Player Profile: Natalie Hayward

It’s hard to believe there was a time in her life when senior Natalie Hayward wasn’t interested in volleyball. But there was once such a time, and she even thought that it was weird.

The AMHS volleyball program sure is lucky she doesn’t think it’s weird anymore.

Natalie has now played volleyball for almost 7 years. She’s been a member of the Washington Volleyball Academy since she was 11, traveling across the country to play the sport she now loves. “I love the traveling and being able to play against some of the best volleyball players in the country,” she said. Her favorite places to travel for volleyball are Kansas, Kentucky, and Florida.

She has also played varsity volleyball at Archbishop Murphy since her freshman year. After bumping around between numbers, Natalie said she picked 10 freshman year and has stuck with it because “it just felt right.” And it certainly is right: her presence on the team is huge; this past Tuesday she recorded 6 aces, 18 kills, and 3 digs in the Wildcats 3-1 win over Blanchet. 

“My goals for this season are to keep our titles from last year, make it back to state, and hopefully get that trophy,” Natalie shared. 

Natalie has already committed to play volleyball at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. “I loved the atmosphere,” she said, “and the staff and students were so genuine and welcoming.” The volleyball program at DePaul is currently on the rise, and Natalie is excited to be a part of that over the upcoming 4 years. 

See Natalie in action along with the rest of the volleyball team this season as they seek to bring home the state title. 

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TNF–Wildcat Edition

Thursday Night Football isn’t something you normally see in high school. But on Thursday, August 31,  four days after starting school, the AMHS student body took to the stands as the Wildcat football team took to the field. Despite it being a school night, the bleachers were packed–and all of it was broadcast live on ROOT Sports.

Following a season where all but one team in the Cascade Conference forfeited against the Wildcats, who ended up winning the 2A state title, coaches, fans, fellow football players, and news crews were excited to see what this year’s team would dish out in their home opener. Garfield High School was happy to take on AMHS for the televised game; they had their own share of media coverage when they knelt for the National Anthem during the 2016 season.

The story about this game, however, isn’t about the news crews, or the numbers, or even how two teams united to play football. No, the story of this game is how the young and old Wildcats came together to win their first football game.

After losing several key players at the end of last year, Coach Jerry Jensen had some positions he needed to fill. Most importantly, quarterback.

As second string QB last year behind alumni Connor Johnson, sophomore Victor Gabalis only saw limited reps. On Thursday, however, you could hardly tell. In his debut as starting quarterback, Gabalis completed several passes, including a 30 yard one to senior Ray Pimentel. He commanded the field with composure and ease in such an intense game.

Other freshman and sophomores that received substantial playing time included Zion Robinson (so.,LT/DE), Koli Faaiu (fr.,T/G/DE), and Josh McCarron (fr., special teams).

Obviously though, they weren’t alone on the field. The Wildcats still have several returning star players, including seniors Ben Hines, Ray Pimentel, and Kyler Gordon, to serve as mentors.

“We’re trying to teach [the younger players] to not get too big and out of the game because they get really caught up and worried about what’s going on,” senior captain Ben Hines said. “We want them to just play from their hearts and how they practice, and really just to calm down.”

Senior kicker Omar Rodas, taking over for the graduated Ryan Henderson, also deserves credit. In his first ever football game, he made all but one of his PAT attempts.

Thursday night’s game was about the meshing of old and new. It was about throwing new combinations into a game and seeing if they worked. Even though it was a win, it was also a learning experience, one that benefited both the young and old players.

The Wildcats have a long season ahead of them, with lots more learning to do. But Thursday’s 37-18 win is a sign that they’re heading in the right direction.

 

 

A Championship Weekend 

The sun continues to set over the horizon as the team is presented with their trophy for the third year in a row. Everyone has been in the heat for hours, but no one cares; the smiles on the player’s faces, the energy of all the students, it all makes it worth it. Who cares about sunburnt cheeks and growling stomachs when your school’s soccer team has just one it’s third consecutive state title? 

