Historic seasons for area teams

December 18, 2013 

With winter sports now in full swing, I wanted to take an opportunity to look back at a few of the accomplishments of some of the fall sports team and players at both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools.

First and foremost, the Gig Harbor boys cross-country capped off a phenomenal year by winning a national championship at Portland Meadows race track in Portland, Ore. Senior Wolfgang Beck finished sixth place overall in the country, guiding the Tides to the win. Runnerspace.com notes, “The Gig Harbor boys team will be regarded as one of the best in U.S. history.” It’s lofty praise, and deservedly so. While the Tides team waited nervously to hear if they had won the first place award at Nike Cross Nationals, it really wasn’t even as close as anyone thought. The Tides finished with 111 points, while the second place team, Christian Brothers Academy of New Jersey, was somewhat distant with 139 points.

It’s also worth noting that this is the second national championship in the Gig Harbor area in less than a year, as the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Team won a second straight national title in August. The club, led by head coach Alan Anderson, racked up 473.5 points in Oklahoma City to win the honors.

Personally, I don’t think the extremely high level of success is just luck or coincidence. There’s something special about the Gig Harbor area. This community embraces sports and athletics in a way few communities do.

Lastly, both the Gig Harbor boys and girls, and the Peninsula High boys and girls all qualified for the state tournament this year in Pasco. I had the opportunity to cover all four teams at the state cross-country meet, and I know that they all enjoyed spending time and competing together.

Speaking of state, both the Gig Harbor and Peninsula football teams made their state tournaments this year. While they were both bounced before they could get to the Tacoma Dome, both teams played at a very high level all year. Both teams were anchored by potent running attacks. Peninsula’s Avega Siolo gashed opposing defenses all year long. Gig Harbor’s Sterling Brown put up huge numbers, the peak of which came on the road against Olympia, where he amassed 310 rushing yards (and trust me, Olympia isn’t a cupcake opponent, either). Gig Harbor senior offensive tackle Owen Taylor garnered all-area honors, while Brown was named to the second team.

The Gig Harbor girls swim team took third at the state meet this year at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, led by one of the best swimmers in school history, senior Carolyn McCann. McCann, who will be attending the University of Michigan, set a state record in the 100-yard breaststroke and recorded the third-best time in state history in the 200 individual medley. The Peninsula girls swim team won their league, led by senior captains Madison Ryan and Haley Williams.

Both the Gig Harbor and Peninsula girls soccer team also made their state tournaments. The Tides went undefeated in the class 4A Narrows League and won districts before falling to Issaquah at Roy Anderson Field. The Peninsula team made a remarkable run through districts to earn a state berth.

The Peninsula boys tennis team secured the SPSL 3A league title with an 8-2 record this season. In addition, last year’s sophomore doubles state qualifiers, Hayden Skidmore and Christian Lewis dominated the 2013 league tournament. On the way to the championship, they did not lose a set nor more than a game in each set. The team also won the league sportsmanship award.

All in all, it was a remarkable season for area sports teams. In my first year covering high school sports, I couldn’t have asked for more. This area has a proud tradition of winning and competing at a high level, and this fall did not disappoint.

Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at jon.manley@gateline.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.

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