Viking athletes gear up for postseason

Four NKHS sports driving toward playoffs.

POULSBO — Maybe the seeds of success were sown in the unlikeliest of places for Pat White.

After all, the senior diver for North Kitsap High School had to travel to the dusty plains of Texas to make his breakthrough.

White was no slouch last year, claiming fourth in the state in diving.

But this year, he leads the swimmers into the postseason for North Kitsap High School. And his success has been charged by the summer trip to Texas.

White and his sister, Brianna — also a diver — heard about a diving workshop at the University of Texas.

So, they drove down.

From there, the White siblings perfected their drive from a platform that towered 30 feet in the air. They worked on trying more difficult dives. And at the end of the session, Pat took first place in a mini-meet among more than 50 divers.

“It really polished me up.“ White said. “I got better form, and my dives are looking better.”

White is still working on his technique.

One of the dives he’s working on is a back half-somersault with a one-and-a-half twist.

“It’s still in the development phase,” he said. “It’s not pretty.”

If that move isn’t pretty, White’s scores have been. He has consistently took first place for the Vikings, and he is the first to qualify for state, having done so in an 11-dive meet in Sumner.

“It was a relief,” he said.

The rest of the swimmers will get their chance to qualify for the postseason this weekend, when they head to Henry Foss High School to compete in districts.

The swimmers began competing yesterday, and those who did well enough will return to swim today.

In order to reach regionals in the first place, they had to earn regional-worthy swim times — and head coach Greg Braun said they earned those times in spades.

“We’ve got more kids than we anticipated,” he said.

Braun said swimmers who reach state-qualifying times, which can be reached any time during the season, will go to Federal Way, as will the top seven swimmers in each event at district.

Those who earned a trip to district include Brian Arcement, Tim Bammes, William Cook, Pat Cox, Jesse Feutz, Leland Jeffers, Justin Klein, Jake Leeper, Drew Linder, Jacob Snell, Daniel Souza, and Pat White.

Alternates will be William Almond, Brandon Borchers, Chuck Burton, Jeff Donnelly, Justin Neff, Nathan Smith, and Joe Spear.

Braun is happy for the swimmers who will be going to districts; he is also happy how the future of the team is looking.

“I’m pleased to see that everyone’s coming along,” he said. “We had a lot of sophomores and juniors who were close to getting district times … we’re doing good.”

The state competition will be held the weekend of Feb. 15 and 16.

Gymnastics:

It was a record-breaking season for the NKHS gymnastics team.

The team record for scoring was broken not once, but twice.

Head coach Kris Goodfellow said she hoped the team would break a score of 160 — a feat that hasn’t happened in Viking history — if last Tuesday’s meet hadn’t been cancelled.

Instead, the Vikings will have to be content with the upcoming district meet, which will be held at Auburn High School Feb. 9.

The Vikings get to enter six athletes per event. They will bring Jenne Jones, Kaitlin Giles, Tonia Bertsch, Kirsten Hertz, Rachel Walters, Sam Bammes, and Brianna White to negotiate the events.

While gymnastic teams on the other side of the water can be fierce and competitive, the Vikings hope to qualify someone for state. It won’t be easy. Last year’s top gymnast, Annie Atkinson, missed qualifying for state by mere fractions of a score.

At districts, there are 18 teams. The teams with the top three scores qualify to go to state; the girls with the top four all-around scores also quality; and the top 14 finishers in each event will also move on.

While it will be difficult for the Vikings to finish among the top three teams or get one of the top four all-around scorers, Goodfellow said, maybe a NK gymnast will sneak into a top event finish.

“There’s a possibility there we may quality,” she said. “We have several girls whose scores have been high throughout the season. But you never know, out of the 17 other schools, how the other schools are scoring.”

The Vikings will compete at 10 a.m. Feb. 9.

Wrestling:

The North Kitsap wrestlers will hit the mat this weekend, and they won’t have to go far to do it.

The road to the Mat Classic begins at Central Kitsap High School, where the Vikings wrestled in sub-regionals yesterday and will continue today, beginning at 10 a.m.

There will be no subtle strategy to start, said head coach Larry Maguire.

“We’re going to bring as many kids as we can put on the mat,” he said.

The top four finishers per weight class will travel to Snohomish next Friday and Saturday for regionals.

The Mat Classic, where the state’s top wrestlers grapple, will be held at the Tacoma Dome Feb. 15 and 16.

Basketball:

While the girls’ basketball postseason chances ended relatively early in the season, the boys’ future is still up in the air.

At press time, the Vikings were tied with the Bremerton Knights for fourth place in the Bridge Division of the Narrows League. And that’s a precarious place to be.

The top three finishers in the division are guaranteed a spot in regionals. Any games they play in the league tournament are merely to determine seeding.

But the fourth spot — assuming the Vikings hang on or grapple the position away from the Knights — is not as assured. The fourth-ranked team in the Bridge Division will play the fifth-ranked team in the Bay Division. The winner goes to regionals. The loser goes home for the season.

If the Vikings do indeed end up as the fourth-ranked team, they will play the #5 Bay team Feb. 13 at a site that hasn’t been announced yet.

If they win that game, they will play at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at Bremerton High School for the seventh seed in districts.