Community Sports

Sports Beat: Gig Harbor sweeps conference track championships

Posted on May 20th, 2022 By:

It’s time for the Sports Beat, a capsule of this weeks best performances from local prep athletes and teams.

At the South Sound Conference track and field championships at North Thurston High School in Lacey, the Gig Harbor Tides earned a rare double as both boys and girls teams won championships.

The boys won in dominant fashion with a score of 172.5, which was 30 points ahead of their closest competitor, Yelm. Peninsula finish seventh on the boys side. The Gig Harbor girls won with a score of 129.5, edging Capitol by just four points and Peninsula by only six.

Overall, Gig Harbor crowned eight SSC event champions. Sophomore Lydia Ward comfortably won the girls javelin competition with a throw of 113 feet, 1 inch. The team of Kate Jones, Maura Lenzi, Sophia Olson and Skyler Kimble took the SSC crown by running 1:47.40 in the 800 relay.

On the boys side, Gig Harbor sophomore Ben Stevens won the 100 meters (10.98 seconds) and the 200 meters (22.15). Senior Brian Wheelus won the 300-meter hurdles in 42.33. Senior Joshua Felt won the javelin easily with a throw of 174 feet, 8 inches.

The 400-meter relay team of Stevens, Wheelus, Cole Rushforth and Nick Grover ran a 43.81 to win SSC gold. Junior Michael Johansson of the Tides won the 400-meter wheelchair finals in an impressive time of 1:20.62 to take the SSC championship by 10 seconds.

Stevens won the Track Athlete of the Meet award for his part in three league-title events. The sophomore speedster will be one to watch at the Star Track state championships at Mount Tahoma High School on May 26-28.

The Peninsula girls got dominant long-distance performances for SSC crowns. Junior Hannah Lee won the 800 meters in 2:20.64. Her teammate, freshman phenom Elektra Higgins, won individual crowns in the 1600 meters and 3,200 meters, with Lee placing second in both events. Higgins and Lee combined with sisters Sabrinah and Aaliyah Booker to book to a 1,600-meter relay win in 4:09.01.

Seahawks senior Ashton Theel placed second in the 800 meters with a personal-best time of 1:58.15. Peninsula junior Logan Parrish finished third in the 3,200 in 9:43.0.

Soccer teams learn state tournament opponents

Both local teams qualified for the state soccer tournament.

No. 13 seed Gig Harbor (13-4-1) is heating up with recent wins over Peninsula and Tuesday’s 3-0 regional win over Kennewick. They will face No. 4 Lincoln of Seattle in a loser-out game at 5 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Seattle Memorial Stadium.

The Tides celebrate a goal in the 3-0 win over Kennewick that put them into the state tournament. Photo by Joe Ross

Against Kennewick, the Tides got goals from Matt Ludlow, Connor Louden and Kaiser Keck. The Tides’ back line adjusted well to Kennewick’s attack, which allowed Gig Harbor to quickly counterattack, putting pressure on Kennewick’s back three. Coach Joe Ross highlighted outside back Derrick Shafer for neutralizing Kennewick’s top scorer.

Peninsula (12-3-2) is seeded 10th in the state tournament and face No. 7 seed North Central of Spokane. That loser-out game will be played at Ingraham High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20. First-year head coach Ozer Kocdemir said Peninsula had an excellent week of preparation going into this match up.

Tides win singles, doubles titles

The Gig Harbor’s Hailey Austin won the South Sound Conference tennis singles championships last weekend at Canterwood — despite serving with her off hand due to an injury.

Hailey Austin of Gig Harbor won the league tennis singles championship, despite having to serve with her left hand due to injury. Photo by Jeff Crowder

She injured her right shoulder, which has forced her to serve left-handed, but has been consistently getting her serve in play. After serving she switches hands and keeps her opponent moving with accurate ball placement, using high lobs or drop shots until her opponent gets out of position. At that point Austin pounces by changing the pace with fast ground strokes for winners.

She played for a spot in the state tournament at districts on Friday, May 20, after splitting two matches on Thursday.

The Tides also won the SSC doubles championships as the Alexas won in dominant fashion.

Alexa Thoms and Alexa Lavinder, who have been best friends and soccer teammates since they were 4 years old, won the doubles crown at Canterwood. Both girls helped the Tides’ soccer team to a 19-2-1 record last fall and use their quicks and stamina to wear down opponents. They communicate well and rarely are found out of position on the court, allowing them to return almost any ball that is hit their way. The duo won their first two matches at districts to secure their spot in the state championships next week.

Longtime friends Alexa Lavinder and Alexa Thoms won the SSC doubles championships and are headed to state for the Tides. Photo courtesy of Lorrie Wood

Peninsula water polo 19-2 on season

The Peninsula girls water polo team has had a fantastic season, posting a 19-2 record for head coach Troy Wiltbank. That includes a 14-0 league record as D2 West League Champions.

