2019: The year in sports for the Kirkland area

Athletic success is a staple of the local community.


• Lake Washington and Juanita players battled during a 2A/3A KingCo girls basketball first-place showdown. LW won, 43-36. For LW, Rosa Smith had 13 points and Jen Estes had 10 points.

• Torin Montgomery amassed 15 points and 17 rebounds to lead Lake Washington to a 63-44 boys basketball victory over Juanita. Evan Liggett had 12 points, three assists and three steals and Nick Strausburg had 10 points and five rebounds for the Kangs.


• Lake Washington High’s gymnastics team came so close to standing at the top of the state victory podium. They were hoping for first, said Kang Laly Noriega, but second will have to do.

“I’m just proud of our whole team for just cheering each other on, doing what we could and getting second,” said Noriega, adding that training hard and wanting the best for each other were hallmarks to the team’s success.

At the 1A/2A/3A championships on Feb. 21 at Sammamish High, Holy Names Academy took first with 181.325 points and the Kangs followed with 180.275 points. Noriega took sixth in the all around with 37.375 points and Juanita’s Allison Lofquist placed eighth with a 37.100.

• The Lake Washington Kangaroos girls basketball program earned the 3A KingCo tournament title courtesy of a 53-43 win against the Bellevue Wolverines.


• Copious runners crossed the plate and ear-piercing cheers filled the grandstands during the third and fourth innings of the rivalry baseball game featuring Lake Washington and Juanita. When the dust settled, LW claimed an 11-4 victory at a packed Lee Johnson Field in Kirkland.


• Juanita’s Ruby Olmstead fired a no-hitter and fanned eight batters in the Rebels’ 17-2 softball victory over Mercer Island in 3A KingCo action. In the five-inning game, the Rebels received two hits each from Sasha Mitchell (two RBIs), Abbie Reynolds, Jordan Schroeder (two RBIs) and Eden Radke (two RBIs). Heather Gengo nailed a triple and added three RBIs.


• It all happened so fast. A ground ball to second that resulted in a force out, and then a rocket throw to third to nab a runner for the final out.

Then it was all gloves flying into the air and players piling onto each other on the ground.

“It was just pandemonium,” said head coach Derek Bingham.

Lake Washington High’s baseball team had just won the 3A state championship with a 3-2 victory over O’Dea. The Kangs finished their monumental season with a 26-2 record and brought the state hardware back to Kirkland. The Kangs last won the title in 2016.

• It was an early game and a tough victory for the Lake Washington High softball team.

At the 3A state tournament, the Kangs held on to defeat Everett, 3-2, in the 9 a.m. opener. The Kangs finished their day and time in the tourney with losses to Yelm (8-1) and Prairie (4-0) later that day.

The Everett victory was a nail-biter. Up 3-2 with two outs and a runner on first in the top of the seventh inning, LW second baseman Claire Towey fielded a grounder and beat the runner to second for the force out to win the game. Elation ensued from the LW players in the middle of the diamond.

Juanita lost a pair of games at state, 10-5 to Mountain View and 9-3 to Bellevue.

• Lake Washington High’s girls track and field squad won the 3A KingCo title and Juanita High’s Ryan Greenwalt won 100, 200, 400 and long jump crowns at the KingCo championships at Lake Washington High. Greenwalt’s marks were 10.92 in the 100, 22.31 in the 200, 49.51 in the 400 and 22-04 in the long jump.

LW boys and girls individual titles went to Luca Andonian in the 800 (1:59.96), Brady Gockel in the javelin (186-06), Thayer Davis in the 100 (12.54) and 200 (25.73), Taryn Chisholm in the 100 hurdles (15.49), Rosa Smith in the high jump (4-10), Tessa Watkins in the pole vault (11-07) and the girls 4×100 relay of Kate Pallemaerts, Smith, Chisholm and Davis (49.42).

On the Juanita side, girls champs were Emma Languein in the 800 (2:24), Julia Ryan in the shot put (36-10) and discus (126-01), Ashley Schroeder in the javelin (118-07) and Jayla Kidd in the long jump (16-08) and triple jump (36-02).

• It may have taken three attempts but the Lake Washington Kangaroos girls softball team finally left the field victorious following a matchup against the Bellevue Wolverines.

