Regardless of whether he was running on a football field or track, Nolan Hoiness was a tough person to catch.
The Hoquiam High School athlete completed his junior season as a key sprinter on his school’s state 1A champion boys track team. He began his senior year as an all-state running back in football.
For his dual accomplishments, Hoiness has been selected as The Daily World’s 2012 Athlete of the Year, as determined by its sports staff.
Montesano’s footballers, who authored the year’s most dramatic sports story in overcoming almost overwhelming adversity by capturing the state 1A championship, shared Team of the Year honors with Hoquiam’s boys track squad.
Tim Pelan, who has guided the HHS boys tracksters to second and first-place finishes at state in the past two years, earned Coach of the Year honors.
Hoiness took the 100 and 200 meters and was a member of the winning sprint relay team at the Grays Harbor All-County Meet hosted by North Beach High School in April.
He later nabbed the 100 with a sizzling time of 10.94 and joined in a victorious relay effort as the Grizzly boys captured the district 1A title in Kalama.
Hoiness settled for second in the 100 meters and fourth in the 200 at the state meet at Cheney, but he anchored the sprint relay team that repeated as state champions. That triumph put an exclamation point on Hoquiam’s team title.
As Hoquiam’s primary ball-carrier, Hoiness was a constant breakaway threat. In 11 games, he rushed for 2,186 yards and scored 30 touchdowns in earning Associated Press all-state rec.1ognition. He had previously received the Evergreen 1A League’s Most Valuable Player award.
His output included 354 yards rushing in Hoquiam’s 41-14 victory over eventual state champion Montesano.
That, however, was the last game the Bulldogs lost in a season that Monte head coach Terry Jensen described as “fairy tale. If you made a movie out of it, it would probably be pretty hokey.”
The loss to Hoquiam was Monte’s second straight of the season and its first league defeat since 2005. Two days, the Rottle Field grandstand was destroyed by fire, forcing the Bulldogs to play the remainder of their schedule (aside from their homecoming game, in which temporary bleachers were erected) away from home.
They rebounded by winning their last six regular-season contests, plus a state-qualifying game, by lopsided margins. Unranked in the final Associated Press poll, they nevertheless entered the state playoffs in a rare underdog role.
As it developed, they wound up vanquishing three previously unbeaten clubs en route to the state title.
The Bulldogs opened the playoffs with a 31-21 victory over Charles Wright Academy. That set up a quarterfinal match-up with top-ranked King’s, which had eliminated Evergreen 1A champion Hoquiam the previous week.
Montesano stymied all-state quarterback Billy Green with a superb defensive effort to produce a stunning 17-7 upset victory at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.
State semifinalists the year before, the Bulldogs cleared that hurdle by topping Mount Baker, 28-6, at the Tacoma Dome.
They trailed second-ranked Royal 21-10 early in the second quarter and were still down 21-16 with time running out in the first half. But quarterback Matthew Jensen hit Richard Smith on a 42-yard “Hail Mary” TD pass on the final play of the half to swing the momentum decisively in Monte’s favor.
Jensen wound up completing 15-of-20 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, Elliot Mendenhall broke touchdown runs of 41 and 82 yards and Tucker Ibabao applied the coup de grace with a 43-yard scoring run as the Bulldogs went on to prevail, 43-28. It was their first state football title since 1994.
Particularly after the previous year’s state runner-up finish, Hoquiam’s state boys track championship was more predictable.
With Cole Smith’s school and district record 6-9 high jump providing one of the many highlights, the Grizzlies edged Kalama by 11 points for the district 1A boys team title.
That proved to be a preview of the state meet, as the Chinooks again provided Hoquiam’s stiffest competition.
Smith cleared 6-10 to repeat as state high jump champion, while the sprint relay team — with Tyler White and Paul Girts joining holdovers Tim Pelan Jr. and Hoiness — also nabbed a second straight state title.
The Grizzlies also received seconds from Hoiness in the 100 and Joseph Winn in the discus in topping runner-up Kalama by seven points.
The state title was the latest in a long line of accomplishments for head coach Tim Pelan Sr. Entering his 13th year as the Grizzly track coach (ironically, he lettered in baseball as an HHS athlete), Pelan has been known for producing large turnout numbers and blending team camaraderie with competitive success.
Previous Athlete and Coach of the Year recipients, incidentally, are unofficially ineligible for repeat honors.