While football and track accomplishments drew much of the attention, Grays Harbor teams also captured 2012 state championships in such varied sports as girls golf, weightlifting and equestrian, while a Harbor athlete made a splash in professional mixed martial arts. A sport-by-sport recap:
Despite some significant individual accomplishments, no Twin Harbors team advanced to a state tournament.
Taholah’s boys and girls were among the final 16 in the 1B classification, but bowed out as regionals. The Chitwhin girls captured their fourth successive district championship.
Elma’s girls seemed headed for no worse than a regional berth, but the Eagles were unable to overcome a season-ending knee injury suffered by all-state post Carly Meister at district. Meister recovered from the injury and is averaging more than seven points per game as a true freshman for Southern Oregon University.
Meister and Taholah’s Ronnie Tadios-Tahkeal received all-state recognition.
At the college level, Elma High grad Brandi Thomas moved into the starting lineup at Washington State University and received her team’s Most Improved Player award. Her former Eagle teammate Katie Colard is a part-time starter at Western Washington University.
For the first time in recent memory, no Twin Harbors product wrestled in a championship match at Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome. Aberdeen’s Jaime Miranda, Elma’s Anthony Heller, Montesano’s Bo Russell and Ocosta’s William Helman each placed third in their respective divisions.
Regional champions included Heller, Helman, Elma’s Tanner Sample, Montesano’s Joseph Choi, Ocosta’s Drew Angelus and Jorey Palmer and Raymond’s Joe Crow and Dane Camenzind.
Aberdeen High graduate Erich Schmidtke, a junior athletically at the University of Oklahoma, qualified for the NCAA Tournament at 184 pounds and finished with a 1-2 record at nationals. Although he had a year of eligibility remaining, Schmidtke bypassed his senior season and has returned to the Northwest.
Harbor wrestlers fared well in youth age-group tournaments. Kylar Prante, Tony Williams and Seth Lindsey, all of Montesano, won Washington State Wrestling Association titles.
Aberdeen’s Joseph Bowley won the district 100-yard breaststroke and combined with Colton Sundstrom, Dillon Rowe and Jairek Barre to produce the Harbor’s state finish, a third in the 200-yard medley relay.
With all members of that unit aside from Barre returning, the Bobcats figure to make a bigger splash at state this February.
Hoquiam’s Perry Crowell IV, bowling for Midland University in Nebraska, competed in the United States Bowling Congress Intercollegiate Team Championship, was ranked in the top 30 nationally and earned NAIA second-team All-American recognition.
Larry Stover won the county men’s tournament.
Four Grays Harbor high school teams qualified for state competition in this sport, but none returned with state hardware.
Aberdeen made its second consecutive trip to Selah for the 2A tournament. The Bobcats won their first two state contests to advance to the semifinals, but lost their next two games (to Chehalis and Sequim).
Montesano earned its 15th consecutive state berth and was joined by Hoquiam at the 1A tourney in the Tri-Cities area, but neither survived the first day of state.
Wishkah captured the district 1B championship with a 16-0 rout of Lake Quinault. The Loggerettes also won a state contest — a rarity for Western Washington 1B schools — but fell one victory shy of a state trophy.
Grays Harbor College earned a berth in the NWAACC tournament.
Hoquiam teams continued to enjoy success in state and regional Babe Ruth competition. The Hoquiam 16-U all-stars (composed of players from several area high schools) won the regional championship and a trip to the Babe Ruth World Series with a dramatic 7-6 victory, nine-inning, victory over North Olympic of Port Angeles at John Gable Park. The Hoquiamites won their five-team pool at the World Series in North Carolina but wound up tied for seventh overall.
Hoquiam’s 12-U club finished second at regionals while its 10-U all-star team took the state championship.
The Elma Eagles captured the state ASA state Class B championship in the 16-U age group.
At the other end of the age spectrum, the Aro Glass Clubbers of Grays Harbor remained one of the nation’s top men’s slowpitch teams in the 60 and over age group. The Clubbers won the Northwest Seniors Division in June, placed third in the Western Nationals in Colorado and were seventh in the World Softball Tournament.
The Harbor’s fortunes in this sport closely resembled those in softball.
Montesano captured the district 1A title with an 11-4 win over Kalama. Hoquiam also earned a regional berth in that classification.
Aberdeen pulled off one of the year’s most dramatic comebacks, scoring two runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to edge Centralia, 9-8, in a winner-to-regionals, loser-out district 2A contest.
None of the above trio survived regionals, however. The Bobcats dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Sumner in their regional opener. Meridian of Bellingham eliminated both Montesano and Hoquiam in the 1A regionals at Castle Rock.
