There’s a new hand at the helm of the White River High boys soccer program, as T.J. Suek has replaced longtime coach Russ DeFord, who moved from the area.
Suek, his staff and the varsity squad will be looking to rebound from a 2016 campaign that didn’t go as well as hoped. The Hornets went 5-9 in South Puget Sound League 2A play, scoring 19 goals while surrendering 28. Overall, the team posted a record of 5-11.
Suek, who began his coaching career in Longview, took the field for the first time last night (Tuesday) as part of the Hornet-Hornet battle between White River and Enumclaw. The team next plays at 7 p.m. Friday, taking on the Panthers at Bonney Lake High.
Suek preaches a gritty approach to the game and describes his approach as “defensive-minded.”
The squad is buying into the philosophy, he said, noting that a handful of seniors have done an excellent job of leading by example.
This year’s roster includes some familiar names from a season ago, like seniors Matt McKinley and Andy Brown, junior Adrian Fernandez, and sophomores Chris Dominguez and Evan Hamilton. Among those making the jump from the junior varsity ranks are sophomore Drayton Wyrwitzke and senior Josh Smith.
Suek’s previous coaching experience came at Mark Morris High School in Longview, Wash., where he spent a season as a soccer assistant, two seasons as a football assistant and two seasons as an assistant with the girls basketball program.
As coach Levon Moroz puts his Hornets through their preseason paces, things are taking shape. He is particularly pleased to see so many familiar faces on the campus courts.
“Most of our girls varsity lineup have varsity playing experience,” Moroz wrote in an email. He admits to being excited by this year’s prospects because “we are going to have a very competitive lineup from singles through all doubles teams.”
Returning players with varsity experience include Kecia Howard, Heather Kryzsko, Natalie Elmore, Amelia Hammond, Andrina Maurseth, Danielle Hood, Zoe Rossich and Rebekah Lockemy. Among those with varsity potential, the coach lists Karen Wright, Paige Proctor, Alexis Earney, Briana Burns and Sine Duch-Svenson. Added to the mix are newcomers Annabelle Hall and Emily Plaster.
TRACK AND FIELD
Plenty of returning athletes greeted coach Dameon Marlow as White River High kicked off another season of track and field action.
For Marlow, who has 87 Hornets making up the boys and girls squads, this is his second year as head coach and 16th season as part of the program.
On the roster are plenty of athletes who advanced last year to postseason meets.
The White River girls program includes multi-talented Kelsey Bunker. “She does just about everything for us,” Marlow said, explaining that the Hornet senior competes in throwing and jumping events, runs the sprints and hurdles. She competed in postseason meets a year ago in the javelin and 100-meter hurdles.
Other familiar names on the girls roster include Chloe Anastasi, Kiana Harris, Chloe Mitchell and Shelby Stoeck, all veterans of the sprints and relay teams. Returning distance runners include Camryn Berryhill and Hannah Swettenam. Turning out this year is Courtney Gelmini, the No. 1 runner from Marlow’s cross country squad.
On the boys side of the equation, key returnees include sprinters Hunter Heriot and Ethan Clay; middle district runner Jadon Flanders; and, in the distance events, Joel Slominski. Top throwers are Ryan Lusk and Chase Lydig. Also expected to add team points are Greg Piontek in the pole vault, Spencer Hall in the high jump and Corey Smith in the triple jump.
As always, Marlow said, there could be members of the freshman class breaking through and contributing throughout the lineup.
Coach John O’Connor readily admits this year’s squad will look “substantially different” from the teams that advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division II state championships the past two seasons. That’s what happens when 17 seniors are lost to graduation.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of familiar faces as the White River program launches its third season of existence.
“Although we are young this year our team goal remains the same, win our division and have a chance to compete in the playoffs,” O’Connor said.
The defense looks to be anchored by returning seniors Doug Webster and Aiden Rosenbam, and junior Cody Morris boasts plenty of varsity experience and is assuming a leadership role, O’Connor noted. Also keeping the opposition off the scoreboard is junior goalie Carson McElroy, a fixture in the starting lineup since his freshman season.
Taking the biggest toll due to graduation was the White River offense. However, there’s excitement around the return of junior Matt Funkhouser. During his freshman and sophomore seasons, Funkhouser ranked in the top five statewide statistically at the attack position.
Also on the offensive side, O’Connor will be counting on juniors Trevor Budinich and Devyn Hager to take on a larger role.
The squad kicked off its season Saturday by hosting a 10-team jamboree and the first home game is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, against Issaquah.