SVSJ preview: Cedarcrest High School’s wrestling team has new head man running show, with same goals as past seasons

EDITOR’S NOTE: We continue our Valley high school winter sports previews today with a look at Cedarcrest High School’s wrestling team, as it adjusts to life with a new coach this season. The SVSJ was at Mount Si High School yesterday gathering interviews for our remaining Wildcat team previews, for basketball and wrestling, and we’ll have those for you starting on Thanksgiving morning before you get started on cooking your turkey. 

Cedarcrest High School’s wrestling program has a new leader this season, but the goals remain the same: being a strong, competitive force in the Cascade Conference with an eye on sending athletes to state.

Mark Ward takes over as the Red Wolves’ coach, and the first-year head man has several top returning athletes this season. Leading the way is senior Bryce McKee. McKee is expected to wrestle at 182 lbs., and Ward is looking for a lot from this senior leader. “Bryce is looking to have a great senior year. He’s been wrestling all summer and has set his sights on getting on the podium in Tacoma,” Ward said by email to the SVSJ.

Another senior to watch is at the 132 lb. weight class. Connor Lemons, according to the new coach, also has eyes on the Tacoma Dome. “Connor has been wrestling all summer and attending camps and also has goals of placing at state,” Ward said.

Two other seniors to keep an eye on are at 190. Elliot Dick and Donald Lay will be competing all season for varsity opportunities, according to Ward, and that competition will be a good one to watch for Cedarcrest fans.

The lightweight classes have top newcomers this season for the Red Wolves. Parker McBride is a freshman and is expected to compete at 112 lbs. “Parker is going to be an exciting young freshman to keep an eye on. We are really counting on Parker to make a big splash this year,” Ward said.

Another freshman Ward likes is at 138. Brandon Nicholas-Emigdio has experience in the sport, and is looking to translate his success at the youth level into high school competition. “Brandon is a dedicated wrestler who is determined to be successful. I’m really excited to see how he develops,” the coach said.

Ward is unsure of where his team fits into the Cascade Conference picture, but is looking for a solid season nonetheless. “We are expecting to be competitive in the conference,” he said. “We have a young team that is going to be improving every week. I’m not too concerned with how we’ll fit into the conference picture. We are focusing on getting better every day and we’ll let the cards fall where they fall.” Look for Archbishop Murphy to likely provide the toughest opposition for the Red Wolves, but other teams to watch could include Granite Falls and King’s.

Ward is looking for skill development in his athletes, regardless of individual match outcomes. “My coaching philosophy isn’t centered around individual wins and losses,” he said. “I believe if our kids focus on becoming the best wrestlers they can, the wins will follow. Our emphasis in the room is on perfecting the basic fundamentals of wrestling. Our goal as a team is to push each other to get better each and every day. We believe if we are successful in doing that, then we will have success in the post season.”

CHS opens the season December 6 with a tournament appearance at the White River Classic, then opens their home schedule December 10 with a “double dual” meet at Cedarcrest High School. The Red Wolves, including that opener, will have four home dates this winter – in addition to the double dual meet, they are home December 18 against Sultan, January 15 against Granite Falls and January 29 against South Whidbey. Cedarcrest, along with the White River event, will be competing in four other weekend tournaments during the season, including the Sky Valley Invitational in Sultan January 10, and will also have a road date January 12 against Mount Si for local bragging rights. All home matches begin at 6:45 p.m. inside Cedarcrest High School’s gym in Duvall.

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SVSJ preview: CHS boys’ basketball looks to contend in solid Cascade Conference

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our preview today looks at Cedarcrest High School’s boys’ basketball team. Later this week, starting on Thanksgiving morning, we’ll wrap up our series with looks at Mount Si’s basketball and wrestling teams. 

Cedarcrest High School’s boys’ basketball team is looking for success this season. Coming off an 11-11 finish (8-6 Cascade Conference) last season, the Red Wolves will aim to finish strong in what could be a challenging conference.

Back for his fourth year as head coach is Mark Prince. Prince has several seniors this season, and that could be beneficial as the season wears on. Among the seniors, all of whom are returning, include Kyle Walsh, Adam Davenport and Anthony Ditore. Prince expects a lot from these seniors this season. Davenport, who was the Red Wolves’ starting football quarterback the past couple of seasons, helping lead them into the playoffs this fall, is described as a “good rebounder” by Prince, who also, according to the coach, will add toughness and an inside presence that could be huge for CHS’ interior efforts. Walsh and Ditore both are described as “good defender(s)” and “quick” by Prince. Ditore is expected to, according to the coach, be able to play multiple positions, also important because he’ll be a good option in situational basketball.