During the summer, two area American Legion teams — Precision Pipe of Montesano and Mason Baseball of Aberdeen — recorded unbeaten regular seasons. The Montesano club also won the AA Junior Legion division title.
Merged into a single county entity, Grays Harbor’s 13 and 15-year-old all-star teams qualified for state tournaments. The 13-year-old club placed second in the Southern Washington State Tournament, falling to Twin Cities of the Centralia-Chehalis area.
Elma High School girls team lacked enough players to win a single dual match last spring. But the team rules changed for postseason play and the threesome of sisters Alexis and Lauryn Keating, plus Jenna Powers, proved unbeatable in the 1A classification.
Alexis Keating, a senior bound for the University of Colorado, captured individual honors as the Eagles took the district championship.
With Powers joining the Keatings as individual qualifiers, Elma fielded the only three-woman team at state. With the sisters both projected for a top-five finish, that left the team outcome all but assured.
A former state individual champion, Alexis settled for second behind Goldendale’s Bree Wandersheid this year. Lauryn wound up third and Powers tied for 17th.
Lauryn Keating later won the girls 14-15 division at the Washington Junior Golf Association Tournament.
It was a productive year for other Harbor golfers as well.
Hoquiam’s John Sand capped an outstanding year on the junior circuit by winning the boys 11-13 division at the FCWT Tournament at Arizona State University. Previously he had finished second in the WJGA tourney.
Gretchen Klein of Hoquiam also won her share of tournaments and placed second in the Washington State Women’s Seniors event.
Two players with Grays Harbor ties also made noise in different forms of competition.
Shane Prante of Olympia, whose parents are Elma High School graduates, shared the Grays Harbor Pro-Am title with fellow professionals Chris Griffin and Brian Nosler.
Raymond High graduate Jerry Swanson, who now lives in Gresham, Ore., qualified for the Senior Division of the World Long Drive competition.
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Aberdeen High graduate Jeff Hatton had an up-and-down year as an MMA professional.
The bantamweight started with his sixth career win with a submission of Corey Roska at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma in February. The Aberdeen grad, however, only won one more match that year, losing a title fight in April and a fight in November. He finished the year with a 7-3 record after losing by submission in his first international fight — a loss to Chile’s Matias Vasquez in Santiago, Chile on Dec. 6.
TRACK & FIELD
Hoquiam’s state 1A championship was the big story here, but other Twin Harborites also reaped a plentiful bounty at state.
Montesano senior Tera Novy, the 2011 Athlete of the Year, closed out her prep career in stellar fashion by claiming two more state championships. She broke her own state all-classification girls shot put record by taking the 1A title with a throw of 48 feet. Her subsequent winning mark of 145-5 in the discus fell shy of a personal best, but was nevertheless 29 feet better than her nearest rival.
Novy later won the girls discus at the Washington-Oregon Border Dual.
Cole Smith, in the boys high jump, and the boys 4x100-meter relay team represented team champion Hoquiam on the victory podium.
Other Twin Harbors state champs included Elma’s Joel Stark (1A boys 300 hurdles), North Beach’s Gunnar Trygstad (2B boys 200 meters), Taholah’s Cecil Capoeman (1B boys shot put) and Willapa Valley pole vaulters Michaela Huber and David Rockett.
Raymond’s Hannah Borden was the area’s unquestioned hard-luck performer at state, running second to Pe Ell superstar Alissa Brooks-Johnson in both Class 2B hurdles events. Hoquiam’s Joseph Winn (who transferred to Taholah later in the year) and Nolan Hoiness, Elma’s Natalie Grant, Ocosta’s William Helman, North Beach’s Crystal Lynch and Taholah’s Rachel Cheney were among the state runners-up.
District champions included Hoquiam’s Smith, Hoiness, Tim Pelan Jr. and Mikaila Johnson, Elma’s Stark and Grant, Montesano’s Novy, Gabrielle Rudolph and Tyson Lovell, Aberdeen’s Poli Baltazar and Shayna Wilson, Willapa Valley’s Rockett and Lauren Friese, Raymond’s Ally Phansisay, Ocosta’s Helman, South Bend’s Spencer Case and Makenzie Russell, North Beach’s Trygstad, Taholah’s Capoeman, Cheney, Justin Curleybear, Laura James and Jon Jackson, North River’s Ben Nelson and Wishkah’s Erin Anderson.
Hoquiam’s boys and girls swept team honors at the Grays Harbor All-County Meet at North Beach High School.
Two Grays Harbor teams closed out the year by winning age-group titles in the Recreational Cup tournament at Tukwila.
