The year in Federal Way sports — 2012

Thomas Jefferson’s K.W. Williams won the 195-pound wrestling state championship in February after finishing second the year before. Williams is now playing defensive back for the Idaho State football team. - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Thomas Jefferson’s K.W. Williams won the 195-pound wrestling state championship in February after finishing second the year before. Williams is now playing defensive back for the Idaho State football team.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

Jan. 3, 2012 — MLS SOCCER: Federal Way’s Kelyn Rowe selected third by the New England Revolution

Kelyn Rowe traveled across the country to begin his professional soccer career.

The New England Revolution took the Federal Way High School graduate with the third overall pick in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Rowe recently completed his sophomore season at UCLA and became the fourth Bruin player to be named Pac-12 Player of the Year after leading the conference in assists with 10. Rowe also tallied six goals and led UCLA to the semifinals of the NCAA College Cup.

Rowe ended his rookie season with 30 appearances for the Revolution and three goals.

Jan. 9 — Federal Way coach/teacher Jean Licari dies from cancer

Federal Way High School lost one of its most beloved teachers and coaches  after Jean Licari succumbed to cancer. She spent her entire 21-year teaching career at Federal Way.

Licari taught math and also coached the Eagles cross country and track teams during her tenure, with her athletes winning multiple state championships. The 45-year-old mother of two hailed from Potlatch, Idaho.

“I think that when people think about outstanding staff members that have made a difference in kids’ lives, Jean would be on that poster at Federal Way High School,” said principal Lisa Griebel. “She is what the staff wanted to be like. She impacted a lot of lives. She taught math to 150-plus kids a year for over 20 years.”

Licari died from a rare form of cancer called LMS, or Leiomyosarcoma. It is a malignant cancer of smooth muscle. LMS can be very unpredictable and can remain dormant for long periods of time. It is a resistant cancer, meaning generally not very responsive to chemotherapy or radiation.

Licari is survived by her husband, Pat, and two daughters, Katelin and Madison.

Feb. 17 — TJ’s Williams claims 195-pound state wrestling championship

The championship round wasn’t the best for the Federal Way school district wrestlers at the Mat Classic state wrestling championships.

That was before Jefferson senior K.W. Williams stepped onto the mat inside an electric Tacoma Dome after two wrestlers from Todd Beamer and two from Decatur had all lost in their respective title matches.

Williams was looking to avenge his only loss of the season to Curtis senior Kadyn Del Toro in the 195-pound championship. But that wasn’t the only thing running through Williams’ head Saturday night. He was also hoping to avenge a loss in the same state championship match a season ago at the 2011 Mat Classic.

It was a feeling Williams didn’t want to experience two years in a row.

“I didn’t want to go out the same way,” Williams said.

And he wouldn’t. Williams hoisted the Class 4A 195-pound state championship by beating the only wrestler who had beaten him during his senior season. Williams dominated Del Toro on the way to a 7-4 win in the state title match.

“I have been wrestling since I was 6 years old and there is no feeling like this,” Williams said. “This is what I’ve worked for all these years.”

The Decatur duo of Nick Karis and Rowland Gaydosh dropped back-to-back title matches in the Class 3A division. Beamer’s Arian Carpio lost her first match of the season in the 106-pound girls championship, and Titan 138-pounder Deshar House lost in his final high school wrestling match.

Feb. 27 — UFC: Henderson wins lightweight championship over Frankie Edgar

Benson Henderson wasn’t lacking for confidence heading into his UFC lightweight championship fight against Frankie Edgar.

As it turned out, Henderson’s swagger wasn’t just false bravado. The 2001 Decatur High School graduate beat up Edgar Saturday in the main event of UFC 144 at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. An ecstatic Henderson won a unanimous decision to become the UFC lightweight champion.

“This is what I’ve envisioned and to have it actually happen is pretty surreal,” Henderson said. “The biggest thing I envisioned was (UFC President) Dana White strapping the belt around my waist. I saw that moment in my head 700 times in the past two weeks.”

