Sports Beat: The 2021-22 prep year in review
In this week’s edition of the Sports Beat, we review the prep athletic year, focusing on the top teams and athletes.
Peninsula volleyball 2nd in state
The anticipation of finally having an uninterrupted sports season, complete with state tournaments, filled athletes’ minds and hopes last fall.
Coach Katrina Cardinal’s Peninsula Seahawk volleyball team played for a state championship. Equipped with a balanced group of seniors and juniors, the Seahawks stormed through the South Sound Conference with a 14-0 record. They were quick, explosive and relentless on offense, pounding kills and passing with precision.
They won the district championship with ease and then knocked off Eastside Catholic, Bellevue and Ferndale at state, winning nine of 10 games. The season fell one win short of the title as the Seahawks fell to Mead of Spokane 3-1 to finish second at state.
“We had the most incredible season,” said Cardinal, the WIAA coach of the year. “One that has put a stamp on my heart. The players we had this past season were a remarkable group of gritty student-athletes. It is a true sisterhood … a relentless one.”
Blocker Langley Griffin was named conference MVP and All State by the WIAA, along with the dependable setter Lauren Whittmers and blocker Kadence Stoddard. Senior outside hitter Tommi Gallucci was voted honorable mention all state.
Gig Harbor boys 2nd, girls 3rd in cross country
Gig Harbor also had a second-place state finish in the fall, as the boys cross country team almost won another state title for coach Kevin Eager. Eager has several state titles and even a national title to his coaching credit.
Five Tides runners placed in the top 50 at state to take second behind Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet. Junior Micah Galeana paced the Tides with an 11th-place finish. Also in the top 50 for Gig Harbor: Will Newberg (14th), Tyler Campbell (17th), Preston Fradet (32nd) and Jonathan Miles (37th).
Gig Harbor’s girls cross country team, also coached by Eager, finished third at state with five runners in the top 58 finishers. Freshman Reese Morkert finished 9th, followed by Taylor Sletner (11th), Kaley Fergus (27th), Belle Johnson (57th) and Danica Olsen (58th).
Girls soccer: GH girls 4th
The Gig Harbor girls soccer team went 19-2 and earned a fourth-place finish at state after a 14-0 run through the SSC. The Tides used their physical and efficient defense plus their explosive scoring ability to overwhelm opponents.
That ability was on display at districts, where they rolled over Kentlake (9-0) then followed that by beating Kelso (6-0) and Auburn Riverside (2-1) for the district title. The 17-1 combined goal score from districts pushed the Tides to the number one overall seed in the state tournament.
At state, the Tides defeated Bonney Lake and Snohomish before losing to Seattle Prep and Holy Names by identical 2-1 scores to finish fourth in the state.
The Tides were led by midfielder Ella Hatteberg, defender Ashley Jones, midfielder Lily Paulson and defender Hilary Parks. All were named to WIAA all-state teams.
Hatteberg will play at Arizona State next season and several other team members also will play collegiately.
Peninsula also made the state tournament after a 13-7 season. The Seahawks were led by midfielder Sinead Duffy, who was voted second-team all-state, forward Janae Lewis and goalie Paige Broadrick. All three were also first team all SSC.
The Seahawks made quite a run to get to the state tournament by winning four straight games in districts and then a regional game over Cheney, 3-2, before losing to state power Holy Names in the round of 16 at state.
Football: An unforgettable Fish Bowl
Both local football teams had successful seasons and played in a Fish Bowl that won’t soon be forgotten.
The 7-2 Peninsula Seahawks were stunned in the first half by the Tides, who took a seemingly insurmountable 28-0 lead into halftime. But the Seahawks stormed back to win in overtime.
The game was an instant classic, with the rain blowing sideways and the lights going out on the thousands in attendance.
Coach Ross Filkins’ Seahawks were South Sound Conference co-champs with a 5-0 record in a Covid-interrupted conference season. They did so with a physical running style behind SSC lineman of the year Hall Schmidt and his cohorts.
