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Sports In Review, Part I

2004: A year of team and individual achievements

JANUARY

The high school basketball season in White Salmon was put on hold by an early-January snowstorm that forced cancellation of Columbia High boys and girls games against Ridgefield, La Center and Wahtonka of The Dalles, Ore.

White Salmon snowboarder Vic Wild was selected to join the Project Gold team, the development squad for the U.S. National Team. Wild earned his spot by placing first in the men's 19-and-under parallel giant slalom and 27th overall in alpine combined during the Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix in Park City, Utah.

Four players scored in double figures to lead Columbia High's boys basketball team to an 81-26 victory in its final meeting ever with Wahtonka of The Dalles, Ore. Later in the year, Wahtonka was merged with The Dalles High School to form The Dalles Wahtonka Union High School.

FEBRUARY

Jessica Strain of White Salmon became the first gymnast to represent Columbia High School in the state gymnastics championships. She placed 50th overall in the two-day WIAA 3A/2A competition in the Tacoma Dome.

An anonymous donor pledged $1,006 to the Columbia High School athletics fund, Athletic Director Howard Kreps announced. The donor donated $2 for every free throw made by CHS's four basketball teams during the 2003-04 season.

MARCH

Kristin Janney, a freshman at Seattle Pacific University, qualified for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference multi-event championships with an eighth-place finish in the heptathlon during a meet in Berkeley, Calif. The Columbia High graduate scored 3,847 points.

Lyle graduate Lindsey Blaine, a freshman at Purdue University, scored an NCAA Mideast Regional qualifying mark when she won the javelin at the Purdue Invitational. Blaine threw the spear 149 feet, 4 inches to start her first outdoor season with a victory.

APRIL

Western Washington University freshman Adam Neff won the 100-meter dash to help the Vikings claim the team title at the 23rd annual Ralph Vernaccia Team Track and Field Meet in Bellingham. Neff, of White Salmon, led a 1-2-3 Western sweep in the 100, posting a time of 11.32 seconds.

Later, Neff helped Western's men win the 19th annual University of Puget Sound J.D. Shotwell Classic in Tacoma, finishing first in the 400-meter dash in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference season-best time of 49.42. For his efforts, Neff earned GNAC male co-athlete of the week honors.

Washington State University sophomore Jenna Dean qualified for the NCAA West Regional championships in the javelin. The Glenwood graduate finished second at the Bronco Invitational in Boise, Idaho, with a personal-record throw of 150 feet, 8 inches.

Jordan Graeme, a freshman at Eastern Washington University, fired the javelin 142 feet, 5 inches to post an NCAA regional qualifying mark in the event. The Klickitat graduate's effort came during the 33rd annual Pelluer Invitational in Cheney.

Kristin Janney of White Salmon met the NCAA Division II provisional minimum in the heptathlon with a third-place finish at the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Multi-Event Championships in Monmouth, Ore. The Seattle Pacific University freshman scored a career-high 4,446 points, winning the javelin with a personal record of 118 feet, 5 inches on her way to all-conference honors.

Western Washington University freshman Adam Neff won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Western Oregon Twilight Meet in Monmouth. The White Salmon sprinter posted season-best times of 10.91 seconds in the 100 and 22.09 in the 200.

Washougal's boys and Stevenson's girls captured the team titles at the 12th annual Bruin Invitational at CHS Stadium.

The Stevenson girls won 10 of 17 events in winning their first Bruin Invitational crown, while the Washougal boys won the meet for the first time in seven years.

Brianna Nielsen and Rylee Walker of Stevenson each won three events to share the female athlete of the meet award. Washougal sprinter Kenny Lee had two of Washougal's five first-place finishes on his way to male athlete of the meet honors.

Columbia High's boys soccer team clinched its first SW Washington District 4 playoff berth with a 2-0 shutout of La Center. The Bruins, in their fourth season of competition, improved to 9-4 in the SWW 2A League's Trico Division with the victory.

On paper the match-up between Trico Division co-leaders Columbia High and Ridgefield had the makings for a classic baseball showdown. On the field, however, it was a different matter.

The Bruins, winners of nine in a row, uncharacteristically committed 11 errors and collected just nine hits in losing the division title to the Spudders, by scores of 9-2 and 13-2.

MAY

A five-goal outburst in the second half lifted Columbia High to its first-ever boys soccer playoff victory. After a scoreless first half, the Bruins got goals in the second from Jesus Mendoza, Samuel Lachino, Erik Lind, Whitney Butler and Nick Patrick to back goalkeeper Juan Benavides shutout performance in net.

The 5-0 victory was a school-record fifth in a row for the Bruins, who earned the right to play Montesano for a spot in the 16-team state 2A tournament field.

