Five questions facing Issaquah, Sammamish preps | Prep sports news

Five of the biggest questions facing local individuals and squads this spring.

Which arms help Eagles reload?

Issaquah lost nine seniors off last year’s team, including the mound trifecta of Ethan Kalin, Brandon Mahovlich and Andrew Kemmerer, and coach Rob Reese will look to a nucleus including Blake Jones, Justin Vernia, Ryan Guiberson and Derek Chapman among others to solidify a group that hopes to improve upon last year’s Regional playoff finish.

A senior-laden group helped the Eagles erase the memories of a 2011 that saw the program’s first sub-.500 year in more than a decade and get back to the postseason, including an appearance in the title game of the 4A KingCo tournament.

“That is your goal every year, to get to state and have a chance to win it,” Reese said. “This group knows exactly what it took to get there.”

Along with helping anchor the rotation, Kalin led the team in RBI, at bats and base hits. Kemmerer was the team’s second leading run producer with 13 RBI and Reese said as is the case every year, a number of players will need to fill the void and grow into greater roles.

“Every year we lose some talent,” Reese said. “Brandon and Ethan had to step into those roles from the year before. How you step up is what determines your success.”

Issaquah opens the season with Kentridge on Monday before beginning conference play the following week when they host rival Newport at 4 p.m.

Can Sammamish prep claim state golf crown?

Eastlake’s Li Wang was the runner-up in the 4A boys tournament last year, finishing only two strokes offthe lead, and Skyline’s Brian Mogg wasn’t far behind in a tie for third.

Wang will have one final shot at a title as a senior and teammate Spencer Weiss, who ended in a tie for sixth at state in 2012, will also be a top contender for the state’s top prize.

What do Crusaders do for an encore?

The 2012 season was one that won’t soon be forgotten at Eastside Catholic, unless the 2013 team has its way.

Coach Kyle Larson led the program to its first ever 3A state title game appearance last year in his first season at the helm. EC showed a flare for the dramatic down the stretch and brought the would-be game winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning before falling 2-1 to Kamiakin in the championship game.

A back-to-back with conference power O’Dea, which the Crusaders unseated as Metro League champions last year, will likely loom large for conference tournament seeding in the season’s final week.

Who makes their name at Star Track?

A handful of last year’s stars-Drew Matthews (Skyline, University of Kansas), Ryan Lewis (Eastlake, University of Pittsburgh), Gino Bresolin (Eastlake, UTEP), Eva Perry (Issaquah, University of Washington)-are gone after stellar performances in 2012.

But the cupboard is far from bare.

Issaquah returns three-quarters of its 800 and 1,600 meter relay teams, which both finished as the runner-up at the 4A state meet last year, losing only Perry from that group. Gabrielle Gevers made the field in the 100 and 200 last year at state and will be after the top prize in 4A this time around.

Daniel Brady (Eastlake), Alex Daugherty (Skyline) and Mack Wieburg should also be in the hunt for conference, district and state championships after gaining valuable experience in 2012.

Does the state lacrosse title head down I-90?

Eastside Catholic made the first championship game appearance in program history in 2012 before falling to Bellevue in the title game, and three of the four prep squads in Issaquah-Sammamish made the 12 team state tournament.

Issaquah went unbeaten before dropping a heartbreaker to King’s Way in the quarterfinals, and Skyline also made the state tournament before falling in the first round, also to King’s Way.

Eastlake gets a boost in 2013 with the addition of Washington Stealth player Chris O’Dougherty as the head coach.