to provide athletes the ability to share their skills with their classmates and peers, showcasing our sport, not only in competition, but within our school community. H2Whoa has entertained fellow students at assemblies, games and community events with their performances and school spirit.”

H2Whoa, Gig Harbor High School’s state champion dance team.

The team is planning a final performance this year at the Whoa Show at 7 p.m. April 26 at the GHHS Auditorium. The performance is open to the public.

Senior team members are Lilly Gore, Carsyn Hall, Sophia Layer, Lydia Magnuson, Cailyn Smith and Layne Tritle. Underclassmen are junior Karla Rohr, sophomores Chloe Alejo, Britta Nelson and Maddie Whitlock and freshmen Brooklyn Hannah and Gemma Parnell. Karina Karlin is Eicher’s assistant coach.

Tides win back-and-forth fastpitch rivalry game

The Gig Harbor-Peninsula fastpitch game on April 1 was no joke.

The Tides eventually prevailed 10-6 in an exciting game for the local fastpitch community. The two teams battled back and forth in a game that had multiple lead changes.

The Tides’ Payton Cantrell delivered the knockout hit, plating three runs in the sixth inning to put Gig Harbor up for good.

Danielle Biehl of Gig Harbor threw a complete game against Peninsula. Photo by Bryce Carithers

The Seahawks took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Tides scored two runs in the bottom of the first on a Gracie Carey triple. The Tides came close to a third run in the inning on Willow Bonnici’s double, but Peninsula catcher Ava Miranda made a physical tag of a runner at home plate to keep it to a one run game.

The Tides added two more runs in the second inning and were cruising behind starting pitcher Danielle Biehl. Then Seahawks’ hitting machine, Malia Coit, ripped a double that almost cleared the center field fence. Coit later scored on Meghan Webster’s single to make the score 4-2.

The Seahawks had the bases loaded, but Biehl struck out Sophia Wood on a sneaky off-speed pitch to get out of the inning with the lead.

Coit turned on a belt-high fastball in the fourth inning and drove it 15 yards over the center field fence for a two-run home run that tied the score at 4-4. Then the Seahawks took a 5-4 lead when Mira Sonnen’s soft-as-butter bunt advanced a runner and Kyla McCarthy connected for an RBI base hit.

Both teams displayed outstanding defense as well. Peninsula right fielder Sonnen made a knee-sliding catch of a line drive while staring into the sun, and Olivia Griffin made a running, back-handed catch at second base to save a run. The Tides’ web gems included Isabel Harris’ diving centerfield catch and Carey’s three caught line drives at second base, with two of those ending scoring threats.

Olivia Griffin of Peninsula swings as Gig Harbor catcher Payton Cantrell awaits. Photo by Bryce Carithers

Gig Harbor tied the game at five in the fifth inning, when Carey laid down a nice bunt and a runner scored when her speed forced a high throw to first.

The Tides took a 6-5 lead in the sixth, when Isabel Harris’s single scored Bonnici, who had doubled. Later that inning, sophomore catcher Payton Cantrell — who is batting .591 on the season — delivered a bases-loaded hit to give Gig Harbor a 10-5 lead,

Peninsula scored one in the seventh before Biehl forced groundouts by the final two Seahwks batters.

Tides head coach Jim Peschek was impressed by Biehl, who pitched all seven innings.

“Dani is a big-moment player,” said Peschek, whose Tides snapped a eight-game losing streak to the Seahawks. “She wants to be in those kind of games with the ball in her hand. Not many coaches can say their best athlete is their pitcher, but she is for us.”

Gig Harbor catcher Cantrell went 3-4 at the plate with four RBI.  Centerfielder Harris went 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored. The Tides stole seven bases in the game.

The Seahawks could have just as easily won this game as they left the bases loaded twice but the Tides came up with several defensive plays at just the right time to earn the win.

The Seahawks got fine performances from Coit, who was 2-4 with two RBI and two runs; Sophia Hooper, who went 2-4 with an RBI and a run; and Webster, who went 1-3 with an RBI.

Gig Harbor returns to action at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at home against versus Timberline.

Peninsula’s next contest is at 4 p.m. April 5 at South Kitsap.

Ikei leads Gig Harbor girls golf

The Gig Harbor girls golf team has started the season undefeated and return their whole team from their fourth place state finish a year ago. They have won three straight contests this year with easy wins over Yelm, River Ridge and Central Kitsap by an average of 88 points per match.

