A look back at some of the sporting highlights of 2017
January 3, 2018
Another year has come and gone, my first full year working back here in Goldendale, with a lot of cool and memorable sports achievements and memories from 2017.
It's easy to remember what the big deal around town at this time last year was, the record snowfall that canceled handfuls of winter sporting events, including one of Goldendale wrestling's two home meets last December.
However, the little snow we received just before Christmas is all but washed away after the rainy week after. Only one Goldendale hoops game (last Thursday against White Salmon) has been canceled while no wrestling competitions have been postponed of lost.
Although both Goldendale teams had its struggles on the court throughout the year, a pair of senior standouts were selected to the South Central Athletic Conference All-League teams. Senior Ocean Bryan was named to the first team on the girls side, while Jess Beierle was voted to the second team for the boys.
The 2016-17 hoops season also was the last year that longtime Goldendale hoops coach Ted Wilkins was with the squad. Wilkins stepped down after being a part of the hoops program since 1988.
The Goldendale grapplers, despite more canceled meets than any other year in head coach Matt Dumolt's tenure, sent three to state, capping their senior seasons among the best in the state. Cameron Read was making a repeat appearance at state and was joined by fellow seniors Mykhail Lembke and Michael Jagelski, although Jagelski was an alternate after finishing one spot shy in his respective weight class at regionals.
Although none of the small school hoops teams from around the area advanced past the district tournament, many of the kids earned spots on the Greater Columbia Gorge League All-Opponents team. For the boys, Bickleton's Riley Brown and Kyle Underwood, Klickitat-Glenwood's Rylee Holycross and Easton Atchley, and Lyle-Wishram's Elijah McCullough all made the team. Bickleton's Kira Harvey and Hali O'Banion, Klickitat-Glenwood's Bailee Green and Mackenzie Tuthill, and Lyle-Wishram's Alex Cloud and Larissa McConville earned spots on the girls team.
After the wet and cold winter season, it took a little longer than usual for the school to adjust to the spring sports season. There was still snow on the ground in some places as practices started, and the softball field was a muddy mess, which forced many home games to be played out of town.
It was another year without a home track meet, and it will be the same again this year. However, Goldendale was well represented at the state meet in Cheney, with six athletes setting personal records in their last meet of the year. Then junior Dillon Rising recorded a pair of top-six finishes, and sophomore Reese Michael earned a team point for the Timberwolves after topping the podium in the ambulatory shot put with a PR-tying mark of 15-feet, 4 inches.
There were tons of other area kids who excelled in the state meet, but none more than Lyle-Wishram's Brandon Montoya, who, as a freshman, took state honors in the 2B 200 meter run and long jump, and missed out on winning the 100 meter run by .01 of a second. Alex Cloud also earned three points for the Lyle-Wishram girls with her finish in the javelin. It was her third year at state throwing the javelin.
The Trout Lake Mustangs finished fourth overall among Class 1B girls teams for the second straight year with a pair of big time performances by then sophomore Liz Fink. Fink broke the school's javelin record with her first throw in the first meet last season, and went on to finish second in the javelin and third in the shot put. Her teammate Isabella Dean also had a runner-up finish in the pole vault.
The Gerchak brothers, Andrew and Luke, along with Emily Hurst punched tickets to the state golf meet. Hurst finished the tournament in Richland in a tie for 32nd place out of the 80 total golfers, while Luke finished in a tie for 26th among boys while Andrew just missed the cut to advance to the second day.
Although the Goldendale baseball team lost its district play in game to Warden at home in May, it was a brilliant pitching performance for the first five innings that mirrored another previous Goldendale home playoff game against Warden in 2010. Goldendale overcame Warden's Arturo Reyes back in the opening round of districts in 2010, who pitched at Gonzaga and now is with the Memphis Redbirds, the St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, for a 2-1 district win which paved the way for a fifth place finish at state that year.
Last year against Warden, then junior Alex Mains allowed just one Warden hit through the first five innings in a very strong outing and hit a solo home run on offense but the team fell after a tough couple of innings from its relief pitching.
Goldendale head tennis coach Channon Bighorn was seeing double at the end of last tennis season. Two Goldendale doubles teams reached the state championships in Yakima. Seniors Edgar Vega and Ignacio Cano won a match in state, while Kelli Bighorn and Talia Johnson won twice.
Also around that time, Goldendale was greeted by a couple of sporting celebrities.
Motorsport and stunt performing legend Travis Pastrana and many more rally car racers were in town for April's Oregon Trail Rally, in which drivers traveled and raced along some of the historic routes around the area.
A little later in May, former NASCAR racer Kyle Petty led his 23rd annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America through the Columbia Gorge, stopping for a few hours at the Maryhill Museum to meet and visit with fans. Although his dad, Richard Petty wasn't with the group when they passed through, former college football Heisman Trophy winners Herschel Walker (Georgia in 1982) and George Rogers (South Carolina in 1980) were there to take pictures, sign autographs, and more.
Not too long later, two of the four Goldendale fall sports advanced to the state championships.
The Timberwolves returned to the state volleyball tournament for the first time since 2008, and both the boys and girls cross country teams advanced to state for the first time in school history.
Dillon Rising, running in his last high school cross country meet, finished 11th overall although would have finished closer to the top five without the nagging injuries he suffered for most of the season.
The Goldendale spikers just missed placing at state in head coach Jodi Bellamy's last year leading the team, falling in four sets to Castle Rock during the last day of the tournament. Shotrly before that, Bellamy was one of three Washington state volleyball coaches inducted by the Washington State Volleyball Coaches Association into the Washington State Volleyball Hall of Fame.
The Lyle-Wishram Cougars also had a historic season on the gridiron, winning their final six games by an average of 29.83 points to advance to the 2B state tournament. Although they fell in the first round to Liberty, the second place finishing team, it was an extremely impressive season for a team that played with as few as 13 kids last season. It was the first time in over 30 years that the Cougars reached the state tournament in 11-man football.
They were bolstered by numerous players on the all-league offensive and defensive teams, and sophomore running back Brandon Montoya was one of three players named to the Class 2B All-State First Team.
Just a month ago, former junior varsity boys and C Squad hoops coach David Stelljes made his varsity head coaching debut with a big win over the Mabton Vikings, a team that was still in the SCAC West when Stelljes started coaching the Goldendale C Squad in 2006.
I know that there is a ton of cool stuff that I left out, but I am excited to see what exciting sports stories 2018 brings!