Gateway: Sports

What to watch in Gig Harbor, Peninsula spring sports

Gig Harbor won the Class 3A state boys golf championship. Top row, from left: Shane Henderson, Branden McGinnis, Griffin McCauley, Caden Arnold and Billy Landram. Bottom row: Sean Vaovasa and Jaydon Raquiza.
Gig Harbor won the Class 3A state boys golf championship. Top row, from left: Shane Henderson, Branden McGinnis, Griffin McCauley, Caden Arnold and Billy Landram. Bottom row: Sean Vaovasa and Jaydon Raquiza. Courtesy

With winter sports in the rear view, it’s time to look ahead to the high school spring sports season. This is always a fun time of year for Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools and this year should be no exception.

Here are five things to keep an eye on this spring.

Can the Gig Harbor track teams defend its titles?

Quite a story last year for the Tides, as the boys and girls track teams swept the Class 3A state titles at Mount Tahoma High School. The bad news: It figures to be a little tougher this year for Gig Harbor, which lost a lot to graduation.

On the girls side, Gig Harbor graduated one of the school’s best-ever shotput throwers in Hadassah Ward, who is now on the team at Eastern Washington University. Ward threw a personal record 45 feet, 5 ½ inches on her final throw last spring, sealing her third consecutive state shot put title and putting her 34th all-time in the state’s record books, across all classifications.

Adding to the departures is the injury to senior Hannah Carroll, who is expecting to miss the entire track season after a gruesome knee injury she suffered last fall during the soccer season. As a junior, Carroll won the state 200 meters, 400 meters and was a key member of the relay teams.

On the boys side, Gig Harbor lost Peter Smith and Kellen Gregory to graduation, but returns state 110-meter hurdles champion Jurrian Hering and distance runner Bradley Peloquin, who is among the favorites in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at state this year.

Neither team may be as strong as last year. But Gig Harbor track coach Kevin Eager has established one of the great track cultures around the state, and the next wave of Tides should be ready to make an impact.

Gig Harbor boys golf is loaded again

The Tides won the Class 3A state title last year at The Creek at Qualchan golf course in Spokane. Bad news for the rest of the state, as Gig Harbor returns everyone from last year’s championship team. Seniors Griffin McCauley, Jaydon Raquiza, Sean Vaovasa and juniors Caden Arnold and Branden McGinnis all return for the Tides, making this team the favorite to once again win the state title.

In addition to 2018, Gig Harbor also won a boys golf state title in 1987. I like their chances to add the program’s third title this spring.

How will the baseball teams look?

Gig Harbor advanced to the Class 3A state tournament before a first-round loss to Kelso. Gig Harbor has solidified itself as one of the state’s top 3A programs after winning the title in the 2017 season.

The Tides lost hard-throwing pitcher Austin Dempewolf (University of Portland) to graduation, as well as hitting-machine third baseman Jordan Haworth (Pacific Lutheran). Those are significant losses, but Gig Harbor returns pitchers Owen Wild, Max Sparrow and Grant Hasaan. Expect the Tides to contend for the league title once again.

Peninsula has a new coach at the helm in Michael Johnson, who will look to help the Seahawks take the next step in the 3A South Sound Conference. Peninsula returns its top pitcher in Joe Pierce, as well as hard-hitting Anders Vogel, among others. Peninsula started last season strong but faltered down the stretch. This year’s Seahawks will look to be more consistent. If everything comes together, this could be one of the league’s top teams.

Can the soccer teams keep winning?

The past few years have featured plenty of victories for Gig Harbor and Peninsula boys soccer, as both teams have been at the top of the standings.

Peninsula lost to Mount Tahoma in the district tournament last season, 2-1, falling one win shy of making the state tournament. Peninsula will have to replace goal-scoring talent Keeton Heggerness, as well as goalkeeper Ben Undem, midfielders Ben Stanford and Teyj Menon. Replacing any one of those players would be challenging enough, but replacing all of them is an unenviable task for first-year coach Alec Moore, who is taking over the program after previous coach Brad Scandrett moved out of the area.

The Gig Harbor boys made the state tournament, knocking off Interlake, 2-1, before a 1-0 loss to Garfield in the second round. The Tides will need to replace goal-scorers Max Frank and Dylan Horwath, who graduated. Gig Harbor returns Logan Kinney and Nate Jones, two of the league’s top defenders from a season ago.

How will the softball teams look?

The good news: Gig Harbor returns its entire roster minus two seniors who graduated. The bad news? Those seniors were shortstop Lauren Forseth and super-utility player DiaVionne DeWalt, two of the team’s top players.

Gig Harbor reached the state tournament last season, posting a 2-2 record with wins over Bishop-Blanchet and Edmonds-Woodway and losses to Snohomish and Redmond. While Forseth and DeWalt will be tough to replace, Gig Harbor returns plenty of talent, including Anna Stewart, Jaylynn Barton and Caroline Hofmann.

Mike Paul takes over as the coach of the Peninsula team, after watching his daughter, Baily, graduate last spring. Baily Paul was the team’s top hitter a season ago, and Peninsula will also have to replace Kirsten Ritchie, the team’s No. 1 pitcher. Ali Campigotto, Ashley Gonsalves and Audrey Krishnadasan are a few players to watch.

Jon Manley covers high school sports for The Peninsula Gateway and The News Tribune. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Manley has covered the Gig Harbor sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.