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Five questions heading into spring | Prep sports preview
With the spring sports season underway at high schools around the state, the Reporter takes a look at five questions facing teams and individuals heading into 2012.
Can Newport reshuffle the deck on diamond?
The Knights leaned on aces Jared Fisher and Cole Wiper throughout last season on the mound, at the plate and in the infield. That duo led what was a deep and experienced senior class for the Knights that made it to the 4A state quarterfinals but both Fisher and Wiper have since departed for the Pac-12.
Billy Sahlinger and Aaron Sandefur give coach Hal DeBerry a pair of experienced arms and Nate Anderson is another returning starter that will step into an even larger role this season.
A proper send off for Bellevue softball?
For the past two seasons, Heather Tracy's Wolverines have taken softball to a new level at Bellevue.
After making the 4A state tournament only once in school history in 1988 (with an 0-2 record), Tracy and a core group of seniors-to-be including pitcher Emily Fleischman, catcher Anjani Briggs, infielders Katie Savard and Taylor Cooke and outfielders Marika McCarthy and Kaitlyn Melby have gone 7-3 in 3A state tournament games in the past two seasons, including a third and fourth place finish.
But with last year's 3A KingCo MVP Allison Rhodes returning to the same Juanita team that handed Bellevue a trio of defeats including a shutout in the state semi-finals, the Wolverines will need to find a solution for the Rebels before they can think about bringing home a state title trophy.
Who leads the pack in lacrosse?
On the boys side, Sammamish Lacrosse Club reached the title game in Division II before falling to Woodinville and Bellevue was bounced in the Division I semi-finals a year after winning its first state championship.
For the girls, Bellevue East took the Division II girls title for the first time in program history and returns a number of players that formed the nucleus of that championship squad.
Both BELAX and SLC will take a step up in competition in 2012 with the move to Division I, where they will face the club from Bellevue High School, which has been the dominant program in the city on the boys side as lacrosse has grown.
"We obviously have a chip on our shoulder from having such a successful season last year to walking off the field without that championship,” SLC coach Tyler Farrar told Washington Lacrosse during a recent interview. "Losing the state final proved to be a huge motivating factor in the offseason."
After a year that saw BELAX win a championship while the Bellevue girls squad struggled to only a handful of wins, there could be a changing of the guard on the horizon.
New coaches mean new results for Bellevue, Sammamish, Bellevue Christian?
Bellevue did not make it out of the KingCo tournament in two seasons under now-departed head coach Jordan Nilsen after making the only three state tournament appearances in school history in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The Wolverines brought in a big name to change the course in Pete Wilkinson, who has tutored countless prospects at his baseball academy in Lynnwood for decades.
At Sammamish, coach Tim Ahern left after three seasons to take a position coaching at Bellevue College and assistant Pete Orgill stepped in to fill the vacancy much to the delight of those around the program.
Orgill's first task is to rebuild a team that upset Bellevue in the league tournament but also lost its three most accomplished players in Chris Strain, Aaron Lawrenson and Craig Sweet. Sophomore Joe Giachetti should help ease the transition after a strong freshman season on the mound.
For the Vikings, Brian Potoshnik did not return after leading his team to the 1A state semi-finals in his only season and the new head man is Scott Nelson, who has been the head JV coach with Skyline for the past two seasons and played college ball at Biola University.
BCS has missed the 1A state baseball tournament only three times since 1999 but with a new coach, the loss of a core group of seniors and also the transfer Dewald DeKlerk to the defending 3A champions from Mount Si, Nelson will fight an uphill battle to leave a mark in his first year in Clyde Hill.
Who leads on boys, girls tennis courts?
There is never a shortage of individuals from Bellevue schools on the tennis court come playoff time and 2011 was no exception.
Interlake picked up a 2A singles title behind the performance of then-sophomore Luat Le, who erased a late deficit in the semi-finals before avenging an earlier loss to Joe Kwiatkowski in the finals.
Le will be back to defend his title in 2012 and Bellevue's Zach Kosanke will also return for another prep season after reaching the 3A state semi-finals in 2011.