OC pulls in the talent

From staying close to home to getting a shot at making it to a four-year school, the signees coming to Olympic College athletics for the 2003-04 school year found a good reason to play in Bremerton.

Most of the new faces on the campus are familiar.

OC coaches for volleyball, basketball, softball, and baseball coaches scoured the local talent pool. They also traveled miles to watch tournaments as far away as Idaho to bring in players from out of the area. And while the recruiting continues as athletes keep their options open as long as possible, here’s a look at those who are already on board.

The club ties that bind

For three years now, volleyball coach Tobie Moore has been cultivating talent in the Kitsap Juniors Volleyball Club — just waiting for the day to come when those girls were ready for college.

“I’m excited about the season. I have five girls from my 18U team which took first place undefeated in the Puget Sound Regional Championships,” Moore said. “I’ve been waiting for the day when my club team would kick in with the recruiting and now that has happened.”

Coming on to what Moore calls “probably the best team OC has seen in a long time” are Central Kitsap’s Jolina Fanua and Rachel Gorman, North Kitsap’s Adrienne Carter, Olympic’s Carissa Love, Eastlake’s Katie Bostwick and Clallam Bay’s Casey Soeneke. CK’s Ashley Wiseman also has signed with OC though Moore said she may end up at a school in Virginia. They’ll join returners Corey Simons, Brooke Sparling and Anna Balding and should greatly improve on 2002’s Northwest Athletic Association of Community College North Division record of 0-12.

“A lot of these girls have already played against they’ll see this season,” Moore said. “And they know me, what I’m about and what I’m working for — and that can’t be bad if they all signed.”

Late start out of the blocks

Starting to recruit basketball players in late March isn’t the best way to build a program nearly from scratch. But that’s what new mens basketball coach Billy Landram faced when he took over the reigns of the program after the swift departure of two-year coach Reece Gliko who left to pursue a career in the ministry.

“The most difficult thing is that I didn’t see these guys play all year,” said Landram, who recently moved to Tracyton so he could coach and be closer to his new job as a fifth-grade teacher in Belfair. “I didn’t get a chance to talk with them, knowing who is out there and who was good.

“A lot of guys had relationships with coaches and it’s tough to swoop in and get a relationship with them.”

The Rangers found themselves with huge holes to fill following the graduation of all their starters.

“We only have four coming back so there are a lot of spots to fill,” said Landram, who played at OC from 1997 to 1999. Those coming back are Will Pence, Kevin Van Hook, D.C. Egge and Corey Smith.

But Landram insists his first time around on the recruiting trail is going “alright”.

“I’ve been out and about going to all-star games in the past couple of weeks trying to figure out what’s best for this team,” Landrum said. “There are some other key guys that we’re looking at and we’re just waiting for them to make a decision.”

He’s already got some talent signed up in South Kitsap 6-4 shooting guard Nate Seitz, North Mason’s 6-5 forward Kyle McDonald and 6-0 guard Cavell Reed from Fife. They’ll fit in well with Landram’s tough defense and inside shooting scheme alongside Jason Young who played at OC a few years ago under Barry Janusch. That’s a departure from Glicko’s 3-ball oriented gameplan.

“We’re not going to be chucking balls from the cheap seats consistently,” Landram said. “Hopefully we can get (the program) back to where Barry had it,” as consistent playoff contenders.

Filling the post holes

The Rangers womens basketball team needed a shot of height and coach Rick Peters went out and found it.

South Kitsap’s 5-11 post Jamae Feddock and North Kitsap’s 5-9 post Jennifer Harris signed early to play alongside returners Robbie Lee (5-8), Amber McKinnis (5-7), Jessica Bento (5-8) and Emily Jolley (5-9). More recent signees have been Erin Mueller out of Billings (Mont.) Senior High and North Mason’s Karla Waldron.

Narrows League co-MVP Adria Layne from Central Kitsap (5-11) should join the Rangers, according to Peters, once she is released from a letter of intent she signed with Big Bend. The Vikings’ coach departed for a school in California and Peters said Layne decided to play closer to her family.

“These freshmen are going to come in and make a big difference,” said Peters, whose team was 10-15 overall last season. “There’s a good possibility some of them could even start for us.”

The Rangers lost both 6-1 Beth Grams and 5-11 Melody Green to graduation along with All-Star guard Shaneta Lewis.

He said he’s not done recruiting yet and is still evaluating talent at open gym sessions Mondays and Wednesday night.

“We’re still open to any possible recruits that want to come out,” Peters said. “There’s definitely money to be given away if the right talent comes along.”

Diamond is deep in returners

You’d think that with most of his team coming back, baseball coach Mike Reece and his staff wouldn’t be scurrying about in Eastern Washington in search of ballplayers. But there they were in Moses Lake for a tournament a couple of weeks ago, scouting for untapped and unsigned talent.

“We’re looking to have 18 solid returners,” Reece said. “And we feel very strong up the middle with (shortstop) Boya Quichocho, (second baseman) Brian Liebold, (catcher) Pat Crowthers and (centerfielder) Greg Hlebechuk back.”

The biggest holes are at the corners following the graduation of Eric Peterson (first base) and Kyle Anderson (third base) and Josh Meeker (first base) to a religious mission.

“We’re looking to bring in (South Kitsap’s) Eric Deisler as a potential third baseman and (SK’s) Ryan Marshall to try out at first,” Reece said.

Josh Ness, another member of the state champion Wolves, will get plenty of time behind the plate.

“He’s a strong kid that can excel at the community college level,” Reece said.

Other signees include Central Kitsap pitcher Jason Sencil (who’s expected to be in the rotation), Nathan Hale’s Chris Balph, Wilson’s Russ Kilcup, Vancouver’s Matt Landrock and North Kitsap’s Pat Gilbert.

“He’s got good academics, he’s a good outfielder and he’ll be a good fit for us,” assistant coach Ryan Rongcal said of Gilbert, a centerfielder with the Vikings.

There are a few spots to fill in the pitching ranks before the fall season starts Sept. 15.

“We still have six guys we’re waiting on who are all pitchers to make a decision by the end of the month or early August,” Reece said, adding there’s still some scholarship money available for the latecomers.

Nine on board, five more to go

Assistant softball coach Clay Blackwood didn’t have to stray far from home to fill most of the Rangers’ needs. He’s signed six women to scholarships and three more committed walk-ons all from Kitsap, Mason or Pierce counties.

“We hit the local area really hard trying to convince the local kids to stay around for a couple years and it’s paid off,” said Blackwood of his first trip around the recruiting trail. “I felt I started late because I didn’t know the system well but we sent out letters to every senior from Port Angeles to Gig Harbor. We’ve tried to keep good communication lines with the kids and go out and see them.”

That work paid off as Blackwood’s already signed up All-Narrows League catcher Sarah Pedroza from Olympic, Bremerton pitcher Jordan Bushor, Gig Harbor infielder Laken Durkee, Central Kitsap first baseman/designated hitter Stacey Woolford, Peninsula infielder Chandra Coughtry and Klahowya All-Nisqually League outfielder Britini Hintz. And North Kitsap third baseman Tawney Summarell, South Kitsap outfielder Becky Heilinger and North Mason left fielder Karla Waldron are walking on when fall practices start Sept. 15.

“A lot of these kids have select experience,” Blackwood said. “They’re a solid group that I expect will do well. We’re trying to find two more solid gals to focus on pitching and hopefully we’ll get a few more players soon that are still looking at their options,” noting there are three local and two out-of-area ballplayers on the fence.

The Rangers are hoping to qualify for the post-season tournament for the fifth-straight season.

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