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My top 20 Mountlake Terrace High School sports moments of 2013

By Steve Willits

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Newspapers, magazines and online publications love to publish “Best of the Year” lists in early January so I figured I would take my shot at compiling one.

I definitely witnessed my share of MTHS sporting events in 2013 in a handful of capacities. I broadcasted 49 games for the Sound Live Sports Network (known as the Hawks Live Sports Network in the early part of 2013), I was a public address announcer, a columnist for the Hawkeye and, occasionally, I simply attended games as a fan. Overall, 2013 was a successful sports year for Terrace teams and individuals, so I thought it would be fun to recap 20 of my personal favorite moments.

MY TOP 20 MOUNTLAKE TERRACE HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS MEMORIES IN 2013 (in chronological order):

January 11 – Terrace men’s basketball defeats Stanwood 58-52

A battle between first place teams in WesCo 3A South and North took place up in Stanwood. Judging by the near-capacity crowd, I think the entire Stanwood community showed up to support the Spartans. The Hawks trailed by 11 points at halftime and many of the Spartans fans were doing plenty of taunting as the visiting team headed toward the locker room for the break. Terrace came out strong in the second half and proved that they were not a team that would roll over and quit when their backs were against the wall. By the time the game was over, the Hawks had the victory and the atmosphere in the gym was much more subdued. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

January 17 – Terrace Wrestling Coach Kanoe Vierra retires after 19 years

Vince DeMiero talked me into going to my first wrestling event since I was in high school and I’m glad he did.  The Hawks lost to Meadowdale, but the storyline of the night was that it was the final home match for Coach Vierra. Many of his former wrestlers attended and were a part of a very nice retirement ceremony after the match ended. It was evident in watching the interactions of both former and current wrestlers that they all have tremendous respect for Vierra both as a coach and as a man. You didn’t have to be a fan of wrestling to appreciate the fact that it was a special night.

January 21 – Terrace men’s basketball defeats Fairfax 38-36 at the Showare Center

The Hawks had already proven that they were capable of playing with just about anyone in the state of Washington and this was a contest that gave them a chance to see how they would measure up against a California powerhouse out of West Hollywood. Fairfax looked imposing during warm-ups and it was evident that they were very athletic. The California team had already scored more than 100 points multiple times earlier in the season, however the Hawks played a stellar defensive game and came away with the hard fought victory down in Kent on Martin Luther King Day. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

January 28 – Terrace women’s basketball pulls out a 53-52 win over Shorecrest

This was our one and only women’s basketball Internet broadcast last year and it was an exciting one. The Hawks trailed the Scots by as many as 10 points before making a late run.  High drama at the end of the game as Nikki Froehlich was fouled with five seconds to go and the Hawks down by one point. Froehlich very calmly stepped to the line and hit both free throws to give the Hawks a big victory. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

January 31 – Hawks win WesCo 3A South title with a 51-43 victory over Glacier Peak

Both teams entered the final game of the regular season with identical records which meant the winner would clinch the Division title. The Terraceum had one of its largest crowds of the year and the Hawks didn’t disappoint as they put together a big third quarter and won the game rather convincingly.  The Hawks finished the regular season with an overall record of 18-2 and another banner. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

February 9 – Hawks men’s basketball team advances to the District Championship by crushing Oak Harbor 64-32

The first half of the game might have been the best ever played by an MTHS basketball team. However, the only thing that everyone was talking about at the end was a single play that occurred in the second quarter. “LaDunk” as the play is better known was set up when Blake Fernandez stole the ball away from an Oak Harbor player and went streaking all the way to the other end of the floor for a lay up attempt. Fernandez went up for the shot with two defenders guarding him and just missed making the basket. As his attempt started to roll off the front of the rim, LaTraeSarden came from what seemed to be out of nowhere, grabbed the ball and in one fluid motion dunked the ball into the basket. Fans from both teams jumped out of their seats in disbelief. The game, however, wasn’t even close. The Hawks played a near flawless first two quarters and took a 46-11 lead into halftime on their way to an easy win. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

February 23 – Hawks men’s basketball defeats Foss 63-53 and advance to the Tacoma Dome for the second straight season

