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Spring Sports Previews
Spring is here, and that means Mercer Island sports are bringing the competition back outdoors. Islanders have plenty to look forward to, as we preview the 2014 spring sports teams that will be taking the field, defending the net, hitting the links, holding the court and racing the track.
Check back here at mi-reporter.com for game results and recaps. Make sure to keep up-to-date all season long following @MIRsports on Twitter and by checking the Reporter’s Facebook page at facebook.com/MIReporter.
COACH: Dominic Woody
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 30
LAST SEASON: Lost in districts to Bellevue.
STRENGTHS: “Pitching,” said coach Dominic Woody. “This is the deepest we’ve ever been. The overall wealth of talent is ridiculous. Right behind that, defense and infield depth.”
FOCUS: “First and foremost, our goal is to win our league,” said Woody.
CAPTAINS: Seniors Zach Rothenberg, Chris Lawler, Jake Stenberg, Keegan Ogard.
GAME TO WATCH: April 16 vs. Mount Si at Island Crest Park.
COACH: Ian O’Hearn
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 60
LAST SEASON: Lost by three goals in the state championship to Bellevue. Mercer Island has been in the state title game 11 times in the last 13 years, winning five times.
STRENGTHS: “Senior leadership,” said coach Ian O’Hearn. “We have a very strong junior class, a strong combo of juniors and seniors. I’d argue we’re the best team in the state.”
FOCUS: “Obviously winning the state championship,” said O’Hearn. “Bigger than the state championship is to be ranked nationally. We want to reach for the next level and regain a national ranking.”
CAPTAINS: Chase York, Devlin Conway, Charlie Reinertson, Benji Rothenberg.
GAME TO WATCH: May 9 vs. Bellevue. “There’s a lot of bad blood,” said O’Hearn. “We went over to play them at Bellevue last year and conservatively, 2000 people were there.”
COACH: Don Papasadero
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 19
LAST SEASON: Won KingCo and are amidst a six-year winning streak, garnering recognition from the National Federation of High School Associations.
STRENGTHS: “Our length,” said senior captain Katie Rorem. “Because we have a long course, we can hit the ball longer than other teams, it works to our advantage.”
FOCUS: “Keeping up our streak is always important, and to win KingCo again,” said senior captain Carsen Harkins. “And to have a fair amount of girls at the KingCo and state tournaments,” said Rorem.
CAPTAINS: Katie Rorem, Carsen Harkins.
GAMES TO WATCH: April 15 vs. Interlake, April 29 vs. Bellevue.
COACH: Colin Rigby
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 77
LAST SEASON: Lost in KingCo tourney. The year before, state runner-up. Lost 11 seniors, six starters.
STRENGTHS: “We have a strong group of midfielders,” said coach Colin Rigby. “The captains lead on the field. We’re a very athletic team, and we can beat teams in a lot of different ways. We’re looking for skill-oriented players, but we have incredible athletes that add to that skill.”
FOCUS: “Our goal is to win the KingCo conference this year,” said Rigby. “We’re trying to turn the program into something that represents Mercer Island soccer.”
CAPTAINS: Junior Ryan Hill, seniors Tate Crenshaw and Nate Schuler.
GAME TO WATCH: April 9 at Bellevue. “Always Bellevue because Bellevue is our rival team.,” said Rigby.
COACH: Mindy Blakeslee
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 70
LAST SEASON: Won KingCo, districts and the state championship for its 40th state championship and fifth in a row. Returning are state doubles champions Gabby and Lydia Venditti.
STRENGTHS: “I would say our strength is our depth,” said coach Mindy Blakeslee. “We have the returning state doubles champions and a team of Caroline Hamilton and Caroline Dillon that placed fifth in state doubles last year.”
FOCUS: “I think the team focus is embracing our tradition, working really hard and improving everyday, and then having fun,” said Blakeslee. “I believe tennis is a life sport and it should be fun.”
CAPTAINS: Seniors Caroline Dillon and Julia Glick.
MATCH TO WATCH: “For sure when we play Newport,” said Blakeslee, which will take place May 1 at MIHS.
TRACK AND FIELD
COACHES: Chris Twombley, Erica Hill
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 100
LAST SEASON: Won the state championship in girls four by four relay, setting a school record. Boys four by four relay qualified for state, and Eric Schulz finished second at state in the 800.
STRENGTHS: “Great leadership from great captains and great seniors,” said Hill.
FOCUS: “We want to build on last year’s success, and we want to see the athletes build on what they achieved last year,” said Twombley.
CAPTAINS: Seniors Eric Schulz, Danno Mayer, Ethan Vu, Travis Gallatin, Emily Bassett, Sarah Bjarnason, Alida Scalzo, Tre Saunders.
MEET TO WATCH: Bellevue Invitational, April 26. “The Bellevue Invite is a good checkpoint for us,” said Hill.
COACH: Liz Shields
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 31
LAST SEASON: Lost in the league playoffs semifinal to Lakeside.
STRENGTHS: “We’re a young, definitely enthusiastic bunch,” said Shields.
FOCUS: “We’ll take the season one game at a time, with a focus on teamwork, moving the ball and stick skills,” Shields said.
CAPTAINS: Junior Hannah Paborsky, senior Sarah Hanan.
GAME TO WATCH: May 7 vs. Bainbridge. “Bainbridge is always a good game,” said Shields. “Last year, my assistants who [previously] played for Mercer Island said it was the first time we beat them in-season.”
GIRLS WATER POLO
COACH: Andrew Smith-Jones
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 22
LAST SEASON: Finished fifth in the state tournament.
STRENGTHS: “We have a solid returning group. With that, we’ll use the experience of the more experienced players to bring the younger ones up to speed,” said head coach Andrew Smith-Jones.
FOCUS: “The no. 1 goal is to have fun. We’d love to get into the state tournament and see what we can do, but we have other goals to meet to get there,” said Smith-Jones.
CAPTAINS: Juniors Nola Peshkin, Alicia Nordal, Kirbi Phillips and senior Michelle Na.
GAME TO WATCH: Senior Night vs. Auburn Mountainview May 15.
COACH: Jessica Steinle
NUMBER OF ATHLETES: 11
LAST SEASON: Made districts and were one out from the state tournament, the furthest ever in the postseason for Mercer Island fastpitch.
STRENGTHS: “We have a lot of dedication,” said head coach Jessica Steinle. “Also the veteran core leadership of the captains and our catcher Natalie Ricklefs will keep us calm in pressure situations.”
FOCUS: “Our goal is to make it to state and go farther than any Mercer Island [fastpitch] team has,” said Steinle.
CAPTAINS: Senior Makenna Pellerin, junior Morgan Peyou.
GAME TO WATCH: April 14 at Mount Si. “The team that’s always elusive is Mount Si. They’ve got a big squad with a lot of offensive power,” said Steinle.