As the school year winds to a close and we all bask in the wonderful early summer weather we’ve been experiencing, it’s time to look back on some of the spring sports accomplishments for local athletes and teams. With so many teams in the spring, these selections are always the toughest of the year. Like usual, many worthy athletes and teams will be left out. Here are my selections for the best spring sports had to offer us this year.
Best freshman: Joyce Park, Gig Harbor tennis.
Park was a revelation for the Tides in the spring. The 14-year-old freshman dominated, cruising through the Narrows 4A league and the West Central District III tournament undefeated, and looking poised to compete for a state title — as a freshman. Joyce ultimately came in fourth place at the Class 4A state singles tournament in the Tri-Cities, an impressive finish for a tennis player of any age or grade, but especially impressive for a freshman. Park has opened eyes around the league and the state and should be a dominant force for the next three seasons, and seems like a safe bet to win a 4A state title and some point in her high school career.
Best senior: Matthew Henckel, Gig Harbor baseball.
Henckel, a left-handed University of Oregon commit, posted a 1.09 earned run average during the regular season in 32 innings of work with 45 strikeouts. The crafty senior led the Tides to the Class 4A state semifinals and a third-place finish at the state tournament in Bellingham. Henckel didn’t just dominate the Narrows 4A league, he also pitched lights out in the postseason. Against University (Spokane Valley) in the opening game of the state tournament, Henckel limited University to just two hits and no runs over seven innings of work. Longtime Tides coach Pete Jansen will surely miss his ace, while the Oregon Ducks’ coaching staff is sure to be licking its chops.
On the rise: Peninsula High boys soccer.
After starting the season with a perfect 10-0 record, the Seahawks took a sharp dive in the second half of the season, dropping six of their last seven games. But the hot start showed what the Peninsula program is capable of when it is playing with confidence and at a high level. First-year coach Brad Scandrett has probably lost some sleep trying to figure out what caused the late-season lapse, but regardless of the cause, the Peninsula program seems to be on the rise. Despite losing some key seniors, the Seahawks have a young roster that will return loads of experience next season, and should compete for an SPSL 3A title again. Look for to-be senior Brad Keller and to-be junior Mason Haubrich to anchor the team next season.
Best athlete: Brenna Peloquin, Gig Harbor track.
What a high school career for Brenna Peloquin, who will go down as one of the school’s finest girls distance runners ever. Peloquin, who excelled in cross-country and track, was a model of consistency and dominance in her time at Gig Harbor High School. Peloquin claimed the 3,200-meter 4A state title in her junior season, and took second in both the 1,600 and 3,200 in her senior season. Peloquin holds the school record in the 1,600 with a time of 4 minutes, 51.82 seconds.
Best team: Gig Harbor baseball.
Just let coach Pete Jansen tell you: Dominant pitching, clean defense and timely hitting can take you a long way. The Tides, riding lefty aces Henckel and Michael Toglia, both Division-I bound baseball players, took third place in the Class 4A state tournament. The team, which hit a rough patch during the regular season, never wavered in its belief. With two aces, the Tides were a team built for the postseason, and didn’t disappoint, winning seven of eight postseason games and outscoring opponents 40-11.