Sports

Mercer Island High to induct seven into Hall of Fame

Islander Sean Sussex (right) won five individual state titles. - Reporter file photo
Islander Sean Sussex (right) won five individual state titles.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The first game of the 2008 football season on Sept. 5 will be special. Not because of the team’s new coach, the opponent or the action on the field, but for the halftime activities. The Mercer Island High School Hall of Fame will induct six new members during the halftime ceremonies, including four giants of the Islander basketball community and two of the most decorated swimmers in school history.

Michelle Harper

Swimming

Michelle Harper graduated in 1999 and was part of four consecutive state championship girls swim teams from 1995-99. As a senior, Harper won two individual state titles: the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle. Overall, Harper won four relay state titles with her teammates. Both of those races, the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay, set Mercer Island High School records, which still stand today. Harper was selected as an All-American sophomore, junior and senior swimmer.

Harper went on to swim for the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a member of the NCAA team for three years, an All-American selection from 2001-2003 and a Pac 10 Academic Team selection in 2003.

Harper returned to Mercer Island in 2003 as an assistant coach.

Sean Sussex

Swimming and

water polo

Sean Sussex is widely considered the greatest boys swimmer in the school’s history with five individual state titles and seven relay state titles. He graduated from Mercer Island High School in 2003. Sussex was selected 24 times for All-American swims during his four years on varsity for Mercer Island. Sussex’s individual state titles include three 100-yard freestyles and two 200-yard freestyles. In 2003, he set the state record in both events: 100 — with a time of 44.19 seconds; 200 — with a time of 1:38.21. Sussex still holds the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior varsity records for the 200, 100 and 50 freestyles, along with the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. During his senior season as co-captain, he helped the Mercer Island swim team finish fourth in the nation, the highest ranking in the school’s history. Sussex also played water polo and won a state title with the boys high school team.

Sussex went on to swim for the University of Southern California and graduated in 2007.

Brandon Burmeister

Basketball, football and track and field

Brandon Burmeister was one of the greatest boy basketball players to graduate from Mercer Island High School. He graduated in 2003. Burmeister was most widely known for his shooting prowess, finishing eighth all time for the Islanders with 1,172 points. He is in the top 25 of all time in 13 offensive categories. During his three seasons on the varsity squad, he averaged 13.3 points per game and shot over 48 percent from the floor. Burmeister helped to lead the Islanders to the state title game, placing second overall during his junior season, and was named to the all-KingCo and state teams during 2002 and 2003. His time on the football field was short in high school, playing just his freshman and sophomore years and attempting a comeback as a senior only to have the season cut short by injury. Burmeister also competed on the Mercer Island High School track team during the spring season.

Burmeister continued on to the University of Washington basketball team in 2004, going on to play all four years. During that time, Burmeister and the Huskies competed in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 NCAA basketball tournaments.

Brayden Billbe

Basketball

Islander Brayden Billbe found his talent for basketball late in his high school career. He didn’t make it to the varsity team until his junior year, when he mainly rode the bench. Despite the adversity, Billbe came into his own during his senior season of 2002-2003, earning all-KingCo and state selections. His team voted him most improved as he was the squad’s top rebounder. Despite only playing two years on varsity, Billbe ranks third all-time in Mercer Island High School history in season rebounds (90) and career rebounds (118).

Billbe’s basketball career kept growing as he played for and attended American University from 2004-2007, finishing his college career as a four-year letterman and two-year starter. During his career, he started 57 games, shot 48.9 percent, collected 361 rebounds and 60 blocked shots. Billbe is currently playing professionally in Japan.

Beth (Richards) Christofferson

Basketball and soccer

Beth Richards, now Christofferson, was on the Mercer Island High School girls basketball team from 1999-2003. Christofferson was a fearless player, known for repeatedly driving the lane for a basket and a foul shot. That drive to push her team led to two all-KingCo selections. She was voted in the top five athletes in western Washington by a major news source in 2003, named athlete of the year by the Mercer Island High School coaching staff in 2003 and earned nine girls basketball records that still stand. She was also a four-year high school soccer player for the Islanders.

After graduating in 2003, Christofferson earned a full-ride scholarship from Jacksonville University in Florida, where she played one year of Division I basketball. Christofferson then transferred to Pacific Lutheran University, where she played three years at the Division III level and earned her degree in elementary education. Christofferson currently teaches at Snoqualmie Ridge Early Learning and is an assistant coach for the Mercer Island High School girls basketball team alongside her older sister, Coach Jamie Prescott.

Justin Waldie

Basketball and baseball

Justin Waldie was a member of the last Mercer Island High School boys basketball team to win the state title in 1999. As a sophomore, he went on to have one of the best boys basketball careers of all time, helping to guide the Islanders to league titles in 1999 and 2001. Waldie was also named a captain of the 2000 and 2001 boys basketball teams. He earned many honors on and off the court as an Islander, including Army Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2001, first team all-KingCo in 2001, WIBCA 3A All-State honors 2001, National Merit commendation and was named to the National Honor Society. Waldie was also the editor of the Mercer High Times. Waldie was a three-time letterman on the basketball team and also played baseball during his high school career.

Following his graduation in 2001, he attended Chicago University and played basketball. He graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and Political Science, was named captain of the basketball team and earned all-conference academic team honors. Waldie was also named to the Dean’s List in 2003-2004. He currently attends Columbia Law School, plays on the men’s basketball team and is known for returning to the Island to help up-and -coming Island basketball players.

Allison Stewart

Volleyball, soccer and basketball

Allison Stewart was the consummate three-sport athlete, earning 11 varsity letters in 11 seasons of play. She was team captain twice in all three sports. In volleyball, Stewart helped to guide the 2001 and 2002 teams to a state berth as team captain. She was selected to receive the Coaches Award in 2001 along with an all-league honorable mention.

She was named a team captain during the 2001 and 2002 girls basketball seasons and earned the Most Inspirational Award during her junior year.

As a four-year varsity softball player, Stewart helped to guide the Islanders to some of the best seasons in the program’s history. As a freshman, she earned Rookie of the Year honors and was a team captain as a sophomore, also earning a Golden Glove for her defensive abilities. Despite missing her junior season due to injury, Stewart came back her senior year. She moved from shortstop to pitcher in just five months and tied the Islander record for wins in a season. In 2003, she was also named Most Inspirational, given the Coaches Award and named Athlete of the Week by a major news source in March 2003.

Stewart was selected as Sportsmanship Representative in 2002 to KingCo 3A League for MIHS and received the United States Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award at her graduation in 2003. She was chosen by her classmates as “Most Athletic” in the senior poll along with Burmeister.

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