Talk about a pressure game! Win and advance to the State Tournament, lose and the season is over. It didn’t look good early on as the Hawks fell behind Foss 10-2 in the first quarter even without their star player, Dezmyn Trent. The hot three point shooting of Jessie Zerom and Marquis Armstead  (three treys each in the second quarter) led the Hawks to a 26 point second quarter outburst and allowed Terrace to take a seven point lead into halftime. The Hawks held on in the second half and punched their ticket to the Tacoma Dome. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

February 28, March 1 & March 2 – Hawks men’s basketball take home the Fourth Place trophy at the state tournament

I figured I would bundle the Tacoma Dome games into one event for the sake of this story. After a disappointing first round loss to Lincoln on Feb. 28, the Hawks turned around and played University High School in day two of the tournament, a game that Terrace needed to win in order to keep their season alive.The Hawks trailed by 10 points early but fought their way back into the game. With the score tied 56-56 and less than 10 seconds remaining in the game, Marquis Armstead drove to the basket, sank the go-ahead shot and drew a foul. His three-point play was the difference in the game and the Hawks advanced to the final day where they would be matched up against Seattle Prep the next morning.

The Panthers’ DJ Fenner came into the contest averaging more than 28 points per game for Seattle Prep and had scored at least 17 points in every game during the season. Those stats didn’t seem to phase the Hawks at all as they played relentless defense throughout the game. Fenner didn’t score any points in the first half and ended the game with just nine points. The Hawks victory over Seattle Prep gave them a final season record of 23-4, but more importantly, they got to take home the Fourth Place trophy at the State Tournament. (NOTE: These games are still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

March 18 – Kristjanson hits two home runs in one inning to lead the Hawks softball team to a 10-5 victory over Edmonds Woodway

Our first-ever softball broadcast and what an amazing way to start things off. The Hawks trailed the Warriors 5-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning when Maddie Kristjanson stepped up to the plate. Kristjanson led off the inning with a home run, which was then followed up by a Hannah Baisch home run in the very next at-bat, cutting the Warriors’ lead to 5-3. The Hawks weren’t done scoring in the sixth inning as the bats suddenly came alive and within a matter of minutes, Terrace had a 6-5 lead with two outs and the bases loaded. Kristjanson then stepped up to the plate for the second time in the inning and belted a grand slam home run. She finished the day with 3 runs, 6 runs batted in and she was the winning pitcher in one of the best performances by a Hawks athlete during the year. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

March 20 – Hawks baseball team defeats Stanwood 6-5 thanks to the late inning performance by Theis

Not to be completely outdone by the softball team, the Hawks baseball team also showed us in their Hawks Live Sports Network debut that they could come from behind late in a game. The hero of the day ended up being Junior Daniel Theis. With the Hawks trailing 5-3 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, Theis hit a double and eventually scored to make it 5-4. The next inning Theis hit an RBI single to give the Hawks a 6-5 lead and as if that wasn’t enough, he was the winning pitcher as he threw two scoreless innings to wrap of the victory. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

Side note: The second baseball game that we broadcasted was a week later and in that game the Hawks trailed Glacier Peak 12-0 in the third inning. The Hawks then scored eight straight runs and at one point brought the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately the team wasn’t able to complete the comeback and consequently that game didn’t make my Top 20 list.

May 10 – Terrace men’s track & field win WesCo

The biggest victory for the Hawks men’s track & field team came a week later when the Hawks won Districts for the first time in the school’s history. I wasn’t able to see the District meet, however I did get a chance to watch this team in action the week before when they won the WesCo Championship at Shoreline Stadium on their way to making history. Coach Russ Vincent did an amazing job of getting the most of his athletes and the team was loaded with talent. The highlight of the meet for me was watching MTHS triple jumper and eventual state champion Gifton Okoronkwo perform. It was amazing to see just how much farther he was able to jump compared to his competition. Gifton’s freshman sister Chinne also won the State Championship in the triple jump in 2013 and one of my biggest MTHS regrets last year is that I never got the chance to see her in action. I don’t plan on having that same regret in 2014.

