Sequim football players run out of the tunnel before their 2019 season opener against Washington last September. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Sequim football players run out of the tunnel before their 2019 season opener against Washington last September. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Prep sports previews: SHS football, volleyball, soccer teams gear up for ‘fall’ seasons

A trio of Sequim High fall sports squads are gearing up to join cross country and girls swim teams in competition, now that health guidelines allow.

SHS’s football, volleyball and girls soccer teams look to kick-start their “fall” sports seasons in mid-February as Clallam County moves into Phase 2 of the governor’s state reopening plan.

Cross country teams allowed in-person meets with limited participating teams and girls swimming allowed “virtual” meets starting this month.

Here are season previews for Sequim High volleyball, football and girls soccer squads for 2020-2021:

Sequim captain Kalli WIker (21) and teammates celebrate a point in the Wolves' three-game sweep of Port Townsend at the Wolves' season-opening jamboree in September 2019. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Volleyball

Head coach: Jennie Webber Heilman (28th year)

Assistant: Rachel Oden

2019 record: 3-9 in league (sixth), 4-10 overall

Key returning athletes: Kalli Wiker (sr.), McKenna Hastings (sr.), Kendall Hastings (so.), Jordan Hegtvedt (jr.), Jessica Asselin (sr.), Amanda Weller (sr.), Allie Gale (jr.)

Newcomers: Jayla Julmist (sr.), Lyndsay Swanson (so.), Mallory Morey (jr.)

Outlook:

Taking on a team with no seniors last fall, long-time head coach Jennie Webber Heilman saw here Wolves go 3-9 in Olympic League play and 4-10 overall, missing the postseason for the first time in at least two decades.

This “fall” season, the Wolves see all but one key returner back on the court for their abridged 2020-2021 campaign.

Webber Heilman said preseason practices have players breaking up into six-player “pods” where they can work on individual skills but in reality can’t play any kind of scrimmage.

“They’re happy to be here,” she said last week. “We can practice parts of the game but it’s not (like) playing someone.”

Leading the way is senior setter Kalli Wiker, an all Olympic League second-teamer who led the team in serving (220 of 234, 94 percent) and assists (267, 19 per game), as second in aces (29) and blocks (10) and third in digs (100) in 2019.

Also back is the senior-sophomore sister duo of McKenna and Kendall Hastings. As a freshman in 2019, Kendall led the team with 22 block and was second on the team with 106 kills. McKenna added 44 kills and 14 aces, third-best on the team last season, and boasted a 93.4 serve percentage.

Returning senior Jessica Asselin had 155 digs in 2019, second-best on the team, and the squad is bolstered in depth with returning juniors Jordan Hegtvedt and Allie Gale, and senior Amanda Weller.

The Wolves won’t see senior Kiana Robideau take the court, Webber Heilman said because of a surgery; Robideau was a key player in 2019, racking up team-highs in kills (130), digs (213) and aces (41).

However, 6-foot senior Jayla Julmist — an all-league honorable mention as sophomore middle hitter who chipped in a team-high 79 blocks to go with 113 kills (second on team) and 32 aces (third) — is back on the squad after a year away from volleyball.

Webber Heilman said a core group of Sequim players were able to get in some offseason practice in October.

Sequim’s season looks like it will be limited to about 13 matches at the most, Webber Heilman said. With or without some sort of culminating league tourney, the Wolves are likely done by March 22.

If the team has any cancellations during the season, the Sequim coach said, she’d like to see the games rescheduled rather than simply canceled. Three games in three days may be tough, she said, but “I think kids would rather do that than not play.”

As for goals during the COVID-shortened season, Webber Heilman said that’s simple: to get on the court and be together as a team. For months, players haven’t had a chance to compete along with other benefits the program offers, like team get-togethers, bus rides and dinners.

“We want to get a chance to play; we want to play,” she said. “We’re trying to go out there and be competitive, having fun playing as a team.”

Speaking at a preseason practice last week — prior to Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that Clallam and other counties can move into Phase 2 — Webber Heilman said the team was looking at broadcasting practices and games via a youtube channel, since phase 1 restrictions forbid any spectators.

“That’ll be good because fans can’t come to the games,” she said.

