Sports

Gold leaves mean a golden time

They have flooded the soccer field, the tennis court, the football field and the local swimming pool. Now that school has begun again, Bremerton’s fall sports teams are taking advantage of the last days of sunshine, preparing for the brutal Narrows League competition. At this point, anything can happen. The following is a wrap-up of the various sports and their outlook for the upcoming season. (Editor’s note: the football preview appeared in the Aug. 30 edition of the Patriot.)

Volleyball team out to turn losing fortunes around

In only their second year behind head coach Roger Thomas, the Knights volleyball players are already turning things around.

They only won one game in the 2000-01 season, but clinched four last year. Additionally, Thomas says there has been a dramatic shift in attitudes and atmosphere on what was at one time a very divisive team.

“We are a lot more open-minded than last year and we all just get along,” said returning setter Jamie Coombe. “We all want to win and that helps.”

This year, Thomas has enlisted the assistance of a true volleyball aficionado and former pro beach volleyball player Carl Pech. Pech has helped in Kitsap junior programs the past couple years and also is the assistant coach under Tobie Moore at Olympic college. He spent nine years on the pro-beach volleyball circuit, as well as a couple years playing in college.

“He knows volleyball,” said Coombe with a smile.

For the first time ever, the Knights are hosting a volleyball tournament, starting at 9 a.m. today at Bremerton High and Olympic College. Teams such as Bainbridge Island, Lincoln, Stadium, Port Angeles, Lindberg, Mt. Rainier, Yelm and North Mason High Schools are planning to attend.

Also, next weekend the girls are going to Yakima to play in another tournament. Thomas says both are signs that volleyball is picking up at Bremerton High.

“Lack of team unity killed us last year,” said Thomas. “We’ve talked about it extensively. We’ve talked about how important it is to trust each other.”

At the end of every practice the team gets together to yell “Lady Knights!”

“Then we go around and high five each other,” Thomas said. Everyone gets a hand clap. It is all about changing the team’s tone to unity.

Top returners on the squad this year are Maria Aragon and Rebecca Clemen, besides Coombe.

“We want to emphasize winning,” Coombe said.

All Knights want is to stop a few shots and get a win

Bremerton’s girls soccer team has struggled to even win a game the last few seasons, but with new coach Anna Harlan, the Knights are looking to kick off the cobwebs and earn a new reputation.

“It seems like we have gotten used to losing games,” said senior and four-year varsity player Annie Zagarov.

She, like a number of her teammates, are impressed with their new coach’s energy.

“She’s a very inspirational coach. You really want to play for her,” she said.

For the last three years, Harlan was assistant coach for Lance McCoy, who stepped down from the girls program to dedicate his time to the recreation program his daughter is on.

“I expect them to try hard and try new things, and not to say ‘I can’t,’ ” Harlan said. “I want them to believe in themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself you are not going anywhere in life.”

She promises that teams like South Kitsap and Central Kitsap, which have usually made lunch meat out of the Knights, will be impressed with her team this year.

“We may not win but they will remember us. We will never give up.”

Harlan is a blunt talker that only accepts optimism on the soccer field. It is the quality that links her to her predecessor McCoy.

This year, she is looking for senior leadership from midfielders Madison Rathbun, Amanda Harty and Brittani Erickson.

“They will do anything for me,” she said. “They would bend over backwards. They are good kids and good citizens.”

Gone from the Knights lineup of last year are center midfielder and leading scorer Jessica Belden, goalie Laura Johnson, and Defender Azzizi Smith. In all, six seniors are gone from the varsity lineup. However, this year Harlan has nine seniors total to lead the team. Scrappy newcomers include Colby Thatcher and Crystal Goulden.

Older, experienced squad ready for its court dates

It’s business as usual on the tennis courts at Bremerton High School, except, of course, for one major difference.

Joel Trudel, Bremerton’s No. 1 tennis player and last year’s champion of the Class 4A West Central District tournament, will not be playing on the team until later in the season due to an injury suffered a 10 days ago.

Trudel, a two-time competitior at the state Class 4A boys tennis tournament, was taking a break from playing at the Tacoma Lawn and Tennis Club by throwing around a football near the courts. While moving for the ball, he tripped over the bleachers and landed on his face, breaking his jaw, and earning himself five stitches and four screws at a Tacoma hospital.

