Versatility is often a hallmark of Daily World Athletes of the Year. Last year’s recipients had that quality in abundance.
An all-Evergreen 1A League basketball player and starting tight end on Hoquiam High School’s 2012 league championship football team, Cole Smith saved his greatest feats for his final act prior to his June graduation. He won his third state high jump title and also captured the javelin in helping the Grizzlies repeat as state 1A boys team champions in track.
As a Wishkah Valley junior, Keigan Gardiner swept the Class 1B boys hurdles as part of the same combined Class 1A/2B/1B track meet in Cheney. Gardiner, however, also blossomed in the fall, when he became of the first Harborite to earn Associated Press all-state football first-team recognition in three categories (running back, defensive back and all-purpose player).
For their myriad of accomplishments, Smith and Gardiner were selected as The Daily World’s 2013 Co-Athletes of the Year.
Two state champions in prep spring sports, Hoquiam’s male tracksters and Lake Quinault’s baseball club, shared Team of the Year honors.
Rob Clements, who continued Raymond’s football resurgence by guiding the Seagulls to the state Class 2B semifinals, received the nod as Coach of the Year.
The selections were made by The Daily World sports staff. Past recipients in the Athlete and Coach of the Year categories are, by informal rule, ineligible for repeat honors.
In signing a letter of intent with Washington State University early last spring, Smith listed his track goals as cracking the 7-foot barrier in the high jump, repeating as state champion in that event, improving in the throwing events and helping Hoquiam repeat its state team title. With the exception of the 7-foot mark, he fulfilled all those aspirations.
Plagued by miserable weather conditions and a lack of competition, the HHS senior actually performed below his 2012 level in the high jump for much of the season.
He was, however, equal to the challenge of a state three-peat. He cleared a season-best 6-8 in winning the event and barely missed at 6-11.
On the previous day at Cheney, Smith had captured his first state title in the javelin — an event in which he made gigantic improvement from the previous season.
Helped by the coaching of his older sister Mackenzie (a former high school and college standout) and pushed throughout the campaign by his teammate Evan Erickson, Smith entered the Class 1A meet with a state-best mark of 191 feet.
He threw 181-2 as he and Erickson finished 1-2 in the state javelin — a showing that sowed the seeds for Hoquiam’s eventual team championship.
Smith was also an all-Evergreen 1A League center in basketball, consistently attaining double figures in scoring and rebounding. As a WSU high jumper, he is preparing for the indoor track season.
At the Grays Harbor All-County track meet in which Smith captured the high jump and javelin, Wishkah’s Gardiner opened some eyes by upending the top hurdlers from larger schools by winning the boys 110-meter high hurdles with a time at 15.94.
He repeated that triumph at the state 1B meet with a time of 16.02. Even more impressive was his showing in the state 300 hurdles, which he won with a school and meet record time of 40.08. He prevailed in the latter event by a full second.
A converted quarterback, Gardiner became a definitive all-purpose player in leading Wishkah to a district championship and the state 1B quarterfinals in football.
He rushed for 1,579 yards, passed for 535 and caught 26 passes for 603 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, he made 78 tackles and intercepted nine passes.
Overall, he accounted for 3,651 yards and scored 51 touchdowns. All of which added up to all-state berths on offense, defense and as an all-purpose performer. Since the latter category was established only recently, he is believed to be the only three-way all-state performer in Twin Harbors history.
Gardiner is currently a starter on Wishkah’s boys basketball team.
The Teams of the Year recorded state championships on the same day in May.
For the past two years, Hoquiam track coach Tim Pelan has maintained that his boys team — not unbeatable in dual competition — was built for big meets.
The Grizzlies again proved that assertion at state.
Incredibly, Hoquiam scored in only five events at the 1A meet this year. The Grizzlies, however, won all five in totaling 71 points to beat runner-up Charles Wright Academy by 19 points.
Senior Nolan Hoiness, the Daily World’s 2012 Athlete of the Year, accounted for the non-Smith event wins. He won the 100 and 200 meters and anchored a victorious 4x100-meter relay team that also included Devin Kelly, Tyler White and Paul Girts.
Lake Quinault’s state 1B baseball championship represented one of the year’s feel-good stories.
Coming off a relatively down 2012 campaign, the Elks took a modest 11-6 record into regional competition. But shoring up some of the defensive problems that had beset them earlier, they rode the pitching of Richy Carlile and Dalton Lines to a successful postseason run.
The state championship game turned into something of a culture clash as Quinault, a public school located in one of the state’s most economically depressed areas, faced off against Liberty Christian of Richland in the championship game. Liberty Christian, a private school, operated a baseball-only website that included statistics in 39 offensive categories and professional-quality graphics that charted the outcome and location of every play the Patriots had made during the season.
Carlile, however, pitched a five-hitter and ended the game with one of his 12 strikeouts as the Elks notched an 8-5 victory in Ellensburg. Tyler Colton’s two-run double was the biggest of Quinault’s five hits. It was the second state baseball title for coach Keith Samplawski.
Inheriting a team that had gone 3-7 in 2010, Clements has posted a 22-9 record in his three seasons as Raymond’s head football coach.
The Gulls captured their second consecutive Pacific League championship last fall and edged Central League stalwarts Wahkiakum and Napavine in dramatic state Class 2B playoff games at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field before dropping a 27-14 decision to top-ranked Morton/White Pass in the state semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.