Henderson landed several powerful kicks and knees during the five-round fight. Judges had it scored 49-46 twice and 48-47 for Henderson.

Since winning the UFC title, Henderson defended it twice during 2012. He beat Edgar again in Denver and downed Nate Diaz earlier this month inside Seattle’s KeyArena.

March 28 — Beamer wins seventh state dance title in Yakima

The Todd Beamer High School Dance Team won first place in the 4A Division State Dance/Drill Championships inside the Yakima SunDome. The Titans won the hip-hop division at the championships. It’s the school’s seventh hip-hop title in its nine-year history.

“The team puts 100 percent effort into every practice and performance,” said dance coach Valicia Valiani. “They know if they don’t approach

each day with the common goal to succeed, someone else will. They are amazing young men and women who are an incredible example to Beamer, surrounding schools, and the community.”

The team included captains Ula Jun, Heidi McKenna and Sara Mussa, along with Megan Aasen, Madeline Blauser, Justin Bowman, Roshni Changela, Sarah Clow, Kalena Corpez, Sakile Fundisha-Bey, Dezmond Garcia, Sorelle Hardin, Kelvin Horne, Deshanee House, Madison Niksich, Olivia Rao, Myles Tucker, Alanna Vann, Anna Yi and Adam Yoon.

April 9 — Decatur dance team wins prestigious national championship

The trophy case keeps getting bigger for the Decatur High School dance team. The Gators’ collection of trophies grew again when Decatur brought home a prestigious USA championship from the 2012 Dance/Drill Nationals, which were held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

The Gators won their national title in the open division prop category and also finished in second place in the open medium military category.

The team included Jenny Ko (captain), Onesha Brown, Brianna Brooks, Kylie Seo, Yuki Sot, Shani Wrenn, Courtney Poehler, Mikaela Smith, Yenna Chang, Kymberlee Preston, Autum Hopkins, Mariah Luce, Amanda Lyons, Dabrenika DuBois, Kendyle Dayley, Morgan Arment, Ana Garcia and Lincoln Pothan. Starr, who has been at Decatur for the past 10 years, is assisted by Sydnee Williams.

May 28 — STATE TRACK: Vongsaveng, Federal Way boys 4x400 relay team win state titles

Federal Way High School freshman Mariyah Vongsaveng didn’t let the big stage of the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships scare her one bit.

In fact, Vongsaveng ran the best race of her short Eagle career under the most pressure. The ninth-grader won the 4A girls state title in the 300-meter hurdles at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

Vongsaveng, who was also a member of the state-placing Federal Way basketball team, finished with a personal-best time of 44.79 in the final Saturday to outdistance Chiawana’s Sadie Sparks, who ran a 44.88. Sparks, a senior, entered the final with the best qualifying time.

The Federal Way High School boys continued their recent success in the relay races with another state championship in the 4x400 relay Saturday. The Eagles team of Ezekiel McNeal, Jeremiah McNeal, Aaron Persinger and Tremaine Rambo easily outdistanced second-place Skyline in a time of 3:19.08.

It was Federal Way’s second state title in the 4x400 relay in the last three years. The Eagles set an all-time Washington state record to win the championship in 2010. Federal Way finished fourth in the 4x400 last season.

May 28 — STATE TENNIS: Stewart caps perfect season with 4A singles championship

The season was a perfect one for Federal Way High School’s Mitch Stewart.

The sophomore capped his 2012 high school tennis year by capturing the Class 4A state championship at the Columbia Basin Racquet Club in the Tri-Cities.

The four wins during the state tournament completed Stewart’s season with a perfect 25-0 record. He secured the singles championship with a fairly easy 6-2, 6-3 victory over Skyview’s Kent Andreasen in the final.

After winning the state title, Stewart went on to win the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Boys 16s National Clay Court Championship in Florida and finished 1-1 at the U.S. Open Junior Boys’ Tournament in New York City during the summer.

