2019 was stellar year for sports in Camas-Washougal

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The Camas High School football team celebrates after beating Bothell High School 35-14 in the 4A state championship game at Mount Tahoma Stadum in Tacoma on Dec. 7. The victory capped off an undefeated season and gave the Papermakers their second state title in the past four years. (Post-Record file photos)

Camas and Washougal teams and athletes enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in 2019.

Camas High School (CHS) won 4A state titles in three sports, and several Washougal High School (WHS) squads posted the best seasons in the history of their respective programs, including the Panthers’ state championship girls basketball squad. Both schools also produced individual state champions in several sports.

Their success is evidenced by the schools’ respective performances in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association/Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires Scholastic Cup, which recognizes performance in the classroom as well as on the playing surface. Schools that finish at the top of their respective classifications in state athletic competition receive points, as do schools that finish at the top in team academic performance. Sportsmanship is also a factor, with substantial points deducted for ejections from contests.

The WIAA released its first update for the 2019-20 school year last month, and both local schools sit in the top 10 in their respective classifications, which have more than 60 schools each; CHS was on top of the 4A rankings, and WHS was eighth.

Both schools will have opportunities to add to their point totals and, in the Panthers’ case, climb the rankings with their performances during the winter and spring seasons.

Following are the Post-Record’s top 10 sports stories of 2019:

10. Area hosts prestigious mountain bike race

The peaceful solitude of the Yacolt Burn State Forest north of Camas became the epicenter of the Pacific Northwest mountain biking racing world on Saturday, July 20, as more than 350 mountain bicycle racers took part in the seventh annual Yacolt Burn Enduro, part of Race Cascadia’s Cascadia Dirt Cup series.

Riders climbed several miles to the 3,500-foot summit of Larch Mountain, where most of the downhill stages began, and were timed as they raced downhill on a network of trails.

The race raised more than $5,000 for the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to continue to build and maintain the forest’s trail system.

9. Washougal ultramarathoner completes 206-mile run

Washougal resident David Stinchifield completed the Bigfoot 200 Endurance Run, a 206.5-mile ultramarathon held each year around Mount St. Helens.

Stinchfield started the race deep in the Cascade Mountains on Friday, Aug. 9, and finished five days later with a time of 85 hours, 10 minutes, climbing more than 42,000 feet of hills during that time.

“At this level it’s all up here in your head,” he said. “If you don’t have your mind trained for this length of running, you won’t make it.”

Washougal’s running dentist finished the event in 35th place, competing against athletes from all across the world.

8. Washougal slowpitch softball advances to state in program’s first year

The WHS slowpitch softball team celebrated tremendous success during the program’s first season, advancing to the semifinal round of the state tournament in October.

The Panthers finished the season with a 13-10 record.

“I’m just so glad the school put this team together,” senior captain Audrey Thompson said. “We came in here feeling good and ready to play. This is so much fun. I just love it.”

After suffering through a difficult fastpitch season last spring, Thompson and fellow senior Eliana Tauialo made a successful pitch to WHS athletic director Gary McGarvie to create a slowpitch softball program.

“We started this season really excited and wanted to win because our last fastpitch season was not good,” Tauialo said, “but we knew we had the heart to win, so I’m glad we could prove that.”

7. CHS wrestlers win state titles

Camas High School (CHS) wrestler Tanner Craig finished his high school wrestling career by winning a state championship for the second consecutive year, earning the 4A state title in the 138-pound weight class at Mat Classic, held in Tacoma in February.

Papermakers junior Gideon Malychewski, who was ranked No. 1 in the state’s 4A rankings for most of the season by washing, validated that claim by winning the title in the 170-pound weight class.

“It was awesome,” CHS coach Cory Vom Baur said after the tournament. “This is an emotional high right now, and a highlight as a coach I might not ever see again.”

6. Camas boys cross country team wins state title

All five CHS runners placed in the top 30, giving the Papermakers a first-place finish in the team standings at the 4A boys cross country state meet, held in November in Pasco.

The state championship was the first in the program’s history.

“It felt very unreal,” said CHS runner Evan Jenkins, who finished fourth. “I mean, the first state championship for the boys. It just felt so great that we all had the opportunity.”

Sam Geiger finished right behind Jenkins in sixth place. Luc Utheza, running in just his second race after missing several weeks with a calf injury, finished 16th. Spencer Tyman placed 20th and Austin Weese was 29th.

5. Local athletes win state track and field championships

CHS and WHS athletes earned championships in individual and relay events at the state championship meets, held at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma on May 23-25.

CHS was led by senior Daniel Maton, who for the third consecutive season won the 4A division’s 800- and 1,600-meter runs, then completed his stellar high school career by helping the Papermakers’ 4×400 relay team, which also included Quinton Patterson, Mason Gross and Blake Derringer, to a first-place medal.

