Fall sports have officially come to an end for teams at Peninsula and Gig Harbor high schools. For fans sitting in the stands in the cold, windy conditions at Roy Anderson Field the past couple weeks for football and soccer games, that probably comes as a bit of a relief. So it’s onto winter sports and the warm confines of gymnasiums, wrestling rooms, swimming pools and bowling alleys.
But first, let’s look at some of the best things to happen here in the fall sports season. Here are my picks for a few standouts before turning my focus to the winter season.
Best senior: Carolyn Merrick, Gig Harbor soccer
This pick was perhaps the most difficult, with so many worthy candidates from both schools. But I’m convinced no senior had a bigger impact on his/her team’s success this fall than Merrick did. As an attacking midfielder, Merrick roamed all over the field this season for the Tides and was an integral part of the South Sound Conference’s top attack, whether she was assisting, scoring goals, or simply demanding the defense’s attention long enough to open runs for her teammates.
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Merrick has all the tools: She’s fast, smart, aggressive, strong and creative with the ball at her feet. Tides’ coach Stephanie Cox will surely miss her top midfielder next season.
Best moment: Peninsula football beats Mountain View in Vancouver
This one comes with the disclaimer that I can’t be at every game or event all season long, so it’s limited to the ones I was able to see. With that being said, the most exciting game of the year had to be Peninsula’s road win against Mountain View in Vancouver in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
In a defensive battle, Peninsula’s defense shut down an electric Mountain View rushing attack, hanging on for a 10-7 win.
You better believe the fans made the drive, too. It felt like a Peninsula home game in the final minutes of the second half, with a raucous Peninsula fan section cheering their team on to victory. The win sent Peninsula through to the state quarterfinals for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Best team: Peninsula football
Speaking of the Seahawks, it was another great season for Ross Filkins’ squad. Peninsula finished with an 8-4 record, but what impressed me most what the clear improvement the team underwent over the course of the season.
This was a young roster tasked with replacing a huge senior class from the previous year. There were some growing pains, which were to be expected, but by the end of the season, Peninsula cemented itself as one of the best and toughest teams in the state. That’s bad news for the rest of the 3A South Sound Conference next year, because most of this team is coming back.
Best athlete: Bradley Peloquin, Gig Harbor cross country
What a season for the Gig Harbor High School junior. His lowest finish of the season leading, up to and including the Class 3A state meet, was fifth place, and that came in the Nike Portland cross country meet, which includes some of the best cross country runners on the west coast.
Peloquin took first in the league championship race, second in the competitive Fort Steilacoom Invitational, and third in the state meet in Pasco.
Peloquin will be amongst the favorites to compete for an individual state title next season as a senior.