Youth was Served

The 2004 South Kitsap sports scene was a lot of things. It was a year full of success, close calls and bitter disappointment but most of all, it was the year of the sophomore.

It was a year that saw the newbie crowd make its presence felt in a big way by claiming two state titles for the school while another came awfully close to grabbing a third.

It was a year that saw two teams make runs at state titles — one expected, the other a complete surprise.

It was a year that saw one team go back to state for the 16th time in a row while another headed in the opposite direction, posting its worst record in more than a quarter century.

It was a year that saw yet another long-time coach say goodbye but not before making sure to keep a winning streak that dates back to 1992 still intact.

It was a year that saw a group of 15-year olds come within two wins of advancing to the World Series while a trio of seniors made their fourth and final trip to the state tournament.

So as the door closes on the 2004 sports season, here’s a look at the Top 10 stories that most shaped the sporting year in and around South Kitsap.

10. SKHS girls cross-county team makes 16th consecutive trip to state meet.

Some of the girls on the team weren’t even born yet when Ed Santos took his first South Kitsap cross-country team to the Class 4A state meet back in 1989. But those girls helped keep the tradition of going east alive once again this year as the Wolves made the 16th-straight trip in November and finished 12th.

“I don’t really talk about it. They know about it,” Santos said before the team left for the state meet back in November. “They know there’s a streak and they know what the number is. Eventually it comes up in conversation, but we haven’t talked about it since maybe September.”

9. Trio makes fourth-straight trip to girls soccer state tournament.

Not that it was getting old or anything, but playing the Class 4A state girls soccer tournament was something Stephanie Milne, Randee Robinson and Lauren Kruzner were used to doing.

The trio made it four for four this year as the Wolves qualified with an exciting 1-0 win over Federal Way in the West Central District Tournament. The trip to state was a short one, however, as South lost to Redmond 1-0 in the round of 16. But their achievement will be hard to equal and impossible to surpass.

“These are the best girls you could ever play with. I love them so much,” Milne said after the Redmond game. “I’m going to be sad not coming to practice. I’d rather run than not be with these girls.”

8. Dual-meet streak intact as Hudiburg retires after 20 years. Ron Hudiburg will be remember for a lot of things, but one thing he will always be associated with is “The Streak” - as in 113 straight dual-match victories.

The Wolves last loss a dual-match back in 1992 against North Thurston, although they have now lost Hudiburg.

Hudiburg called it a career last spring, completing a 20-year coaching stint at South during which he compiled a dual-meet record of 203-34-2 and coached five individual state champions.

His final team placed 10th at the state meet.

“It’s really kind of a relief to finally be done,” Hudiburg said after the state meet in February. “Now I can kind of enjoy some other things.”

7. SK Babe Ruth comes within two wins of World Series appearance. First they won the Washington state title and then made a run at a spot in the Babe Ruth World Series, keeping things interesting around South Kitsap all summer long.

The South Kitsap 15-year-old Babe Ruth team, led by manager Bruce Johnson, just missed out on a chance to qualify for the World Series back in August, losing in a tie-breaker in the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament in Eagle Point, Ore.

“It was a great ride,” Johnson said. “The kids played hard and they played well. We just fell a little short.”

South went 3-1 in pool play but missed out on the final game having allowed more runs than the other teams it finished tied with, capping an 11-1 summer tournament run.

6. Boys soccer reaches state quarterfinals. Simply put, they weren’t supposed to do something like that. But SK’s run into and through the Class 4A state boys soccer tournament was the biggest surprise of the year.

Overcoming a stretch of four key Narrows League Bridge Division losses in the middle of the season and then facing a loser-out playoff game, the Wolves put together a fantastic playoff run that ended just one game short of the Class 4A Final Four.

The Wolves disposed of Decatur and Shorewood in a pair of 1-0 wins before falling to Juanita, 2-0. They finished the year with an 11-7-2 mark and plenty of reason to be proud.

“We looked each other in the eye and said our goal was to make it to state,” coach Eric Bergeson said. “That’s always your first goal. We took a tough route to get there which shows how much character these guys have, especially the seniors. They battled right up to the end. I thought they played with class. They played with heart.”

