Bonney Lake High School is competing in a brand new sports league, and all of the fall Panther teams are looking forward to starting strong and rising to the top.
This year, as a part of the new Pierce County League 3A, the Panthers will be facing off against Bethel, Lakes, Lincoln, Mount Tahoma, Spanaway Lake, Stadium and Wilson high schools, although many non-league games and meets will still be held against Sumner and White River high schools, who are also in new leagues of their own.
The Panthers’ cross country teams are looking to build off the success they felt last year.
The girls team came out in the middle of the league pack last year, but the boys remained undefeated through league meets.
But with several runners having graduated, new runners on the teams and a whole new league, this year could be very interesting for the boys, coach Andy Foster wrote in an email.
There will be 30 runners combined hitting the track this year. Returning this year are seniors William Glick, Allen Fletcher, Mykel Fisher and Logan Free on the boys side, and juniors Mallory Sweers and Madison Lewis on the girls side.
Foster wrote that while the boys team will be mostly comprised of new runners, many of the newcomers show state promise.
Of the girls team, Foster wrote that if they keep working like they are now, they’re going to see a huge improvement over last year.
Both teams’ first meets are 10 a.m. for the boys, 10:15 a.m. for the girls on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Capital High School.
The first hosted non-league meet is at 4:15 p.m. for the boys and 4:45 p.m. for the girls against Sumner High School.
The Panthers volleyball team returns with a slew of experienced varsity players ready to take the court.
Returning to the team are seniors Ashlynn Tyler, Alisha Feist, Hanna Littlefield, Sarah Sparkmon, Taryn Schelin, and Payton Mitchell. Mitchell will continue to fill the role of the team’s setter.
Also returning are juniors Dana and Carly Gibbon, who both push past the six-foot mark.
“Dana will be a huge block for us on the right side and Carly looks like she’s improved from last year after making second team All League,” coach Ann Hansen wrote in an email interview, adding that she led the league in stuff blocks and was a league leader in kills and kill percentage (a kill is simply a point-scoring play).
Rounding out the team this year are several promising juniors, Hansen continued; Kiana Hesler, Grace Murphy, and Raelyn Kimmel.
The Panthers advanced to the district playoffs, but lost to Columbia and Lincoln, kicking the girls out.
Hansen wrote that the team is definitely looking for some redemption against Lincoln now that the schools are in the same league.
“By the end of the regular season we want to be leading our league and on our way to the state tournament,” she wrote. “We’ll be working on staying mentally tough and playing as a team and for each other.
Although this league is different than the SPSL 3A league the team was in last year, Hansen wrote that the new PCL 3A will be just as challenging.
“Last year we were playing some of the top 3A teams in the state almost every week. If we wanted a chance to compete we had to bring our best every match,” she wrote. “This year is no different. We’re preparing to come to each game mentally tough and ready to play our best.”
On the coaching side of things, Stephanie Mehr returns to coach the C-team, and coach John Hofstrand is replacing Bethany Huston on the junior varsity team.
Hansen said Hofstrand brings a legacy of great coaching experience with him and that he can really help our strength and mental game.
“He’s been coaching basketball, track, and some football for the past 34 years and has been teaching and coaching in the Sumner School District for the past 11 years,” she added. “While volleyball is new for him, I think he’ll be a great addition to our staff.”
The team’s first non-league match was an away game yesterday against Sumner High School at 7 p.m.
The first league and home game is 7 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 8, against Mount Tahoma.
Swim and dive
The Panthers girls swim team is looking to improve their league record after a disappointing zero-win season last year.
This year, 25 divers and swimmers will be hitting the water.
The team will be missing Gabby Wilkinson and Sammy McCurley, who made it to districts and state respectively but graduated at the end of the year.
The top swimmers to look out for this year, wrote coach Jerry Turner in an email interview, is junior Kailyn Fleeman and sophomore Adriana Hernandez-Tobin.
Fleeman was the other Panther swimmer to make it to state last year, and has her eyes on several events, Turner wrote, adding that Hernandez-Tobin is also showing state potential.
“This year, we hope to have the depth to win some league meets to get that fun, competitive edge into the league meets,” Turner continued. “Of course, our goal is to get as many swimmers and divers to state competition as possible. I am focusing on competitiveness this year — the girls have such a great team spirit — I would like to foster increased desire to race hard and leave it all in the pool.”
The Panthers’ first meet it tomorrow, Sept. 8 at 3:30 p.m. at Stadium High School.
The first home meet is Sept. 20 against Mount Tahoma.
The Bonney Lake soccer players are not only looking at a new league this year, but largely a new team as well.