However, the Sequim and Port Angeles school districts announced a plan late last week to offer a chance for parents, guardians and students at the home school to attend a competition.

2020/2021 season schedule:

Wednesday, Feb. 17 — at Klahowya (6:15 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 18 — vs. Kingston (6:15 p.m.)

Wednesday, Feb. 24 — at Olympic (6:15 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 25 — vs. East Jefferson (6:15 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 27 — vs. North Kitsap (5:15 p.m.)

Tuesday, March 2 — vs. East Jefferson (6:15 p.m.)

Saturday, March 6 — at Port Angeles (2:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, March 9 — vs. Klahowya (6:15 p.m.)

Saturday, March 11 — at Kingston (6:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, March 16 — vs. Olympic (6:30 p.m.)

Sequim High football players warm up before a practice in early February. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Sequim High football players warm up before a practice in early February. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Football

Head coach: Erik Wiker (17th season)

Assistants: Chris Young, Mike McFarland, Johnnie Young, Frank Catelli, Glen Hover, Vic Reykdal, Anthony Koeinger

2019 record: 5-1 in Olympic League, 9-2 overall; 1-1 in postseason (0-1 at state)

Key returning players: Taig Wiker (sr.), Caleb Pozernick (sr.), Michael Young (sr.), Walker Ward (sr.), Brandon Barnett (sr.), Isaiah Cowan (sr.), Garret Hoesel (sr.), Truman Nestor (sr.), Hayden Eaton (sr.), Beau Halverson (jr.), Austin Newton (sr.), Mitch Horton (sr.)

Key newcomers: Blake Peterson (so.), Ben Gurney (so.), Ricky Jennings (so.), Jonas Welch (so.)

Outlook:

A senior-loaded, experienced Wolfpack won’t have a shot at a state playoff run, but looks to take on some bigger schools with its shortened 2020-2021 schedule this “fall” season.

Sequim coach Erik Wiker and staff plan to “run the things that we have been working on and just try to give this year’s seniors some normalcy with the game that a lot of them have been playing since a young age,” coaches said last week. “Enough has been taken from them already.”

Coaches provided players with an app to help the team monitor their fitness.

”A lot of them have been creative and have set up home gym’s and posting videos to the team site,” coaches said. “Several have gotten together on their own and ran routes to keep in shape.”

Last year’s junior-heavy squad finished with a strong 5-1 league mark — it’s only loss a 16-8 defeat to league champ North Kitsap — and routed River Ridge in districts before falling to No. 5 Lakewood in the state 2A tournament.

Back is senior signal-caller Taig Wiker, who was named the Olympic league’s Offensive MVP after tallying he completed 78 of 143 passes for 1,155 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, and ran for another 440 yards and 13 more TDs.

All-league second team running back Walker Ward, another senior, is back. He finished 2019 with 1,209 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, with 12 catches for 125 yards and a score.

Also back is one of the league’s top two-way players in senior Michael Young, who made the first team offense as a receiver and the first team defense as a cornerback despite playing just seven games, caught 23 passes for 432 yards and six touchdowns, and ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns.

Another returning senior, wide receiver/defensive back Garrett Hoesel, is returning this season. He was named to the all-league second team on both offense and defense. He led the team with 462 receiving yards on 22 catches, including four TDs. He also totaled 28 tackles and three interceptions defensively.

Returning senior Hayden Eaton provides a big (6-4) target for Taig Wiker at wide receiver, as does 6-3 sophomore Isaiah Moore.

Erik Wiker credited linemen such as Brandon Barnett (second team offensive line) and fellow senior Caleb Pozernick as keys to the Wolves’ success in 2019; both are back to help anchor Sequim on both sides of the ball, along with projected offensive and defensive line starter Mitch Horton, a senior, and Newton.

Bolstering the defensive this season are senior Isaiah Cowan, who was called out repeatedly last season by Erik Wiker for his improvement at inside linebacker, and senior lineman Austin Newton; both were named to the all-Olympic league first team defense. Linebacker Truman Nestor, a senior, and Taig Wiker round out Sequim’s stout linebacker corps.

2020/2021 season schedule:

Friday, Feb. 19 — vs. Bainbridge (4 p.m.)

