FALL WRAPUP: Plenty to be excited about for athletes at Kentlake, Kent-Meridian, Kentridge and Kentwood

  • BY Wire Service
  • Wednesday, November 25, 2009 6:02pm
  • Sports
The pouring rain did little to slow down Kent-Meridian standout Alexia Martin this season.

The pouring rain did little to slow down Kent-Meridian standout Alexia Martin this season.

Celebration. Elation. Heartbreak. The ending of streaks and the beginning of new ones. Big performances by familiar faces. Equally big performances by some faces we just learned during the last few months.

Take your pick. They all went into what turned out to be a spectacular fall prep sports season among the four schools that comprise the Kent School District.

And I’ve been lucky enough to go along for the ride, either from the press box or on the sidelines. Before we begin our trip around the winter sports scene in the Kent Valley, something we’ll do in upcoming editions of the Kent News, let’s take one final look at some of the performances that made the fall so special.

Interestingly enough, the fall sports season began much like it ended – in exciting, celebratory fashion.

On opening day (Sept. 3), Kentwood quarterback Tristan Askew gave fans a glimpse of what was to come, connecting with wide receiver AC Songco for an 80-yard touchdown on the Conquerors first play from scrimmage.

Talk about opening with a bang.

As I mentioned, the fall season ended with a bang as well, when Kentwood High’s girls soccer team wrapped up a near flawless campaign, knocking off Kamiakin 1-0 to take a school-best third place finish at the Class 4A state tournament. Reilly Retz, as she did just a week earlier, supplied Kentwood’s lone goal in the win. Unquestionably, the Kentwood sophomore will be one to watch in the future.

What happened between the Askew-Songco touchdown and Retz’s game-winning goal?

Let’s take one final look.


On the volleyball court, few teams proved to be as dangerous as Kentridge when the Chargers were clicking on all cylinders. The Chargers were doing just that on Sept. 15, when they knocked off perennial power Kentwood in five games – 24-26, 25-22, 25-16, 16-25 and 15-7. Kentridge entered that match having dropped 27 of 29 to its cross-town rivals, including nine straight, a streak that dates back to 2002.

Sticking with volleyball, the Conquerors continued one streak, but watched another two come to an end. Playing with an almost entirely different lineup than the powerhouse teams of recent years, the Conquerors qualified for state for a sixth-consecutive year. That run of state berths is a credit to Kentwood coach Bil Caillier and what he’s managed to build at the school.

Two streaks, however, did end for the Conquerors this fall – their run of dominance in the South Puget Sound League North Division and their consecutive wins against league opponents. Kentwood won 56-straight matches against SPSL North foes until Oct. 15, when it fell to Auburn Riverside. Coincidentally, the Ravens were the last time to beat the Conquerors as well, doing so on Sept. 23, 2004. The loss essentially spelled the end of Kentwood’s streak of five-straight SPSL North titles.

Another streak that came to an end this fall was in the swimming pool, where Kentridge’s SPSL North supremacy came to a halt at four years and 36-consecutive wins. That winning streak ended in the first meet of the fall season, when the Chargers fell to upstart Kentwood 107-78.

Kentridge, however, did keep one streak alive – on the boys tennis court. The Chargers and coach Bob Armstrong have quietly built one of the state’s best programs, in part thanks to senior standout Matt Overland. In October, Kentridge wrapped up its fourth-straight SPSL North title, a run that includes 42-consecutive league victories. The fun has just begun for the Chargers, who will wrap up the tennis season in the spring, when they head to the state tournament, something they have a distinct chance of winning for the first time in school history.

Meanwhile, Kentwood star Max Manthou won his fourth-straight SPSL title this fall and will look to win his fourth-consecutive Class 4A state crown in the spring. Of all the athletes I’ve covered through the years, I have a hard time finding one classier than Manthou, who will play next year at the University of Washington.

No three putts here

Local golfers also continued to streak this fall. Kentridge star Lauren Sewell, who signed a letter-of-intent on Monday to play next year at Oregon State University, also proved to be up to the task as she won her second-straight district crown. Sewell, however, didn’t just win the crown, she ran away with it. Her two-day total of 141 was eight strokes better than Kentwood’s Rui Li.

