Another wild year of Sequim sports

Playoff drama, from agony to ecstasy. Swift-footed runners becoming first-time state champs. Tragedy off the field.

It seems the Sequim 2008 sports scene had a little bit of everything.

The year opened on a somber note when Jared Nagel, a junior college all-star soccer player for the Peninsula College Pirates, died Feb. 2 in a snowboarding accident at Stevens Pass. Nagel was a key piece to Peninsula's outstanding 2007 team and the team honored Nagel and his family with a touching service and exhibition game in Salem, Ore., Nagel's hometown.

In late February, Sequim High School's wrestlers hit their peak, sending four grapplers to the state finals. Three of them - senior Keller Batson-Hickok and juniors Joe Hutchison and Ethan Hinton - earned top-eight finishes to make it to the medal stand.

While Sequim High's boys basketball team struggled to a 5-11 mark in the Olympic League and 6-14 overall, the girls' squad finished strong, earning a ticket to the West Central District playoffs, where rival Kingston ended their season.

At Peninsula College, the men's basketball team posted a banner year, finishing 3-1 at the NWAACC finals, fourth overall. Sophomore Clay Greenland was named the NWAACC North Division MVP and fellow second-year teammate Dominick Lozano was selected a first-team North Division all-star for the division champion men Pirates. In six years of coaching the Pirates, coach Peter Stewart has taken a last-place team (3-23 in 2002-2003) to three North Division titles and five consecutive NWAACC tournament appearances.

The women's team struggled at times but not for lack of effort from Sam Flett, a freshman from Wellpinit. She was named to the NWAACC North Division second team. Following the season, coach Tiffany Darling resigned and former coach Julie Stewart grabbed the reins once again.

In the spring, Sequim High senior Kincaid Nichols dominated the track. He set a school record in the 100-meter sprint on his way to a state 2A title, adding medals in the 200-meter and long jump. Teammates Anna LaBeaume and Allison Cutting earned two medals each as the Wolves set four school records at the class 2A state track & field championships.

Cutting was second in the 800-meter race and third in the 3200; LaBeaume took fourth in the shot put and sixth in the 200. Making her second appearance at state in two years, Sequim soph Samantha Whiteside upped her own personal best pole vault to 9-6; she finished fourth in the standings.

Overall, Sequim's girls finished tied for ninth in the team standings while

Sequim's boys were tied for 15th.

Sequim High sophomore Zoei Zbaraschuk finished in seventh place at the class 2A state girls golf tournament in Lynden in May. Teammates Phoebe Haglin and Kimberly Duce made it to state but not through the first day cut.

Sequim High's tennis squads placed two doubles teams in the state tourney: Reed Gunstone and Mallory Maloney for the boys, Kyla Hall and Blaire Maloney for the girls. Both squads went 1-2 at state.

In boys' soccer, Sequim missed the playoffs but saw Kai Antrim set a school record for career goals (40) and be named to the all-Olympic League first team. Teammate and fellow SHS senior Jeff Catton was named to the league's all-second team; Catton finished with 24 lifetime assists, second in SHS history.

Sequim High's fastpitch and baseball teams got bounced early in the district playoffs. Still, senior fastpitch slugger Yolanda Chinn was named to the all-league first team while classmate Carly Swingle was named to the all-league second team as a pitcher - two of

Sequim's four fastpitch all-league players - while senior catcher Ben Grubb and junior first baseman Spencer Middleton were two of Sequim's five all-league baseball players.

SHS athletic director Chris Olson called it quits after the spring seasons, giving way to new AD Dave Ditlefsen.

On the local recreation scene, runners made plenty of headlines. A dozen staffers at Valley Dermatology raised more than $20,000 for Olympic Medical Center as they took part in the Team OMC challenge to complete the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon. In April, Tim VanRiper and Shawn Hines won the Robin Hill Run 10k while Adrian Clifford and Susan Weidemier took the two-mile crowns. A month later, Hines and Don Young won the Sequim Run-Off 10k races while Weidemier and Matt Gillingham won the two-milers.

In her fourth try, Sequim's Laura Gould won the women's North Olympic Discovery Marathon this June, joining overall winner Chuck Engle on the victory podium. Sequim's Stephanie Marcy and Kelly Fulton of Montana won the half-marathon races.

Local runners lost the Race for the Lavender for the second consecutive year and though Lavender Festival organizers talked about replacing the run, it never materialized.

Sequim residents honored a fallen hero with the continuation of the Sequim Strongman Competition, a continuation of Jesse Marunde's efforts to popularize the sport of Strongman and give back to his community; Marunde died in 2007.

In March, Port Angeles youth Jaiden Grinnell continued her march toward an Olympic Games berth by placing sixth in the nation at the 2008 U.S. Women's Skeet Shooting Olympic Team Trials in San Antonio - tops among all junior shooters - and followed it with qualifying for the Team USA 2009 World Championship team in September. Grinnell trains under the tutelage of Sequim's Matt Dryke, a former Olympic Games gold medallist in skeet shooting (1984).

Another young Olympic hopeful with a rifle is Port Angeles' Brandon Hergert, whose Capital City Junior Rifle Club won the National Junior Olympic Three-Position Air Rifle Championship in July.

Softballers heated up the diamonds this summer. Sequim's own Little League Juniors team won the district championship, crushing Key Peninsula 15-3 in the decisive final game.

Locals also turned out in droves for the annual Sequim Doubles Tennis Tournament, with 44 two-person teams hitting the hardcourt. Sequim's Allison and Doug Hastings defended their Mixed 4.0 title with a championship game win against former SHS stars Kyle McKenzie and Justine Textor, then split up to win their respective gender titles - Alison with partner Beverly Hoffman and Doug with Port Angeles' David Godfrey.

