It’s the big time for Sparts

The trio of Jamie Slonaker, Brooke Shorett and Molly Donohue compete for a individual and team title at the 3A state tennis tournament in the Tri-Cities. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
The trio of Jamie Slonaker, Brooke Shorett and Molly Donohue compete for a individual and team title at the 3A state tennis tournament in the Tri-Cities.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Three teams go for it all in their upcoming state tournaments.

It’s the final week of the prep season, and three Bainbridge teams are gearing up for big tournaments this weekend.

The Spartan tennis team is headed to the 3A tournament at the Tri-City Court Club and Kamiakin High School in the Tri-Cities.

The trio of Molly Donohue, Jamie Slonaker and Brooke Shorett make their first ever appearance at the tournament with a good chance to bring home a trophy – something the three of them never figured they’d be in a position to do.

“I was just happy to get past the first round,” Slonaker said.

“That was our hope: to survive districts,” Shorett said.

Head coach Mike Anderson said the tournament courts will be new to him, as the location was the Nordstrom Center at the University of Washington for the past several years.

“We don’t know what kind of courts there are,” he said. “We don’t know whether they’ll be fast or slow, which could favor one (player) or the other.”

The threesome had to get used to different courts this week, as construction on the new school building resulted in them using the courts at the Wing Point Golf and Country Club.

“It’s nice that they allowed us to use the courts here,” he said. “We might have to use them next year as well if we can’t access” the old courts at the school.

Access to the state tournament was expected for Donohue, the number one girls player for the past two years, but the number one girls doubles team of Slonaker and Shorett wasn’t a sure thing just yet.

“As they developed through the year, it looked like a possibility,” he said.

“If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year, I would have said probably not, but when I look at them I think, ‘you know, they really compliment each other.”

Slonaker, who didn’t miss a match this season, had success with other partners and on her own, but found her niche with Shorett.

The two had been on varsity for the past few years – Slonaker, a senior, is a three year letterwinner while Shorett, a junior, lettered last year – but had never played together as a doubles tandem until this season.

But their success came about thanks to their steady play on the court.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Anderson said. “They’re pretty good at keeping the ball in play, which is key in doubles.

“They like to (play) one up and one back, which has worked for them because they’re both pretty consistent from the baseline when one is back.”

Their rise to state culminated in their performance at the 3A Sea-King District 2 tournament at Lower Woodland in Seattle.

There, they won their first three matches to not only qualify for state, but play for a district title as well.

“It was a great accomplishment,” Anderson said.

Thanks to their success and the performance of Donohue, they took home the girls’ district title for the first time in Anderson’s tenure at Bainbridge – a title that usually goes to the likes of Mercer Island or Seattle Prep.

“We all were surprised,” Anderson said. “I had to look at the paper the next day to verify it really happened.”

Their time at state is really happening as well, but it won’t be easy.

If Donohue can get past her first round opponent in Maggie Becker of White River, she’ll probably see her nemesis in Rachel Storz of Holy Names.

Donohue hasn’t beat her yet, but Anderson feels this weekend is as good as any.

“It’s just like O’Dea and Bainbridge in basketball,” he said. “If you’re going to win one, win the last one.”

Donohue said she’ll be ready for whatever comes.

“I’ve done a lot better against her towards the end,” she said. “I don’t know what will happen, but it will be a good match, so I’m excited.”

Anderson said the girls’ singles bracket is a challenge, but the girls’ doubles bracket is anyone’s game.

“I think they know they can win,” he said. “They know they can have a good chance to get to the semis or even the finals.”

But Anderson said the experience they get at the district tournament will benefit their experience at state.

“We play in the toughest district in the state,” he said. “They’ve already been through the fire.”

Up and running

The experience will be new for several track athletes as well.

Both the boys and girls teams have several athletes making their first appearance at state.

The boys 4x400 relay team of Austin Hallett, Patrick Wauters, Greg Nance and Bevan Taylor are not only making their first appearance as a group, but they‘re regarded as one of the favorites to win it all.

They’ve led the state and the 3A classification for most of the season with their times.