Sophomore Cameron Hammontree is listed among the top newcomers this season for the Red Wolves. Hammontree was part of Cedarcrest’s state-placing boys’ cross country squad this fall, and is also described by Prince as a “good defender” and a solid rebounder. Speed, conditioning and endurance could also be factors for Hammontree, what with his strong efforts on the cross country trail this fall.

The conference should be a challenge this fall. “Overall, good balance/parity in the league, going to have come ready to play every night. We should be competitive and hopefully in the mix for a playoff spot,” he said by email to the SVSJ. The team most likely to be a challenge within the 2A portion of the league should be Archbishop Murphy, who eliminated CHS last season in the district playoffs. King’s, on the 1A side, may also be a team to watch, but keep an eye on Cedar Park Christian. CPC, new to the conference this season, finished 19-9 overall and 14-2 within their former league last season, so the Eagles could be a tough customer for everyone within the conference this winter as a 1A power.

Regardless of where things end up this season for the Red Wolves, Prince is looking to focus on one thing. “Our theme is Being a Family playing with H.E.A.R.T – Hard Work, Enthusiasm for the game, Attitude of confidence, Relentless Pursuit, Toughness,” he said.

Cedarcrest will be part of the Lake Washington jamboree on Saturday, then they open the season for real next Tuesday, December 2, with a Valley Cup showdown against Mount Si at Mount Si High School, a game we will be covering for you here. The Red Wolves open their home schedule with a Saturday afternoon contest on December 6 (4:00 p.m. tip time) against Squalicum from Bellingham, then will start conference play December 12 at King’s. The Red Wolves will also be competing in a holiday tournament this season, December 26-29, at Kennedy High School in Burien.

Weeknight home games begin at 6:45 p.m. and will be at CHS’ gym in Duvall, 29000 NE 150th St.

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Wrapping up the weekend…..

Good Monday morning. We continue our high school sports preview series later this morning with a look at Cedarcrest High School’s boys’ basketball team. First, though, here’s a wrapup on news from yesterday.

Softball
The Issaquah-based Northwest Bullets Zacher 16U softball team finished up their final weekend of action for the fall yesterday with a split of two games in southern California at the Surf City tournament. Here’s a look at how things went:

Zacher 10, Colorado Warriors (Denver) 0: NWBZ pitchers held the Colorado team to just one hit in the blowout win. Mount Si High School’s Maddy Trout hit into a fielder’s choice in her lone at-bat in the contest for the Zacher team, but drove in a run as a result.

Roseville (CA) Heat 5, Zacher 4: The suburban Sacramento team eked out a win over NWBZ despite a hit, a run batted in and a run scored from Trout; the hit, a single, was the lone one on the weekend for the Wildcat sophomore.

Soccer
The University of Washington men’s and women’s teams, both of whom feature Mount Si High School grads on their rosters, played in NCAA playoff action yesterday; here’s how things went.

UW men 1, Furman 0 (Teams tied 0-0 after two overtimes; UW won on penalty kicks, 6-5): In Seattle last night, the Huskies rallied in the shootout to avoid the huge upset and move on in the NCAA Division I men’s tournament. They head to Michigan State next weekend and will play the Spartans next Sunday in East Lansing, MI. Fall City’s Ryan Herman, a Husky goalkeeper, did not see action in last night’s contest. He is a junior and a 2011 MSHS alum.

Stanford 1, UW women 0: The Husky women saw their season come to an end yesterday with a road loss to the Cardinal in Palo Alto, CA, and with that season end came the close of sophomore Miranda Rawlings’ first campaign in purple and gold. The 2013 MSHS grad from North Bend saw 11 minutes of action off the bench for the UW with no stats of note to report; the Huskies finished 14-7-2 on the season.

Football
Another Mount Si High School grad to play for football title: The NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision announced its playoff field yesterday, and a Mount Si High School grad and his team will be in the mix.

