Port Orchard Independent Female Athlete of the Year: Paxton DePoe

Port Orchard Independent Female Athlete of the Year: Paxton DePoe

PORT ORCHARD — Most people don’t think of cross country as a team sport, but at South Kitsap, it’s ingrained in the program’s DNA.

So when senior Paxton DePoe was asked to reflect on the biggest moment of her career, her answer wasn’t a surprise.

“Qualifying the first time for state my freshman year was a big one — it was a team moment,” DePoe said. “It had been years since South Kitsap had gone as a team.”

DePoe has been the heart and soul of the cross country team for the past four years and a big contributor to the track and field team in the middle and longer distance races. The Gonzaga-bound runner is 2019’s Port Orchard Independent Female Athlete of the Year.

South Kitsap finished 16th among the 16 teams that qualified for the 4A state meet in 2015, but as the group matured and added talent, they moved up to 15th in 2016, sixth in 2017 and, most recently, fourth in 2018.

DePoe has been a big part of that success. Head cross country coach Ed Santos described her as a runner who always rose to the occasion of the big meet and was diligent about properly building toward the end of the season so she was at her best on the biggest stages.

“She’s been fantastic for us,” Santos said. “She’s a great big meet competitor.”

She ran her best time for South Kitsap at the 2017 4A state meet. In a loaded field that featured big senior classes at traditional powers such as Lewis and Clark, Camas, Issaquah and Tahoma, DePoe crossed the finish line in a time of 18:55.30, which put her in 31st place.

DePoe finished higher as a senior this past fall, taking 16th place with a time of 19:15.60. In both her junior and senior years, she qualified for and ran at the NXR Northwest Regional Championships.

In the spring, DePoe liked to switch gears and run shorter distances. She qualified for the 4A state track meet in the 800-meter run all four of her years at South Kitsap and twice qualified in the mile.

“I ran a 3200 this season, but eight laps on a track gets old,” DePoe said.

Her final 800-meter race as a Wolf was memorable. Coming down the last stretch at this year’s state meet, DePoe overtook Olympia’s Katelyn Rigg and nearly chased down Brooke Wallace of Glacier Peak before she ran out of real estate. She settled four a fourth-place finish with a time of 2:15.27, just .08 away from her best time.

“Today was the day to do big stuff,” DePoe said following the race. “I was painfully close to my PR.”

At Gonzaga, where she plans to study business, DePoe will join a growing distance program. She had visited a few different universities across the western U.S., but was sold on the program, the academics and the atmosphere of the community. The Bulldogs compete in both cross country and track as well as indoor track.

Several of her fellow recruits were also present as competitors at this year’s state track meet, which gave her a chance to meet up with some future teammates.

“A lot of the recruits are pretty close, which is exciting,” DePoe said.

Past Independent Female Athlete of the Year recipients:

2018: Savannah Foster

2017: Paxton DePoe

2016: Emma York

2015: Hayley Romo

2014: Hayley Romo

2013: Miranda Caballero

2012: Maile Keanu

2011: Kelsey Callaghan

2010: Riley Dopps

2009: Stephanie Osterdahl

2008: Kaileigh Westermann

2007: Madison Rousell

2006: Madison Rousell

2005: Brittany Miller

2004: Stephanie Davison

Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at mkrulish@soundpublishing.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.

Mark Krulish | Kitsap News Group                                Paxton DePoe, the Independent’s Female Athlete of the Year, has been the heart and soul of the Wolves’ cross country team for the past four years.

Mark Krulish | Kitsap News Group Paxton DePoe, the Independent’s Female Athlete of the Year, has been the heart and soul of the Wolves’ cross country team for the past four years.

More in Sports

Bainbridge’s Jacob Dorsey (45) helps bring down Olympic’s Luke Silva (9) during Friday night’s matchup. The Trojans prevailed 28-24. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
BHS comeback falls short due to lack of kicking game

The good news from Friday night’s football game is that Bainbridge scored… Continue reading

Bainbridge middle blocker Holley McFadden gets in the way of a Kingston shot during her team’s victory over the Bucs on Thursday. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Bainbridge beats Kingston for 3rd consecutive win

Three games, nine sets, all of them have gone Bainbridge’s way. The… Continue reading

Sky Henderson (29) rushes to congratulate teammate Avery Pujolar after scoring her third goal of the game in a 5-0 win over Bremerton. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review photos)
Pujolar’s hat trick sparks Bainbridge to victory

Bainbridge sophomore Avery Pujolar was flying down the left sideline at full… Continue reading

South Kitsap junior Anna Harvey drops a shot past the Kingston defense. The Wolves defeated the Bucs three sets to two Monday night. (Mark Krulish/North Kitsap Herald photos)
SK comes back to defeat Kingston in 5 sets

South Kitsap was trailing two sets to one late in the fourth… Continue reading

Josh Smith, along with partner Drake Jones, are the top doubles pair for North Kitsap and led the way in Thursday’s match against Bainbridge, winning 6-0, 6-1. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
BI wins singles, NK doubles and match

North Kitsap’s seniors are hoping to make the most of their final… Continue reading

Bainbridge running back Matt LeDorze crashes through the line in the Spartans’ opening night game against Garfield. (Mark Krulish/Bainbridge Island Review)
Young Bainbridge blown out in opener

It was a baptismal by fire for Bainbridge’s young gridders on opening… Continue reading

Sophomore running back/wide receiver Jorden Lee should be one of the team’s featured ball carriers this year. (Mark Krulish | Kitsap News Group)
Young Wolves football team is hungry for a full season

PORT ORCHARD — South Kitsap’s football team will feature a mostly “new-look”… Continue reading

Hailey Deese leads the rush upfield during last year’s match against Bremerton. South Kitsap has a number of returners from last spring’s varsity team. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
Sports previews: South Kitsap

Girls Soccer 2021 record: 8-2-1 Head coach: Hailey Parker Key players: Rosamaria… Continue reading

Colton Bower was a 2A All-State selection in the spring and he leads an experienced North Kitsap team this season. (Mark Krulish/Kitsap News Group)
All-State QB leads N. Kitsap this fall

Editor’s note: A preview on Kingston football will run in next week’s… Continue reading

Most Read