A fond farewell to 2004

  • <br>Enterprise staff
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 10:52am

It was another action-packed year for local athletics.

Tales of unforgettable victories, heart-wrenching defeats, records crumbling and down-to-the-wire finishes filled the Enterprise sports pages.

Here is a brief recap of some of the most memorable personalities and teams that made 2004 special:

Jackson brothers wrap up swim careers at state meet

Jackson’s Andrew and Peter Mullins shared a great deal throughout their high school swimming careers.

In many respects, the two were the backbone of the Jackson team throughout their four years with the program.

But until the 2004 state championships, the two had never competed in the finals of the same event at state.

In a fitting end to a memorable Class 4A state swimming and diving meet, the twin brothers advanced to the championship finals of the 100-yard breaststroke Feb. 21 at the King County Aquatic Center.

Peter Mullins finished fifth overall with an All-America consideration time of 59.01, while Andrew Mullins placed eighth with a 1:00.88. Peter’s time was slightly slower than his preliminary mark of 58.71, which was an automatic All-America time.

“We’ve always talked about how it would be cool for us to both be in the finals,” Peter Mullins said. “It was pretty cool to have him back there.”

Wildcats battle hard at 1A state girls tourney

Archbishop Thomas Murphy’s Class 1A state tournament opener with Winlock was one of the best girls basketball games Wildcats coach Bill Kelley has ever witnessed.

The final result, however, wasn’t much to Kelley’s liking, as the Cardinals pulled out an 84-79 victory in overtime in the March 3 contest at the Yakima SunDome.

Though Winlock jumped out to an early lead, Archbishop Murphy battled back due in large part to the efforts of sophomore center Lisa Coate, who scored a school-record 44 points.

Coate was 18-for-26 from the field and shattered older sister Lauren’s record of 36 points.

The Wildcats were able to shake off the disappointment of the loss the next day to post a 50-29 victory over Forest Ridge in a loser-out consolation game.

The victory set up another loser-out game against Tonasket, one of the most disciplined teams of the tournament, according to Kelley.

The Tigers took a 16-8 lead after the first quarter, extended their advantage to 33-19 at halftime and rolled to a 53-35 victory.

The two teams that beat Archbishop Murphy ended up playing on the final day of the tournament. Tonasket took fifth place and Winlock was sixth.

ATM boys advance to state for first time

Short but sweet.

Those words describe Archbishop Thomas Murphy’s first-ever appearance at the Class 1A state boys basketball tournament.

The Wildcats had hopes for an extended run at the Yakima SunDome but found themselves out of the tourney following a pair of tough games against teams that ended up taking home some hardware.

“It was shorter than we hoped for,” Archbishop Murphy coach Jerry Zander said. “But overall for the first time in our school for the boys to go to state, it was a good experience.”

The Wildcats drew a tough first round assignment in Northwest Christian, which went on to lose to defending champion Brewster in the title contest.

The Navigators took a nine-point lead into halftime and then sealed the victory with a 16-4 third quarter burst to defeat Archbishop Murphy 56-41 March 3 at the Yakima SunDome.

The loss sent the Wildcats into an early morning loser-out consolation game against Winlock, a team that came out with a more deliberate offensive scheme.

Once the Cardinals took an early lead in the game they were able to significantly slow down the pace of the contest, Zander said.

Winlock took a 7-2 advantage into the second quarter and led 16-11 at halftime. The Wildcats cut the deficit to 28-26 at the end of the third quarter but saw the Cardinals reassert themselves in the fourth quarter with a 19-6 run and roll to a 47-32 victory.

Jackson falls in district boys soccer contest

By any standards, the Jackson boys soccer team exceeded expectations this year.

The Timberwolves returned only three players with significant varsity experience but still managed to nab the Western Conference South Division’s No. 3 berth to the Northwest District 4A playoffs.

But the Wolfpack’s postseason run was a quick one when Lake Stevens defeated Jackson 2-0 in a loser-out game May 8 at Everett Stadium.