Jun. 21 — Olympic Diving Trials: Olympic Dream makes its way through Federal Way

The Olympic Dream is a powerful thing and it made its way through Federal Way.

In total, 11 American men and women punched their tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London after qualifying during the eight-day run of the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials inside Federal Way’s Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

The U.S. dive team includesd Katie Bell, Brittany Viola, Chris Colwill, Troy Dumais, Kristian Ipsen, David Boudia, Kelci Bryant, Abby Johnston, Cassidy Krug, Christina Loukas, and Nick McCrory.

July 24 — Federal Way National 9-10 all stars win state championship

The Federal Way National Little League 9- and 10-year-old baseball team is the best in Washington.

National ended its impressive run with a 7-1 win over Salmon Creek Little League to win the 2012 Washington State Tournament at Auburn’s GSA Park. The state title for Federal Way comes after the team won the District 10 championship. It was also the second-straight trip to state for National, who finished as the runner-up last season.

“This was a great run and championship for this team, our league, these kids and their families, and the community,” said head coach John Sugg. “They’ve worked really hard over the past couple of years since they were little guys to get a chance to do something like this. It’s pretty special stuff that they will always have as a childhood memory, the friendships and memories these guys have are the best part of it.”

This year’s Federal Way National team included Elijah Bakam, Cole Bakker, Carter Berry, Nate Clow, Connor Ellingson, Abiel Gonzales, Judah Graham, Colin Heffernan, Tyler Hoeft, Spencer Sugg, Adam Taylor and Zachary Yoon.

Sugg was assisted on the coaching staff by Steve Pearson, Bryan Bakker, Harvey Markey and Bob Beck.

Sept. 13 — KARATE: Hicks wins gold at Junior Pan American Games

Kiel Hicks has gotten pretty used to standing on a podium and having a medal placed around his neck.

The Thomas Jefferson High School sophomore returned from Cancun, Mexico, with two more medals to add to his collection. Hicks was in Mexico competing at the 2012 Junior Pan-American Games.

In Cancun, Hicks won a gold medal in the boys 14-15-year-old category in the kata (forms) division and brought home a silver medal in the kumite (fighting) division. The second-place finish came after Hicks lost a tie-breaking vote to the defending junior world champion, who happened to hail from Mexico.

Oct. 22 — SPEEDSKATING: Celski sets world record in the 500 meters

Federal Way’s J.R. Celski can now add the title world-record holder to his impressive list of accomplishments. The 22-year-old short track speedskater set his world record in the final of the 500-meter race at the Samsung ISU Short Track World Cup in Calgary, Alberta.

Celski won the race in a time of 39.937 seconds to become the first-ever skater to finish the 500 in under 40 seconds.

“I set up my pass with two laps to go and just tried to stay on my feet for the rest of the race,” Celski said about the 500-meter final. “I still can’t believe it but I think it will sink in (during) the next couple of days.”

Celski finished the year by winning the U.S. Senior Short Track National Championship on Dec. 22 in Utah.

Nov. 11 — STATE SWIMMING: Ramey snares a pair of championships

Federal Way High School junior Kenna Ramey has spent a lot of time inside the water at the King County Aquatic Center.

Ramey used that home-field advantage to win a pair of individual state titles at the Class 4A Girls Swimming and Diving Championships. Ramey, who does her club swimming with King Aquatic out of the Aquatic Center, repeated her state championship swim in the 50-yard freestyle and also won the 100-yard butterfly gold medal. Both winning times were personal bests, which is the goal of any swimmer.

Ramey entered the Class 4A meet as the top seed in the 50 free and didn’t disappoint during the final. Ramey swam a blazing 23.44 to easily outdistance Wenatchee’s Hannah Bruggman (23.68). Ramey’s time was good enough to earn automatic All-American honors.

Ramey also went wire-to-wire in the 100 fly final. She held the top qualifying time after Friday’s preliminaries and finished first in a time of 56.00. The swim was good enough to earn All-American consideration. Cascade’s Kalena Laurent finished second in the fly with a 56.56.

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