May 14 – Terrace softball team wins two district games in one evening, advance to the state tournament

The Hawks softball team entered the District tournament as the No. 4 seed in the WesCo 3A South Division which meant they had to play a first round game against Marysville Pilchuck, the champions of the WesCo 3A North Division. Terrace beat MPHS 5-4 in the first game of the evening and then turned around and upset Shorecrest 4-3 on the same night to advance to the District Championship game and an automatic berth to the state tournament. Highlights of the night were Kelsie Watson batting in two runs in each of the games and Amanda Aversano’s great catch in the final inning against Shorecrest that likely  saved the game. (NOTE: These games are still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

May 24 – Terrace softball team advances into the second day of the state tournament with late inning home runs

It is always exciting to see athletes elevate their performances to new heights when the competition gets tougher. That is exactly what the Mountlake Terrace softball team did with their bats when they made it to the state tournament. Prior to making the trip to Lacey, the Hawks softball team had hit a combined total of 14 home runs over 23 games. In the first day of the tournament against some of the best pitchers in the state, the Hawks belted eight home runs in just three games. The first game of the day saw the Hawks trailing Prairie 4-3 and Terrace was down to their final strike. Sophomore Hannah Wilcox then hit a dramatic solo home run to tie the game and send it into extra innings. The Hawks would eventually lose the game but it was certainly one of the more dramatic moments of the sports year. Later on that afternoon the Hawks kept their season alive with a victory over Bonney Lake that advanced them to the next round.

The game of the day and possibly the most exciting MTHS event that I broadcasted in 2013 was the final game of the night against Enumclaw. The Hawks needed to beat Enumclaw in order to advance to the final day of the tournament and remain one of just eight teams playing the next morning. It didn’t look good early for the Hawks as they trailed 7-2 going into the top of the fifth inning. The Hawks then started their comeback when Hannah Baisch and Rene Bos hit back-to-back home runs to trim the Enumclaw lead down to 7-4. Enumclaw then scored a run in their half of the inning and extended their lead to 8-4. In the top of the sixth inning Rene Bos stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a grand slam home run over the center field fence to tie the game at 8-8. The score remained tied until the top of the seventh inning. Once again the Hawks loaded the bases and once again they hit a grand slam, this time it was Hannah Baisch, making the score 12-8. The Hawks outscored Ennumclaw 10-1 over the final three innings and advanced to the final day of the tournament. The team that no one expected to even make it past the District playoffs went on to finish seventh in the state. Not bad for a team that finished the season with just 11 players in the entire program. (NOTE: These games are still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

September 17 – Mountlake Terrace and Meadowdale show tremendous compassion toward one another in the wake of a tragedy

Tragedy struck suddenly at Meadowdale High School in September when the Mavericks’ Matthew Truax passed away while participating in a PE class. Many Terrace students wanted to show their support for the Truax family and the grieving Meadowdale students and spent part of their weekend making banners. MTHS students held the banners in front of Meadowdale High School the following Monday for the Meadowdale students to see as they arrived to start their school week.  The next night the Hawks women’s soccer team painted blue hearts on their faces to honor Matthew during their game against Meadowdale at Edmonds Stadium. At halftime of the game, a group of Meadowdale students showed their appreciation by walking over to the Terrace student section and presented the Hawks students with a banner of a painted red and blue heart (both school colors) and the words “Thank You Hawks.”  It was a moment that I will never forget and I couldn’t have been more proud of both schools that night.

October 18 – Hawks football team defeats Shorecrest 28-14 on a foggy night

Sure the Hawks won a game that they needed to keep their playoff hopes alive and sure Chance Ragsdale set the school record by rushing for 283 yards (a record that he would end up breaking against Shorewood a week later), but the real storyline was the weather. An extremely thick fog rolled into Edmonds Stadium at halftime and those who attended the game didn’t see much of the second half at all. We broadcasted the game for Sound Live Sports Network and trying to call play-by-play when you can’t see the field from the press box makes for a nearly impossible task. Fortunately, an Edmonds School District employee was standing on the sideline and he would communicate with Public Address Announcer Tom Davis via a hand held radio to let him know who the player was that had the ball and what yard line they were on. When Davis announced this information over the stadium speakers, I would stick my head out the window of the press box that we were broadcasting in so that I could hear him and then I would relay the information over the internet to our audience.  It was a very strange night but one that people will be talking about for a long time. (NOTE: This game – what can be seen of it! – is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