McKenzie and Textor got revenge a little later when, in August, they topped the Hastings duo in straight sets at the Sandra Kent Memorial Tennis Tournament in Port Angeles.

Athletic fields saw plenty of action this summer as well, as local parents kicked off the first season of the Sequim NFL Flag football league, an NFL-backed non-contact form of football for boys and girls up to age 12.

Sequim's own Wolfpups football program saw another solid season with five teams in action. The junior varsity wound up making to the championship game before falling 7-6 to Port Townsend.

Sequim's own senior softball club hosted a four-team exhibition with teams from Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Bremerton. Club officials say their softball team is ready to help form a true league with regularly-scheduled games and tournaments.

Bikers and hikers got good news in August with the official opening of the Adventure Discovery Route, a 25-mile section of the Olympic Discovery Trail in the foothills between Lake Crescent and the Elwha River.

Later that same month, the North Olympic Boxing Club hosted its first amateur boxing show, highlighted by weight division wins by Sequim's Brett Cain and Port Angeles' Andrew Heuett.

In September, the Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association sponsored the first Rowing Regatta Without Water during the Port Angeles Senior Games.

But the sports scene took a hit with the one-year postponement of the Olympic Peninsula Baseball League. League president Dave Campbell said the league should be back in the summer of 2009.

Sequim bike wonder Leigh Thompson won her age division at the USA Cycling Masters National Championship in Louisville, Ky., this July.

Sequim High graduate Nick Dickson may be just a sophomore at the University of Wyoming but he already is making big gains on the northwest rodeo circuit. A state high school champ in 2007, Dickson recently was named 2008 Northwest Pro Rodeo Rough Stock Rookie of the Year.

Agnew's own Ady Crosby, a star horse rider during her high school years, tied for individual high-point rider (intermediate division) at the prestigious Pacific Northwest O-Mok-See Championships in September. Crosby graduated from Sequim High School three months earlier.

In the fall prep sports season, Allison Cutting became the second cross country individual champion in three years as she outraced rival Ruby Roberts to the finish line at the Washington state 2A finals in Pasco this November. She helped lead the girls' squad to a fourth-place finish overall while the boys took 11th, one of the top combined finishes in school history.

Later that month, Cutting raced with the best prep runners in two states, finishing eighth at the Nike-sponsored Borderclash in Beaverton, Ore. She was third among Washington runners behind state 4A champ Alyssa Andrews of Gig Harbor and Shannon Moskowitz of Central Kitsap.

Sequim High School's football team sought a fifth consecutive league championship. They would have to do it without longtime assistant Brian O'Hara, who left the team to take the lead coaching job at Port Townsend.

Undaunted, the Wolves took on some of the best teams in the state, playing three state-ranked teams. Although the squad fell one game short of another league crown - a 35-21 loss to Steilacoom sealed their fate - the Wolves managed to beat highly-ranked Cascade Christian, state runner-ups in the 1A ranks, crushed rival Port Angeles 38-7, overwhelmed Kingston 74-0 on the Buccaneers' Homecoming night and wound up 6-1 in league and 7-2 for the regular season.

But for the fourth time in five years, Lady Luck seemed to reside on the other sideline. Sequim saw several key starters get injured just before their state playoff match-up with Centralia. On the field, their hopes for a first state tourney playoff win disappeared with stunning 21-14 loss, the final Tiger score coming with less than a second on the clock to break a 14-14 tie.

Eight Sequim Wolves were named to the Olympic/Nisqually All-League football team, including lineman Thomas Gallagher for both offense and defense. He joined other first-teamers Travis Decker (running back), Jake Dethlefsen (offensive guard), Clancy Catelli (offensive athlete), Brad Woolf (linebacker), Reed Omdal and Alex Gillis (defensive backs).

In volleyball action, Sequim High endured a tough district tournament to emerge with a No. 3 seed to state, their first appearance at state since 2004. Sequim topped Washington in four sets to earn the state ticket. Sequim eventually went 0-2 at the finals in Kennewick; former Sequim High volleyball star Alex Sele led her Tumwater team to a state 2A title. Sequim's Megan Zumbuhl was named to the all-Olympic League first team.

Sequim High School's girls swimming squad capped another solid season by sending four athletes to the class 2A state meet. Sophomores Rachel Hardy and Gianna Vennetti each earned top-eight finishes at the meet. Hardy was seventh in both the 50 and 100 free events while Vennetti was eighth in the 100 fly finals. The two joined up with Louise Showers and Sarah Keltonic to take 13th in the 200 free relay at state.

The Wolves also saw another strong season from its boys tennis team in the fall, finishing with an 11-1 regular season mark and the Olympic League 2A title - their seventh crown in eight years. Sequim takes the top No. 1 doubles team (Gunstone and Maloney) and No. 2 singles player (Ettore Scudo) into the West Central District tourney set for next May.

At Peninsula College, the Pirates' men's soccer club struggled a little early, and then rattled off a 15-game unbeaten streak to take the NWAACC West Division's third and final playoff spot. The Pirates then beat Clark and Whatcom in the playoffs - the latter, a 4-2 shootout thriller - to earn a second consecutive trip to the NWAACC Final Four in Tukwila. Alas, just as they did last season, Peninsula fell twice in two 1-0 heartbreakers and wound up fourth.

In recreation sports, athletes from Sequim-based Bodystrong TaeKwon-Do took home 11 gold medals, four silver medals and 11 bronzes from a competition in LaCenter in late October.

In late November, Sequim's Ricky Amundson took third in the 14 Cruiser division at the Grand National BMX competition in Tulsa, Okla.

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