The foursome have also won this year’s Metro and district title as well.

Out of all the teams, only the foursome of East Valley of Spokane is quicker by nearly two seconds.

Hallett said their mission is simple.

“Take state,” he said. “That’s our goal. We’re shooting for the sky and going for a state championship.”

The team also has a goal of breaking the school record of 3:21.27, set in 2003.

“I’d say that if we didn’t win state, we’ll be darn close to breaking that record,” Hallett said. “If we don’t win state but we break the record, we’ll be happy.”

Also looking to win a title is Quinton Agosta.

He qualified in the discus and the triple jump at districts last weekend.

The football standout, who will head to Santa Rosa Junior College next fall, said he’s glad that he can finish his prep career at state.

He went as a sophomore in 2005.

“I just worked really hard to get (back) there,” he said. “Being there is just the icing on the cake for the season. It’s a big accomplishment.”

Also looking to finish out on a good note is Tess Sadowsky.

The senior, who just missed out on state in 2005 and 2006 at the district meet, finally saw her hard work pay off with a fourth place finish in the 300 low hurdles.

Sadowsky, who will attend Scripps College next fall, said she wants to break the school record of 48 seconds at the meet, set by Melissa Borgen in 2000.

“It would be really nice to get that, but I’m really proud of how far I’ve gone,” she said.

Taylor will participate in the 1600 but he’ll have a battle on his hands, as many of his rivals from cross country are in the race.

Cheyne Clark goes for a title in the pole vault, while Theresa Johansen tries for a title in the discus.

Emily Farrar races for a medal in the 1600, while Lauren Fleming, a top scorer on the gymnastics team, tries her hand at the high jump.

Head coach Andy Grimm thinks all of them can do well.

“We definitely have some kids that have a good opportunity to place,” he said. “Number one: if a kid can make it to state, that’s a great accomplishment. That says you’re definitely in the top 16 in your event.

“They’ve put in a lot of time trying to perfect what they do.

Ready to win

While Anderson and Grimm have taken many to state in their respective sports over the years, the Spartan fastpitch team is going for the first time in anyone’s tenure on the team – including head coach Liz McCloskey.

“All of these kids are ready,” said the third year coach and former BHS student, who played fastpitch and won a state title in basketball during her time at the school. “The greatest thing is that they’ve never just stopped. They never said, ‘Oh, we could be finished.’

“They’re excited and they’re ready to play.”

The last time the Spartans made the trip was in 2002, when they won four straight at the district tournament to qualify.

This season, they didn’t need to make that kind of rally, dispatching Ingraham and Issaquah in back to back shutouts.

Senior Stephanie Wagner, who has been on varsity all four years, remembers how the team had been close to making state in the past.

“In my freshman year, we had eight amazing seniors and we had some high hopes,” she said of the 2004 team that made it to the Metro League championship but went 0-2 at the district tournament.

“We didn’t do quite as well as everyone had hoped.”

When McCloskey and Katie Leigh arrived that next season, they had helped turn things around, but it wasn’t until the foursome of Lindsay Willmann, Chelsie Kakela, Cara Thompson and Brittany Wisner arrived last season that things took a turn for the better.

“Up until then I hadn’t been on a team that was really, really good and really, really fun,” Wagner said. “Starting that year (when McCloskey arrived) everything was really, really fun.

“I just expected it to continue that way through my senior year and then these amazing freshman came,” she continued. “Then this year we got Haylee (Baker) and we just melded together as a really good team.”

But to make it to state in just McCloskey’s third year wasn’t expected by many – even McCloskey.

“Three years ago, we had an OK team, but we weren’t the greatest,” she said. “But you take this sophomore class with Lindsay leading the way on the mound, it’s a dominant group of kids that love to play ball.

“If I was to compare (past) teams (to this one), this would be one of the best this program has ever seen.”

And whether they take home the trophy or go 0-2, Wagner feels they’ll persevere through whatever comes their way.

“It’d be amazing to go all the way, but just knowing that we made it shows me how good they’re going to do next year and the year after.

“I know how great this team’s going to be.”

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