One-fifth of CV student body turns out for spring sports
A combined 330 participating in the boys and girls track and field teams
By Mike Vlahovich
The onus is on Central Valley girls track coach Geoff Arte in his second year at the program's helm.
His dad, Mike, took Gonzaga Prep's girls to a State 4A basketball championship in March. Bears boys track coach Chuck Bowden, in casual conversation during his daughters' club volleyball match, intimated that Geoff's team has potential to do damage at state.
"Well, we could," Arte said. "We definitely have some state-caliber kids."
Five state veteran returnees to be exact. The caveat is that getting numbers to state will be difficult with only two berths per event advancing from the region.
Basketball star Mariah Cunningham finished fourth in both the high and long jumps last year.
"In a normal year, she would have won," Arte pointed out. "The three girls in front of her would have scored in the (college) Pac- 12 meet."
Briegan Bester exploded on the scene as a freshman, taking sixth in the 800 and seventh in the 1,600 last year. And CV's third-place state cross country team finish brings depth to the distances.
McKinzie Carter in the pole vault and basketball GSL scoring leader Madison Hovren in the hurdles, plus relay teams also advanced to state.
The Bears welcomed back soccer star Savannah Hoekstra, a two-time long jump placer before taking last year off, but she will move to the sprints and relays this year. Freshman Kelsey Turnbow, a national soccer team member, also joins the team.
"We have the best (all-around) athletes in school out for track," said Arte of the multi-sport crew.
They are part of a 170 (that's right, 170) member turnout, including a large freshman class. Also, "I think part of what's happening is we're keeping the older girls out," he said. "We have 25 seniors, which is unusual. I think a lot of it is they want to finish it off."
The Bears are after their third straight Greater Spokane League championship and have a 34-2 dual meet record over the span of their careers.
Bowden notwithstanding, is there extra pressure on Arte to duplicate dad's state title feat?
"It took him 26 years," Arte, who witnessed the milestone, said with a laugh. "I've got 24 more (to rival Mike)."
Coupled with Central Valley boys, who have 160 out, and seven other spring sports, some 20 percent of CV's entire student body is in one activity or another.
Last year's boys track team sent state qualifiers in seven events, including returnee Parker Bowden.
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The Bears graduated seven starters, but coach Joe Stanton doesn't seem concerned.
"I kind of like to think we'd have similar results," he said of a team that for the second straight year finished in the top eight, within a win of a top-four Class 4A state trophy.
"The first year we were just happy to be there and made some noise," he said. "We come back the second year and wanted to take home some hardware."
Five returning veterans know the ropes. With pitching/first base standout Carli Riordan returned, along with three-year starter Natalie Ford, plus Makenna Wasteney, McKynzie Adams, Bailey Baker and Jade Rockwood, the nucleus is there. Then there's junior shortstop Shayla Vegas, a transfer from Texas.
"Christmas came early. She's the real deal," Stanton said, calling her a Division I talent. "She just knows the game so well. You look up, and she's always in the right place."
Bears baseball upbeat
Coach Barry Poffenroth's team finished 6-12 last year. But most of the roster returns and with the addition of a couple assistant coaches - including Bears grad and ex-major leaguer Kevin Stocker - "Poff" is cautiously optimistic.
"We probably have the best coaching staff in the league," he said. "With so many coaches, I can go around and oversee things. I'm really happy the way it's going."
Colton Peha, who was All-GSL first team as a sophomore, leads the way. He led CV in hitting and has moved to centerfield.
Glance through the roster, and a starting lineup-worth of players return, including Brady Simmelink, a fourth-year regular and veteran pitcher. The exception is junior football running back standout, Spencer Miller, who didn't turn out.
"We won't be as strong without Spencer," Poffenroth said. "He's one of the best kids I've ever coached."
Others who contributed last year are Tyler Pichette, Calvin Whitman, Trey Carolan, Trent Ferster, Ryan McCauley and juniors Jackson Axtell and Austin Bergdahl.
Coaching with blinders on
Talk long enough with soccer coach Andres Monrroy, and you come to understand his coaching style is full speed ahead!
There's no glance sideways or look back; no settling for second. The uber-confident Monrroy fully expects to be on top, whether winning a state girls championship or mentoring a young boys squad, among the GSL favored despite a roster of 14 freshmen and sophomores and but two seniors.
Senior defender Karl Ellingson and sophomore forward Miguel Naves are returning All-GSL.