Sports in South Kitsap are a unifying force. Even when things were hectic from presidential debates, fans still packed Kitsap Bank Stadium on Friday nights to cheer the Wolves on the gridiron.
When the weather changes from sun to rain and the days turn shorter, the cross country team is still running and members of the volleyball team still ignite the community with come-back wins.
In a new league with fierce competition and longer travels, South Kitsap sports competitors continue to battle, even coming away with a South Puget Sound League (SPSL) championship in the process.
Although the fall sports season is coming to an end, winter sports and the promise they hold are just around the corner.
Record: (Girls) 6-2 (Boys) 3-5
The South Kitsap cross country team sent Jacob Simon and Jacob Laws to the state meet in Pasco, with Simon placing 59th out of the top 162 runners in the state.
The girls raced as a full team with Casandra Hebert getting a 30-second personal record, and Kristina Ihlen placing 67th out of 161 racers.
“Our teams competed very strongly in the new SPSL League,” head coach Erin Fraser said.
Fraser coaches both the girls and boys cross country team, and on the girls side, was voted co-coach of the year for the league by her fellow coaches.
“This is a special group of amazing young people that are amazing to coach, run wiht and grow as a team,” Fraser said.
Record: 2-8 (1-8 in league)
Although the Wolves season was less than ideal for fans, head coach Gavin Kralik said the team has a lot to take into the offseason.
“We need to analyze every area of our program and make the necessary changes to put South Kitsap in a better position for future years,” he said.
Senior receiver Izaijha Byrd had more than 1,000 yards receiving, and junior running back Izaiah Davis rushed for more than 900 yards for the second straight season.
Although some fans had a negative outlook on the season, the Wolves were able to average 34 points a game, a strong improvement from last year. However, the Wolves still have a lot of work to do going into the offseason.
“We have to be a complete team in all three phases to win football games in the SPSL,” Kralik said.
Record: 6-10 (2-6 league)
The Wolves volleyball team had several impressive moments this season.
“We knew going in that this would be a really difficult league for volleyball,” head coach C.J. Scott said. “We showed that we belong and will continue to try and get ourselves to the next level.”
This year in the SPSL, the Wolves faced the top two teams from the 2015 state tournament (Curtis and Emerald Ridge). Bellarmine was a league rival that finished sixth last year and Graham Kapowsin, which finished in the top 10.
“For me, the highlights of this year were the wins against North Kitsap, which has been considered the best program on the Kitsap peninsula for quite a while now,” Scott said. “The Curtis match proved we can compete. We just have to be more consistent.”
Seniors Tia Lawrence and Angel Prewitt were both important figures in the back row for the Wolves. Senior Diane Olso led the team in blocks and hitting percentage. Strong returners include sophomores Natalie Miller and Madison Marggraf and junior setter Madison Jackson.
“We competed but that isn’t enough,” Scott said.
“Getting out of our league is tough, so you need to win the matches you are capable of winning. Our league will always be tough so we need to get tougher and better ourselves.”
Boys and Girls Golf
The South Kitsap golf team beat all but one opponent head to head during the season.
“We had a big turnout this year and kept 13 players on the team,” head coach Sean Duttry said.
“The whole team worked harder at improving than any team I have had in the last 10 years. I am excited to see how much they improve over the off-season.”
While golf season runs in the fall, the state tournament takes place in May in Spokane. Sophomore Drew Halili medaled multiple times and was a first-team all-league golfer. He also has the chance to set the South Kitsap scoring record for the year if he succeeds in Spokane.
“Drew Halili is one of the best ball strikers in the state,” Duttry said. “A finish out of the top 10 will be disappointing.”
Senior Connor Carlson also had a successful year, being named third team all-league.
On the girls side, senior captain Calli Cucciardi ended up as the second alternate for the district tournament in the spring, with fellow captain Emily Miller making the first day cuts for the league tournament.
“I was very proud of them,” said head coach Mandy Wood.
“My biggest goal in the offseason is to promote the team. We desperately need to get some more people involved now that we play in the fall, and I am losing four seniors. I would love to make next year a building year for the program.”
Boys Water Polo
Record: 1-12 (0-10 league)
“The biggest plus for us this season was having an enormous turnout,” head coach Zach Fogel said. “Given that we don’t have a local water polo club like many of our opponents do, to drum up interest in our obscure sport, I think having such a large turnout is amazing.”
Although the team struggled without its star player from last year, Fogel relied on veteran players and the skills they’ve garnered over the last three years since the program began.
The girls soccer team finished its season on a high note, beating Curtis 1-0 with a goal by Ashlan Burris, the team’s leading scorer.
The Wolves finished seventh in the league.
Record: 1-7-0 (1-6-0 league)
Megan Friemann, Naomi Green, Maria Hoyt, Jessica Lee, Danicka Moe and Ronnie Wellman all swam at the district meet.
Lee competed in the 100-meter backstroke, and Naomi Green will compete in the state championship Nov. 11 in the 50-meter freestyle.
Record: 4-10 (1-7 league)
Although the boys tennis team finished in the bottom rung of the league, top singles Gabe Ross competed in the SPSL tournament, ultimately losing both matches to end his freshman season.
During the winter sports season, wrestling, boys and girls basketball, boys swim and dive and girls bowling will be competing for South Kitsap. Competition begins at the end of the month.