Friends and family gather in memory of Miles

POULSBO — The mood in North Kitsap High School teacher Chris Franklin’s second period athletic medicine class was quiet and somber Wednesday, each student focusing on individual work.

But each, no doubt, was remembering fondly the student who should be there with them.

The class was to be the last that senior Miles Pendergraft, 17, was to take at the high school. Also a Running Start student at Olympic College, Pendergraft had planned to pursue a career in the NKHS subject he was studying, following the positive experiences he’d had in Franklin’s classes and as a student trainer.

But an automobile accident just outside Poulsbo — and near the notoriously dangerous Bond/Gunderson intersection — claimed his life late Monday night. Pendergraft’s 1986 Chevrolet Lumina crossed the center line and struck Silverdale resident Kyle Allen’s 2001 Ford F-150 near the intersection of Rova and Bond road just after 11 p.m. Pendergraft was pronounced dead at the scene. Allen is in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center.

Franklin’s class — along with the rest of the school — got the news Wednesday morning. The effects of the loss run deep in the North Kitsap community as Pendergraft was involved in many different activities.

Pendergraft had just capped a successful senior wrestling season. As the team’s captain his junior and senior years, he overcame shoulder, groin and ankle injuries en route to a 21-12 record his senior year, missing the state tournament by only one win.

“He was a natural leader who led by example,” said Jon Cooke, Pendergraft’s wrestling coach. “If we set out a tough task for the team, he was first in line to gut it out.”

Pendergraft, along with his senior teammates Cory Bast, Mike Storey, Curtis Travelstead, Danny Harris and Kyle Cetnarowski, each spent three years on the team and another three before that on the Kingston Junior High School wrestling squad.

“He truly was a great kid, and the greatest loss is to those whose path he did not cross,” Cooke said.

The 17-year-old was also heavily involved in the school’s FFA program since the ninth grade, where his emphasis was animals.

“He always kept the barn laughing,” said FFA advisor John Waller. “If it was a good day or bad day, if Miles was in the barn, everybody was having fun.”

Pendergraft was also a pole vaulter on the track team, but his coach Tim Adams said he was much more than just an athlete.

“He was the kind of guy at the end of the home meets when we were breaking down the equipment, he would organize groups of athletes to clean up the stands,” Adams said. “He was not asked to do these types of things, he just did them.”

One of Adams’ favorite memories of Pendergraft was when the senior would fill a spot on the 4x400 relay.

“Everyone else would run the other way,” Adams said, but Pendergraft — though not even a track runner — would always be up for the challenge.

“By the end of it, he was exhausted,” Adams added.

Plans are being arranged for a memorial plaque near the pole vault area, the coach said.

Pendergraft’s other athletic endeavor was with NK’s student trainers. There, he had some of his closest friends, each of whom most remember his friendly rapport, exemplified by his signature smile.

“He was always a person that would want to make you smile,” said Jennia Uher, to whom Pendergraft would often give a ride home.

Senior Teresa Scott, wearing a T-shirt displaying the words “Miles: the myth, the man, the legend,” remembered what she called Pendergraft’s “fun loving” nature.

“He just loved to goof off,” she said. “Any room he’d walk into, he’d brighten up.”

The only thing that could possibly get Pendergraft from his friendly ways was his competitiveness on the wrestling mats, Franklin added.

“He loved everybody,” he said. “I don’t think I ever saw Miles upset except for maybe after a wrestling match.”

Memorial service???

A funeral service for Pendergraft will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 27 in the NKHS gym.

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