Saturday, Feb. 27 — at North Kitsap (1 p.m.)

Friday, March 5 — vs. South Kitsap (6 p.m.)

Saturday, March 13 — at Olympic (1 p.m.)

Thursday, March 18* — vs. Central Kitsap (6 p.m.)

* — Rescheduled from week 1

Sequim’s Hannah Wagner, foreground, looks to put a shot on goal at an early February practice. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Sequim’s Hannah Wagner, foreground, looks to put a shot on goal at an early February practice. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell

Girls soccer

Head coach: Derek Vander Velde (fifth year)

Assistants: Antinion Frutos (JV head coach, Vianey Cadenas, Erin Vigg, Miranda Burger

2019 record: 7-5 in Olympic League (third), 11-7-1 overall; 2-1 at districts, 0-1 at state

Key returning athletes: Amara Sayer (sr.), Natalya James (sr.), Olivia Hare (sr.), Abby Schroeder (sr.), Hannah Wagner (jr.), Rileigh Van Dyken (jr.)

Newcomers: Bailey Geniesse (jr.), Samantha Gonzalez (jr.), Kriya Johnson (jr.), Payton Johnson (jr.), Mikiah Winter (fr.), Taryn Johnson (fr.)

Outlook:

Third time’s a charm? Sequim High’s girls soccer team members twice got onto the practice pitch — in the summer and again just before Thanksgiving break — before COVID health restrictions nixed their plans.

Unlike their cohorts on the boys team that saw their 2020 season complete eliminated, the Wolves’ girls squad look like they’ll get a season.

Head coach Derek Vander Velde and the Wolves kick off the 2020-2021 campaign this week with a pair of games, one away and one home, as part of an eight-week campaign.

“We just want them to go out and have some fun, go back into some sort of normalcy,” Vander Velde said.

“Some ready not so ready (for the season, but) for the vast majority come in fairly healthy,” he said.

Sequim raced to a third-place finish in the fall of 2019 behind a strong senior class, scoring the program’s second state tourney berth with two wins at districts.

This year sees a quartet of key seniors return, including all-Olympic league second team goalkeeper Olivia Hare, along Abby Schroeder, who tied graduated senior Hope Glasser for the team lead last season with eight goals. Also back are Natalya James and Amara Sayer, a pair of SHS seniors signed up to play at Edmonds Community College later this year.

A strong junior class bolsters the Wolves’ lineup, led by returners Hannah Wagner and Rileigh Van Dyken.

Numbers are down for a number of squads, Vander Velde said, and the Wolves are no different: with 26 players in preseason practices, Sequim may be able to play a full docket of junior varsity and varsity games but may need to borrow (or led) players with other schools as needed.

The Wolves will, like other programs see a number of health-related protocols in place before taking the field. That means wearing masks at all times, sanitizing equipment and physical distancing when possible.

Vander Velde said he and coaches will be monitoring players as close as they can for any extra fatigue.

“That’s something all of us are going to deal with, to make sure kids are safe and not exhausting (them)selves,” Vander Velde said. “I’ve always told the girls, ‘You guys know yourselves the best; you’ve got to relay that (information) to us.’”

Players can ride a team bus with safety protocols in place or ride with parents.

The Wolves won’t technically be able to tally a third consecutive trip to the state tourney but there may be some sort of one-off, league cross-over game at season’s end, Vander Velde said.

“The postseason stuff, that’s all icing on the cake,” he said.

I’ve always been a strong proponent of the girls learning and watching the game at higher levels — I want them to understand the game more fluidly — but also …to have fun, let chips fall where they may.”

2020/2021 season schedule:

Wednesday, Feb. 17 — at Klahowya (6:45 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 18 — vs. Kingston (6:45 p.m.)

Wednesday, Feb. 24 — at Olympic (6:45 p.m.)

Wednesday, March 3 — at East Jefferson (3 p.m.)

Saturday, March 6 — at Port Angeles (12:45 p.m.)

Tuesday, March 9 — vs. Klahowya (6:45 p.m.)

Saturday, March 13 — at Kingston (6:45 p.m.)

Tuesday, March 16 — vs. Olympic (6:45 p.m.)

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