The year in Federal Way sports — 2011

Jefferson grad Lamar Neagle tallied seven goals for the Seattle Sounders FC during the 2011 season and will be back on the club in 2012.  - Photo courtesy Sounders FC
Jefferson grad Lamar Neagle tallied seven goals for the Seattle Sounders FC during the 2011 season and will be back on the club in 2012.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Sounders FC

Jan. 22 — Decatur cheerleaders snare state championship

The Decatur cheerleading team is the best Washington has to offer.

The Gators’ 19-girl team won the 2011 WIAA/Dairy Farmers of Washington Les Schwab Tires State Cheerleading Championship in the 2A/3A Non-Tumbling Large classification. The competition was held at the Comcast Arena in Everett and featured the top squads from Washington.

“The girls have worked really hard this year,” said longtime head coach Laurie Beaver. “These girls are fabulous. They are girly, girls all the way. But they are hard-working and smart.”

The Decatur team includes Brooke Chapman, Emily Charbonneau, Ceaira Givens, Jackie Figueras, Christy Kang, Sophie Kim, Stephanie Kirk, Jennifer Lee, Roslyn Martin, Victoria Martinez, Morgan Peckman, Jazmyn Sawalla, Amber Taylor, Samantha Taylor, Laney Umland, Sierra Warriner, Angelica Watkins, E’lexus Woodhouse and Jazmin York. Beaver is assisted by Shana Biggs and Heather White.

Beaver was also honored at the state championships as the 2011 National Federation of State High School Association’s Washington Coach of the Year.

Feb. 18, 2011 — Gymnastics: Beamer finishes second, Jefferson third at state

It seemed to be right there for the Todd Beamer High School gymnastics team to claim the school’s first-ever team state championship inside the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Center.

The Titans, who rolled through the South Puget Sound League regular season with an unblemished record, held the lead after the first three rotations in the four-team race for the Class 4A State Gymnastics Championship. But the Newport Knights overtook Beamer on the fourth, and final, rotation to steal away the title.

Newport finished with a total of 174.0 points, compared to the 173.45 for the Titans. It was the second year in a row that Beamer has finished in the silver medal position at the state meet.

The Thomas Jefferson Raiders ended up in third place behind Newport and Beamer with 170.875 points. The Raiders entered the meet on a big-time roll after winning the SPSL and West Central District meets in impressive fashion. Jefferson outdistanced Beamer in both.

The Titans were once again led by Sam West. The junior finished up in third place in the all-around competition with 36.7 points. The result came a year after she garnered second place during the 2010 all-around.


Feb. 20, 2011 — Wrestling: TJ’s Nistrian completes comeback with state title, Williams second

Thomas Jefferson senior Zeke Nistrian admitted to not taking the sport of wrestling seriously after virtually cruising to a sixth-place finish at the 2009 Mat Classic as a sophomore. In fact, Nistrian didn’t even finish the wrestling season during his junior year at TJ.

“I got up to 175 or 180 pounds last year,” Nistrian said. “I wasn’t really mentally into it and you have to be in wrestling. I placed at state as a sophomore and I thought it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

But Nistrian was all business at the Mat Classic State Wrestling Championships inside the Tacoma Dome. The 152-pounder cruised to the Class 4A state title with a hard-fought 3-2 decision over Davis junior Austin Wagner, who beat Nistrian at a tournament in the beginning of the season.

“I started getting serious about wrestling in October and got back into shape,” said an emotional Nistrian. “This is what I’ve always dreamed of.”

Nistrian was the 10th of 12 children born to his mother and father, who immigrated to the United States from Romania. He was the first of the Nistrian siblings born in America and the only one of the 12 kids to take to the sport of wrestling.

“We are more of a soccer family,” Nistrian said.

Nistrian’s teammate, 189-pounder K.W. Williams wasn’t able to celebrate a state title Saturday night. But the junior came ever so close. Williams lost in the championship match to South Kitsap’s Conner Hartmann, 3-0.

The loss to Hartmann came a week after he also lost to the South Kitsap senior in the championship at regionals. Hartmann ended the season with a perfect record. Williams earned the championship berth with a rugged semifinal win over Snohomish’s Mark Morrill, 5-4.


March 2, 2011 — Jefferson grad Neagle signs with Sounders FC — again

Lamar Neagle is officially a Seattle Sounder — again.

The Thomas Jefferson grad won a state title in his senior season in 2005 before moving on to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he was a three-time Mountain Pacific Sports Federation first-team selection.

“This is where I want to be,”  Neagle told “From the start, I knew I needed more games to get better, and now I’m ready to make a difference. The biggest difference is my confidence and feeling comfortable on the field, and confidence comes from playing games and playing well.”

Neagle ended up scoring seven goals this season and will back with the Sounders in 2012.

March 5, 2011 — Basketball: Eagles come up short in title game

The Federal Way Eagle girls basketball team just didn’t have enough in the end.

The Lewis & Clark Tigers used a furious fourth-quarter comeback to down the Eagles in the Class 4A State Girls Basketball Championship inside the Tacoma Dome, 62-49.

Federal Way (26-3) held a seven-point lead late in the third quarter, 40-33. But the Tigers (20-6) used a 10-0 run during the final period to grab the lead for good from the Eagles.

“I’m really proud of our girls,” said Federal Way coach Danny Graham. “They did so awesome. They fought until the end. I can’t say enough about our team. I love them.”

March 22, 2011— Basketball: Smith exits Decatur as all-time leading scorer

There will be a big hole in the Decatur High School boys basketball program. For the first time in four years, Jerron Smith won’t be raining down jumpers inside the Gator Dome.

