PORT ANGELES ATHLETICS finds itself in uncharted territory as the fall prep sports season hits the stretch run.
The football and volleyball teams broke more than decade-long droughts in reaching their Class 2A state tournaments.
The girls swimming team is sending a supposed record number of athletes (15) to its state meet, while girls cross country sent its entire team to its 2A state competition last weekend.
If the girls soccer team had managed to survive a penalty kick shootout against Sumner last Saturday, it would be competing at the 2A state level this week as well.
In all, that’s four out of six fall sports programs going on to state.
And that’s not even counting Tavish Taylor representing boys cross country individually at the 2A meet.
Good luck finding a time when that’s ever happened in the history of Roughrider athletics. That’s because it hasn’t.
Could it be that the Riders transformed into an athletic powerhouse overnight? Well, sort of.
To put it more precisely, the Riders have become a 2A powerhouse overnight.
The Riders were in the 4A Narrows League just five years ago competing against the likes of Central Kitsap, Gig Harbor and Bellarmine Prep for state bids.
While in the 2A/3A Olympic League in 2006-10, schools like Kennedy, Peninsula, Capital and Lakes were often standing in the way at the 3A level.
But after dropping down from 3A to 2A this summer, it appears the Riders have found an appropriate level of competition.
Sequim made the same drop in 2006 and had a couple of state champions.
In other words, get ready for a big sports year from Port Angeles.
Moore than meets eye
One of the 15 Rider swimmers going onto state barely even made it into the pool this fall.
Senior captain Jenna Moore — a life-long swimmer since the age of 6 — fractured both her tibia and fibula one month prior to the 2010 season.
Moore remembers the exact date (July 17) it happened and the pain she felt while looking at a leg that was bent inward at a 45-degree angle.
“Thank goodness for morphine,” said Moore, who broke the leg after landing awkwardly out of a slide at Surf ‘n Slide water park in Moses Lake.
“It wasn’t pretty.”
Moore underwent emergency surgery and had screws, plates and wires inserted to repair her leg.
After spending six weeks in a cast with crutches, she was fitted with a removable cast she wore through September.
Moore managed to get back in the pool by early September, beating her doctor’s initial timeline by four weeks, and began the slow process of tracking down her pre-injury times.
“It took me a really long time to get in shape,” Moore said. “I was happy to be in the water, but my times were so far off of what they were last season.
“It was very depressing at times. You want a satisfying swim, but you can only offer so much of yourself.”
Moore swam in every meet, eventually qualifying for last weekend’s 2A West Central District meet in five individual events.
She then qualified for state in the 100-yard breaststroke and also as a member of two relay teams.
And while she still hasn’t hit the 1-minute, 16-second mark she put up at districts last fall in the 100 breast, she’s inched closer and closer. Her sixth-place district mark (1:17) was one second off.
Her hope is that she can pull it off this weekend at state in Federal Way.
“She was definitely determined to do whatever she could with what she could and it proved to pay off,” Port Angeles coach Rich Butler said.
“When I first heard of [the injury] it was one of those things that had the potential of not making it back it all. To have her come back is great.
“To have her come back in the capacity she has been, has been even better on top of that.”
Damned if you do
Sequim football coach Erik Wiker’s luck with state playoff draws just went from bad to horrible.
The Wolves have often gotten the short end of the stick in the Wicker era.
In 2006, they played the eventual 2A state champion (Lynden) in the first round a few miles away from its home. A year later, it was the 2A’s second-ranked team (Tumwater) in its own stadium.
Their 2008-09 matchups were no walk in the park either — the Wolves faced the eventual champions, Lynden, in the ’09 quarterfinals as well.
This year, however, might be the cruelest of them all.
Consider this twist:
The Wolves (9-1) claim the Olympic League title by beating Port Angeles (9-1) 41-0. Yet it’s the rival Riders who end up with the better first-round draw.
Sure, Port Angeles must travel to Bellevue to face Interlake (3-8) on Friday night at 7 p.m., and Sequim “hosts” Burlington-Edison (7-3) in Poulsbo on Saturday at 6 p.m.
But PA’s opposition has the same amount of wins as Sequim’s has losses (3).
Interlake might be coming out of the uber-competitive KingCo, but 3-8 is 3-8.
If that wasn’t bad enough, a Wolves win gives them the winner of Friday night’s game between No. 2 Lynden and No. 3 Tumwater in the quarterfinals.
“We always get this kind of bracket situation,” Wiker said. “What the hell did we do wrong?”
Tumwater (9-0) and Lynden (10-0) are probably wondering the same thing.
Andrew Peterson’s second stint leading the Forks football program lasted as long as his first: one season.
Peterson resigned his position as Spartans head coach this week, days removed from the final game of an 0-9 season.
The former NFL offensive lineman was handed the gig a week before the season began in August after Ron Hurn resigned because of work conflicts.
Peterson took over a program that lost seven starters on offense and defense from the ’09 team.
Predictably, the inexperienced Spartans struggled, losing their nine games by a combined score of 348-39.
Peterson also coached the team for one season in 2001, going 2-7 with a similarly depleted roster.
His departure assures Forks will start the 2011 season with a new head coach for the seventh time since the Terry Jensen era ended in 2000.
The Spartans are 34-62 during that time with just two winning seasons (see sidebar).
Coaches are meeting all over the state to fight over all-league honors for the fall prep sports season.
Here are some notes from a few of the all-league teams that have already been selected:
• Neah Bay junior Rebecca Thompson was named the North Olympic League’s offensive player of the year.
Thompson has been an All-NOL selection all three years she’s played on varsity.
Clallam Bay’s Melissa Willis was named the defensive player of the year, and teammate Kirstin Erickson was selected as the best setter.
• Chimacum football coach Shawn Meacham was named the 1A Nisqually League coach of the year after taking the Cowboys (5-5) to the playoffs.
Meacham had two players receive first-team honors, with senior Devin Manix named a first-team kick returner and junior Austin McConnell a first-team linebacker.
The Cowboys had six other second-team selections in Manix (RB/LB), Seth Ham (G), Daryl Settlemire (T), Austin Johnson (DL) and Derek Toepper (DB).
Matt Juran was the Redskins’ lone All-Nisqually selection, getting first-team honors on the defensive line.
Complete listings of both all-league teams are on Page B2.
Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column regularly appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at email@example.com.