Community Sports

Sports Beat | League track meet off to a fast start

Posted on May 9th, 2024 By:

Both local teams filled the podiums on the first day of the South Sound Conference track and field championships on May 7 in Lacey.

Nine individuals and a relay team walked away with conference championship medals.

Stevens wins third 100 meter title

The SSC meet is divided into two days of competition. The meet resumed on Thursday, May 9. Events on the first day included the 100, 400 and 1,600 meter races and the 110 meter hurdles; field events such as the shot put, javelin, long jump and triple jump for the boys; and the discus, pole vault and triple jump for the girls.

Ben Stevens of Gig Harbor won three consecutive South Sound Conference 100-meter titles. GHHS track photo

Senior Ben Stevens of Gig Harbor, the two-time defending league 100 meter champion, provided the fastest sprint of the day with his 10.81 second run. Stevens has been under the radar this season, nursing a pulled calf muscle, but returned to full strength with a personal best to win his third consecutive 100 meter crown. The Tides’ Ayden Fink took third in 10.99 seconds.

Fink came back to win the South Sound Conference 400 meter race with a blistering time of 50.09. The Gig Harbor boys swept the event when seniors Christian Keck (51.36) and Matthew Ehler (51.84) finished second and third.

The Gig Harbor senior duo of Jonathan Miles and Preston Fradet finished 1-2 in the 1,600 meters, four seconds ahead of the third-place runner. The pair exchanged the lead and were neck and neck down the stretch, but Miles leaned into the tape to beat Fradet by just .21 seconds, 4:14.45 to 4:14.66.

The Tides’ 4×100 relay team of Ehler, DJ Darling, Fink and Stevens blew away the field with a sizzling 42.74, setting a new personal best.

Field and hurdles events

No locals won championships in the 110 meter hurdles, shot put or javelin. But a trio of Peninsula athletes had the highest finishes among local competitors, hinting at future success. Kellen Johnson took 10th in the hurdles (19.34), Kolby Karabinos finished eighth in the shot put (38’ 8”) and Lucas Wiseman was fifth in the javelin (138’3”).

The boys competition concluded with an epic back-and-forth battle in the long jump between Peninsula senior Tyler Posey and Gig Harbor sophomore Darling. Posey took the league crown with a jump of 20 feet, 9 inches, edging Darling’s 20 feet 7.5 inches.

Higgins edges two GH runners in 1,600

One the girls side, Peninsula and Gig Harbor athletes took turns climbing the podium. Tides sophomore Karin Heikkila nearly won the league 100-meter title, finishing just .02 seconds behind a sprinter from Yelm. Heikkila ran the 100 in 12.84.

The Tides piled up points in the 400 meters, with Maura Lenzi, Danica Olsen and Kate Jones finishing fourth, fifth and sixth. All were within one second of each others’ times in the one-lap race.

The 1,600 meters was another battle between Peninsula’s Elektra Higgins and Gig Harbor’s Lejla Carlsson and Taylor Sletner. Higgins broke the tape in 4:55.22, just ahead of Carlsson’s 4:55.83 and Sletner’s 4:57.07. All three times were personal records.  Higgins’ time broke Hannah Lee’s school record and set a league record.

Hering only freshman to win event

Only one freshman won an individual league title: Eisley Hering of Gig Harbor, who ran the 110 meter hurdles in 15.57 to defeat teammate Heikkila, second in 15.72.

The Gig Harbor 4×100 relay team (Isabelle Harruff, Heikkila, Aejanae Humphrey and Hering) placed third in 50.99. The Tides took second in the 4×200 relay when Danica Olsen, Sophia Simmonds, Humphrey and Lenzi ran a team-best 1:47.27.

Peninsula sophomore Suri Sardinia won the league discuss title with a throw of 110 feet, 11 inches to beat Gig Harbor senior Lydia Ward (105 feet, 7 inches), who finished second.

