The Federal Way Eagles girls track and field program is in the midst of its first season without Jean Licari at the helm. The popular teacher/coach died of a rare form of cancer earlier this year.
Marcus Yzaguirre takes over for Licari and inherits a team that lost only one South Puget Sound League Central Division dual meet a season ago. Yzaguirre has been with the Eagle program for the last six years under Licari.
“We have many well-rounded athletes that can compete in all the realms of track and field,” Yzaguirre said.
Leading the way for the Eagles will be talented returners Tamara Richey, Majerae Gates, Dyesha Belhumeur, Khiana Duncan and Luaipou Lologo.
Both Richey and Gates were state qualifiers a season ago. Richey, a sophomore, qualified in the long jump and Gates, a junior, ran the 100 meters.
“(Richey) is one of the overall best girl athletes on the team,” Yzaguirre said.
Gates entered last year’s state meet as a favorite in the 100, but pulled a hamstring in the state finals before walking across the finish line, making sure she completed the race. Gates is nursing back into shape after some health issues.
“She is one of the fastest girls in the state,” Yzaguirre said. “When she is able to run, she will truly amaze people with her natural speed, as she always does.”
Belhumeur will compete in the high jump and triple jump, Duncan is the Eagles’ best distance runner and Lologo is hoping to get to state in the throwing events.
Federal Way will also be counting on freshman newcomer Mariyah Vongsaveng to score points this season in the sprints, hurdles and jumps. Vongsaveng also lettered in soccer and basketball as a ninth-grader.
“We are looking forward to big things from her this year,” Yzaguirre said. “She is going to be one of the state’s top newcomers.”
The Eagles will feature freshmen Aminata Dolo and Karis Cameron. Dolo is a distance runner and Cameron participates primarily in sprints and relays.
The Titan girls bring back plenty of talent from a team that finished 2-3 in the SPSL Central Division a season ago. Leading the list of returners is sophomore Alanna Vann, who was a state placer a season ago in the 100 and 200 meters. Joining Vann as returning point scorers for Beamer also includes senior Tre Auna Culp (shot, discus, 100, relays), junior Keturah Saddler (jumps) and sophomore Kiernan Reitz (hurdles, pole vault, long jump).
“The team has all the pieces to be successful if they work hard and stay dedicated,” Allen said.
The Titans will also be counting on newcomers Tana O’Connell (high jump, relays), Chante Spotser (sprints), Nicole Seabolt (high jump, relays) and Paige Hallstrom (distance).
The Raiders have started the SPSL Central season with a perfect 2-0 record with victories over Todd Beamer and Curtis.
And just like last year, Jefferson is being led by senior Lindsey Dahl. The senior is headed to the University of Montana on a track scholarship and is easily the best all-around athlete in Federal Way. Dahl has competed in multiple events at the state track and field meet and been a first-team, all-state soccer player two years in a row after scoring 63 goals in her TJ career.
Last spring, Dahl qualified for state in three individual events in track. As a junior, she finished in eighth place in the triple jump with a leap of 35-7, third in the javelin with a toss of 131-11 and ran the 300-meter hurdles.
Also back for the Raiders is junior Montana Pellegrini, who finished in a tie for fourth place in the pole vault at last year’s state meet. The Raiders bring back several talented distance runners, including Leah Kiyohara, Vanessa Church, Amanda Ditzhazy and Lindsey Jackson, along with throwers Kaya Warrior and Chevay Warnes.
The Gators are hoping to improve on their 0-5 record from a season ago in the always-rugged SPSL 3A Division. Decatur brings back a pair of state participants in senior Tori Zellerhoff and sophomore Anna Paradee. Zellerhoff finished seventh in the 3A girls 3,200 meters in a time of 11:20.11 and Paradee was eighth in the pole vault with a leap of 9-6. Zellerhoff will earn her 12th letter this spring at Decatur.
The Gators will get points from senior Joy Lintelman (distance), juniors Jenelta Yates (sprints), Sydnee Patin (pole vault) and Victoria Braun (pole vault) and sophomores Sierra Shugarts (sprints), Desi Kamm (sprints, jumps) and Ericka Budinich (jumps/sprints).
“We are a young team in numbers with some strong seniors,” said head coach Sam Hunt. “Our biggest goal is to build experience in our team and get them to believe in themselves.”