The loss left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of the Timberwolves, which was just fine with coach Michael Bartley.

“They’re frustrated and mad,” Bartley said of his players. “I’m glad. I’d rather have them that way than ‘Oh, well.’”

Wolfpack eliminated from baseball playoffs

Jackson could have folded when Stanwood took a 11-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning of the teams’ loser-out Northwest District 4A baseball game.

The Timberwolves, however, battled back and scored six runs in the next two innings. But it wasn’t enough, as the Spartans prevailed 14-7 May 12 at Everett Memorial Stadium.

“They hit the ball hard,” Jackson coach Kirk Nicholson said. “We could have laid down … the guys fought back. I have no problems with the way things ended up.”

The Wolfpack came into the consolation contest with a depleted pitching staff. Seniors Ryan Woods and Matt Raff and junior Chris Bowen threw in the previous day’s contest, a wild 10-9 loss to Edmonds-Woodway, a game in which the winner advanced to the winner-to-state, district championship game.

“We used up a lot of pitching … because it was such an important game,” Nicholson said. “We put a lot of stock in Tuesday’s game. That game gets you where you want to be.”

Jackson ended up using three young pitchers against Stanwood. The Timberwolves’ defense didn’t back up the three very well, committing six errors.

“You commit six errors you’re going to have some trouble,” Nicholson said.

Wildcats capture 1A state baseball crown

Archbishop Thomas Murphy capped an amazing two-week playoff run by winning the school’s first-ever Class 1A state baseball championship.

The Wildcats, who didn’t allow a run in their last four games, defeated Okanogan 9-0 in the championship game May 29 at Yakima County Stadium.

Senior pitcher Jeff Arkell scattered only three hits in a complete-game performance, while his teammates had 12 hits.

“We played great defense,” said second-year Archbishop Murphy coach Ed Gay. “The pitching was excellent. Everything just fell into place.”

The Wildcats were coming off an emotionally and physically draining 1-0 12-inning victory over Concrete in the semifinals the day before.

Senior Nick Karthas picked up the win, going all 12 innings and helping himself in the bottom of the 12th with a double. Courtesy runner Jake Lyons came in for Karthas and scored the winning run on a single by catcher Alex Burch.

Karthas had never been involved in anything like the semifinal game. After throwing 144 pitches, his arm was understandably spent.

“To tell you the truth, I couldn’t really feel it,” he said. “There was a lot of adrenaline going in. I felt great because we won.”

Gay told Karthas to ice his arm and they would talk later about whether he would play in the championship game.

Karthas insisted to Gay that he would be playing the next day and he took his customary spot at third base.

“He was able to make the plays,” Gay said. “You’d never know that he threw 144 pitches.”

Jackson’s Helmer takes sixth at 4A state meet

Jackson’s Jeff Helmer may have been one of the youngest runners in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races at Star Track XII, but he sure ran like a wily veteran.

In a pair of races dominated by upperclassmen, the Jackson sophomore took fifth place in both events and staked his claim as one of the top distance runners at the Class 4A state track and field championships.

Helmer clocked in with a 9:19.80 in the 3,200 and a 4:18.89 in the 1,600.

While he was pleased with his two fifth-place finishes, Helmer was a little disappointed with the 3,200 and the way the race unfolded.

“Nobody really took control of the race. It was a really slow pace,” Helmer said. “I was hoping to run a lot faster … I figured some of the upperclassmen would take charge. Nobody really got after it until there was about 800 meters to go.

“I wanted to run a fast time and PR big. Just the way (they) went out made it pretty hard to get a PR.”

McClure helps U.S. to Olympic silver medal

For the U.S. men’s gymnastics team, it’s been a long four years. For the entire men’s program, it’s been a long two decades.

A frustrating era came to a close as six unshakable men seized the silver medal with the same authority they grabbed the high bar in the nerve-wracking finale of the Olympic team final.