The young team of Seahawks may need some new nets on the cage as they have scored 333 goals in 21 games for an average of more than 15 goals a game. Senior Annika Brown tallied 64 goals, 54 assists and 77 steals. Junior Abigail Oliver leads the team in goals scored with a staggering 132 and junior goalie Olivia Eagle has been dominant with 131 saves.

The Seahawks girls water polo team are 19-2 and headed for the playoffs after going undefeated in league. Photo by Anne Nesbit

The PHS girls team will compete Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22, in the D2 championship at Curtis High School. The top three finishers from that tournament will compete against the D1 schools at state starting May 25, also at Curtis.

The Gig Harbor girls water polo team have had a tough season, as the pandemic reduced turnout, forcing them to play with only two reserves in the physically demanding sport. Coach Mike Kelly, who has had a dominant program in the past, points to the future.

He has some talented up and comers who are zealous about the sport. Sophomores Frances Benson and Alexis Tujo are both standouts with 41 goals apiece and freshman goalie Kia Sawyer has had a great year with 110 blocked shots.

Seahawks baseball faces Lincoln on Saturday

Peninsula’s baseball team will be in action Saturday, May 21, after finishing second in the West Central District 3/4 playoffs following a 3-1 defeat to Auburn on May 14.

Peninsula out-hit the Trojans 7-4 and got nine strikeouts from their pitching staff. Sophomore Grayson Ford, who hadn’t seen the hill in a couple weeks, allowed just one baserunner over four innings to keep the game close.

The 11th-seeded Seahawks (16-7) will face the No. 6 seed Lincoln of Seattle at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Parker Field in Yakima in a loser-out regional contest. The Seahawks got a surprising low seed after a two-run loss in the district finals to the Auburn Trojans, who are seeded fourth at regionals.

The Gig Harbor Tides saw their season end with a 2-1 loss to Edmonds-Woodway in a regional play-in game on May 17. The Warriors threw Jacob Gabler, who reached 90 mph on the radar gun to hold the Tides to just three hits. Josh Dunham and Ryland Heckman each had triples and senior Justin Holum had a single for Gig Harbor (13-13).

Heckman pitched a brilliant game for the Tides, allowing only one hit (a first-inning double) through seven innings. A throwing error followed for an unearned run.

Heckman a sophomore, pitched into the eighth inning during a very impressive outing. The Tides’ infield played flawlessly after that one error, recording 17 outs on ground balls.

“It was a tough loss but both teams played really well,” coach Pete Jansen said. Look for the Tides to be better next year as they return most of their line up and have a talented group of young athletes on the successful JV and freshman teams.

State next for area golfers

Peninsula’s girls golf team won a conference championship last week, then  followed that up by finishing a close second to Stadium High School in the district meet at McCormick Woods.

The tight fir-lined fairways and undulating side hills of McCormick are a tricky combination for most golfers. Seahawks sophomore Hallee Graf didn’t seem to mind, as she took second in the event with an impressive score of 156 for the two-day event, shooting an 80 and a 76. The Seahawks also got an impressive performance from Nyah Dayton, who shot a 91 and an 88.

The Seahawks girls have plenty to be excited about after their 2nd place finish at districts and a place in the 3A state tournament. Photo by Susan Dayton

It’s off to the state tourney at the Meadow Wood Golf Course in Spokane for all six PHS golfers. Gig Harbor golfer Carly Ikei also qualified to state as an individual and will be competing in Spokane next week.

The Gig Harbor boys golf team took third at districts and will be headed to state as well after competing on the challenging Trophy Lake Golf Course last week. The state tournament begins on May 24 at Liberty Lake Golf Course in Spokane. Chet West led the Tides, shooting a steady 77 on both days and Zavier Feasey-Allen stepped up to shoot an 83 and a 78. Senior Aidan McDougall shot an 84 and an 80 to help the Tides to state for the first time under new head coach Shane Henderson and assistant coach Christopher Coovert.

Peninsula fastpitch clinches state berth

Peninsula fastpitch clinched a state tournament berth with a 10-0 win over Thomas Jefferson in the opening round of the District 3/4 tournament on May 19.

The Seahawks are the top seed in the tournament and face No. 4 Prairie of Vancouver at noon on Saturday, May 21. If the Seahawks win they will return at 4 p.m to play for the district championship against either Yelm, who they have already defeated twice this year, or Bonney Lake.

The Gig Harbor fastpitch team’s season ended abruptly with back-to-back district tournament losses to Bonney Lake (by a 13-5 score) and Auburn-Mountain View (by a 12-6 score).

Senior Audrey Allen will be missed as she takes her talents to the collegiate diamond to play for the NCAA Division II Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She will be in the South Sound Conference MVP discussion after leading the league with 11 home runs and 50 RBI. She batted .552, scoring 32 runs while getting 32 hits and played an athletic shortstop.

Coach Jim Peschek described her as a “pure left-handed power hitter who is super smart on the field and hits the ball hard almost every time up. She understands the small details of the game and that’s what has made her so successful.”

Check in next Friday as the Sports Beat will be covering all the athletes and teams competing for district and state championships in a competitive and suspense filled week.