The Kangaroos, who suffered two defeats against the Wolverines during the 2019 regular season, responded with a monumental 12-5 win against Bellevue in the 3A KingCo tournament championship game. The Kangaroos clinched the No. 1 seed from 3A KingCo Conference to the 2019 SeaKing district 3A softball tournament with the win.


• At the US Rowing Youth Nationals at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida, Kirkland’s Quinn Cooney and his Sammamish Rowing Association men’s youth 8+ boat won the C final with a season-best time of 5:56.009 and wedged its way into 13th place in the nation.


• Juanita High’s Kaci Gordon and Sasha Mitchell were named to the second team of the class 3A Washington State Softball Coaches Association all-state teams.

Honorable mentions were Lake Washington’s Lilly Bean and Jamie Pippin and Juanita’s Abbie Reynolds.

Juanita’s Abbie Reynolds slides in safe at home during the district tournament. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Juanita’s Abbie Reynolds slides in safe at home during the district tournament. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo


• The Southeast squad edged the Southwest, 7-6, in the championship game of the Junior League Softball World Series at Everest Park in Kirkland.


• Juanita head coach Alyx Fuller aims to share her love for volleyball with her players while teaching and inspiring the Rebels in a positive environment.

“The team is like a family, we have each other’s back,” Fuller said. “We have a great group of young women on our team. They are all very excited to play not only for themselves, but for each other.”

The home crowd within the walls of the Lake Washington gym was buzzing after the Kangs defeated Inglemoor three sets to one. Lightning struck outside, and literally did so inside as well.

Senior Isabel Macpherson, a 6-foot middle blocker, beamed with excitement after the match.

“Our school spirit is absolutely insane. The amount of people that showed up just to support us is crazy and they just mean the world to us. When they have high energy, it keeps our energy up,” she said, adding that communication was at a premium — on every pass, set and hit.


• The Juanita Rebels defeated the Interlake Saints for their second straight win, 21-8.

After a scoreless first quarter, Rebels quarterback Zubin Gupta threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Connor Freinik to give the Rebels a 7-0 lead with 7:57 left in the second quarter. The Rebels doubled their lead on their opening drive of the second half with a 7-yard touchdown run from running back Brayden Brown for a 14-0 advantage.

Early in the fourth quarter, a pass from Interlake quarterback Charlie Galanti was intercepted by Juanita defensive back Randy Do, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, making it a 21-0 Rebels lead.


• As she prepared for the 3A state soccer final the night before, Abby Nikfard thought about how she’d like to score a goal during the biggest contest of the season.

Consider it done.

The Lake Washington High sophomore forward unleashed a 30-yard shot that struck paydirt in the 22nd minute and got the Kangs rolling on their way to a 3-1 victory over Bellevue. It was LW’s third victory to one loss against its 3A KingCo rival this year.

“It was really cool and I think it helped our team get excited. It made us feel like a family,” Nikfard said of her netter. Following the goal, the Kang bench and fans caused an emotional eruption that could have possibly been felt back home in Kirkland.

Lake Washington’s Alex Mueller slaps hands with friends after winning the 3A state girls soccer title. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Lake Washington’s Alex Mueller slaps hands with friends after winning the 3A state girls soccer title. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

• Lake Washington’s Amelia Hammer won the 100-yard freestyle state 3A title in 50.93.

With 12 top-eight finishes, the Kangs placed second with 263 points behind winner Bellevue with 303 points.

“I am very excited about my 50 and 100 swims. I had some goals for this meet and I achieved all of them. Also I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive and fun team. They inspire me and motivate me to do my best,” Hammer said.

• Jakson Voelker was so keyed up after the game that he couldn’t remember how many touchdowns he ran for during Lake Washington’s 42-14 victory over crosstown rival Juanita.

He thought it was three, but the senior quarterback actually blasted into the end zone four times — including an epic 74-yarder — and threw for one touchdown as the Kangs notched the 2A/3A KingCo title with a 4-1 league record. Bellevue was 5-0, but the Wolverines are in their final season of sanctions and couldn’t win the league crown. Both Kirkland teams advanced to the playoffs.


• The Lake Washington girls basketball team pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 53-42 victory on the road over the Interlake Saints.

A strong second half from sophomores Elise Hani, Rosa Smith and senior Jen Estes helped lead the Kangs to their first win of the season.