Coach Wayne Farris wrote in an email that the girls varsity squad is very young, with no returning starters and only four returning players; senior Jasmine Smith, juniors Olivia Kirby and Hannah Shortt and sophomore Summer Kober.
More updates to the roster will be made in the next week or so, Farris wrote, but new to the turf this year are seniors Jamie Flynn, Keyaira Witt and Tristan Butler, juniors Sarah Deffern, Hannah Kaiser, Isabelle Sajjadi and Olivia Grob, sophomores Eliza Christensen, Payton Schelin and Amanda Thompson and freshmen Kalyssa Hesler, Carleigh DeLapp, and Kayle Coatney.
This year’s goalkeepers are Deffern, Christensen and Flynn, defended by Hesler, DeLapp, Schelin, Butler, Grob and Thompson.
Up the field are Kaiser and Smith as forwards, with Kober, Witt, Shortt, Coatney, Kirby, and Sajjadi covering midfield.
Last year’s team had a strong league performance, winning 10 of their 15 games and moving on to districts, where their playoff matches were cut short by Enumclaw.
With a new team and a new league, Farris wrote that the team is going to have to work fast to be able to catch up and compete, but the freshness of the year should make things very exciting.
“Our goals are to learn each others ‘games’ and ‘style of play’ as fast we can, and meld as a new team even faster. We are focusing on unselfish play and a ‘team’ first mentality,” he wrote. “We know we are young and inexperienced and will face our challenges, but we hope to rise to them and maybe even surprise a few people along the way.”
The team’s first non-league home game was yesterday against White River.
Their first game is 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8 against Mount Tahoma, and the next planned home game is at noon on Sept. 10 against Black Hills.
This year, 23 Panther boys will be returning to the courts and ready to start swinging after four varsity players graduated last year.
The captains of the varsity team will be senior Jeremy Kurtz and junior Logan DeLapp.
Coach Damon DeLapp wrote in an email that spectators should keep their eyes open for the team captains as well as seniors Jordan Byersdorf, Noah Lucus, Zach Goff, juniors Wyatt Johnson, Alex Nguyen and Dylan Perdue, sophomore Josh Ning and freshman Sam Tays.
The team did not make it to state last year, but Kurtz competed in the West Central District tournament last year as a singles player.
Coach DeLapp has high hopes for this year.
“Our goal is to finish in the top 2 spots in our league because these two teams get three births for singles and doubles to the sub-district tournament,” he wrote. “The rest of the league only will have two entries and the last two teams will only get one entry.”
The team’s first match is away against Mount Tahoma 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.
The first home match is 3:30 on Sept. 8 against Bethel.
Last year’s boys golf team led the Panthers to grab fifth in state, a new record for the school.
Although three varsity players graduated and are now playing golf at their respective colleges, many of the players have returned and four new players will be working hard on their game for the next couple of years, coach J.D. Rushton wrote in an email.
The team’s top returner is senior Michael Korum, who made it to the spring qualifier for state last year.
“I expect to see him compete for one of the top spots in the league this year,” Rushton wrote.
Other lettermen returning to the green are seniors Bryson Wilhite, Trevor Castor and Kyle Jung and junior Eric Hughs.
New to the team is senior Isaiah Brooks, junior Michael Yanusevich, sophomores Race Spoor and Tanner Smith, Griffin Karch and Nick Zawlislak, and freshmen Max Schneider, Logan Williams and Issac Edlin.
“Rayce was our highest point getter this past week in a practice match against Rogers at Spanaway Lake GC with a rain shortened 14 points,” Rushton noted.
The team’s first match is away against Spanaway Lake at 2:45 p.m. Sept. 8.
The first hosted match is 2:45 p.m. Sept. 20 at the High Cedars Golf Course against Mount Tahoma.
The girls did not fare as well as the boys last year, taking away two wins out of 12 league matches, but new blood and a new league could shake things up this year for the Panthers.
Coach Sharon Lovinger wrote two players are returning to the course; sophomores Rylee Howard and Gabby Jones.
New to the team this year is sophomore Jessica Holubowsky and Maddie Charron, and freshman Ally Richied.
The team will be missing graduate Hayden Zumhofe, who finished 6th last year in the SPSL 3A state competition. Zumhofe is now attending Pacific Lutheran University, Sharon added.
The girls team last year also won the SPSL League Sportsmanship Award.
The team’s first match is a home game against Bethel at 2:45 Sept. 13 at the High Cedars Golf Course.
The following match is away against Lakes at 3:30 on Sept. 15.