TRACK PREVIEW | South Kitsap boys powered by relays

South Kitsap senior LaForrest Church leads the Wolves’ 1,600-meter relay team that is eyeing a return to state. - File Photo
South Kitsap senior LaForrest Church leads the Wolves’ 1,600-meter relay team that is eyeing a return to state.
— image credit: File Photo

Much of the discussion surrounding South Kitsap track and field has surrounded individuals in recent years.

But it is all about the team this year.

That starts with the relays on the boys team.

Last year at Star Track XXX at Mount Tahoma High School, the Wolves’ 1,600-meter relay team finish sixth in 3 minutes, 24.15 seconds. South graduated Dominic Boddie, who now is a walk-on running back at the University of Washington, off that relay but regained senior Zach Sleigh. At competing on the 1,600 relay throughout the season, Sleigh missed state with a hamstring injury.

“Our team was really young last year,” said senior LaForrest Church, who signed to run track next season at the University of Memphis. “We’re looking to be better.”

Along with Church, Sleigh and his twin brother, Nick, senior Adam Gascoyne and junior Bastian Tabacchi also return. Co-coach Kathy Ballew said others, including senior Chris Willett, could contender for positions on the 1,600 team.

“We have high expectations for them,” Ballew said.

The Wolves expect a similar composition for the 400 relay, which was disqualified at state last year. Co-coach Paul Zimmer said that stemmed from a botched handoff.

South’s individual events are led by Church, who finished fifth in the 800 in 1:53.12. Ballew, who coaches the boys team, said Willett is another runner who could have postseason aspirations in the sprints and long jump. Among the newcomers, sophomore Cole Sunkel could do the same in the throwing events.

Ballew, who noted that 70 boys turned out this spring, said others could surprise, as well.

The Wolves’ girls team will feature a makeover this spring. Zimmer, who coaches that squad, estimated that at least 50 percent of the 40 participants are sophomores.

Kelsie Forcier, who was the school’s lone female competitor at state last year, has graduated. She placed fifth in the discus with a throw of 127 feet, 6 inches. Stanwood’s Kaci Jones won the event (131-10). Forcier now competes at Eastern Washington University.

There are a few experienced runners returning, including senior Jessica Peterson, who signed to run cross country next fall at Idaho’s Lewis-Clark State College. Peterson was fourth in the 3,200 (11:39.5) during last year’s league meet at Shelton.

“Jessica just came up a little short,” Zimmer said. “She’s ready to go this year.”

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