Gig Harbor junior Riley Cox won the league pole vault competition with an impressive mark of 11 feet even. Gig Harbor’s Audrey Young and Haramy Shimokawa tied for fourth with jumps of 7 feet, 6 inches.

Two Seahawks battled for the triple jump crown. Senior Anne Shipp hopped, skipped and jumped 35 feet, 1 inch to edge sophomore Emma Young’s mark of 34 feet, 11.25 inches.

Peninsula senior Anne Shipp won the league triple jump title by a couple inches over teammate Emma Young. PHS track photo

Confident Seahawks advance to state

The Peninsula Seahawk baseball team finished third in the South Sound Conference following a 6-1 loss to the Gig Harbor Tides on May 3.

Nobody wants to lose, but the loss allowed Peninsula (13-9) to avoid an opening-round playoff game against Class 3A No. 1 Kelso. Instead, the Seahawks faced South Sound Conference champion Capital, a team they felt they could beat.

So the Seahawks put on their hard hats, went to Olympia and did just that, knocking off the district’s top seed 10-3 on May 7. The victory earned the Seahawks a ticket to the Class 3A state tournament in head coach Matt Thomas’s first year on the job.

The Seahawks will now face Kelso in a district semifinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11, in Auburn. Kelso beat Gig Harbor, 6-1, on May 7. That sent the Tides into a loser-out game against North Thurston at Sehmel Park on May 8.

Win over Capital

Capital beat Peninsula twice during the regular season. You wouldn’t have guessed it during the May 7 playoff game.

The Seahawks flew around the base paths, scoring 10 runs on eight hits and six walks. They also stole a couple of bases and benefitted from two hit batsmen. When you add all that up you create pressure and all that pressure eventually cracked the Cougars.

Peninsula was ahead 5-0 by the end of the fourth inning as starting pitcher John Browand was in command. Browand threw his fifth complete game of the season, scattering eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks. When Capital did get the bat on the ball, the Peninsula defense was ready. They did not commit an error all day.

Senior Aden Deschenes went 2-4 with two RBI. Matthew Sleeter contributed two doubles and three RBI, Pete Browand went 1-3 with 3 RBI and Isaac Schultz-Tait went 1-3 with an RBI and two runs.

Peninsula centerfielder Isaac Schultz-Tait. Photo courtesy Isaac Schultz-Tait

One year, one state appearance

How does it feel to reach the state tournament in your first year, Coach Thomas?

“I wasn’t really sure of what to expect this year but they have exceeded our expectations, I guess you could say,” he said. “We always knew we had talent but we had a lot of new guys without varsity experience, but they have played very well and here we are.”

The Seahawk players sound confident as they head into the game against 19-1 Kelso.

“Our coaches are going to have us in a good spot for them,”said Deschenes, a senior second baseman whom Thomas described as the team’s emotional leader. “We’re just gonna play our game and play for our team and see what happens, but I trust our guys and we trust our coaching staff.”

“I think this upcoming state tournament will be a really wild one this year,” said Schultz-Tait, a junior centerfielder. “Anything can happen … I mean in districts there have already been some big upsets.”

Gig Harbor one win from state

Gig Harbor (14-11) followed that loss at Kelso with a 5-3 win over North Thurston in a loser-out game on May 8.

Three Gig Harbor pitchers — starter Cole Flowers (two hits and three runs, all unearned, in 3 2/3 innings), Justin Grande (2 1/3 shutout innings) and Josh Dunham (a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts) — helped end North Thurston’s season.

The Gig Harbor baseball team is just one win away from the state tournament. Photo by Bryce Carithers

The Tides scored on a wild pitch in the first inning and Tristian Schaefer’s single drove in a run in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. The Rams scored three runs in the fourth, but the Tides fought back on Ryland Heckman’s fielder’s choice that scored a run.

The score remained knotted at three until Wesley Bonnici led off the sixth with a hit, advanced to second after almost being caught in a run down and scored on Cooper McCutcheon’s clutch base hit. The Tides drew walks to score again and make the score 5-3 before Dunham earned the save.