A team chronically overshadowed and generally outperformed by its female counterparts finally found a way to spin the cameras in its direction, winning its first Olympic men’s team medal since the Summer Games in 1984 in a breathtaking competition that wasn’t decided until the last Japanese gymnast landed in the last event.

“It took us 20 years to get this,” said Mill Creek’s Brett McClure, whose fiancée is Jaycie Phelps, a member of the gold-medal winning 1996 Olympic women’s team. “We’ve been working extremely hard the last four years just to have the opportunity … Today was just an emotional roller coaster.”

The U.S. team, barely in third place entering the last rotation, passed Romania after two of its gymnasts made major mistakes on the high bar. It couldn’t, however, topple the Japanese, who finished on their feet and with flair to earn a surprising gold.

Japan, fourth at the 2000 Olympics, tallied 173.821 points. The United States earned 172.933 and Romania, 172.384.

The medal was the first for the American men at a non-boycotted Olympics since 1932, when the United States also won the silver. The 1984 gold came without Russia — a gymnastics power — in the field. And both earlier medals came at the Games on home turf: Los Angeles.

“You can never downplay the achievement of the 1984 team, but in a fully contested Olympics, the last time we won a medal was 1932,” USA Gymnastics President Bob Colarossi said. “That stands by itself.”

McClure and brothers Paul and Morgan Hamm sealed the silver medal with gutsy — if not flawless — high bar routines that elicited a few rather rousing chants of “USA! USA!” in the sparsely filled arena in the main Olympic complex. Guard Young, Blaine Wilson and Jason Gatson rounded out the U.S. roster.

Jackson relishes state tournament appearance

It was all icing on the cake for Jackson.

Making their first appearance at state since 1997, the Timberwolves came into the Class 4A volleyball tournament with no lofty expectations other than enjoying the postseason ride.

Along the way, the Wolfpack played some solid volleyball but ended up dropping a pair of matches to Heritage and Kentwood on Nov. 5 at the Everett Events Center.

“It was a really good experience for all the girls,” said junior Jessica Ramback. “Everybody was just really excited today to get the chance to go to state. It was really fun. Nobody was really nervous. Everybody was just excited to be here … we were just really happy to play at the Everett Events Center.”

The opportunity to play at state is a memory that Chelsea Crim will cherish for a long time.

“It was really exciting,” she said. “There’s a lot of adrenaline … it’s fun to be playing in front of a crowd for once.”

Jackson’s seniors leave their mark at 4A meet

The Class 4A state girls swimming championships marked the final high school competition for three Jackson seniors.

The trio — Emily Rogers, Angie Wang and Lindsay Pagard — along with junior standout Amber Pleasant and freshman Stephanie Ha made sure that the 2004 state meet was one all the Timberwolves will remember for a long time.

Bolstered by a pair of top-three finishes by Pleasant and solid performances by Rogers, Jackson placed seventh overall in the team competition Nov. 13 at the King County Aquatic Center.

The Wolfpack also advanced two relays into the championship finals.

Pleasant came into the finals with no expectations and left the building with a budding reputation as one of the state’s top sprinters.

The Jackson junior took third place in the 50-yard freestyle with an all-American consideration time of 24.40 and also was third in the 100 freestyle, slicing .13 seconds off her preliminary time with a 53.40.

Pleasant also swam on the Wolfpack’s 200 medley relay team with Rogers, Wang and Ha (eighth, 1:55.68) and the 400 freestyle relay team with Rogers, Pagard and Wang (fourth, 3:42.71).

“I’ve never swam this well before,” Pleasant said. “I gained a couple of 100ths in my 50 but I still placed better than I did last year. I’m very happy about it.

“Coming into the meet, I didn’t really think about placing. I wanted to be top five. I was never able to fathom being in the top three.”

