Sports briefs

Three former Mercer Island High School water polo players, Tom Stowell, Sam Sussman and Peter Zajac are part of the University of Washington men’s water polo team, which won the Northwest Division Regional championships this season. - Contributed photo
Three former Mercer Island High School water polo players, Tom Stowell, Sam Sussman and Peter Zajac are part of the University of Washington men’s water polo team, which won the Northwest Division Regional championships this season.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Huskies water polo team takes Northwest Division title, competes at nationals

The University of Washington men’s water polo team won the Northwest Division Regional championships at the end of October, making the team eligible for a spot at the National Championship tournament in Florida in November.

The team features three former Mercer Island High School water polo players, UW junior Tom Stowell, sophomore Sam Sussman and Peter Zajac, a freshman.

The team beat Oregon State and the University of Oregon during the regional tournament and faced off against Virginia Tech in the first round of the national tournament, which the Huskies won 7-3. In the second round, against the University of Arizona, the Huskies took a strong lead early in the game, but the Wildcats of Arizona made big strides in the fourth quarter for a 12-10 win over Washington.

The team then played Lindenwood University and the University of Utah, losing both matches to finish in eighth place in a field of 16 teams.

This year Stowell earned 41 goals and had 12 assists, Sussman put 58 goals into the net for the Huskies, adding 34 assists to his tally, while Zajac had five goals this season. Sussman was named the team’s most valuable player, Northwest Division All-Tournament first team, and was placed on the collegiate national all-tournament second team.

The three Islanders will return for another season with the Huskies next fall.

MIHS hosts wrestling tournament this weekend

The Mercer Island High School wrestling team will welcome wrestlers from across the region this weekend as the school plays host to The Jack Reynolds Scholarship Fund Tournament of Excellence. The tournament will be held in the main MIHS gym on Jan. 16, starting with the opening announcements at 9:45 a.m. and the first round scheduled to take place on the mats at 10 a.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.

Twelve schools, including the Islanders — ranging from B to 4A classifications — will compete in this event, helping to raise awareness for the Fund, which supports student athletes from Washington with scholarships.

Jack Reynolds was a longtime teacher in the Issaquah School District and was a wrestling and softball official at both the state and national level. He coached wrestling, football, track and volleyball, and in 2008 he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his dedication to the sport.

The Fund’s goal is to create a continuing fund to help student athletes achieve post-secondary education. Scholarships are awarded to student athletes who exemplify qualities that Reynolds taught and looked for in his own athletes: dedication, integrity, mentorship, academic achievement and fair play.

For more information, visit:

MI Little Leaguers in run for Sports Star award

The Mercer Island Little League team that competed in this summer’s Little League World Series has been nominated for a Sports Star of the Year award, the contest originally created and run by the Seattle P-I.

Despite the P-I no longer being printed, the contest — now in its 75th year — was taken over by the Seattle Sports Commission and Seattle Children’s Hospital. The annual event celebrates the achievements of local athletes, coaches and other segments of the sports industry.

The MI Little League team has been nominated for the FSN Sports Play of the Year award, for its unprecedented run to the World Series in late August. The team faces competition from the four other nominees, which include: the University of Washington women’s softball team’s national championship moment, the game-tying home run hit by Ken Griffey Jr. for the Mariners against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Assessment’s win at the Longacres Mile race and the University of Washington football upset over USC in September.

Awards are also given for professional sports star of the year, male sports star, female sports star and the best sports story of the year.

For the first time in the contest’s history, voting will take place online and is open until Jan. 15. Visit to vote.

The awards ceremony will be held on Jan. 19 at Benaroya Hall. Tickets are available by visiting the Seattle Sports Commission page and cost $75 per person.

MIHS grad finishes in top three at collegiate meet

Mercer Island High School graduate Beau Riebe, a freshman at the United States Air Force Academy, had two top-three finishes during a meet against Denver, in the first swim meet of the spring season.

Riebe, a former member of the MIHS boys swim team and diving state champion in 2009, finished second in the 1-meter competition and third in the 3-meter.

The Air Force men’s and women’s swim and dive team lost the non-conference meet, with the men losing 129-97 and the women losing 143-77.

Hard work, leadership key for wrestlers

For the remainder of the wrestling season, the Mercer Island High School wrestling team will need to focus on hard work and seeing leadership from upperclassmen, according to their coach.

Creighton Laughary, head coach for the team, said that while the Islanders (4-0) are doing well, they have yet to have a really great night on the mat.

“We haven’t yet had our best possible night, whether it’s been due to injuries or a guy here or there not wrestling his best, but we know we have potential, and we know we have to keep working hard. The key is continuing to work hard. I am really relying on the leadership of my upperclassmen to show the young guys, many of whom we will call on to contribute, how to work, how to prepare to be champions,” said Laughary.

The team, which beat Roosevelt 48-28 on Wednesday night, must also stay focused.

“We have team goals and the guys have individual goals, and right now, in the middle of a long season, sometimes individuals lose sight of their goals, and we suffer as a team,” said Laughary. “So, we need to work on our focus, because our postseason results will be determined by our focus in practice and in matches over the next few weeks.”

While counting on upperclassmen to show the younger wrestlers the way, Laughary said TJ Blackburn and Colton Knebel have stepped up, both with solid season records.

“More important, each in their own ways, they have both stepped up as leaders the other guys look to,” said Laughary of Knebel and Blackburn.

The Islanders will face Juanita tonight at MIHS, starting at 7:30 p.m., and will host the Jack Reynolds Memorial Scholarship Fund tournament on Saturday, Jan. 16, also at the high school.

Mercer Island 48, Roosevelt 28

103 – Connor Gullstad lost by decision 11-6; 112 – Uriel Cohen lost by fall; 119 – Dylan Sullivan lost by major decision 11-2; 125 – Kyle Shanafelt won by decision 6-1; 130 – James Kashima won by fall; 135 – Eric Mills won by fall; 140 – Blake Johnson won by fall; 145 – Nathan Beckett won by fall; 152 – Andrew Rawson won by fall; 160 – Peter Lee won by decision 10-8; 171 – Brian Rauzi lost by fall; 189 – Colton Knebel won by fall; 215 – TJ Blackburn won by fall; 285 – Conor Leeds won by forfeit.

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