2010 was certainly a year of some phenomenal stories to come out of the Redmond prep sports world. With so many memorable moments, it would be impossible not to leave anybody out, but here is my own personal top 10 list:
#10: Redmond girls’ basketball: Katie Whitaker scores career high in wake of mother’s passing (Feb. 10)
Just two weeks removed from losing her mother to ovarian cancer, Katie Whitaker stepped up in a big way on Senior Night during a crucial game against Skyline.
Whitaker, who had averaged just 3.6 points per game prior to that evening’s 47-33 win over the Spartans, went 8 of 10 from the field including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc for a career-high 19.
“I know my mom’s helping me in some way since she passed away,” Whitaker said after the game. “And it’s really special for me to be able to do this for her.”
#9: Bear Creek boys’ basketball: Grizzlies overcome adversity to place 5th at state (March 6)
When the top-ranked Bear Creek School Grizzlies were upset in their first-round matchup against Pe Ell 65-59, it would have been easy to pack it in.
But Scott Moe’s team would not back down, running the table in the consolation bracket, including a 74-70 overtime thriller against Life Christian and also playing through star guard Jamie Meyer suffering a cut on his head and getting ill that evening.
In what was a changing of the guard with three key seniors playing their final game, junior Lucas Peterson scored a career-high 28 to lead the Grizzlies in the 5th/8th place final against Colfax, a 63-33 blowout win.
The Bear Creek Grizzlies team rallied from an opening-round loss to Pe Ell to place fifth at the 2B state basketball tournament last March in Spokane.
#8: Sahalee hosts U.S. Senior Open (July 29-Aug. 1)
The Pacific Northwest had not hosted a major golf tournament since the 1998 PGA Championship (won by Vijay Singh, also at Sahalee), and record crowds came out to watch what turned out to be an epic battle between Germany’s Bernhard Langer and hometown hero Fred Couples, with Langer winning with a score of 8-under-par. The pros were astounded by the reception they got by the local fans, many of whom hailed from Redmond or Sammamish.
“The players loved it, I loved it… the crowds were fantastic too,” Langer said. “The atmosphere out there was just like any major on the regular tour, whether it’s the Masters, U.S. Open, or any other. You heard some cheers that reminded me of the best times at Augusta on the back nine. It was just really fun.”
#7: New era for Mustang football (Fall 2010)
One of many coaching changes that took place in Redmond this year, former Eastlake head Jeff Chandler takes over the Mustangs’ struggling program in what he termed was a long-term project to get them back and competitive in the toughest football league in the state.
Although they were swept in Crest division play, the Mustangs ended the season with four non-league wins (the same total they’ve earned in 2008 and 2009 combined) against Lake Washington, Woodinville, Edmonds-Woodway and Ballard.
#6: Redmond girls’ golf: Mustangs “run the gauntlet,” keep streak alive (Apr. 28)
The Mustangs’ seven-year Kingco golf win streak was definitely in jeopardy as they entered the heart of their league season against 4A Kingco powerhouses Newport and Eastlake.
During the Newport match, sophomore Keira O’Hearn did the unthinkable, firing a 1-under-par round of 35 to help the Mustangs win by a single stroke, 214-215.
The Eastlake match, which was played at Sahalee, a course that “none of our kids have played except on Tiger Woods Golf (the video game)” according to head coach Jake Crowley, actually ended in a tie at 235-235.
Redmond won due to having fewer “pick-ups,” or scores of double par, for the match. It was the Mustangs’ 74th consecutive league win, and they went on to place 4th at state.
#5: Overlake girls’ soccer second at state… again (Nov. 20)
It was a season to remember for the Owls’ young team (17-5-2) as they charged through the Emerald City League and into state tournament action. In the end, the team fell in the title match for the second year in a row as they were stifled, 1-0, in the Class 1A final to Bush at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
Bush superstar Chloe Cross, who scored all 10 of the Blazers’ goals in the tournament, delivered the fatal blow to the Owls in the 62nd minute.
Still, after graduating eight senior starters last year, Owls’ coach Sally Goodspeed was pleasantly surprised to even be in that position.
“That speaks to how great this group is, how wonderfully hard these kids worked from day one to today,” she said. “I don’t know if anyone thought we would be here.”
#4: Redmond wrestling: Kelly makes history at Mat Classic (Feb. 20)
Mustang junior Catherine Kelly, wresting at 112 pounds, was knocked down early but came back strong at the 22nd Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome to place fourth in the 4A girls’ division.
Kelly was sent to the consolation bracket in her second-round match, losing 7-3, but fought back with two pins to make it into the consolation semifinals against Stanwood’s Casey Mather, who had Kelly’s number. Mather had beaten her by scores of 8-2 and 4-3 earlier at regionals and sub-regionals.
Kelly adjusted her strategy and escaped with a 3-0 victory, becoming the program’s first female state placer and also the highest Redmond finisher in 13 years at state, since Tom Heier won it all in 1997.
Catherine Kelly celebrates after notching a crucial pin en route to her fourth-place finish at state during the 2010 Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome.
#3: Bear Creek boys’ tennis: Meyer tries a new sport, places 2nd at state (Spring)
Jamie Meyer had broken just about every basketball record at The Bear Creek School during his four years there, but it was his best friend, Jake Imam, who convinced Meyer to pick up a tennis racket earlier that summer and start playing.
He didn’t play that much during the winter due to basketball, but the lanky, left-handed 6-foot-5 guard’s pure athleticism and talent transferred quite smoothly onto the tennis court.
Imam, the 1A/1B/2B state singles champion in 2009, teamed up with Meyer to make a serious run in the postseason as they placed second at the state tournament in doubles.
#2: Local kids get experiences of a lifetime (August)
A pair of Redmond High students got to play on the grandest stages of their sports this summer, creating memories they will never forget.
Dylan Davis was selected to play for the West team at the AFLAC Baseball Classic, a high-school prep showcase, and got to pitch a shutout inning at PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres, in a 5-3 East victory. Scouts came out in droves to watch Davis, whose fastball hit 98 miles per hour on the radar gun, and all the other prep stars at this unique event that involved local charity work.
Mustang golfer Lyle Rudnicki also got the thrill of a lifetime as he was selected to play in a one-of-a-kind PGA Champions Tour event, the First Tee Open, at historic Pebble Beach Golf Links in Monterey, Calif. In this event, junior amateurs got paired with a touring professional. Rudnicki got to play with English pro Mark James, the 2007 Allianz Championship winner on the Champions Tour.
Redmond High senior Dylan Davis pitched in the prestigious AFLAC Baseball Classic last summer, topping out at 98 miles per hour on his fastball in front of dozens of scouts and a national television audience on Fox Sports Network.
#1: Redmond girls’ swimming: Heather Harper wins breaststroke gold by slimmest of margins (Nov. 14)
In two previous years, Heather Harper had seen more than her share of photo finishes in the 100-yard breaststroke state final. In 2008 she tied for the gold medal with Garfield’s Maddy Morgan in 1 minute, 4.60 seconds, and last year she was edged out at the wall by Skyline freshman Maria Volodkevich, 1:04.25 to 1:04.27.
With last year’s heartbreak entrenched in her mind, Harper would not be denied this year.
She held the lead heading into the final turn and barely out-touched a surging Emilie Pleger of Eisenhower, 1:03.92 to 1:04.01, by nine hundredths of a second.
“I told myself, ‘This is the moment you’ve been training for this whole year, bring it home,” said Harper, who had just signed to swim for the Boise State Broncos before the state meet. “It was a dream come true, to win state senior year.”