In the 2A meet, the Panthers’ 4×100 team of Kenny Kanthak, Arcey Harton, Brig Griffin and Ryan Davy won a state championship in unique fashion. The WHS runners finished the race in third place, but 25 minutes later officials disqualified the first- and second-place squads for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Panthers quartet the victory.

WHS thrower Kierston De La Rocha finished her high school career by winning the 2A discus title with a throw of 116 feet, 4 inches.

4. CHS gymnastics team repeats at 4A state champion

The CHS gymnastics team surprised some observers by winning the 4A state championship in 2018. But the Papermakers didn’t want to leave any doubt that they were the favorites at the 2019 state meet, entering the event wearing Superman capes, a nod to the “super-hero” mindset that coach Carol Willson wanted her gymnasts to embody.

“We came in with more confidence than last year knowing we could (win), so it made it more fun,” said sophomore Alyssa Shibata. “There wasn’t as much stress.”

CHS backed up its bravado by winning its second straight title on Feb. 22 in Bellevue with a dominating performance; the Papermakers’ score of 184.825 was the third-best in state championship history. CHS also dominated the individual all-around competition, with sophomore Shea McGee winning top honors.

3. WHS football team advances to 2A state quarterfinals

The WHS football team had a season to remember in 2019, qualifying for state tournament play for the first time since 1999 and posting its first state tournament victory since 1974.

The Panthers won seven of their 12 games, including a 28-7 victory over W.F. West High School in a Week 10 playoff contest that clinched a state tournament berth; and a 14-13 victory over Clarkston High School in a first-round state tournament game.

“I think (our playoff run) puts the team in a position to succeed because the younger guys now know what it’s like to be in that type of environment and in those winning situations,” senior wide receiver Jakob Davis said after the Panthers’ season ended with a loss to Lynden High School in a 2A state tournament quarterfinal contest in November. “I feel they will just grow and get better in the coming years.”

2. WHS girls basketball team wins 2A state championship

Beyonce Bea was raw with emotion as she raised the 2A state championship trophy for everyone to see after the WHS girls basketball team beat East Valley (Spokane) High School 49-40 to claim the school’s first state basketball championship on March 2 in Yakima.

“It feels amazing,” Bea, who scored 30 points, said after the game. “There just can’t be anything better than this.”

After advancing to the 2A Hardwood Classic in 2018, WHS entered the 2018-19 campaign knowing it had the talent and experience needed to make a deeper postseason run. The Panthers went 23-4 during the regular season, winning every one of their games after dropping three of their four contests at the Jerry Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas in December.

Bea, a University of Idaho commit, averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game en route to breaking numerous single-season and career records and being named as the Associated Press 2A girls basketball state player of the year. Her efforts were supplemented by a strong supporting cast, which included Skylar Bea, Jaiden Bea, Savea Mansfield and McKinley Stotts.

“It’s definitely even better than I imagined,” Beyonce Bea said during a victory parade celebration a week after the team won the title. “I’ve wanted a state championship for so long. To have all the hard work we put in pay off at the end is incredible. And I think we all still can’t believe that we are state champions.”

1. CHS football team wins 4A state championship

In 2018, the CHS football team went 5-5 — losing to Lincoln, Bellevue, Sumner, Union and Bothell high schools — and failed to qualify for the 4A state tournament

Entering the 2019 campaign, the Papermakers vowed to be better than they were a year ago, using the memory of those five losses at motivation. They dubbed the season their “Revenge Tour,” a slogan that not only was uttered countless times by coaches and players and ended up on T-shirts, but permeated the culture of the program.

And sure enough, the Papermakers earned revenge against every one of the teams that beat them in 2018. CHS beat Lincoln in its first game of the year in early September. Three weeks later the Papermakers vanquished Bellevue. In mid-October, CHS defeated Sumner, and closed out the regular season with a win over Union.

And on Saturday, Dec. 7, the Papermakers earned the sweetest revenge of all, completing their unbeaten season by beating Bothell High School – the team that ended their 2018 season with a one-point win in a Week 10 playoff game – 35-14 in the 4A state championship game at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

The title is the second in program history; the Papermakers won their first state championship in 2016, when the current group of seniors were freshmen.

CHS beat its 14 opponents by an average of 41.7 points per game despite playing for the majority of the season without arguably its best player, offensive lineman Caadyn Stephens, who sustained a season-ending back injury during the team’s third game of the season; and losing its starting quarterback, Jake Blair, to a season-ending collarbone injury in late October.

The Papermakers’ powerful rushing attack, led by Jacques Badolato-Birdsell, registered more than 3,500 yards on the ground, and Blair and Blake Asciutto combined to throw for more than 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns, 17 to wide receiver Jackson Clemmer.