The 6-foot-3 guard and all-time Decatur scoring leader is moving on to Portland State University after a stellar prep career for the Gators.

The numbers are staggering during his four seasons at Decatur. In that stretch, Smith started 113 games, including 33 in the postseason, won four West Central District Tournament trophies, played in four state tournaments and scored an eye-popping 2,034 points.

“Jerron has been the flagship of our program the past few years and is the definition of a student-athlete,” said Decatur head coach Kevin Olson.


March 31, 2011 — Basketball: Walton named state 4A Player of the Year

The postseason honors continue to pour in for Federal Way High School senior Talia Walton.

Walton was voted the Associated Press Class 4A Washington Prep Girls Basketball Player of the Year after leading the Eagles into the state title game Thursday.

Walton, who is currently playing at the University of Washington, led the Eagles to a perfect 16-0 record in the SPSL South and to the West Central/Southwest District championship, while averaging 17 points and close to 13 rebounds per game.


May 31, 2011 — Track: TJ’s Adams wins another 4A state shot put title

Kayla Adams had a lot to throw for at the Class 4A state girls track and field meet at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma.

Just a night before, Adams had a disappointing third-place finish in the discus, throwing 11-feet under her personal best.

The Thomas Jefferson senior also had thoughts of last year’s shot put competition at the state meet running through her head. Adams entered the 2010 meet as the prohibitive favorite in the event after winning the 2009 title as a sophomore and holding the state’s best throw all season long. But Mead freshman Courtney Hutchinson came out of nowhere to end Adams’ reign as the best shot putter in Washington.

She wasn’t going to let that happen during her senior year. Adams led the shot put competition from start to finish and already knew she had another state title to add to her collection before her sixth and final throw.

So, with nothing to lose on her last throw as a high school shot putter, Adams uncorked the best toss of her stellar four-year career at TJ. Adams threw a state-best 45-feet, 10 3/4 inches to easily outdistance the competition at Star Track XXIX.

“This feels amazing,” Adams said after hugging her TJ coaches and mother. “I just wanted to PR on that last throw. So I’m happy.”


June 15, 2011 — Decatur grad, Rich Cho, hired as the Charlotte Bobcats’ new general manager

Rich Cho’s stint in the unemployment line didn’t last too long.

After being fired by the Portland Trailblazers, the Charlotte Bobcats hired the 1983 Decatur High School graduate to take over as general manager. Cho held the same job with Portland.

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity and putting down some roots in Charlotte,” Cho said. “It’s just exciting to be here.”

Cho joins the Bobcats, a franchise run by NBA legend Michael Jordan, after serving as general manager of Portland for just 10 months. Prior to that, Cho spent the previous 10

seasons as assistant GM of the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I just saw their commitment to winning,” Cho said. “I’m excited to be a Bobcat. It’s a great market here and have heard nothing but great things about Charlotte.”


Oct. 24, 2011 — Football: TJ headed to playoffs for first time, Eagles win SPSL South

It’s been a long time coming for the Thomas Jefferson football program.

For the first time since the school opened its doors back in 1968, the Raider football team will be playing in the postseason. Jefferson guaranteed itself the berth Friday night in front of a large Homecoming crowd at Federal Way Memorial Stadium with a blowout win over Mount Rainier, 47-6.

“It was, to say the least, a very joyous locker room,” said TJ head coach Dean Peck.

The Federal Way Eagles finished up unbeaten in the SPSL South Division to earn their fifth postseason berth in the last six years.


Nov. 13, 2011 — UFC: Benson Henderson will fight for lightweight title  in Japan

It’s official: Benson Henderson will fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight championship.

The Decatur High School graduate assured himself a shot at current 155-pound champ Frankie Edgar by man-handling Clay Guida at the UFC on FOX extravaganza inside the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Henderson won a unanimous decision over Guida to earn the UFC’s No. 1-contender title.

Before the fight, UFC President Dana White announced that the Henderson-Guida winner would fight Edgar in Tokyo, Japan, on Feb. 26.

“Frankie Edgar, we got a date. Let’s do it, baby,” a jubilant Henderson yelled from inside the Octagon after beating Guida.

“I think it’s a great matchup,” Henderson said. “I am as confident as any fighter in the UFC. I just need to do a better job of sticking to the game plan. We match up very well. Frankie and I will put on a great show.”

Henderson (15-2 overall, 3-0 in UFC) and Guida also put on a great show during the UFC on FOX event.  The 2001 Decatur grad dominated a bulk of the fight in front of a sold-out crowd in Anaheim, which included numerous stars from nearby Hollywood. The three judges scored the three-round bout 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. Henderson also earned a $65,000 bonus for winning “Fight of the Night” honors.


Nov. 14, 2011 — State swimming: Cratsenberg makes history in freestyle events; Ramey also wins state title

Thomas Jefferson’s Amber Cratsenberg made history.

The Raider senior became the first swimmer in the rich history of the state of Washington to win individual state championships in all four freestyle events.

Cratsenberg added the 200- and 500-yard free titles to her trophy case at the Class 4A Girls Swimming and Diving State Championships inside the King County Aquatic Center. The two state titles give Cratsenberg five during her stellar TJ career.

Cratsenberg’s first state titles came during her sophomore season when she swept the 50 and 100 freestyle events in impressive fashion. She added another 50 free title last year as a junior.

Cratsenberg will swim in college at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va.

But Cratsenberg wasn’t the only Federal Way swimmer to bring home a state championship. In somewhat of a surprise, Federal Way High School sophomore Kenna Ramey snagged her first title in the 50 free.

Ramey finished with a time of 23.62, which was good enough for All-America consideration.


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