Changing their sports forever - Brian Govier, Jean Laschever named MIHS Athletes of the Year

By Matt Phelps

This year's male and female athletes of the year from Mercer Island High School -- Brian Govier and Jean Laschever -- helped transform two sports over the course of their high school careers. The awards were announced Wednesday, June 8.

Govier, widely considered the best cross country runner in the school's history, was a top track athlete in the state this spring. The senior placed sixth at state this year in cross country (despite battling a sinus infection) and finished second in the 1,600 meters and fifth in the 800 meters, helping the Islander boys track and field team to the highest finish of any 3A KingCo boys team at the state meet.

``I felt I had a pretty good year overall, even though I didn't accomplish some of the things I wanted,'' said Govier. ``This could have gone to a number of guys at the school and it would have been just as deserving.''

Throughout his career Govier was known for his leadership, work ethic and ``kick.'' Govier's legendary ``kick,'' a term used in the sport to signify a charge at the end of a race, helped him during his junior season when his achievements reached legendary status. Govier had enough ``kick'' at the end of races to come from behind and win the 3A KingCo, Sea-King District and state titles in cross country.

``Those three weeks were the first time I had ever really had pressure to do well,'' said Govier. ``Just the experience of dealing with that pressure is something I have taken away.''

Govier, along with teammate Brandon Fellows, is credited by coaches and fellow athletes for elevating the status of boys cross country on the Island.

``I hope what we accomplished will spark the sport and elevate its prominence,'' said Govier. ``(Fellows) really pushed me. It would not have been the same without someone there who is just as good if not better, to keep pushing.''

Govier also played soccer for Mercer Island during his freshman and sophomore years. Govier plans to run next year when he attends the U.S. Naval Academy.

Laschever is also a four year cross country athlete. But Laschever has exceeded the norm during her high school career, including 12 varsity letters -- the maximum an athlete can earn.

``I was really surprised (to win),'' said Laschever. ``There are a lot of talented athletes in my grade.''

But her achievements in wrestling, a male dominated sport, has transformed the program at Mercer Island High School.

``Coming onto the wrestling team it was important for me to compete and to be apart of the team,'' said Laschever. ``Coach Jackson, Thornhill and Laughary brought me into a sport for guys and I owe so much to them.''

Laschever wrestled at 112 pounds this season and was voted most inspirational by her teammates. Her best season came while a sophomore. She was second in 3A KingCo and was an alternate to state. During her freshman year, Laschever earned her second-overall letter by coming out of nowhere to take sixth at the 3A KingCo tournament as a junior varsity wrestler. Her past two seasons have been hampered by injury. Despite the set backs, Laschever dominated the girls exhibition tournament at state, taking the championship both years without losing a match.

Her best season in cross country came sophomore year, when she took 24th at state. Laschever said that cross country head coach Erica Hill was a huge part of her success: ``I owe everything athletic to her.''

This year Laschever was a team captain but barely missed qualifying for the state meet.

``My leadership role on the team this year was really important to me,'' said Laschever. ``I learned a lot from the other girls as well.''

The senior's third sport was distance running for the track and field team, where she earned four of her letters.

Laschever will attend Pacific University and compete for the school's all womens' wrestling team.

The recipients of the athlete of the year awards are nominated and voted on by coaches at Mercer Island High School. They take into consideration career accomplishments, with an emphasis on the senior year. Grade point is not a factor in this award.

The male and female scholar athletes of the year are based on grade point average and athletic performance. Madeleine O'Meara, the girls winner, achieved a GPA of 3.968 and helped the girls soccer team to the state finals during her 2003 season and competed in multiple events for track and field. On June 3 and 4 O'Meara took fifth in the 3,200 meters and showed her resiliency during the 1,600 meters. Despite falling down 500 meters into the race, O'Meara finished seventh out of the 16 competitors. O'Meara plans to attend Stanford and run track for the Cardinal.

The male scholar athlete of the year went to Chris Taylor. The football and lacrosse standout earned a GPA of 3.925. Taylor has helped the boys lacrosse team to two consecutive state titles while being named Most Valuable Player in 2004. Taylor was also quarterback and running back for the varsity football team, but had his senior season cut short by injury. Taylor will attend Georgetown University on a lacrosse scholarship.

The Unsung Heroes of the year are Jesse Johnson for football and wrestling and Dani Zorn for girls lacrosse, diving and gymnastics.

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