Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Braves Sports, April 18, 2012

Photo by Kirsten Morse
The South Skagit Little League opening ceremony was Saturday at Bakerview Fields in Mount Vernon, with La Conner’s Oakland A’s playing the same day.

Photo by Karla Reynolds
Lady Braves crush Concrete
By Bill Reynolds
A blowout win over Concrete Thursday was just what the doctor ordered for La Conner High head softball coach Michael Bliss.
The Lady Braves, with Bliss absent due to illness, crushed visiting Concrete 31-12 in a game called after five innings due to the league's mercy rule.
Siomi Bobb and Lauren Reynolds paced a 17-hit La Conner attack.
Bobb ripped a two-run inside-the-park homer and delivered an RBI double for the victors.
Reynolds blasted a two-run fence-clearing roundtripper and plated a pair of tallies with a triple, both shots going to the deepest part of the yard in left-center.
Bobb's home run scored La Conner catcher Hayleigh Summers, who had just accounted for one of her three RBIs on the day with a run-scoring single to right-center.
It was all part of a 13-run third inning explosion by the Lady Braves.
Reynolds' deep shot came during an 11-run La Conner outburst in the fourth. Her circuit clout drove in Olivia Hedlund, who had lined a two-run double.
Leadoff hitter Kelley McClung set the tone for La Conner, patiently drawing six walks as the Lady Braves scored in every frame.
Taysha James, Emma Christianson, and Madison McCoy also lined safeties for the winners, while pinch-hitter Kaitlyn Cultee worked a walk.
La Conner hitters provided more than enough run support for Christianson, who shook off a minor foot injury to toss a complete game victory, logging a pair of strikeouts.
Christianson cruised in the early going, limiting the Lady Lions to a single tally through three innings. Concrete managed four runs in the fourth and seven more in the fifth, but by then the game had long since been decided.
Defensively, Summers erased a Lady Lion baserunner in the second inning by throwing a perfect strike to McClung at second on a failed steal attempt.
Sarah Spaeth led Concrete with a pair of singles and a double. Melissa Clontz chipped in two singles and drove in three runs.
With the win, coming on a chilly and gusty afternoon, La Conner improved to 6-1 in league and 7-3 overall.
The Lady Braves were coming off an impressive doubleheader sweep of Darrington.
La Conner was slated to resume home action late Tuesday with Friday Harbor. The Lady Braves are scheduled to host Lynden Christian April 26 before traveling April 28 to Squalicum.

Photo by Karla Reynolds
Former Braves' standout is two-sport collegian
By Bill Reynolds
A La Conner High alum is getting his kicks clearing hurdles as a college freshman.
Soft-spoken Sten Mejlaender is quietly making a name for himself by competing this year in both soccer and track-and-field at Skagit Valley College.
A midfielder for the soccer Cards, Mejlaender is also running hurdles this spring at SVC.
It isn't easy catching up with the busy Mejlaender for an interview. He works out five to six days per week, mixing powerlifting in the gym with regular sessions on the track and soccer pitch.
He splits workout time between La Conner and Mount Vernon, on whose high school oval he logged laps in chilly, windy conditions Friday afternoon. 
The 5-11, 195-pound Mejlaender geared up for college by putting on 10 pounds of muscle following his days as a multi-sport performer for the La Conner High Braves.
He originally committed to the soccer program at Concordia University in Portland after having played on a pair of La Conner boot teams that advanced to the State playoffs. But ultimately Mejlaender landed close to home at Skagit Valley, where he could be a dual-sport performer and watch younger brother, Bjorn, play for the Braves.
An “A” student at La Conner, Mejlaender has thus far enjoyed the Skagit experience.
"There was some adjusting to do early on," he says, "but SVC is definitely a school that grows on you."
He's currently taking a full academic load, including psychology, an area he might pursue for a four-year degree.
"Next winter or spring I'll make a decision on where I'll go after Skagit," Mejlaender says. "I'm looking at Central and WSU, but I want to visit my friends at their schools and see what it's like."
Mejlaender is also considering a major in fire science, and career as a firefighter.
La Conner High well prepared Mejlaender both academically and athletically, he says.
"I have a lot of great memories of La Conner High School," says Mejlaender, who advises current La Conner students to focus on their school work, assume campus leadership roles, and be mindful of future scholarship opportunities.
"It's important to stay dedicated," he says. "Once you start something, you need to follow through as best you can."
Mejlaender has followed his own advice at SVC, literally staying on track while juggling two sports.
He has spent much of his spring working on footwork technique in the 400 and 110 meter hurdles.
"They've raised the hurdles three inches this year," Mejlaender notes. "But my big challenge is in between the hurdles. Most of the other guys are taller and have longer strides."
Mejlaender, meanwhile, has made huge strides himself, often paired this year against more experienced athletes from larger high school programs.
It's that kind of challenge that has always fueled Mejlaender's competitive drive. In fact, it's what led him to the hurdles in the first place.
"I first got interested in the hurdles when I was in eighth grade," he recalls. "I knew I wouldn't be the fastest runner in the 100 meters, but I'm pretty flexible so I figured I could make up the time in the hurdles."
Indeed, he did. In May 2011, for instance, Mejlaender was named a Seattle Times Athlete of the Week after posting a personal best time of :40.97 in the 300 meter hurdles.
Still, soccer remains Mejlaender's favorite sport – one he can see himself coaching someday at the high school level.
"During my senior year at La Conner we had a good deal of success in soccer," he says, "and that's when I decided to pursue it in college."
Mejlaender, flanked by dynamic teammates Kyle McKnight and David Carr, was often referred to by La Conner head coach Steve De Leon as the "engine" that drove the Braves, who won 18 of 21 starts a year ago.
And, thus far, Mejlaender is an engine that's running on all cylinders.

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