The traditionally-powerful Hornets are missing some longtime standouts, lost to graduation, but new coach Ryan Picinich welcomes back some battle-tested seniors to lead the way.
Success is nothing new to the EHS program formerly headed by Bob Kilmer. The Hornets have posted five consecutive league championships and four consecutive league tournament titles.
Picinich has welcomed six seniors, eight sophomores and four freshmen to this year’s squad.
Matt Hodgman heads the list of proven players. He not only qualified for last season’s state tourney, but survived the cut, played all 36 holes and tied for 10th place in the Class 4A individual standings. That capped a season in which he was a first team, all-NPSL selection. The three-time letter-winner is a team captain.
Riley Hebrank, also a senior, received honorable mention honors when last year’s all-league squad was announced and is a two-time letterman. Other seniors include letterman Bobby Sparkman, Quinn Hood, David Harvey and Mark Porter.
“We are excited about the development of our younger players,” Picinich said, pointing to the potential of players like sophomores Ty Albrecht and Jaeger Christian and freshman Cameron Serba.
This year’s Hornet squad is paced by two who qualified a year ago for the Class 4A state swim and dive championships.
Senior Abbie Jo Carlson and junior Elise Pratt advanced to the state meet, where they scored well enough to help EHS to a 21st-place finish. Pratt had qualified in both the breaststroke, where she is the EHS record-holder, and individual medley.
When league coaches decided postseason honors, Pratt was a first team swimmer and Carlson was a first team diver.
Coach Becky Pratt has high hopes for Carlson and offers this observation: “Having trained with a club coach this summer as well as climbing Mount Rainier with her dad, she looks to reach new heights on the podium at the state meet in November.”
Those two spark a squad that features a dozen returning athletes and seven freshmen.
“We continue to build our numbers up after graduating numerous athletes over the last three years,” Pratt said.
Added to the Hornet mix is Jessica Lee, a junior and a seasoned swimmer, who “seamlessly joined our team,” Pratt said. “We are excited to see her potential as the season unfolds.”
Also new to the program is assistant coach Kristina Grundmanis. “She brings her vast swimming knowledge, passion and experience to our deck each day,” Pratt said.
Veteran coach Jackie Carel finds her team already ahead of last year’s pace, courtesy of experience at the top of the lineup.
Seven returning players are back, including seniors Natalie Christensen and Taylor Thompson. Also back are juniors Emily Miller, Lauren Hanson, Katelyn Weyer, Danika Seabrands and Rilee Herrell. New to the varsity are junior Ellie Hickle and sophomore Jesslyn Heizenga, along with senior Kaileigh Reed who is new to the district.
“I believe that we will learn a lot during our brutal preseason schedule and be ready for league play come October,” Carel wrote in an email. Included in the early-season slate is a late-September trip to Arizona for the Nike Tournament of Champions.
The EHS girls roster was hit hard by graduation, most notably the loss of Lexi Dechon, a state tournament qualifier.
The top returnee is junior Taylor Anglin, who received honorable mention all-league recognition a season ago. A two-year letter-winner, she advanced to the state qualifying tournament following last year’s regular season.
Others to watch for, according to coach Steven Murphy, are junior Kennedy VanHoof; Emma Murphy, a sophomore who played in the spring qualifier; and Masyn Whealdon. All were 2016 letter-winners.
“We have an excellent mix of experience and youth this season,” Murphy said, despite a lack of seniors. His squad is comprised of three juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen.
Coach Shawn Tobius has welcomed a group that lost a lot of productivity to graduation. But that has created opportunities for many to step forward.
The most recognized returnee is senior McKeely Reid, who picked up second team, all-league honors last year as a defender.
Also among the returnees are senior goalkeeper Gabby Quinnett and sophomore forward Carli Bogar.
A big turnout and a healthy handful of retuning players spell good things for the EHS boys tennis program.
The program is “looking forward to improving on our second-place league season last year,” said coach Will Stuenkel, indicating a fight for the league title.
Leading the way are returning varsity players, and captains, Tyler Miller and Kenny Herbst, who teamed up to produce a successful doubles record a year ago. Other returning seniors include Josh Rosenthal and Ryan Dickerson.
Stuenkel also expects good things from a pair of juniors with extensive varsity experience, Kyle Dunning and Easton Tandecki.
The Hornet roster features both talent and experience, much to the relief of the coaching staff.
On the girls side, coach Tod Witzel welcomes back a group headed by senior Hunter Storm, who was named the league’s Athlete of the Year following the 2016 campaign. She qualified for the Class 4A state meet last season, as did teammate Payton Roberson, now a junior. Both were first team, all-league selections.
Also among the key returnees is senior Anna Bursch, who was named last season to the all-league second team. Another with varsity experience is sophomore Natasha Puzon.
Last year’s squad won the NPSL Olympic Division title but lost key contributors Chayce Wieman and Bryn Zeman-Witzel to graduation.
The boys side of the EHS roster is paced by Alec Ritter and Teagan Eldridge. Now seniors, both appeared in last year’s 4A state meet. Following the season, Eldridge was a first team, all-league selection, while Ritter was a second team honoree.
Also expected back and boasting varsity experience for coach Jeff Jacobson are seniors Hunter McGowan, Joey Roberson and Kale VanWeiringen and junior Sam Lingwall.
The roster is deep, with nine returning players.
Aside from senior captains, the group includes juniors Tim Arensdoft, Ethan Decker, Ben Hauswirth, Miles Kratzer, Christopher Morgan, Brandon Start and Cody Williams.
Joining them are first-year players Ethan Blanco, a sophomore, and freshmen Michael Arrensdoft, Jacob Hauswirth and Kellen Murray.
Coach Bob Averill returns for his ninth season and assistant Annie Birklin is in her fourth.