Things are looking good again this season for the tough, talented and battle-tested White River boys wrestling program.
Plenty of faces remain from last year’s squad that placed third at the Class 2A state championships. A season ago, White River trailed only Toppenish and local powerhouse Orting.
In all, nine Hornets advanced through district and regional competition a season ago, eventually earning entry into the state tournament.
Heading the all-star list for new coach Tim Kitchen is junior Nate Moore, who captured an individual title a year ago. Teammate Ryan Redford, now a senior, also advanced to last year’s championship round, taking second-place honors. Weston Lyver finished third, Gabe Hawthorne placed fifth and both Johnny McBride and Jack Ervien returned to Buckley with seventh-place laurels.
This year’s Hornet roster includes three other grapplers – Jared Rodarte, Max Wheeler and Cooper Franklin – who battled their way to state.
A top-notch addition to the Hornet roster is Mason Sabin, who now attends White River after starring on the mat for Bonney Lake High. Sabin has twice placed at the Class 3A state tournament and last year advanced to the championship round, taking second place.
This year’s Hornet squad is stacked in several weight classes, presenting healthy competition for varsity spots. Some of last year’s regulars are finding themselves in junior varsity competition during the early part of the season.
Hornet grapplers have seen changing roles in the coaching staff. Former assistant Kitchen was elevated to the top spot and former head coach Joe Klein is now an assistant.
Kitchen is a Tacoma native and graduate of Central Washington University. At Wilson High School, he placed four times at the state wrestling tournament, capping his prep career with a state championship. He then competed at Central, where he earned All-American honors. Along the way, he was an All-American numerous times in both freestyle and Greco Roman competition.
After graduating in 1999 from CWU, he coached at Port Angeles High School where he spent one season as an assistant and two as head coach. After some time away, he served as an assistant coach at Tahoma High School from 2008 to 2016 before spending last season as an assistant at White River.
The Rivergirls aren’t exactly starting from scratch, but there are key holes to fill from a squad that placed fifth at last year’s state meet.
Anchoring this year’s team are a pair of state meet veterans, senior Tatiana Molinero and junior Payton Stroud. Molinero is a two-time veteran of the state championships and Stroud was a seventh-place finisher a season ago.
Also on this year’s roster are seniors Julia Zimmerman, Madeline Emerson and Esperanza Aparicio; juniors Rachel Poussier, Cheyenne Marll and Tailyn Nelson; sophomore Madison Boschee; and freshman Mercedes McVea, Marissa Gutierrez, Taylor Lynch and Claire Dicugno.
The biggest loss from a year ago was Erin Redford, who capped a stellar career by winning a state championship for the Hornets. That followed third-place performances during her sophomore and junior seasons. Also gone is Jacey Lindner, who placed fourth at last year’s state tournament.
Under the direction of coach Jason Jackson, the White River girls begin South Puget Sound League 2A Dec. 14, hosting grapplers from both Foster and Foss high schools. Several tournaments are then in the mix until SPSL action resumes Jan. 10.
For the first time in the school’s storied sports history, a bowling team is competing under the White River banner.
Bowling isn’t exactly commonplace throughout the region, but enough competition exists to prompt White River’s entry into the world of strikes, spares and, for the less fortunate, splits. Of the 16 teams making up the two divisions of the South Puget Sound League 2A, nine have introduced girls bowling.
“We thought it was a good time to jump into the league,” White River Athletic Director Chris Gibson said, adding that the district welcomes new opportunities for its student-athletes. In addition to high school bowling, two sports were added this year at the middle school level, Gibson said.
Peggy Jacobsen is leading the Hornets’ inaugural effort on the lanes, guiding a roster of six girls. On the team are Shelby Collins, Maddie Vandersnick, Peyton Wallen, Katie Olson, Dakota Farrer and Rylee Goetz.
White River doesn’t have an official entry into the world of prep gymnastics, but that doesn’t mean the Hornets are without a presence.
Six gymnasts who attend White River are turning out with the neighboring squad at Enumclaw High. The quartet includes sisters Erin and Hannah McGinnes along with Chylye Schillen, Kassidy Rima, Annelyse Anderson and Savana Singleton.
Making the biggest impact is Erin McGinnes, who won the all-around title during the opening meet of the season. Competing against Auburn Mountainview, Kentridge and Kentwood, she was the top athlete in the field, placing first in the bars and beam while taking second in the vault and floor exercise. In a Dec. 5 meet at Kentlake High, she won the vault and was third in the all-around.