The Tides’ ace is junior Carly Ikei, who leads the South Sound Conference in scoring average at 34.5 strokes per nine holes. Ikei’s swing is always on plane and she’s very consistent. She is not overly emotional and thinks the course with every shot.

A good golfer is much more than just a ball striker. In order to shoot low scores one needs to plan ahead and think of ball placement to set up their next shot like a billiards player does and that’s what Ikei excels at. She is also excellent on the greens and almost always at least two-putts to keep her par average intact.

Gig Harbor’s No. 1 golfer, Carly Ikei. Photo by Bryce Carithers

The second and third seeded golfers are sophomore standouts Laila Douglas and Sofia Skogen, who are fourth and sixth respectively in the SSC in scoring average. Both are long off the tee and gaining experience quickly.

Coach Jeffrey Milbourn is also happy with the production from fourth-seeded golfer Hailey Gray, a senior, who has worked really hard over the offseason. She is 10th in the SSC in scoring average.

The varsity six is rounded out by seniors Sarah Ehler and Ella Gardner, who might just hold the keys to a state title in their hands. Both are three-year soccer standouts and hard-nosed competitors who spent most of their athletic life on the pitch. Neither are close to being the best golfers on their team, but each posseses the skills to play at or near bogey golf.

Much like a chain, the Tides are only as strong as their weakest link. But Milbourn has got to feel good about both competitors’ mental make up. If Ehler and Gardner can continue to improve and can shave off even a couple of strokes by late May’s state tournament the Tides will be in serious title contention.

Tennis: Peninsula edges Gig Harbor

The Peninsula girls tennis team turned the tide as they went on to the two-time defending conference champions’ courts and walked out with a statement win over Gig Harbor by a 3-2 score on April 3.

Peninsula first singles player MaKenna Baurichter defeated Gig Harbor’s Lauren Pitt 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 score in a quality match that went back and forth. The Tides took the second singles match when Sophie Fraser beat the Seahawks’ Katie Bodnar 6-1, 6-2 to even the overall score at one match each.

Peninsula’s second doubles team of Irene Segura and Olivia Mercado used their net skills to defeated Jane Rogg-Wilde and Madi Hale by a score of 6-3, 6-1. The third doubles match went to the Tides’ duo of Sarena Thoms and Josie Crane, who beat McKinley Stalker and Audrey Bauml 6-3, 6-4.

Peninsula doubles player Margaux Mayer. Photo by Bryce Carithers

That left No. 1 doubles teams to determine the end result. It was a three-set thriller that involved long rallies and excellent net play as Peninsula’s Lindsay Kilcup and Margaux Mayer defeated Avery Flower and Anna Murphy 7-6 (7-2) in the first set. The Seahawks dropped the second set 2-6 as the Tides fought back before the Seahawks duo closed out the match by a score of 6-4.

Gig Harbor lead SSC

Both local baseball teams won their games this week as the Tides (8-5, 5-1 SSC) climbed into first place in the SSC after taking a pair from Central Kitsap by scores of 3-0 and 8-5. The Seahawks (5-4, 3-3 SSC) stayed in the thick of the conference race with wins over Yelm by  scores of 6-2 and 2-0.

The Tides play South Kitsap at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma at 5 p.m. April 6. The game should attract a large crowd for two local teams that have six combined state championships.

The Seahawks play at North Thurston at 4 p.m. April 9.

Goalie Sawyer leads GH water polo

Gig Harbor won its girls water polo showdown against Peninsula, 12-2, on April 2 at Peninsula.

The Tides dominated with crisp passing, effective transition and excellent defense from the back line, especially from their goalie Kiah Sawyer who is as intense as any athlete at Gig Harbor. If there was ever a fire at Gig Harbor the Tides should choose Sawyer to lead the students to safety. She used a commanding voice and continually barked out orders as water polo teams can’t always hear with ear plugs in.

But they definitely could hear Sawyer, as she continually blocked the Seahawks’ efforts and directed the Tides’ offense from the other end of the pool. With her team up 10 in the fourth quarter, Sawyer slapped the water in disgust after allowing only the second goal of the contest. With that type of intensity it’s no wonder that the Tides won their next match as well, 22-12 over Puyallup on April 3.

Gig Harbor and Peninsula water polo players battle for possession. Photo by Bryce Carithers