Not wanting to be left out, the Kentwood boys, let by Kent Hagen, Riley Kuranishi and Tom Zavada followed suit, winning their third-straight district crown.

On the soccer pitch

It seems that in one way or another that there was at least one streak ending or one streak beginning this fall. In girls soccer, Kentwood qualified for the state tournament for a fifth-straight year. Unlike their previous four attempts, the Conquerors zipped past the quarterfinals and finished with their best finish in school history. Along the way, goalkeepers Megan Walburn and Courtney Johnson racked up 19 combined shutouts.

However, a nod also has to be given to the Kentlake girls soccer team, which showed tremendous growth, advancing to the postseason for the first time since 2003 thanks to a big season from sophomore Laura Rayfield

Yet, what sticks in my mind the most, however, came from Kent-Meridian. Talk about a group of girls who’ve persevered and have shown what heart is all about. On Sept. 10, K-M’s Ashlann Wood deposited the program’s first goal since Sept. 11, 2007, a run of 31-straight matches. An interesting note on that goal is the fact that Wood scored it on her older sister, Savannah, who plays for the Falcons. Quietly, the young Royals are moving in the right direction.

K-M no longer the underdogs

Potentially the best end of any streak this fall came at Kent-Meridian, where the boys cross country team won its first SPSL North title since 2001. What made K-M’s crowing achievement so special was the fact that it’s the school first team title of any kind since 2001.

The Royals finished off a flawless regular season with a 20-36 win over Auburn in October. That win, however, was simply the capper for the Royals, who turned back powerhouses Tahoma and Kentwood along the way.

The fun part for me came simply from talking with Derrick Daigre, the team’s No. 2 runner, shortly after the final win.

“It’s pretty great that we’re finally being recognized as being something other than the underdogs,” said Daigre as if a large weight was lifted off his – and the school’s – shoulders.

Not to be forgotten …

That’s a lot of streaks to take into consideration. But there were some other performances that left me excited about the future.

How about the future of cross country standouts Alexia Martin and Kailey Ulland? Martin, a sophomore, got better and better as the year progressed, culminating with a 9th-place finish at the state meet. Ulland, a junior, was a few steps behind Martin until the state meet, when she placed third. I can’t wait to see what these two do for an encore next fall.

The Kentlake High girls swim team also took a nice step in the right direction, taking sixth place at the state meet, but scoring a school-record 117 points in the process. While Chelsea Bailey didn’t quite accomplish all she set out to do at the meet, she proved once again to be a key cog in the Falcons’ fine finish. In addition, there wasn’t another freshman in the area who made a bigger impact than Kentlake’s Emily Tanasse, who delivered sixth-place finishes in the 100 back and 100 butterfly.

Looking for big football performances? Askew did it all on offense and defense for the Conquerors. In that season opener, a 39-27 win over Central Kitsap, he collected 172 yards of total offense – 80 in the air and 92 on the ground.

Kentridge linebacker Dylan Zylstra mentioned to me before the season began that his “motor” is always running. I quickly learned what he was talking about, especially during the team’s 17-14 win over Tahoma on Oct. 9, when, he racked up 15 tackles. To put that number in perspective, a “good” game for a defensive player is seven tackles.

Finally, K-M football coach Trevor Roberts gushed before the season about the athleticism of junior quarterback David Jones. Jones gave us all a glimpse of what he can do on Sept. 25 against Tahoma, when he juked out virtually every Bear on the field en route to an 84-yard touchdown. But it wasn’t just a series of moves that dropped my jaw, but rather the burst of speed that followed. Let’s just say Jones has an extra gear that not a lot of high school athletes possess. And it showed on that play.

Lastly, how about Kentridge freshman Ahren Young? Talk about making an immediate impact. The Charger youngster showed he was for real early in the season, carding a two-under-par 33 against Kentwood, helping Kentridge knock off the perennial power 90-87. During the nine-hole match, Young bagged five birdies. Five! I couldn’t do that in 36 holes, much less nine.

Now the big question is, what encore will the winter provide?

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