Program success breeds strong athletes, so it should come as no surprise eight members of Sehome’s track and field team have committed to continue their careers at the college level.
Mariners coach Kevin Ryan said the class of college-bound athletes is one of the largest collections he’s seen move on.
“It’s great, because one thing we are trying to do is hopefully build athletes for life,” Ryan said during a phone interview. “Yes, you want to be competitive in the sport, but you want to be competitive in a way that’s enjoyable for kids and have them strive to continue and be lifelong athletes, and so it’s great to see some of them want to.”
Sehome’s most decorated track and field athlete of the 2015 class, Emily Pittis, is the Mariners’ most prominent Division I commit. Pittis, who won three cross country state titles, and four track and field titles in either the 1,600 or 3,200, is heading to the University of Montana.
“I took a visit to Montana, and I really loved Missoula,” Pittis said in a phone interview. “It kind of had a Bellingham vibe. The trails are amazing, and the campus is really pretty. I guess the feeling was really positive, and it kind of had the most of what I was looking for in a school and a team.”
Joining Pittis from the girls’ team are Chanelle Eddy (Whitworth), Bridget Henry (Western Washington) and Elsa Sandeno (Carlton).
Tyler Caseria (Whitworth), Drew Norvell (Washington State), Austin Rosas (Shasta) and Ben Stalheim (Humboldt State) have also committed to compete in college.
Pittis described her decision as long and arduous. She narrowed her offers down to Portland and Montana before deciding to be Grizzly just before signing day.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” said Pittis of the increased level of competition. “I’m just excited to see what I can do, and I’ll be able to push myself even more.”
Pittis will be partly responsible for helping improve Montana’s cross country and track and field teams. She’ll be joined by Makena Morley, who is heralded as one of the nation’s top distance runners.
“Emily was a steal for us,” Montana track and field coach Collin Fehr wrote in a press release. “If you look at her credentials, she has one of the best records of any prep runner coming out of Washington. She’s pretty much been first or second in everything every single year.
“We’re really excited to have her, and we needed her for sure. We need needed someone to come in and bolster the roster alongside Makena, and Emily fits that role perfectly.”
Pitts, who is part of Montana’s honors program, is interested in studying business and environmental science.
Norvell is Sehome’s other Division I competitor, and he’s hoping to further his throwing career when he’s not busy with the Cougars’ football program where he is a preferred walk-on.
Henry will be staying at home to attend Western, and Stalheim gives the Mariners another Division II commit.
“It kind of feels like everything has paid off,” Stalheim said in a phone interview.
Stalheim will join a strong group of incoming freshmen. The team has some quality seniors but not a lot of sophomore and junior depth, so Stalheim is excited to hopefully early on play a pivotal team role.
He’s intending to study wildlife biology and said he fell in love with the program.
“It shows how much we love this sport and how much we love running for each other,” said Stalheim when asked what so many athletes moving on says about Sehome’s track and field and cross country programs. “You just fall in love with the sport, and you can’t do anything but your best to help the team win.”
Reach Andrew Lang at 360-756-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Sports Blog at bellinghamherald.com/sports-blog. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamSports and on Facebook at WhatcomCountySports.
Mariners Moving on