5. Brent Chriswell takes second at state wrestling tournament. The super soph almost became the first-ever sophomore to win a state wrestling title for South last February but fell just short when he lost to Tahoma’s Mike Johnson 4-1 in the finals of the 160-pound weight class at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

“I’m disappointed,” Chriswell said after the final match. “I had a lot of high expectations for my coaches and family. I think they’re happy, but I’m not.”

Chriswell had cruised through the regular season, one he entered ranked in the top 10 in the country in freestyle wrestling, and made quick work of most of his opponents, winning more than 30 matches while losing just three.

The normally quiet and reserved Chriswell vowed to be back again in 2005.

“We’ll set our goals higher for the next year,” said Wade Chriswell, Brent’s father. “You’re let down because you’re close enough, you’re right on the doorstep. He’s a little down right now but he’ll look at it and say that was good.”

4. Football team suffers first losing season since 1977. It was a worst-case scenario for the Wolves back in late October. In front of members of the 1994 state championship team and the coach, Ed Fisher, who built the program into the powerhouse it was, South lost to Central Kitsap 45-28 to guarantee its first losing season since 1977.

“At this point, we don’t have any control over that,” South coach D.J. Sigurdson said after that game. “That’s kind of how I feel about that. It’s unfortunate. I feel bad for the seniors that this will be their legacy, our legacy this year. But we’re not going to worry about it.”

It was a season that saw South on the wrong end of such scores as 47-13, 64-20 and 62-7. But the team did bounce back to win its final two games to end the year at 4-6 and miss out on a trip to the state playoffs for the second year in a row since making it a state record 23 consecutive times from 1980-2002.

3. Basketball team places second at state tournament. At one point during the 2003-2004 season, South Kitsap was 1-4 and in last place in the Narrows League Bridge Division. But 25 games later, the Wolves found themselves capping off a remarkable playoff run that lead all the way to the Class 4A title game on March 13 in the Tacoma Dome, a game they lost to Kentwood 65-56.

Still, just getting to that point was enough of a victory for a team that started slow and slowly built up enough momentum to beat the state’s top-ranked team not once but twice on its way to a second-place finish.

“When we lost those games in Utah (to start the year), people kind of stopped believing in us,” senior post Jake Beitinger said. “But we didn’t.”

Behind the play of Beitinger and Adam Bennett and the addition of Mike Lizama at point guard, the Wolves stormed into the West Central District, beat unbeaten Bethel and qualified for a fourth-straight trip to the big dance. Once there, they knocked off Mountlake Terrace, Walla Walla and Bethel again to reach the finals and finish 21-9.

“We made things happen. We were the underdogs the whole year,” Lizama said after the game. “Some of us didn’t even have faith in our team at times. But we pulled through it. We proved this whole state wrong.”

2. Madison Rousell claims state swimming title. Rousell made a statement to the crowd as she entered the finals of the 100-yard freestyle, choosing MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” as the entrance music. When she left, everyone was in agreement. And how could they doubt her after she blew away the field with a winning time of 52.35 seconds.

“I figured because I played that song, I had to win,” Rousell said after winning her title. “As soon as I dove off the blocks, I wanted it. I wanted it before the meet, but as soon as I dove off, I knew I had to get it. So I just went.”

And all of that came after spraining her ankle just two days before the state meet playing handball in PE class. She not only became the school’s first swim champion since 1998 but she also took second in the 50 free.

“I am just so happy, I’m ecstatic,” Rousell said. “And next year, I’m going to want to be state champion again. I want to keep it going.”

1. Stephanie Davison wins Class 4A tennis title defeating previously unbeaten foe. Easily the story of the year, especially since the feisty sophomore did what no other had ever done before - beat Richland’s Amanda Taylor in tennis.

Taylor’s three-year reign as the Class 4A state tennis queen came to an end back in late May when Davison stopped her 7-5, 7-5 in a wonderful finals match.

The loss was Taylor’s first of her entire high-school career, giving her a 133-1 career record.

But the day belonged to Davison, who avenged her loss to Taylor in the finals the year before.

Davison led 5-1 in the second set before holding off Taylor, who was playing in her hometown, to claim her first state crown.

“Everyone was cheering her on,” Davison said after the match. “But I tried not to let that get to me.”

She now has a chance to match Taylor’s three-year mark, which she believes she will, she said.

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