Best Sports Stories of 2012

LUTES WIN NATIONAL TITLE

The Pacific Lutheran softball team topped conference rival Linfield 3-0 on May 21 to claim the Division III national title, capping a season that saw them set a school record for wins. Led by senior ace pitcher Stacey Hagensen, who pitched all 58 innings for the Lutes in the postseason, the team went a perfect 8-0 in the national tournament after being excluded from it the season before. “It’s validation for these girls,” head coach Erin Van Nostrand noted at the team’s celebration ceremony on the PLU campus. The national title was just the second such claim in any sport for Pacific Lutheran. Hagensen would roll in the postseason accolades, including the Northwest Conference Woman of the Year and the prestigious Honda Sports Award Division III Player of the Year. The Lutes finished with a 45-11 overall record, and a 24-4 mark in the Northwest Conference.

LIONS FOOTBALL IS STATE RUNNER-UP

After a remarkable run through the 4A state football playoffs, Bellarmine Prep’s season ended with a 49-24 loss in the state title game to top-ranked perennial power Skyline. That fact, however, did not dampen the season that was for the Lions. Cruising to another Narrows League 4A title after an 8-1 regular season, the Lions blew past Edmonds-Woodway 45-6 on Nov. 3, and topped Bothell 35-30 on Nov. 10 in their state opener. The Lions then had to travel to Spokane on Nov. 17, taking down Gonzaga Prep 32-29 on a last-second field goal from Matthew Philichi. The Lions advanced to the semifinals at Tacoma Dome, where they took down upstart Auburn 21-19 on Nov. 24 to advance to the finals. Leading the way for the Lions on the year was quarterback and Colorado commit Sefo Liufau, whose superb direction of the offense made the Lions a formidable scoring machine.

BELLARMINE WINS VOLLEYBALL TITLE

After suffering a first-round upset at the state meet the year before, Bellarmine Prep recovered to sweep through the volleyball bracket this fall, hoisting the 4A state title trophy after beating Mead in five sets, 25-27, 25-14, 25-20, 16-25, 15-13 on Nov. 10. To get to the finals, the Lions swept past Lake Stevens in the opener, beat Puyallup 3-1 in the quarterfinals and swept Jackson – who handed the Lions their only loss of the season earlier in the year – in the semifinals. Two-time Narrows League 4A MVP Courtney Schwan was again the catalyst for the Lions’ offense and defense all season long, but a deep supporting cast was key to breaking through for their first ever volleyball title. Seniors Katherine Joyce and Katy DeGroot were instrumental in helping the squad to a nearly perfect record on the year, as both earned all-league first team honors.

TOP PROSPECTS CALLED UP TO RAINIERS

While it was not the most successful season for the Tacoma Rainiers last summer, the organization made noise with the mid-season call-ups of top pitching prospect Danny Hultzen and shortstop Nick Franklin. While there certainly were learning curves, the two prospects are considered by some to be the future for the Mariners at their respective positions, and drove up the crowd interest for the Rainiers in an otherwise down year. The height of the excitement was the showdown between Hultzen and 49-year old former Mariner Jamie Moyer. Hultzen was not sharp in an 11-4 loss, and ended up struggling as a whole with Tacoma, with a 1-4 record and a 5.92 ERA over 48.2 innings, with 57 strikeouts. But along with Franklin, who batted .243 with seven homers and 29 runs batted in in 64 games, there was excitement in watching potential future stars on the local diamond.

TRACK ATHLETES SHINE AT STATE

As is the case most years, there was plenty of local representation at the state track meets on May 24-26. Highlighting the local success was Curtis’ girls 4A state title, as junior Kennadi Bouyer led the way with wins in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Foss’ Marcus Chambers was spectacular as ever in the 3A meet, winning the 200-meter dash while also setting a personal record in taking the 400-meter dash title. Lakes’ Izaic Yorks was another standout performer, helping the Lancers to a second-place finish by winning the 800-meter run and setting a new state record in winning the 1,600-meter run. At the 1A meet, Charles Wright’s Alexander Moore won the 100- and 200-meter dashes to help the Tarriers’ boys place third. On the 2B side, meanwhile, Tacoma Baptist’s Rebecca McDonald, McKenna Neufeld, Ellie Spiro and Paige Narayan won both the 4X100- and 4X200-meter relays to help the Crusaders finish third.

WILSON BOWLERS TAKE SECOND IN STATE

Led by senior Brandi Loos, Wilson took second place as a team for the second straight year at the state bowling tournament on Feb. 3-4 at Narrows Plaza Lanes. The Rams totaled 5,094 pins as a team, as Loos averaged a score of 189.5 over six rounds on Feb. 3 to place seventh individually. Jessica Richards, who bowled a 240 in her second individual round, joined Loos in leading the squad, while Brianna Osborn, Samantha Dusek and Jordan Fruehling-Thomas were key to the effort as well. Richards started the fifth game with five straight strikes, and Loos continued the momentum with five straight strikes from the fifth to ninth frames and closed out nine of 10 frames in her final game. “I was feeling it, I was so dialed in,” Loos would say after the individual competition.

