TACOMA — Jake Velarde was already on a list of elite wrestlers in Washington state when he stepped onto the mat Feb. 16 under the lights of the Tacoma Dome.
The North Kitsap High School senior was one of 70 high school wrestlers to win three state championships, after his 4-1 victory over Joe Grable in 2012.
On Feb. 16, however, Velarde put his name on another list of elite wrestlers after his 3-1 overtime win over Fife’s Maverick Reddaway in the 138-pound division at the 2013 Mat Classic: Velarde became the 10th high school wrestler to win four consecutive state championships.
To recognize the achievement, Velarde was the junior grand marshal in the Viking Fest Parade.
Velarde is now wrestling for Old Dominion University.
POULSBO — Tony Chisholm resigned from his position as head coach of the North Kitsap High School varsity basketball team March 1.
Chisholm coached in the North Kitsap School District for about 22 years.
In 1991, Chisholm began his coaching career as an assistant with the NKHS girls junior varsity program. Two years later, Chisholm took the head boys basketball spot at Kingston Junior High — now Kingston Middle School — and was asked to take the lead position with the girls squad as well.
After 13 years and three league titles with those programs, Chisholm transferred in 2006 to his position atop the boys program at North Kitsap High School. He timed the move to coincide with his son Taylor’s progression from junior high to high school.
Chisholm led the Vikings to the state tournament in 2009, the first time since 2005.
POULSBO — Dakarai Kongela of Poulsbo was on his way to a spot on the U.S. bobsled team in the 2014 Olympics.
Kongela, a graduate of North Kitsap High School, switched from track to bobsled while at George Fox University, and is now a member of Team USA.
In the 2012-13 North American Cup season, as brakeman for Jake Peterson in two-man bobsled, he has a silver, a bronze, and two fifth-place finishes.
As push athlete in four-man, he has a gold, two silvers, two fourths, a fifth and a sixth.
Selections to the Olympic team, based on points, will be announced in January.
KINGSTON — When Blake Conley stepped onto the hardwood for winter sports in 2013, it wasn’t with the Kingston Buccaneers.
Conley accepted a teaching and coaching position at Union High School. It’s an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“It was definitely really hard to leave the kids and the community and the school and everything we did there,” Conley said. However, he could not pass up the chance to teach and coach in a high school such as Union, he said.
With the move to Camas, Conley also leaves his teaching position at Chief Kitsap Academy. He enjoyed the small class sizes and seeing students go from struggling to shining in school.
Under Conley’s direction, the Bucs program turned around after a rough startup to take third at the 2A State Tournament in 2011 and 2012. Conley estimated his record as head coach was 74-32.
POULSBO — The time of 2 minutes, 3.38 seconds hung on the wall of the North Kitsap Community Pool for nearly three decades.
The time was a record set by the 1985 North Kitsap High School 200 Medley relay team and placed on the North Kitsap swim team’s record board. The record was one of the school’s oldest swim records — until Sept. 26, anyway.
The 1985 record was bested with a time of 2:02.98 during the Vikings’ home swim meet against the Klahowya Eagles. It’s a goal the swimmers were trying to meet since 2012.
“It felt pretty awesome,” Serita Solis said of breaking the record.
At first the team was unsure they broke the record, because they could not see the time clearly. When they got a clear view of the time, all four sophomores were excited.
The record was held by Michelle Arnold, Jennifer Smith, Marianne McDowell, and Debbie Berry.
POULSBO — As she reflected back on previous events, Kirsten Casey said she believes the Oct. 13 Poulsbo Marathon was the fastest marathon she ever ran.
However, the 1997 North Kitsap High School graduate doesn’t concern herself too much with records, and didn’t even wear a watch to keep track of her time Sunday. She also didn’t know just how fast she finished the Poulsbo Marathon.
“I could tell I was running well,” the 34-year-old said. “I was feeling good, and never felt like I was going super slow.”
As Casey crossed the finish line on the North Kitsap track, she quickly learned just how fast she ran the 26.2-mile course.
Casey finished the marathon in 3 hours 28 minutes 38 seconds, earning the fastest time for a female runner in the Poulsbo Marathon. The marathon is in its fourth year.
POULSBO — The rivalry between North Kitsap’s Cody Blackmore and Kingston’s Bobby Reece went back before the two entered high school.
Having faced each other on the gridiron since Pee Wee football, the two varsity quarterbacks are familiar with adversity. And on Oct. 25, for the first time in their senior year, the quarterbacks from Kingston and North Kitsap high schools will go head-to-head.
“We’re finally seniors and we’re getting to play against each other,” Blackmore said before the game.
The Bucs and Vikings were tied in conference play; the teams are 5-0.
The Bucs ended up advancing to the first round of the State playoffs. The Vikings were elminated in Districts.
Ramsey, NK team finish in top 10 at state XC meet
PASCO — Kathleen Ramsey went to the 2A State Championship cross country meet without any expectations. Her finish in the top 10 of 2A runners is alright with her.
“The race went pretty well,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey, a senior at North Kitsap High School, finished eighth with a time of 19 minutes 9.09 seconds. She said the pace was consistent; the leaders of the race took an early lead and held it.
Burlington-Edison’s RaynJoy Norton took first in the girls’ race, finishing in 17:58.16.
Though Ramsey was the only North Kitsap girl to finish individually, the team as a whole finished ninth overall (259). Clara Lund took 43rd (20:15.34); Katrina Weinmann took 70th (20:41.23); Sarah Zimmerman took 113th (21:51.69); Marissa Pittman took 125th (22:29.23); Megu Baba took 132nd (22:54.65); Maria Warns took 137th (23:43.52).
POULSBO — Knowing they would be up against tough competition, the North Kitsap Vikings weren’t surprised how many sets they had to play at the 2A State Volleyball Championships Nov. 15-16.
By the end of the first day of the tournament, the Vikings had played eight sets.
After a long day of competitive play, the Vikings were tired going into the second day of the tournament.
“We were all exhausted playing those competitive matches,” North Kitsap junior co-captain Sarah Holt said.
The varsity team played 18 sets in four matches over two days. Those four matches led the team to a fifth-place finish in the State Tournament, and the first State finish in program history.
“I’m so proud of the team,” Holt said. The team performed well when it was time to compete, and was dedicated at practice. “Couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls.”
POULSBO — The start of the winter sports season was a bit of a headache for high school gymnastics teams.
On Nov. 4, a week before the Kingston and North Kitsap high school teams were scheduled to begin practicing, North Kitsap head coach Kris Goodfellow was told Zero Gravity Athletics was being evicted from its space. Zero Gravity was used by both high school teams, and its own program, for training.
Zero Gravity owner Kinda Moreno had to have all the equipment out of the Zero Gravity building in the Kennedy Business Park — off Minder Road in Kingston — by Nov. 8, Goodfellow said.
“We were a little homeless for a week,” Goodfellow said.
Things began coming together, however. The North Kitsap team moved into the North Kitsap High School Commons Nov. 20, sharing a space with the cheerleaders — after using the auxiliary gym and wrestling mats for the first few days of practice.
Cascade Elite Gymnastics West stepped in to make things a little more accommodating. The gymnastics facility in Bremerton offered a list of equipment the high school team could borrow. Cascade Elite founder and owner Frank Lee said the high school team could borrow anything his facility is not using in day-to-day operations.