October 30 – Terrace volleyball wins WesCo for the first time in 31 years

I had the honor of broadcasting the Hawks volleyball team’s final match of the regular season, a three set sweep over Shorecrest. The win gave the Hawks a conference record of 8-1 and an overall record of 11-3. The victory also clinched the Hawks first WesCo Championship since 1982. Coach Marietta Snyder and her team did a fantastic job of getting the team turned around after only winning one conference game the year before. This was Snyder’s tenth season as the Terrace coach and I could tell when interviewing her after the game that winning WesCo was very meaningful. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

November 1 – Terrace football gets revenge on Stanwood and advances to the playoffs

A lot can change over the course of two months. The Hawks opened up their football season with a 29-13 loss to Stanwood in September and as luck would have it, the two schools would be matched up again in November to determine which team would advance to the state playoffs. Thanks to the powerful rushing attack of Chance Ragsdale and Malcolm Johnson along with a stingy defense, the Hawks came away with the 24-17 revenge victory and advanced to the playoffs for the second year in a row and just the third time in the school’s history. The game was still in doubt when Stanwood managed to get within 10 yards of a potential game-tying touchdown with under two minutes remaining. The Hawks then came up with a huge fourth down stop to preserve the win. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

November 9 – Terrace football comes up short in the playoffs – 31-21 defeat to a very good Mountain View team

The Hawks’ reward for making it into the playoffs was a road trip to Vancouver, Wash., to play a Mountain View team that was the Greater St. Helens League Champions. Normally I wouldn’t include a loss on a list like this, however I will make an exception since many people thought that Mountain View would beat Terrace easily, but the Hawks battled all the way to the very end. The Hawks were within a touchdown up until the final two minutes of the game and gained the respect of their opponent as well as everyone that witnessed the exciting playoff battle. To put the game into perspective, the following week Mountain View traveled up north to play Seattle Prep in the second round of the playoffs. The final score of that game was Mountain View 55 Seattle Prep 0. (NOTE: This game is still available via Sound Live Sports Network’s ON DEMAND section.)

November 26 – Jam Session XX was a huge success

For the 20th straight year, the MTHS men’s and women’s basketball teams took part in Jam Session – an annual evening of basketball and fun – as fans showed up to watch both of their teams scrimmage and take part in various contests. Vince DeMiero founded this event back in the 1990s and for the first time since its inception, he was not in attendance due to an illness. Fortunately for DeMiero, he has trained his students well and members of The Hawkeye did an outstanding job of making sure that everything ran smoothly in his absence. The highlight of the night for me though was the alumni game. Terrace has a very rich basketball tradition and seeing some of those former star players going up against each other for one night was exciting. This was the first time that Jam Session included an alumni game, however it will certainly not be the last. The teams were divided based on the year that the players graduated. As it turned out, the players that went to Terrace prior to 2005 beat the more recent grads. Chalk up a victory for the oldest of the old guys! The former players had a lot of fun and I think the fans in the stands enjoyed watching them, too.

December 10 – Women’s basketball team beats Edmonds Woodway 63-62 despite trailing by 20 with six minutes left in the game

You almost had to be there to believe it. The Hawks trailed the Warriors 60-40 with six minutes left in the game, but finished the game on a 23-2 run to close out the most improbable comeback of the year. Sam Romanowski scored 32 points in the game, however she fouled out with under a minute left and wasn’t available when the Hawks trailed by one point on their final possession. Fortunately, Nikki Froehlich was up to the task and hit the game winning bucket with 14 seconds remaining. This group of young ladies continue to impress into 2014 and I have a feeling they aren’t done creating memorable moments this season.

2013 was full of exciting moments and fond memories. I can only hope that 2014 will provide similar situations so that I will be able to write another article like this one a year from now.

Go Hawks!

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My top 20 Mountlake Terrace High School sports moments of 2013