The Seahawks opened the playoffs with a 28-21 win over Edmonds-Woodway and entered the state tournament seeded eighth. They dropped a 36-21 decision to ninth-seeded Rainier Beach 36-21 in the round of 16.
Offensive lineman Taylor Jones, defensive lineman Grady Johnson and linebacker Josh Hinkel were named first team All-SSC.
Gig Harbor’s football team finished with a 4-3 SSC record and 6-4 overall. Wide receiver Hudson Cedarland earned conference MVP honors while WR Cole Rushforth and tight end Parker Born made first-team all-league. Quarterback Will Landram was a second-team all-league selection.
On defense, the Tides were led by Cedarland at linebacker and two All-SSC performers in Christian Parrish at defensive back and Born at linebacker.
Their season ended with a playoff road loss to Mount Spokane.
The program promoted defensive coordinator Darren Reeves to head coach after George Fairhart resigned after the season. Reeves has had the Tides near the top of the SSC in several defensive categories in recent years.
Four Seahawk wrestlers win medals
Four Peninsula wrestlers placed at Mat Classic: Sophomore Justin Phipps, sixth at 106 pounds; junior Emmett Casey, eighth at 152; senior Kylan Sonnen, eighth at 220; and senior Emilia Robles, the first female from Peninsula to make state, finished sixth at 143 pounds.
“It’s always a good thing when everyone you take comes home with a medal,” said coach Gary Griffin. “That’s a positive no matter how you look at it. I thought we wrestled good, to our abilities.”
Gig Harbor had two wrestlers qualify for Mat Classic: senior Abe Adione at 182 pounds and freshman Jonah Edmund at 113 pounds.
Boys basketball: Tides make run to state
The Gig Harbor boys basketball team went 13-1 in SSC play, earning the league title.
They were 19-1 in the regular season before opening the playoffs with a close loss to Auburn, who would go on to win the 3A state title. From there the Tides won 3 straight district playoff games by an average of 25 points.
The fifth-ranked Tides beat third-ranked O’Dea 61-51 in a regional tournament game, putting Gig Harbor in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Gig Harbor opened against Rainier Beach and led in the fourth quarter. Beach, which would go on to finish second in the tournament, rallied to win 65-60. The Tides then dropped a two-point game to Mountlake Terrace, finishing seventh in the state.
Luke Browne and Will Landram were both first-team All-SSC selections and Christian Parrish was selected as the SSC defensive player of the year. Browne averaged 22.5 points per game at state and broke two school records for 3-point shooting. Landram averaged 17.5 points a game at state as both were selected honorable mention all-state by the WIAA. Both return next season.
Girls basketball: Big year for both local schools
Both girls teams had successful hoop seasons as the Gig Harbor girls were champions of the SSC with a 13-1 record and went 16-6 overall and the Seahawks were 10-5 for third place in the SSC and 14-9 overall.
Gig Harbor won their district opener over Auburn Mountainview before losing to Kelso and powerhouse Lincoln of Tacoma. They then beat a feisty Kennewick team at home, 63-51. They faced Bonney Lake at regionals with a chance of getting to the Dome on the line but fell just short by 3 points.
The Tides landed the athletic rebounder Riley Peschek on the SSC first team alongside scoring machine Taylor Schwab, who as a sophomore led the team at 17.5 a game. Baylee Young was on the second team and Coach Mike Guinasso was voted coach of the year.
All three of those players return next season along with guard Olivia Paul, who set a school record with 11 threes in one game.
Peninsula had a young and explosive combination in sophomore Kaylia Heidelberg, who led the team in scoring, athletic freshman Grace Richardson and rugged junior Brooke Zimmerman. The Seahawks advanced to the regional round of postseason play before falling at Hermiston, Ore., 74-61.
Swimming: Huston wins title, breaks records
To the pool as Gig Harbor had a individual state champion in swimming when senior, Drew Huston won the 200 intermediate medley title and broke five school records at the state tournament in Federal Way.