Chelsy Wheelhouse, a sophomore at Eastern Oregon University, won the women's hammer throw at the Cascade Collegiate Conference 2004 Outdoor Championships in Klamath Falls, Ore. The Glenwood graduate threw the hammer 154 feet, 5.5 inches--nearly 26 feet farther than the runner-up. She also placed second in the discus and shot put competitions.

Nearly a week after notching its first state 2A playoff berth, Columbia High's boys soccer team was knocked out of the running with a 3-1 loss to Lakewood. The defeat ended CHS's school-record winning streak at six matches.

The Bruins qualified for state by beating Montesano, 3-0, in a shootout that decided the SW Washington District 4 loser-out match. The win was CHS's 12th of the season--also a school single-season record.

Columbia High's boys won their third consecutive Trico Division track and field championship, edging Ridgefield by finishing second in the meet's final event--the4x400-meter relay--at Woodland High School.

Elsewhere, Greater Columbia B League boys champion Trout Lake won the Yakima Valley District 5 Class B Track and Field Championships in Wapato. Senior Mike Hansen won three events, helping the Mustangs accumulate 162 points on their way to a runaway victory.

The old baseball axiom, "good pitching beats good hitting," proved true as Montesano ousted Columbia High from the SW Washington District 4 2A playoffs with a 6-2 victory.

Columbia had just two hits in the game; its only runs came home on the second one, a two-run home run by senior Brandon Verley (his ninth jack of the season) to straightaway center field in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The last medal ceremony of the WIAA Dairy Farmers of Washington Class B Track and Field Championships featured two Glenwood athletes, juniors Mitch Wheelhouse and Tanner Beeks.

Wheelhouse took the top spot on the podium after winning his first state boys discus championship with a throw of 153 feet, 8 inches. Beeks, also a second-time state competitor, placed eighth in the event with a personal record of 139-11.

The last time Glenwood had two athletes win state medals in the same event was 1994. That year, Eagles Joe Dean and John Krueger finished first and second in the pole vault.

Columbia High senior Alexa Williams finished her high school track and field career on a high note at the 2004 WIAA Dairy Farmers of Washington Class 2A championships in Cheney.

Williams cleared 5 feet, 4 inches on her way to a third-place finish in the high jump. That effort equaled the school record first set in 1993 by Brandy Comer (and later tied by Comer in 1994 and Jenny Jones in 1995).

Later, Williams stepped on to the podium and received her third state high jump medal in as many tries. She also medaled in 2002 and 2003.

CHS senior Kaitlin Mansfield also finished her high school career in award-winning fashion. She picked up her first state medal after placing fifth in the triple jump with a personal record of 34 feet, 3.5 inches.

For the second time in three years, Trico Division baseball coaches voted Columbia High's Brandon Verley their co-player of the year.

Verley, a senior outfielder/pitcher, shared the award with Ridgefield senior pitcher Billy Jones, just as he did with Ridgefield's Nick Patee in 2002.

A four-year letter winner at CHS, Verley led the Bruins in nearly every offensive category during the 2004 season, in which the team went 14-7 and finished second to Ridgefield in the Trico standings.

Lyle senior Mitzi McMurrin captured the Greater Columbia B League softball player of the year award in balloting by the league's coaches. McMurrin, a four-year starter and a 2003 all-state selection, was one of three Lyle players named to the 2004 GCB All-Opponents Team.

JUNE

Seven wasn't a lucky number for Columbia High School's girls powerlifting team.

Despite winning three of 10 weight classifications, the girls from White Salmon saw their streak of state championships end at six in the 2004 meet held for the first time at Woodland High School.

Montesano dethroned CHS, winning three weight classes while finishing second in four and third in two. Montesano also won the boys team title.

Seniors Krista Bakke and Marcela Ramirez, and junior Corrine Blankenship kept White Salmon in contention by winning state titles at 148, 114 and 198 pounds, respectively.

Bakke and Ramirez repeated as state champions, while Blankenship was a first-time winner.

Bakke, a four-time state competitor, earned the female lifter of the meet award, in part due to her state record-tying effort of 315 pounds in the squat.

The world champion Florida Marlins made Columbia High School senior Brandon Verley their 15th pick in Major League Baseball's 2004 amateur draft. Verley was the third high school player selected by Florida and the 458th pick overall, according to Baseball America. The Marlins listed Verley's projected position as outfielder.

The winningest season in Columbia High's boys soccer history netted Bruins Coach Peter Knowles his first SW Washington 2A League Trico Division coach of the year award.

Knowles, CHS's only coach since the program's inception in 2001, guided the Bruins to a school-record 12 victories (in 17 matches) during the 2004 season and their first state Class 2A playoff appearance.

Columbia High also landed two players on the All-Trico first team: sophomore sweeper Antonio Hernandez for the second time and sophomore forward Samuel Lachino for the first.

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