This season, even more than the past two, has been one for the AMHS boys soccer record books. And Saturday was the perfect end to the season. 

After a slow start Friday evening during the semi-final game against Cedarcrest, junior midfielder Sam Johnson was happy to start things off with a bang in the championship. “To get things started in such a big game gave us all the momentum. Throughout the entire state tournament, we’ve scored first, and in the semi-final that didn’t happen, so it was good to get back to our style of play,” he said. His goal came within the first 3 minutes after kickoff, a beauty from inside the right corner of the box. 

The next goal came shortly after from senior Jensen Crisler. What everyone thought was going to be a close game, was already looking like it could be a blowout. 

Goals continued to be made minutes after each other; Matt Williams, the Wildcat’s leading scorer, netted two and Crisler added another before half. 5-0 at halftime in a championship game? That wasn’t what anyone was expecting. 

The second half continued in similar fashion; Williams, Crisler, and Diego Rios all added goals to the scoreboard for the Wildcats. Every single rostered player stepped on the field, and at the end of the game, Coach Bartley returned all his starters to the field to finish their season together. 

That was the beauty of Saturday’s game. Seeing the core group of players who have grown together over the past 3 years finish their careers at Murphy, seeing the new talent that the team has for the upcoming seasons, and seeing all of us, as an Archbishop Murphy family, celebrating with each other. 

“It’s been a really awesome experience getting to play alongside the guys I did for the past few seasons and getting to lift the trophy with them one last time,” Williams, who was one of the team’s three captains this year, commented. For him, yesterday marked the last time he’ll play competitive soccer, as he does not plan to continue playing in college. “It’s still a bitter pill to swallow, but I don’t think I’d want to end my career any differently,” he told me. 

After this championship weekend, other players are also looking towards the future. Even though we have a ton of seniors leaving, I still have 100% confidence that we will be state contenders next year,” sophomore goal keeper Daniel Mycroft believes. Johnson, one of next year’s captains, however, knows that next year will be a whole new team. “It’s gonna be on myself and the other upperclassmen to bring the younger guys up to speed,” he said. 

There’s no doubt next year will be different. But for now, basking in the glory of 3 state titles is enough to focus on. 

Wildcat Soccer Team tops Greyhounds in 1st Round of State

On a gray afternoon, the Wildcat boy’s soccer team took on the Grandview Greyhounds for the first round of the 2A state tournament. Parents, siblings back from college, and classmates packed the stands in what turned out to be a typical AMHS boy’s soccer game for this year: a blowout. Every player on the roster received playing time, and the Wildcats won the game 6-1.

The first goal for the Wildcats came from junior Sam Johnson off the right side of the field, 6 minutes into the game. This was quickly followed by a goal from Isaac Feeney, also  a junior, in the 11th minute. The only other action in the first half came in the form of 2 yellow cards; one for a Greyhound and one for senior Mitchell Lovell.

The second half provided more action.

Only a minute after kickoff, senior Chase Whittaker volleyed in a beautiful goal from the top of the D-ring. In similar fashion to the first half, 5 minutes later (46′) Matt Williams (sr) bypassed 2 defenders to add one more to the scoreboard. 4-0. The next 2 goals came from Grandview, however only 1 of those goals was for their team. In the 52nd minute, Williams took another ball up top to the Greyhounds’ goal and, after shooting it, a Grandview player helped finish it into the goal. The Greyhounds did put one of their own in the AMHS net though in minute 52 after a free kick and some confusion in the box, keeping it from being another Wildcat shutout. The final goal of the game was an absolute laser by Feeney from the 20 yard line to the bottom left corner of the goal.

With a 6-1 win, the Wildcats advance to the 2A State Quarter-Finals for the 3rd year in a row.

The Wildcats are currently undefeated and have a goals for to goals against ratio of 18 to 1. That’s phenomenal, in case you were wondering.

 

Player Profile: Yutanee Ryan

Joining the softball team her sophomore year, senior Yutanee Ryan was just looking for another fun activity to participate in at school. Three seasons later, she’s grown to love the sport and the teammates she plays it with.