TIGERS SWIM TO STATE TITLE

Getting good representation in most of the events, Stadium’s boys used their talented depth to take the 4A title at the state swim meet on Feb. 18 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Logan Rysemus, Matues Siquiera, Taylor Wright and Stefan Kubeja got the Tigers off to a quick start with a win just in front of Issaquah in the 200-yard medley relay, and Rysemus followed two events later by dominating the field in the 200-yard individual medley, recording an All-American time. Rysemus also took second in the 100-yard backstroke to lead the Tigers’ effort. “We put our heart and soul into it,” Rysemus would say after the Tigers were presented with the state trophy.

CHARLES WRIGHT BOYS RUN TO STATE TITLE

Led by a trio of seniors, Charles Wright claimed the state title at the 1A cross country meet on Nov. 3 in Pasco. Ruben Riordan finished in 16 minutes and seven seconds to place third individually, while fellow seniors Travis Hensley and David Goldstone finished eighth and ninth, respectively, to lead the squad. The Tarriers featured a deep group of runners, and were coming off of a win at the league meet two weeks prior. “I love how great we’re working together this year,” said Riordan after the league meet. “We’re always motivating each other. We have just the right balance of team competition and cohesiveness.” The Tarriers were ranked first in the state in 1A for much of the season, and took the state title after placing fourth at state the year before.

FOSS SOCCER SQUADS MAKE POSTSEASON DEBUT

Foss may be starting to make a name for itself on the soccer pitch, as both their boys and girls teams earned their first ever postseason berths this year. The boys team, which posted three wins and three draws in league play, almost topped that accomplishment by notching their first postseason win. But the Falcons were topped 2-1 by Prairie on May 12 on a goal in the final minutes. Foss freshman Jesus Perez had equalized the score early in the second half, as he is one of a number of promising players for the future. The girls squad answered that by posting six wins and two draws in the fall, surrendering just 13 goals in 12 league games. But tough circumstances hit the Falcons in the postseason, as they were missing both their starting and backup goalkeepers for their district matchup against Kelso on Nov. 3 due to pre-college testing. The Falcons fell 6-0, but showed similar promise as the boys as a number of young, talented players return next year.

LOCAL ROWERS EARN NATIONAL TITLE

The Commencement Bay Rowing Club youth team of Kadie Brown, Kathleen Petrich, Courtney Thompson, Natalie Reetz and Aelish Lambert won the 4+ (four with coxswain) race at the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships on June 10 in Oak Ridge, Tenn. It was the first such title for a youth team in the history of the club, which had recently celebrated its 20th year of existence. Lambert, a sophomore at Curtis High School, served as the coxswain, while Thompson was a senior at Curtis. Petrich, a senior at Bellarmine Prep, and Reetz, a senior at Fife High School, were also part of the group that never lost a single heat in any regatta during the spring season. Brown, a junior at Annie Wright, would go on to earn the silver medal in the women’s pair race at the World Rowing Junior Championships on Aug. 18 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

RAMS SOFTBALL TAKES THIRD IN STATE

After a disappointing loss in their state opener, Wilson rattled off five straight wins to take third place at the 3A state softball meet on May 25-26 at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. The Rams topped Lake Washington 8-3 in their second game on May 25, as Kaysha Fox and Taylor Clark drilled home runs. They followed that with a dramatic 3-2 win over Meadowdale in the nightcap, and posted a 15-2 win over Camas on May 26 before beating University 8-3 and Juanita 10-1 in the consolation finals. The Rams capped a 25-3 season that saw them post a perfect 9-0 record in the Narrows 3A. Led by league MVP Pitcher Janessa Flynn and MVP Position Player Alexa Olague – the catcher – the Rams dominated the postseason accolades. Fox, Clark, Darian Grimm, Riley Jornlin and Alex Flynn were also named all-league first-teamers.

BELLARMINE PREP BOYS ADVANCE TO DOME

While the ultimate goal was not achieved, Bellarmine Prep certainly made noise in winning their first game at Tacoma Dome and ultimately taking fifth place in the 4A state playoffs last winter. The Lions topped Mount Rainier 66-50 in their opener on March 1, as Isaiah Flynn had 22 points and Sefo Liufau added 20 points and 22 rebounds. They fell 52-46 to eventual state champ Davis on March 2, and were topped 62-51 by Union on March 3. But the Lions had earned a share of the Narrows 4A title in a season that saw them go 24-5 overall and 13-1 in league play. Flynn, Liufau and center Lucas Meikle capped the season by earning all-league first team honors.

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