Today, Trudel is getting his sustenance through a straw (his jaw is wired shut), and it may be a month before he steps foot back on the courts.

Bremerton coach Ursula Huhta said she is disappointed at the circumstances, but she realizes accidents happen.

“We are not really sure how long he is going to be out,” she said.

In the meantime, Huhta is fiddling with the roster like a Rubik’s Cube, trying to get the most competitive arrangement in his place.

Josh Scheving will take over the No. 1 spot (see accompaning story), and should roll easily through Bremerton’s early opponents. Otherwise, Huhta is unsure where she will place doubles players like Chris Gonzales, Jeremy Stitt, Bryan Cochran and Doug Durya.

Once Trudel gets the OK from his doctor to step back on the tennis courts, he needs to get eight more practices under his belt before playing on the team.

“I think I will be able to play midway through the season,” Trudel said. “It could be worse.”

Trudel said he will have screws holding his jaw bones in place for three weeks before he can eat solid food again.

Trudel has agreed to mentor and instruct the younger players until he returns to full health.

Last year, the boys tennis team was 12-3, which was the best record of any Bremerton sports team.

Big turnout bodes well for

swim team’s chances

While many of Bremerton High’s athletes practice their craft on the courts and fields on school property, the girls swim team is limbering up for their season in East Bremerton, at the Glen Jarstad Aquatic Center.

In only its third year in existence, coach Peter Tonder has rung in 19 young ladies to splash in the pool.

“I did something right this summer getting swimmers in the water,” Tonder joked at the pool early last week.

“Last year we ended with eight swimmers,” he recalled. “Now we’ve got the numbers. We may not get first, second or third every time, but I think this year we can give a lot more competition.”

So far, in only one week of practice, Tonder said two things are very apparent this year: The girls are excited to be in the pool, and they are willing to work hard.

Led by last year’s Class 4A West Central District tournament qualifying performances of Peter’s younger sister Molly, (200 individual medley), and Alysa Aho (500 freestyle), the Knight paddlers have a little more experience to jump off from.

Just like last year, coach Tonder will officially maintain the title of assistant coach, while Susan Parker, American Sign Language and Careers instructor at Bremerton High School, will wear the head coach title.

The reason for the title switcharoo is Tonder is only 20 years old, and the WIAA rules state a high school coach must be 21-years-old to maintain the head position.

Last year the girls were unable to win a single meet, primarily because they didn’t have the same amount of swimmers as other teams around the Kitsap Peninsula.

Many of the team members had to swim extra races, leading to fatigue problems.

Back from the 2001-2002 season besides Tonder and Aho are Maddie Miller and C’havala Jaramillo, both juniors. Miller will probably specialize in the 200 and 500 freestyle, Tonder said, while Jaramillo is a versatile swimmer that could handle both long and short distances.

Newcomers include Cassie Metz, a sophomore sprinter, and freshman Zanette Vargas (100 fly), and Chelsey Wheeler (distance freestyle).

Giving the runaround and loving it

You might have trouble finding the cross county team at Bremerton High School, because the pack of lean bodies is usually running all around town, getting in their last days of practice.

The day before school started last Tuesday, the team met after a long run down on the freshly mown Memorial Field to get rehydrated and talk about strategy.

“You’ve got tons of potential,” coach Teresa Seim said to a young runner.

This time, the team numbers about 25 total, although new kids show up every day, she said.

“It’s going good,” said Seim, referring to the practices. “It’s younger on the boys side this year,” she said. “They are enjoying it and working hard.”

Last year, Joe Miller on the boys’ side and Lih Kuhlman on the girls side were the lone runners to make it to the Class 4A tournament in Pasco.

Miller, a natural leader, graduated in June, but Kuhlman has one more year to race her heart out.

“I feel fitter and I feel stronger,” Kuhlman said, as she sipped a cup of water. “This is my last year in high school, and sometimes, if it comes to doing my homework or running, I will probably go running.”

Kuhlman earned what she considers a very disappointing 44th place finish at the state tournament last year.

“I just didn’t have a good race,” she said.

This summer, she squeezed in 40 miles of running each week. Sometimes that meant jogging 5 miles a day, other times that meant 10.

Besides Kuhlman, look for seniors Aimee Munzi, Robyn Gross and Monica Anderson to make an impact this year. On the boys side, senior runners include Kayden Ressell, Derek Jones and James Bell.

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