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Kyra Gardner, bouncy Raymond three-sport star, is SBLive's Class 2B Senior Athlete of the Year

A Washington State University basketball signee, Gardner also won four WIAA track and field individual titles this spring to complete robust career

Welcome to a continuing tradition at SBLive Washington – honoring the WaFd Bank 2021-22 senior male and female athletes of the year for each classification.

Because the SBLive crew gets so immersed in specific sports seasons, it is nice to take a step back to pick a statewide honor from a broader perspective.

The criteria isn’t too expansive: The starting point is finding seniors who are all-league/all-state performers in two or more sports. Totality of career is also a factor. So is administrator/coach/fan recommendation.

Enjoy as we honor some of Washington’s top multi-sport senior athletes!

Long before Kyra Gardner discovered where the blacktop basketball courts existed at Raymond Elementary School, she was more interested in showing off in other areas of the playground.

Specifically, on the top of the monkey bars.

"I was jumping all over the place," she said. "I had hops, and I worked on it."

Added Julie Gardner, her mother: "She'd climb on our door jams. ... She's always been an impulsive kid who is in tune to her body."

Now in 2022, over the course of her activities in three sports, Kyra Gardner is as good as any athlete in Washington elevating in the air to get off shots in basketball, spike a volleyball or to cover jumping-event distances in track and field.

It's almost as if she makes the hard ground she walks on her moving trampoline.

"I honestly can't tell you where it came from," Gardner said.

And it's been put to best usage in basketball - a sport in which Gardner dominated as a senior at Raymond High School by averaging 26.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.0 steals as the classification's all-state player of the year. She was also named the 2021-22 Gatorade state player of the year.

Last fall, Gardner signed to play in the Pacific-12 Conference - at Washington State University.

"I want to take basketball as far as I can," Gardner said. "My dream since I was young was to play in the WNBA. I am going to work hard to get there and live my dream."

Jason Koski, the girls basketball coach at Raymond, remembered Gardner hanging around the program in fifth grade when her sister, Aubrey, was on the team.

"At an early age, you could see she had a giddiness about competing," Koski said. "She was always very active."

After a breakout AAU summer in 2019, Gardner was ready to take flight as the undisputed sophomore leader. Koski said he adjusted his coaching philosophy to accommodate the blossoming star.

"She had gained a lot of confidence," Koski said. "I opened up my (coaching) wings to let her do things I would not allow others to do because of her skill set."

In other words, Gardner was granted the freedom to take over games at opportune times. But she rarely, if ever, abused it.

"It's not a one-person game when there are five players on the court," Gardner said. "I realized pretty fast that I can't do everything by myself."

But when it's time, Gardner can showcase a unique skill set - unmatched bounce and a mid-range game that looks straight out of the 1980s NBA.

"I want to be different from anybody else," she said.


School: Raymond.

Sports: Soccer, volleyball, basketball, track and field.

Next step: Signed to play basketball at Washington State University (D1) where she will also study elementary education.

Senior-year highlights: Averaged 26.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.0 steals, and was named Gatorade state girls basketball player of the year in Washington, marking the fourth consecutive season a small-school product received the award. Was also named not only SBLive WA's Class 2B player of the year, but to the all-classification all-state first team. Led school to first district title since 1991 - and best state finish (sixth place) in 31 years. Was voted MVP of the Class 2B tournament, and selected to the WAVOR (formerly Northwest Shootout) and WSGBCA all-star games. Earned 2B Pacific League player of the year honors. ... Won four WIAA individual track and field titles at the state meet in Cheney in the 100 hurdles (15.92 seconds), high jump (5 feet, 8 inches), long jump (17-31/2) and triple jump (36-41/2) - and posted personal-best marks this spring in all four events. Led Raymond to a third-place state finish. ... As an outside hitter in her first full season of volleyball, Gardner was selected as 2B Pacific player of the year, leading the Seagulls to the league title and a fourth-place finish at the state tournament. Was named to the WSVCA all-state second team.

Career accomplishments: Leaves as Raymond's all-time leading girls basketball scorer with 1,906 points, breaking Ronalda Dunn's previous record (1,859) from 1990. Also had 707 rebounds, school-record 584 steals, 332 assists and 170 blocked shots. Was a three-time all-state selection, and a three-time 2B Pacific MVP. ... Won four WIAA track and field titles, including back-to-back wins in the state high jump (2019, 2022). Placed third in the long jump as a ninth grader in 2019 as well. ... Voted to the all-league volleyball first team as a junior and senior. ... Kicked off her high school career jump-starting the new girls soccer program in 2019, and was voted all-2B Pacific in her first two seasons.

School/community achievements: 3.5 GPA; volunteer coach for Pacific County youth basketball and soccer teams; officiated county youth soccer leagues; volunteered to serve in weekly Pacific County emergency meals program in conjunction with Elk Lodge 1292; cooked and delivered Thanksgiving Day dinner meals to less-fortunate community families.