Sumner looking to again be a force in state’s 4A ranks

As the Spartan boys hit the links this fall and prepared for the season, returning varsity players, Alec LaBarge and Drew Engstrom, both juniors, have been battling for the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the roster.

The Sumner Spartans sent one golfer to state last year (not pictured). Photo by Ray Still

SWIM AND DIVE

Coach Dana Powers has guided the Sumner squad since 2009, has produced some strong teams through the years and expects that tradition to continue.

The Spartans are coming off a strong 2016 season, their first at the Class 4A level. The team was third at the district meet then finished ninth at state.

“I expect strong swims from our returning athletes,” Powers wrote in an email.

She highlighted Mikaela Miele, a senior who is focused on breaking the school record in the 500-yard freestyle, a mark that has stood for more than 40 years. A season ago, Miele was the district champion in the 500 free, also placing second in the 200 freestyle. From there, she advanced to state, where she finished fourth in the longer distance and seventh in the 200.

“Last year’s strong freshman core is returning and will take the lead this season,” Powers added.

Now sophomores, the group includes Olivia Castro, who advanced to state as a freshman in the 100 backstroke, where she placed 15th. She’s also expected to be strong in the 200 freestyle.

Good things are expected from sophomore Marin Wilson in both the 200 and 500 freestyle. She qualified for state a season ago in the 500, where she was 16th.

Emma Huynh, another sophomore, is expected to lead the sprinting corps, Powers said. Last year, she qualified for state in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. Miranda Wociechowicz is back to swim the 200 and 500 freestyle, having just missed a state trip in the 500 last year.

The coach also has high hopes for Miranda Morgan, primarily in the butterfly, and Danielle Smith in the 200 individual medley.

Splitting her duties in Haven Carroll, a junior who will score points as both a swimmer and diver.

The Spartans were hit hard with a pair of graduations. McKenna Webster grabbed a state championship in diving and now competes for Azusa Pacific University in California. MichaelAnn Wilson was a big part of the Spartan relays and has gone on to swim for the University of Northern Colorado.

SOCCER

Coach Robi Turley faces an interesting mix this fall, welcoming a substantial group of new players, relying on a handful of returnees and looking to plug the holes left by graduated stars.

“We lost our entire back line,” Turley said, noting that departures included Jordan Thompson and Haley Weinkauf, both first-team, all-league performers.

But the roster isn’t entirely empty, with five returnees highlighting Turley’s list. Those include four seniors – goalkeeper Madison Hanenburg, defender Maria Rink, midfielder Madi Gustafson and forward Sam Larberg – along with junior midfielder Jaylin Borden (second team, all-league).

Larberg has already committed to continue playing at the NCAA Division I level. The future Northern Arizona University athlete, Turley said, “is an incredible player and leader and knows what our program is all about.”

Last year’s Spartan squad finished 13-6-1, including a 10-5-1 mark in SPSL 4A play. The regular season was followed by a pair of West Central District tournament victories and an opening-round win in the 16-team state Class 4A tourney.

BOYS GOLF

As the Spartan boys hit the links this fall and prepared for the season, returning varsity players, Alec LaBarge and Drew Engstrom, both juniors, have been battling for the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the roster.

LaBarge held the top position a season ago, but Engstrom has mounted a serious challenge during practice rounds, according to a report by team coaches.

Beyond the top two, coaches will be challenged to shape a roster. A number of players have stepped forward and stated a case for making the varsity.

Aside from eight returning seniors, coaches will choose from senior Carson Inglin, sophomore Ian Engstrom and a pair of freshmen, Grant Garrison and Isaiah Barber, who are pushing for varsity slots.

“We will have a very good golf team that will be very competitive in every match this year,” the coaching staff wrote in an email.

GIRLS GOLF

The coaching staff shares that this year’s turnout of Spartans “is one of the most competitive groups at Sumner in a long time.”

Leading the charge are seniors Abby Burns and Anna Seaton return, who were the team’s top performers a season ago and are back for another campaign. Both have improved their golf games during the past year, coaches note.

Other seniors on the roster include Kate Harris, Natasha Leffel and Kayla Immel, all expected to play at the varsity level. Competing for varsity sports are juniors Kayla Taylor and Alayna Buckley and sophomore Megan Dill.

CROSS COUNTRY

Last season ended with a trio of Spartan runners advancing to the Class 4A state meet, two of them underclassmen.

Expected to front the SHS programs this season are senior Emma Sjolund on the girls side and Dash Penney, also a senior, on the boys team. Both ran at state as juniors, joining the graduated Joel Mott. Sjolund placed 22nd at the state meet and Penney placed 56th.

Following last season, Sjolund was a first team, all-league selection. Penney was a second team honoree.

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