Winter is here, and that means winter sports are getting into gear. From the hardwood to the mat, soaring through the air or speeding through water, here is our early look at the teams representing Mercer Island High Shool this winter.
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Coach: Gavin Cree
Number of athletes: 50
Last season: First in KingCo league, won KingCo tournament, placed third in district, lost to Timberline in the state regionals.
Strengths: “We’re an aggressive team,” said Cree. “Hustle-oriented, scrappy. We’ve got outside shooting and guys who drive, so we’re a penetrate-and-kick kind of team.”
“We’re athletic, smaller but quicker and more defensive-oriented,” said senior Kaleb Warner.
“Because we’re quicker, we can apply more pressure, and we have the ability to cause turnovers,” said senior Chris Lawler.
Focus: “Our goal every year is to win a state championship,” said Cree. “It’s not easy. We’ve been one game away [from the final eight] the last three years.”
“Make it to state, win state and never take a game off,” said Warner.
“If we can stay together as a team and be a cohesive unite, the pieces will fall into place,” said Lawler.
Captains: Seniors Chris Lawler and Jake Stenberg.
Game to watch: “Bellevue is our biggest rival,” said Cree. “But the game to watch will be our first league game, Dec. 6 against Sammamish.”
“Jan. 10 at Bellevue,” said the captains.
“They were our first league loss,” said Stenberg. “We lost by one point at Bellevue last year.”
Coach: Lenny Lewis
Number of athletes: 68
Last season: Finished fourth at KingCo championships meet.
Strengths: “Our returning gymnasts, along with our new girls,” said coach Lewis.
“We have girls who are strong on the floor, who are ready with full tumbling skills,” said senior Cheyanne Lewis.
Focus: “To make it to districts and on to state,” said coach Lewis. “We can win KingCo. We want to make state as a team.”
“We want to qualify for the state competition,” said senior Tonayo Crow. “Also, having a cohesive, hard-working team. We want to be friends and know names, no cliques.”
Captains: Seniors Cheyanne Lewis and Tonayo Crow.
Meet to watch: “We have three,” said coach Lewis. “Mount Si, Sammamish and Lake Washington. They beat us at KingCo. We need to step up and beat teams.”
“Senior night, our last meet here against Mount Si,” said Crow. “It’s going to be epic.”
Coach: Kaela Yuen
Number of athletes: 30
Last season: Placed third in KingCo league and second in KingCo tournament. Upset Everett in districts before losing to Wilson and Kamiakin in the state tournament.
Strengths: “We’re well-rounded with a number of skilled, versatile players who can play multiple positions,” said Yuen.
“We’ve really bonded,” said senior Ari Moscatel. “We have girls who bring different aspects with added height and quickness.”
Focus: “Our goal is to go back to state,” said Yuen. “We want to be process-oriented and we want to be successful.”
“We want to go back to state and go farther than last year, focusing on the details and controlling the controllables,” said senior Renae Tessem.
Captains: Seniors Ari Moscatel, Renae Tessem, Julia Blumenstein.
Game to watch: “Bellevue,” said Yuen. “They finished first in KingCo. They’re a young team and didn’t lose a lot of people. We match up well against them.”
“Any game against Bellevue is a big game,” said Moscatel.
“We had trouble against them last year,” said Tessem. “This year, we’re going to bring it.”
Coach: Chauntelle Johnson
Number of athletes: 60
Last season: Mercer Island’s boys swim and dive team finished second in state, losing by three points to champion Lakeside.
Strengths: “Sprint and freestyle relays,” said Johnson. “Of the 12 relay spots, 11 swimmers are back. Two of our relay groups are state champs returning all four people. We have a lot of returning experience, and I’m extremely excited for this season. I’ve been looking forward to these three months for quite some time.”
“We’re stronger, faster and older,” said Waesche.
Focus: “Racing strategy,” said Johnson. “There’s no doubt we want to win. We’re teaching how to get to the wall first. We’ll focus on that as season progresses.”
“Winning state,” said Koontz. “We want to bring back the title and get as many kids to state as possible.”
Captains: Seniors Brandt Waesche, Noah Deiparine, Duncan Koontz and Karl MacLane.
Meet to watch: “Bellevue,” said Johnson. “They have quite a few returning, and their goal is to win a state championship, which is our goal, too.”
“We want to avoid them beating us at the dual meet, and then beat them in the postseason,” said Waesche.
Coach: Creighton Laughary
Number of athletes: 25
Last season: Undefeated in KingCo league for a fourth straight KingCo title, first time in history for Mercer Island wrestling.
Strengths: “Our mid to lower weights,” said Laughary. “We have two returning medalists. Taylan Yuasa finished eighth at [the] 106 [division], and Luke Wilson took seventh at 120.”
“Our mid-weights will dominate KingCo,” said senior Kenji Walker.
Focus: “Every member has a role to play, whether it’s encouraging proper eating or helping with the team dynamic and sharing in victories. There’s a delayed gratification, and the older guys need to lift the younger guys up and make sure we’re sticking together.”
“Five straight KingCo titles,” said the seniors.
“Making sure our conditioning and technique is up to standard by competition,” said senior Jake Pruchno.
Seniors: Kenji Walker, Jake Pruchno, Chris Richards and Tanner Ranz.
Meet to watch: “The last match of the season at Mount Si,” said Laughary. “Year in and year out, Mount Si is well-coached. They have a great turnout, and their skill development starts at a young age. I think being in the same conference makes us a better team.”
“We match up evenly with Mount Si across the board,” said Pruchno.