Pleasant took fifth in the 50 and placed eighth in the 100 at the 2003 state meet. Jackson coach Drew Whorley wasn’t surprised by the success of Pleasant, who he said is starting to realize her potential.

“She’s still got another year,” Whorley said. “The confidence is starting to blossom a little bit and with that you’re just going to see her get faster and faster and there’s no telling what she’s capable of doing.”

Rogers advanced to one final and one consolation final. The Jackson senior finished seventh in the 200 individual medley with a 2:11.12, which was .74 seconds faster than her preliminary time. Rogers also was 14th in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:09.55.

Wildcats advance to 2A state girls soccer finals

Archbishop Thomas Murphy’s senior class experienced unprecedented success the last four years.

The Wildcats advanced to the final four of the state tournament all four years and made it to the title game the last two.

Unfortunately for the second straight season, Archbishop Murphy came up short in the finals, losing 3-1 to Naches in the Class 2A girls soccer championship game Nov. 20 at Harry Lang Stadium.

“It would have been good to end with first place,” said senior Kat Taylor, who scored the Wildcats’ lone goal off a corner kick in the second half. “But I guess it’s pretty good that we got this far because a lot of teams didn’t.”

Archbishop Murphy (19-3) seemed to dominate the action in both the first and second halves but struggled to finish its shots.

“It’s tough, but second in state is not bad at all,” senior goalkeeper Alicia Bourke said.

The teams played contrasting styles, with the Wildcats focusing more on ball control, while the Rangers preferred a kick and run tempo.

“I thought we outplayed them but we couldn’t put it in the net,” said Archbishop Murphy coach Pat Jack. “We seemed to have the ball down at their end more than they had in our end. They play kick and run and they have very fast players and it worked.”

Allison Huwe’s unassisted goal at the 31-minute mark gave Naches a 1-0 halftime lead. Huwe then extended the Rangers’ advantage to 2-0 with a goal off an assist by Monique Wickenhagen two minutes into the second half.

Archbishop Murphy cut the deficit to 2-1 on Taylor’s curving corner kick that found the back of the net in the 56th minute.

“That was my first one this season but I’ve done it a couple of times last year at state,” Taylor said of the goal. “It hit off the back of one of those players on the other team.”

The Wildcats kept the pressure on Naches in the waning moments but then Wickenhagen scored in the 80th minute to end Archbishop Murphy’s hopes for a comeback.

Jackson girls finish fourth at state

The Jackson girls soccer team was hoping to win its first-ever state title.

The Timberwolves instead will have to be content to have been the first team in school history to advance to the final four of the Class 4A state championships.

With a little luck, Jackson could have been hoisting the first-place trophy instead of a fourth-place plaque.

The Wolfpack dropped a 2-1 decision to eventual champion Bellarmine Prep in the semifinals and then fell 2-0 to Gonzaga Prep in the consolation finals Nov. 20 at Harry Lang Stadium.

“Out of both games, I truly believe they could have gone either way,” said senior co-captain Kaley Mitchell. “We could have been the state champions but we’re fourth place. That’s just the game of soccer.”

Jackson, which lost a first-round game in its only other state appearance four years ago, led Bellarmine Prep 1-0 with 25 minutes left in the second half but couldn’t sustain its advantage. The Lions went on to annihilate Stadium 5-1 in the finals.

The Timberwolves started out strong against Gonzaga Prep and had five shots on goal in the first four minutes but didn’t connect on any of them.

The Bullpups withstood the Wolfpack’s onslaught and then countered with a goal of their own in the sixth minute. Sarah Jennings’ unassisted goal gave Gonzaga Prep a 1-0 lead and seemed to drain much of the energy out of Jackson.

“We should have gotten some goals in there. I’m not sure what happened,” said senior co-captain Katie Waldin. “When that goal went in I think everybody just kind of fell apart.”

Gonzaga Prep’s Alex Butler added an insurance score off an assist by Caitlin Davis at the 62-minute mark.

