With Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools nearly out of the school for the summer (I’m sure the students are completely heartbroken about this), it’s time to dole out the spring sports awards for the local athletes and teams. With so many great options, especially in the loaded springtime, these choices are never easy. But these athletes and teams stood above the rest.
BEST FRESHMAN: Hannah Carroll, Gig Harbor track
She’s got good genes, to be sure. Her older brother, Logan, was one of the best distance runners the school has ever seen and was part of the 2013 cross country team which won a national championship. Carroll continued the legacy left by her brother, taking sixth place in the 400-meter finals at the Class 4A state track meet this season. She was the only freshman in the event. She was also part of the 4x100 and 4x200 relay, which both qualified for state.
From Gig Harbor track coach Kevin Eager: “She’s more than willing to learn and be a student of her event, for her age, than any frosh I’ve had, really. She is very intense and focused and she has fun and understands balance is necessary. She knows her body is not indestructible, which most young kids struggle with. Basically, she’s like a sponge when it comes to learning. Combine that with some real talent and … Easy and fun to coach!”
BEST SENIORS: Brad Keller, Peninsula soccer
Keller was named the defensive player of the year in a tough Class 3A South Puget Sound League. The senior center back anchored a strong Peninsula defense all season long, but unfortunately missed the playoffs with an injury.
From Peninsula coach Brad Scandrett: “(Keller is a) leader, strong, fast and not afraid of anything. Never backed down and held the (defense) together all season.”
BEST TEAM: Gig Harbor girls water polo
The Tides finished with a 25-1 overall record and won the school won its sixth state title in the past seven years. Not bad.
Gig Harbor avenged its only regular season loss, to Curtis, with a 7-2 victory in the state championship game at Curtis Aquatic Center. Gig Harbor junior Alana Ponce, who set new school records in career goals scored (135) and steals (151), was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Ponce led the team with four goals in the championship game, including an early goal on a sprint within the first 20 seconds of the game. Junior Olivia Lott was named the tournament’s most valuable goalkeeper.
The Tides should be heavy favorites to win their seventh state title in the past eight seasons in 2017, returning Ponce and Lott, but also returning Anna Furrer from injury, presumably and solid contributors Kenzie Bailey and Kelli Craft.
Best athlete: Mike Toglia, Gig Harbor baseball
What a year for the UCLA signee, who became one of the best two-way players in the state this season. Toglia, who was named to The News Tribune’s All-Area team, had a 1.00 ERA in 42 innings and hit .316 with four homers and 21 RBI, propelling Gig Harbor to a Narrows 4A title and ultimately, a berth in the state tournament.
Toglia went off on a high note on the mound in the Class 4A state tournament opening round, pitching a gem against Mount Si in a 1-0 win for the Tides. Toglia pitched a complete-game seven innings, striking out seven, walking none, allowing three hits and no runs.