Winter sports are over and spring sports are upon us. Both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools return experienced teams in several sports. Here are a few storylines to watch this spring.
The Tides are loaded this year. Lefty aces Matthew Henckel and Michael Toglia, committed to Oregon and WSU, respectively, should make hitters look foolish all season long. Gig Harbor advanced to the Class 4A state tournament last year, but the Tides have even bigger aspirations this season. This year’s group believes it can win a state title. If the hitting comes around, the Tides could definitely make a deep push into the postseason. But first they’ll have to navigate through a tough Narrows 4A league.
The Seahawks missed out on the playoffs last year after qualifying for the Class 3A state tournament the year before. While the Seahawks lost a talented senior class from two years ago, the dropoff was made worse by a number of injuries to key players. This year, if the Seahawks can stay healthy, coach Pete Weymiller has every reason to believe the team should find itself back in the postseason. Watch for senior shortstop Ben Weymiller to have a big season as he hopes to earn all-state honors.
Coach Mike Kelly has built the Tides into a dominant program. While water polo isn’t officially a WIAA-recognized sport, the success Gig Harbor has had is still impressive. Gig Harbor has now won four out of the last five state titles. Alana Ponce, perhaps the team’s best player, is only a sophomore. Ponce’s half-pool goal with three seconds left in last year’s state title game against Curtis electrified the Tides, paving the way to a 15-8 win. We’re sure to see some more magic from Ponce this season, and maybe the Tides will hang another state title banner on the wall of the pool deck.
All signs point to a resounding yes. A large majority of last year’s team returns. The Tides won the Narrows 4A rather easily with a 10-1-1 league record and advanced to the 4A state tournament. Gig Harbor scored 51 goals and allowed only 14 in league matches.
The highlight of last year’s run was Gig Harbor’s state tournament game against Issaquah. Tied 0-0 going into the final minute of the double overtime period, then-junior Ike Northstrom was fouled in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Then-junior Tanner Stepp converted the PK, giving the Tides a wild win and pushing Gig Harbor into the state quarterfinals. Gig Harbor lost its next game, 2-1, to Kentwood.
The Tides will likely go as far as their attack takes them. The one area Gig Harbor struggled in last year in the postseason was scoring goals. But with such an experienced and talented team, the Tides should improve in that area.