Jackson coach Michael Bartley could see his players were still feeling the effects of the emotionally and physically draining semifinal loss to Bellarmine Prep.

“We burned ourselves up last night trying to beat Bellarmine Prep,” the second-year Jackson coach said.

ATM upset in 2A state semifinals

There were no losers in the Class 2A state semifinal football game between Archbishop Thomas Murphy and East Valley (Yakima).

Not after the teams battled to a 28-28 tie after regulation. Not after the teams remained tied at 35-35 after the first overtime period.

And not even after East Valley’s Michael Stobie’s 3-yard touchdown run in the second overtime period lifted the top-ranked Red Devils to a 41-35 victory that ended the Wildcats’ hopes for a third straight state championship and halted Archbishop Murphy’s winning streak at 39 games Nov. 27 at the Tacoma Dome.

Wildcats coach Terry Ennis did his best to console his players, some of whom were tasting defeat for the first time in their high school careers.

“They feel real bad right now and if they left it all on the field that’s the way they should feel,” said Ennis, who guided Archbishop Murphy to back-to-back Class 1A championships in 2002 and 2003. “But by tomorrow they’re going to feel OK because I believe they left it all on the field and they’re going to feel like winners tomorrow.”

Ennis told his players to cherish the friendships they’ve made with their teammates and to enjoy the remaining time they have with each other.

“I told them this is the best group of guys they’re going to be around,” Ennis said.

While he came away with a sense of emptiness as a result of the loss, senior co-captain Nick Pettinger also was feeling exhilaration after playing in what everyone agreed was one of the most stirring games in recent memory.

“What more could you ask in your last game? Double overtime, that was great,” Pettinger said. “But it’s really sad it’s the last football game I’ll play here. It’s pretty sad walking off that field knowing that we didn’t get the job done.”

The loss was doubly frustrating for senior quarterback Kyle Wilkins, who ended up watching the game from the sidelines as a result of an injury sustained on the final play of the first half.

Wilkins was knocked out of the game after a hard hit from East Valley defensive back Michael Corral on a bootleg play at the end of the second quarter. The Archbishop Murphy senior standout lay on the artificial turf for about four minutes before getting up and heading to the locker room.

The hard tackle caused Wilkins to experience back spasms but after being treated he returned midway through the fourth quarter for several plays, both on offense and defense, before an official from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) told him he had to leave the game.

“Even though we lost I would have rather lost on the field than off the field,” Wilkins said. “It’s much harder to lose off the field. You can’t do anything about it.”

The loss was the first one for Wilkins, who joined the No. 2-ranked Wildcats during his sophomore year. The memories of the past three years will always stay with Wilkins.

“I wouldn’t change it for anything,” he said. “I played with a great team, great school, great coaching staff. It’s just an experience that I’ll remember forever.”

Ennis praised the play of East Valley (13-0), which scored on fourth-and-goal plays late in the fourth quarter and in the first overtime period.

But he also noted that turnovers by the Wildcats (13-1) also contributed to the loss. Archbishop Murphy fumbled the ball seven times and lost four of them.

“We had 20 plays that you’re going to relive and regret but take nothing away from East Valley,” Ennis said. “They made their plays in tough situations.”

Pettinger, an offensive and defensive lineman, said that the blame could be spread around.

“It was half the O-line’s fault and half the running backs’ fault,” Pettinger said. “If you let them have a free shot at your running back, no matter how good they are, they are going to drop the ball. I think we had some breakdowns and as you can see that killed us.”

The loss snapped a 39-game winning streak that spanned three seasons.

Many of this year’s players played key roles in Archbishop Murphy’s undefeated season last year and the team’s success the year before that.

“I really appreciated that each week they really were well-prepared and stayed focused,” Ennis said. “That’s 40 weeks we were well-prepared … I kind of always wondered how these kids would stay at that level for so long. I think it’s been pretty remarkable.

“So we’re pretty proud of this team and the other teams that have played at that level so consistently.”

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