It’s not all barbecues and baseball for the Puyallup High School baseball team in North Carolina the next three days.
But pretty close.
Acting as the ambassador for the state of Washington, the Vikings play host team Leesville Road (Raleigh, North Carolina) at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the first round of the 16-team National High School Invitational played at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
Puyallup (2-1) is the first team from the Pacific Northwest to be invited to this tournament, which also includes JSerra Catholic of California, Mosley of Florida, College Park of California and San Clemente of California.
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“USA baseball contacted me last year, before the season, and wanted to know if we were interested in coming over,” Puyallup coach Marc Wiese said. “They knew we had a good team last year, but something (Mark Dvoroznak, assistant director of development) said that made me feel great about our program at Puyallup as, ‘The reason we chose Puyallup is you guys have been strong every year — year in and year out.’ ”
That’s including the Vikings’ 28-0 run last year to win its first state title.
Puyallup left on an 11 p.m. flight Monday and arrived at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. Wiese said the team will spend some time in nearby Raleigh, eating barbecue, attending the Miami-North Carolina baseball game, checking out a North Carolina State baseball game and touring the Duke campus.
“We are going to enjoy the heck out of ourselves, I can guarantee it,” Wiese said.
But there’s also the matter of this national tournament.
“It’s going to be real interesting to see what kind of competition we are up against,” Wiese said. “There are some serious blue-chip players here and we think we got a couple of them ourselves.”
KENTLAKE HIRES THOMPSON
Kentlake replaced one former linebacker with another.
The school hired Brett Thompson to be its new football coach. He replaces Chris Paulson, who was hired to coach at Curtis. They played inside linebacker together at Auburn Riverside.
“I’ve always thought strongly about being a head coach,” said Thompson, 34, who was an assistant at Tahoma for eight seasons. “I was not expecting Paulson to leave Kentlake and I’ve always thought well of that school. It’s a great opportunity, so I decided to jump on it.”
Thompson went on to play linebacker at Western Washington University when the school still had a football program. Thompson is understandably a defensive-minded coach, but he said Dan Nelson and Kevin Hurt, both assistants with Thompson at Tahoma, will join him at Kentlake to help run the offense.
Jerome Collins, you and the Federal Way boys basketball team won the 4A state championship earlier this month. What are you going to do next?
Well … they’re going to Wild Waves Theme Park.
The team’s players and coaches were given passes to the Federal Way amusement park when they were honored at a King County Council meeting Monday for winning the state championship.
“One of the council members told me, ‘Coach, I want you to go find the tallest water slide and you and the whole team go down together,’ ” said Collins. “We just might.”