Illinois State, which features junior Joe Farmer, a tight end from North Bend and 2010 MSHS alum, was seeded fifth overall in the field and will get this coming weekend off before opening playoff action next weekend with a home game against the winner of this weekend’s Northern Iowa-Stephen F. Austin game. Next weekend’s game will be on December 6, at 11am, to be televised exclusively online through ESPN3, which is available through Comcast in the Valley. A win by Illinois State could send them into a showdown the following weekend against Eastern Washington over in Cheney, as EWU was seeded fourth and also will get a bye this weekend.

Farmer joins ex-Wildcats Brian Copeland (MIT), Stephen Nnabue (Linfield), Blake Herman (Wheaton-IL) and Hunter Malberg (Minnesota-Duluth) in national championship college football playoff fields this season.

In other FCS playoff news, Montana, where senior MSHS lineman Chris Schlicting plans on playing his football collegiately next year, earned a playoff berth as well; they play this weekend at home in Missoula, MT, against the University of San Diego. Montana, along with EWU and Montana State, will represent the Big Sky conference in the field.

Good stuff for sure, and we congratulate Farmer and the Redbirds on their selection.

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College football scoreboard

We wrap up our Sunday package with the college football scoreboard.

MIT 27, Husson 20 (OT) (NCAA D-III first round, Bangor, ME): The historic season for MIT continues after a dramatic overtime road win yesterday that was the first NCAA football playoff win in school history. The Engineers will meet Wesley in Dover, DE, next weekend in the second round of the playoffs. Sophomore left tackle Brian Copeland, from Snoqualmie and a 2012 Mount Si HS grad, started there for MIT and played in the contest.

Minnesota-Duluth 25, Northwest Missouri State 21 (NCAA D-II first round, Duluth, MN): UMD scored the game’s final 19 points to rally from a 21-6 deficit and stun the defending national Division II champions at home. UMD scored the game-winning touchdown with 26 seconds left to send them on the road next week for the second round, against Ouachita Baptist in Arkadelphia, AR. Sophomore Hunter Malberg, from Snoqualmie and a 2013 Mount Si High School grad, had three assisted tackles on defense for UMD in the contest.

Wheaton (IL) 43, Benedictine 14 (NCAA D-III first round, Wheaton, IL): Wheaton rolled to a home win, and the team, which includes Fall City’s Blake Herman on its roster, will play John Carroll at home next week in the second round of the playoffs. Herman, a sophomore and 2013 Mount Si HS grad, did not play in yesterday’s game.

Illinois State 44, Southern Illinois 29: Look for a fourth Mount Si High School grad to get a chance to play for a national football championship later today, as Illinois State handled in-state rival SIU and won a share of their conference title yesterday at home in Normal, IL. The Redbirds, which include junior tight end Joe Farmer, from North Bend and a 2011 MSHS alum, will find out their NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff destination later today. They are 10-1 on the season and ranked in the top ten in the latest FCS rankings. As for yesterday, Farmer suited up and played, but recorded no stats of note for ISU.

Washington 37, Oregon State 13: The UW earned bowl eligibility with their blowout of OSU last night at home in Seattle in a game pitting ex-Wildcats against one another. Sophomore kicker Cameron Van Winkle, from Fall City, was perfect in his kicking for the Huskies, going 3-3 in field goals and 4-4 in extra points. His longest field goal was for 41 yards, and he also kicked off once, for 38 yards. Junior center Josh Mitchell, from North Bend, and his fellow linemen did their best to help the Beavers and their quarterback, Sean Mannion, but Mannion was sacked four times by the UW defense despite a solid 30 for 46 in pass completions and attempts respectively, which netted the Beavers 314 yards and also a pair of touchdowns, with one interception. Mitchell graduated in 2012 and Van Winkle walked the aisle in 2013.

Hawaii 37, UNLV 35: The Rebels suffered a heartbreaking road loss last night in the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu to the Warriors in MWC action. Freshman Trent Riley, a 2013 MSHS grad from North Bend, saw action for UNLV, but recorded no stats of note.

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SVSJ preview: Mount Si gymnastics begins new era as member of Kingco 4A

EDITOR’S NOTE: We continue our Valley high school winter sports preview series this morning with our first look at Mount Si High School winter sports, today featuring their gymnastics team. 

The change in classifications and leagues for Mount Si High School’s athletic program, from Kingco 3A to Kingco 4A, is expected to result in much tougher competition for all Wildcat teams; the recently completed fall sports season showed that to be very much the case. But one sport where that change could be especially significant is gymnastics. The Wildcat gymnastics team, coached by Jessica Easthope, who is back for her eighth season at the helm, became a powerhouse at the 3A level, winning a number of league and district titles and earning state trips each of the past six seasons, finishing third in the 2014 meet, their best-ever finish.