Math teacher Stephanie Harmon had been the softball coach at AMHS up until this year. She was the first softball coach Ryan ever had. “Harmon set the basics down for me: how to throw a ball, catch pops, field grounders, hitting, and just learning the game itself,” she said. This year, dean of students Jeff Latta and football coach Damien Holman have taken over coaching positions for the team. From them, Ryan says she’s learned how to use all her body power when swinging and throwing.

Ryan is an outfielder for the team, and she says she loves it because it helps her avoid her weakness. “I’m not great at ground balls,” she laughed.

Her favorite memories though, don’t come from the field. It’s the bus rides after games, especially wins, that Ryan loves the most. “Softball is such a team game. When I go up to the plate, my thought is never ‘I have to get a base hit’ it’s more like ‘I need to hit something to help my teammate get home,” she added.

The Wildcats are looking to close out a solid season in the next 2 weeks with some strong final games and head on to the district tournament. Yutanee Ryan and her fellow seniors will be celebrated for senior night this Thursday, 4pm, on the Upper Field at AMHS.

Player Profile: Jensen Crisler

Jensen Crisler is a four year varsity member of the Wildcat soccer team. Playing forward, he’s been a crucial piece of the team, especially the past two seasons. A leading scorer, Crisler has also taken on a new role this year as a senior, one which he has embraced fully.

Crisler’s times as a soccer player started long before his freshman year at Archbishop Murphy. “My dad wanted to coach me,” he said about the start of his soccer career. Coming from a big soccer family, he put on his first pair of cleats when he was only three years old. He’s played hundreds of games since then; including, of course, Archbishop Murphy’s two state championship games.

This year, Crisler has taken on a new role as team captain. Selected last year by teammates, he, along with fellow seniors Matt Williams and Ryan Henderson, have been tasked with being role models both on and off the field.  When asked about what his personal goals for the season are, he humbly replied, “I don’t have any personal goals. I just like to help the team achieve our main goals which are: one, win league, districts, and state; two, allow only 5 goals against us all season; and three, stay focused until the season is over.”

As the number of games he has left with the Wildcats winds down, Crisler says he wants his teammates to be able to remember him as a leader and someone who was, and still is, like family to them. “What I’ve learned from high school soccer is that your team is your family. We’d do anything for each other and we all look out for each other,” he added.

Having played soccer for 15 years now, Crisler has decided to hang up his cleats after his time with the Wildcats is done. “I want to focus on school. I plan to play many intramural sports to make up for not playing soccer though,” Crisler says of his college plans.

Catch Jensen Crisler and the Wildcat soccer team in their last home conference match and Senior Night this Friday, April 28th, at Terry Ennis Stadium against Cedar Park Christian. Game time is 6pm.

Beautiful Day for Baseball 

Parents, grandparents, and students alike filled the small section of bleachers at Roman Miller Field Friday afternoon as the Wildcats took on the Sultan Turks. Over the loud speaker boomed the steady voice of history teacher Tyler McLaughlin. As other spring sports practices ended, the stands filled more. It was a beautiful afternoon for baseball. 

Senior Travis Coop took the mound as the starting pitcher for the Wildcats. He, and the rest of his team, were sporting their brand new red jerseys. The Sultan Turks prepped for their turn to bat. 

I could list every hit and run of this game, but that would 1) take too long and 2) be pretty pointless. So instead I’m going to focus on a short recap of the 3rd inning, which was, in my opinion, the most exciting. 

During the top of the inning senior short stop and Seattle University commit Connor O’Brien had a very well executed double play, knocking out runners heading to 1st and 2nd, and sending the Turks off the field. 

Josh Madison (sr), O’Brien, Brandon King (so), Gabe Feliciano (jr) and one more player each added a run for the Wildcats during the 3rd inning. 

If you’re planning on coming out to watch some AMHS baseball, I suggest getting to the field early. And if you’re not planning on going to a baseball game, you should change your plans.