Survive and advance is the mantra this time of year and the Tides will look to do it again as they face Capital next. The game against the Cougars — who have allowed 19 runs in their last two games — will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Auburn Riverside.

A win puts Gig Harbor into the state tournament. If they lose, they will still have a final chance at state later that day against the loser of a game between Auburn Mountainview and Kentlake.

GH golf teams unbeaten in league play

The boys and girls golf teams from Gig Harbor are basking in the glory of their recent SSC crowns. Both teams breezed through league play undefeated and head into the postseason next week rested and relaxed after easy victories over the Peninsula Seahawks at the exceptional Canterwood Golf and Country Club on May 2.

The boys beat Peninsula 67-47 while the girls played stroke play and won 237-366.

Senior Chet West was the medalist for the boys team against Peninsula with an even-par 36.

The Peninsula boys team hung in there early. Luke Lipsey, the Seahawks’ top player, found fairways and dropped long putts on Canterwood’s tricky greens.

Teammate Gavin Sheets had Peninsula’s shot of the day when he used a seven iron to punch a ball between two fir trees and onto the green to save par.

Davis Dansie had the Tides’ shot of the day when he chipped in a 25-footer out of the rough onto a sloping green. If the ball missed the hole, it would have rolled forever. But Dansie’s laser dropped for birdie as Kristi Whitcher, the Peninsula coach, applauded the opponent’s effort.

One player who wasn’t at Canterwood was Tides sophomore Theo Snyder, who instead played in a U.S. Open amateur qualifier at McCormick Woods in Port Orchard. Snyder finished second at the qualifier after firing a 2-under par 70.

He advanced to a regional qualifier in Bend, Oregon, on May 20, with a chance to make the June 13-16 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Country Club.

Peninsula golfer Luke Lipsey tees off against Gig Harbor at Canterwood Golf and Country Club. Photo by Dennis Browne

Gig Harbor soccer advances to state

The Gig Harbor soccer team (12-4) advanced to the Class 3A state tournament with a 3-0 win at Mountain View of Vancouver on May 4.

The game was scoreless at halftime, but Tyler Dull scored on a penalty kick before Jack Learned stretched the lead. Dull supplied an insurance goal and the Tides celebrated reaching the state tourney for the second time in three years.

The Tides played Central Kitsap in the district semifinals and fought to a 1-all tie at the end of regulation. The Cougars prevailed on penalty kicks, 5-4. Gig Harbor pushed the district’s No. 1 seed to the brink and enter state as a dangerous team that can explode for goals like a pack of fire crackers. The Tides now await their state seeding for state, May 14 to 25 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.

The Peninsula soccer (5-10-1) season ended with a 2-1 loss to Heritage in the first round of the district playoffs on May 7 at Harry Lang Stadium in Vancouver. The Seahawks had a rebuilding year and should return six varsity starters next season.

League championships next for tennis

The Peninsula (9-4) girls tennis team defeated Gig Harbor (9-3) for the second time this year, 3-2, on May 2. The league championships are May 10 and 11 at Central Kitsap.

Peninsula’s top two singles players, McKenna Baurichter and Katie Bodnar, will play in the SSC championships. So will their top two doubles teams, Lindsay Kilcup and Margaux Mayer and Olivia Mercado and Irene Segura.

The Tides (9-3) finished the season in second place. They send three singles players to the league championships: Sophomore Lauren Pitt, who was seeded fourth; Sophie Fraser, seeded sixth; and sophomore Capri Hauer.

The Tides doubles teams playing at the conference championships will be the senior duo of Avery Flowers and Abbey Clark, who were seeded fourth; the seventh-seeded team of Josie Crane and Serena Thoms; plus wildcard entrants Eva Tarbet and Anna Murphy.

McKenna Baurichter of Peninsula. Photo by Bryce Carithers