“He had a heck of a great meet and we’re so proud of him,” said coach Mike Kelly. Huston also finished third in the state in the 100 butterfly, setting a Gig Harbor record in the process.
Fastpitch: Peninsula wins district title
Peninsula (22-3 overall) was undefeated in South Sound Conference fastpitch play at 14-0 and won the district title in a breeze. Gig Harbor wound up third in the SSC at 10-4.
Peninsula junior Alli Kimball threw two perfect games and was nominated for the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
The Seahawks opened state with a win over Monroe before losing 3-2 to Bonney Lake, a team they defeated a week earlier at districts. They then lost to Auburn Riverside to finish seventh in the state.
Only Aislinn O’Reilly, who was first team All-SSC, graduates. Kimball was selected as the SSC pitcher of the year and Malia Coit joined O’Reilly on the SSC first team.
Gig Harbor had a fine season as well before losing in the district playoffs. Senior Audrey Allen was chosen conference MVP after hitting 11 home runs and knocking in 50 RBI. Riley Peschek batted .623 with eight home runs and was a first-team SSC selection. Freshman center fielder Danielle Biehl was the only freshman to be chosen first team all SSC.
Baseball: Peninsula wins league title
Peninsula won the SSC with a 12-5 record and a 16-8 overall record. They advanced to the district championship game before losing to Auburn, 3-1. Their season ended at the state tournament with an 8-0 loss to Lincoln of Seattle.
The rugged Seahawks were led by Conference MVP Payton Knowles. The talented shortstop batted .527 and stole 19 bases. Pitcher Gavin Sheets led the team in ERA at 1.48 and was joined by rotation mate Hunter Bennett on the All-SSC first team. Coach Michael Johnson was chosen SSC coach of the year.
Peninsula, GH 1-2 in boys soccer
Peninsula won the South Sound Conference title, with Gig Harbor in second place. Peninsula (13-4-2) won its state tournament opener over North Central, 3-1, before losing to powerhouse Lakeside 4-1 and finishing sixth at state.
Gig Harbor (13-5-1) beat Kennewick 3-0 to get to state before losing to Lincoln of Seattle, 3-0.
Peninsula senior Cory Burbridge was chosen SSC MVP and Seahawk coach Ozer Kocdemir was voted coach of the year. Hunter Beck and Reilly Leahy were first-team SSC for the Seahawks and Tyler Dull, Conner Louden and Jett Manglona earned first team honors for the Tides.
Gig Harbor’s boys and girls track teams won South Sound Conference team championships and Tides sophomore Ben Stevens was named male athlete of the meet. Stevens went on to earn three medals at the Star Track state championships in Tacoma. To see a list of other local track and field athletes who placed at state, click here.
Golf, tennis, water polo, lacrosse
Peninsula junior Hallee Graf won the SSC title before finishing second at districts. She then placed 13th, with a 74 average for two rounds, at the state tournament in Spokane.
The Gig Harbor boys golf team finished second in the SSC and eighth at state with a well rounded and deep team that returns all but one senior next year.
The Gig Harbor girls tennis team had the individual SSC champion in Hailey Austin and the doubles champions of Alexa Thoms and Alexa Lavinder, who competed at state in Richland. The Lady Tides won the SSC title with a undefeated regular season at 7-0.
Both local lacrosse teams were first and second in the Olympic League. Peninsula edged Gig Harbor by a single goal in both meetings. The Seahawks lost to Hermiston, Ore., in a first round match at state.
The Peninsula Seahawks girls water polo team finished 19-3 and won the D2 West league championships with a 14-0 record. The team scored 333 goals in just 21 games. All Conference players included Annika Brown, Abigail Oliver and goalie Olivia Eagle, who had 131 saves as goalie. Look for the Seahawks to be chasing a title again as they only graduate two seniors.
The girls lacrosse team, which is a combination of Tides and Seahawk players, put together a fine season as they finished as champions of their conference with a 11-0 record and a No. 11 ranking in the state. Their season ended at state to No. 6 Holy Names, 17-8.