The Harbor Crushers nabbed the boys U-18/19 title, while the Harbor Sounders nabbed the boys U-14 crown. Two other area squads, the Montesano Renegades (U-13 girls) and Harbor Youth Soccer Club Chivas (U-15 boys) advanced as far as the state semifinals.
At the high school level, Elma’s and Montesano’s girls earned state berths. No Grays Harbor boys team advanced beyond the district level.
Montesano continued one of the area’s longest traditions by winning its ninth consecutive state high school boys championship.
Elma’s Anthony Heller won his third straight individual title, set two state records and was named the meet’s Outstanding Male Lifter. Other state champs included Montesano’s Cody Sampair, Skye Jefferson, Gavin Easter, Stefan Green and Bo Russell, Aberdeen’s Jaime Miranda, Elma’s Stefanie Cristelli and North Beach’s Shyanne Morrow.
Montesano’s state championship capped a noteworthy year on the gridiron.
For much of the regular season, it appeared this would be Hoquiam’s year to shine at the state level. The Grizzlies averaged 51 points, with an average victory margin of 46, in winning their first 10 contests — including a 41-14 conquest of Montesano.
Top-ranked King’s, however, ended Hoquiam’s title hopes with a 28-13 victory over the Grizzlies in an opening-round state contest at Olympic Stadium.
Raymond staged an impressive football revival, winning its first league championship since 2000. The Seagulls also won a playoff game before bowing out to LaConner in the state 2B quarterfinals. With much of their squad returning, the Gulls could be a team to watch in 2013.
Taholah also ended a long title drought by capturing its first league crown since 1998. The Chitwhins made it as far as the state 1B quarterfinals before falling to Lummi.
State champion Montesano was grossly under-represented on the Associated Press all-state team. Quarterback Matthew Jensen, the Evergreen 1A’s Offensive Player of the Year, was the lone Bulldog to make the Class 1A first team and he was selected as a linebacker.
Other Twin Harborites to make the AP’s all-state clubs included Hoquiam running back Nolan Hoiness and linebacker Ronnie Espedal, Raymond defensive back Carte Bisbee, Taholah running back Justin Curleybear and lineman Joseph Winn and Wishkah linebacker Lukas Stevens.
After largely performing on special teams during his rookie season as a pro, Montesano High grad Adam Bighill earned a starting job at linebacker for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League.
Bighill immediately made a big impact, leading the Lions in tackles and tackles for losses and tying a team single-game record for tackles. Although the Lions fell short of repeating as Grey Cup champions, Bighill was named to the all-CFL team.
The Grays Harbor Bearcats enjoyed another winning season in the semi-pro ranks, making the Pacific Football League’s Northern Division playoffs before losing to the Bellingham Bulldogs, 40-30, in an opening-round contest. The Bearcats finished with a 9-3 record.
Joe German of the Wishkah Valley repeated as modified division champion at Grays Harbor Raceway. Jason Tole of Hoquiam took the hobby stock title. Other classification winners included J.J. Hickle of Quilcene (360 sprint cars) and Jared Peterson of Stanwood (midgets).
For the first time since 2008, the World of Outlaws national sprint car circuit actually raced as scheduled at Grays Harbor Raceway following two rainouts and one year in which the Elma track was not included in the schedule. Fifteen years after his first Elma victory, veteran driver Sammy Swindell of Germantown, Tenn., captured the main event.
Aberdeen senior Poli Baltazar notched his second straight runner-up finish at the state 2A meet at Pasco. Leading much of the race, Baltazar was overtaken near the finish and was outdueled by Squalicum’s Patrick Gibson, who had also edged the Bobcat ace in the 2011 state meet.
The district 2A champion, Baltazar maintained his outstanding form by placing 10th in the Foot Locker Western Regionals and earning All-American recognition.
Montesano’s Gabrielle Rudolph and Tyson Lovell also won district individual titles. Ocosta’s girls had the highest state team finish, placing fourth in the Class B meet.
Although Montesano and Lake Quinault had fine seasons and Aberdeen made remarkable progress from a winless campaign by qualifying for district, South Bend was the lone Twin Harbors team to earn a state berth. It was the Tribe’s 12th state appearance since 1996.
Elma, which drew team members from several other Harbor schools, won the state high school equestrian championship. Kayela Onasch, Caitlyn McDougall and Shelby Felder were among the event winners.
Harborites, as usual, fared well in the Washington State Senior Games track meet, with Bob Lawson of Ocean Shores, Paul Roberts and Barbara Johnson of Elma and Aberdeen’s Gene Stanley among the gold medalists.
The Parkway Tavern of Aberdeen won its third straight county mixed doubles pool title.