Five questions for fall | Prep sports news

With a number of state champions and participants returning to the field, course and pool in 2013, there are still questions for Issaquah-Sammamish preps

Fall sports are back in full swing and a number of state champions headline the standouts in Issaquah and Sammamish.

The Reporter takes a look at five of the biggest questions facing prep squads and individual athletes this season.

Can Spartans climb back to top of state?

Skyline made it back-to-back 4A state titles with a 1-0 win over rival Issaquah in the championship game last year, and will look to the experience of 17 returning full-time varsity players to go after the state’s first ever three-peat in Class 4A this season.

“One thing that helped us be successful in the past is each year, we recognized it isn’t about what the previous team has done,” head coach Don Braman said. “We’re a long way from where we want to be.”

Goalkeepers Emily Baril, Jaden Chew and Sydney Martinez all return to the net after a stellar playoff run last year that saw the Spartans hold opponents scoreless in four state tournament wins and Braman said are a decided area of strength for the two-time defending champs.

“We’re lucky, with three goalkeepers with varsity experience,” he said. “They are good players who challenge each other and know that on any given day, they are going to be pushed to compete for minutes.”

While the Spartans did capture the state’s top crown last year, the road was not without bumps, most notably a loss to Redmond in the conference title game. Non-conference games with a host of perennial contenders from Washington along with Tualatin, Ore. will provide plenty of tests for Skyline, which knows its place among the hunted after winning four of the last five 4A state championships.

How do Eagles reload?

The final hurdle for the Spartans on the road to last year’s state title was a familiar foe in Issaquah, a team that now has a pair runner-up finishes at state at the hands of their Plateau rivals.

Coach Tom Bunnell’s squad dropped only three games during all of last season and loses two-time State Player of the Year Audrey Thomas to graduation, but will return fellow offensive threat and first team All-KingCo selection Rachel Wheeler in 2013.

Who goes lowest on course?

Eastlake provided yet another first in its elite golf pedigree in the spring, winning the 4A state championship as a team behind individual runner-up Li Wang.

The Wolves welcome back a host of talent this fall despite losing a trio of state placers in Wang, Josh Grace and Will Sharp.

Spencer Weiss, who was eighth at state, will be among the top contenders for a title this season, along with Skyline’s Brian Mogg.

Does Eastlake run with state’s best?

The Wolves’ boys were the only local team included in the first coaches poll of the year in cross country, while the girls checked-in just outside of the top-10. Both will look to take a full squad back to the state meet for the second straight year after top-10 finishes in 2012.

Anastasia Kosykh, now a senior, leads the Eastlake girls along with Olivia Latham after both had top-50 individual finishes at state last year.

Issaquah’s Ellie Clawson also returns for another season after reaching state.

On the boys side, Jordan Oldenburg finished in 27th place for the Wolves last year as a junior and will look to improve upon last year’s 10th place showing.

Who makes biggest waves in pool?

Skyline and Issaquah each finished in the top-10 at the state meet last season and return a host of swimmers looking to get back to the podium in 2013.

Kristaley Umezawa and Stephanie Munoz return to the pool after helping Skyline to the 200 yard medley relay title at state last year, as does Issaquah’s Gabrielle Gevers, who made state appearances in three events last year as a junior.

Lily Newton made the 200 free B Final for Eastlake last year at state and a pair of divers who finished among the state’s best also return in Kaela Call and Chris Torrente.