Mount Si High School's gymnastics team poses with the SeaKing 3A championship trophy after the Wildcats won the district gymnastics meet last season. Mount Si is a new member of Kingco 4A this fall, and is expected to have a tough road if they want to be on top again this season. (File photo, photo courtesy Christy Trotto Photography)

Mount Si High School’s gymnastics team poses with the 2014 SeaKing 3A district championship trophy, won back in February. Mount Si is a new member of Kingco 4A this fall, and is expected to have a tough road if they want to be on top again this season.
(File photo, photo courtesy Christy Trotto Photography)

But the 4A Kingco is a whole different ballgame. Last season, Woodinville beat Newport for the state title, with an eye-popping 180.475, and the Knights weren’t too shabby, either, recording slightly under 173. Both scores, which if Mount Si hit them, would be undeniably school records.

So, what is Easthope’s approach this season? “I think the fans can expect my girls and my team and myself and the assistant coach Megan (Marino) to not back down from a challenge,” Easthope said. “I think we did get a little comfortable in our league as a 3A (team), so over the years, we’ve been improving our skills and making ourselves more tough competitors. We didn’t really have anything to chase, so I think now that we do, the kids are up for working towards bigger skills.”

The group of Wildcat gymnasts is led by seniors Jenn Rogers and Hailey Johnson, both of whom return after top-40 finishes at the state 3A meet in the all-around last season. Rogers herself finished ninth overall in that meet with a score of 36.125, and expects this season to provide a big test for her. “They can expect me to go out there and try to make a name for myself. I mean, it’s a new league, so it’s going to take a lot and I have to go out there and prove myself,” she said.

Johnson hopes to see a stronger showing from the team this season. “They should expect us to be hopefully better than last year,” she said. “It’ll be interesting.”

Rogers, Johnson, juniors Maggie Kenow and Abby Weber, and sophomore Samantha Holmes are all back this season and will form a very experienced five-girl group that should be expected to compete in most, if not all, events during meets this winter. Weber is coming back from missing last season due to a concussion, so her return likely will be very welcome for Mount Si as it looks to challenge in a tough Kingco 4A. The focus is going to be on how the girls compete in those meets, according to Easthope. “I want to teach them fight, I want to teach them grit, I want to teach them to earn every tenth they can,” she said, and to that end, she mentioned to the SVSJ during our interviews for this preview last week at Mount Si High School that she had spent part of one of their practices discussing with her athletes exactly that as it pertained to the beam routine, considered to be the toughest of the four events in the sport.

Several newcomers also are part of the group this fall; they include sophomore Lauren McCallum, and freshman Daisey Hartman, whose name fans may already be familiar with – she competed with the Wildcat swimming team this fall. Easthope likes what she sees from the new girls. “They are coming in pretty strong. We have not had to spend a whole lot of time on basics. We’ve been able to pretty much go straight into skills and routines, so that’s been I think a big advantage for us,” the coach said.

But one issue that could be a factor as time goes on is the team’s size. Mount Si this fall only drew 14 athletes – which sounds a bit low considering how well they’ve done in the past. “I would love to see the program grow,” Easthope said, but they are content with the small size due to the safety risks of the sport and the lack of coaches (just Easthope and Marino); a growth in the program, ideally to 20-25 athletes according to the coach, would necessitate additional assistant coaches. Mount Si had a third assistant a few years ago, but that coach resigned and that job was never filled.

The top teams in the league are all expected to be strong; those include the aforementioned Woodinville and Newport squads, but it is also expected Bothell will also be a tough foe this winter for the Wildcats.

With team scores likely needing to be closer to 170-175 for each meet for Mount Si to be competitive, start values for individual routines in events will be key. Rogers is working hard to achieve that now. “I’ll have a 10 start value hopefully on three out of four events. I’m working on vault right now,” she said, and as part of that, she’s working on what is known as a tsuk, a skill that usually results in higher scores from judges were that to be successfully completed.

Mount Si opens with a meet against Bothell December 4, and opens their home schedule December 11 against Redmond. The Wildcats will have three home meets this winter – December 11, January 8 and January 29. All meets are on Thursday nights and start at 7:00.

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