Paul Valencia: Plenty to celebrate at Columbia River

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

The students today call it River Flow.

Not sure what they called it in 1962, but it was probably something pretty cool.

River Flow, and whatever moniker used decades ago, describes athletic success at Columbia River High School, among other things

The school is celebrating River Flow and all that is Columbia River High School this academic year, championing its tradition of winning.

Columbia River High School Hall of Fame Inaugural Class

Teams

1964 Boys Cross Country (state champions)

1969 Wrestling (state champions)

1970 Boys Cross Country (state champions)

Individuals

Roscoe Divine, Class of 1965 — cross country, track

Rick Closson, 1996 — football, track

Rick Erickson, 1996 — basketball, baseball

John T. Greenlaw, 1967 — football, basketball

Randy Bruce, 1968 — football, baseball

Charlie Lemcke, 1969 — football, wrestling

Rich Brock, 1969 — wrestling

Mike Babb, 1969 — wrestling

Jack Schoonover, 1971— wrestling

Larry Smedley, 1971 — basketball, baseball

Steve Hubbard, 1971 — cross country, track

Denece Cromwell, 1971 — track and field

Shelley Reed Pryor, 1972 — track and field

Coaches

Lee Cave, cross country and track and field

Earl Enos, basketball and boys golf

Jim Thrasher, football and wrestling

Shirley Valeos, track and field

Community Contributors

Adair Hilligoss

Roy Lester Long

Wallace and Virginia Miller

Vinita Murray

Friday night, in between the girls and boys basketball games against rival Skyview, the school will honor its inaugural class in the Columbia River athletic hall of fame.

It is the biggest athletic night of a year-long party recognizing the school's 50th anniversary.

"It's exciting to learn how deep the roots run within the community and how actively people are involved," said Dana Selby, the school's athletic director. "I can't tell you how many parents you run into, saying, 'I graduated from River.' They'll tell you what they did. More and more people are saying 'I was a part of River when ...'"

Almost too many people to count helped with the research in coming up with the first class of the hall. A committee decided on a huge initial class because, well, there has been an awful lot of winning in 50 years of Columbia River. Roscoe Divine was the first individual champion, taking a cross country title in 1964. The team also won the title that season.

In all, three teams, 13 individual athletes, four coaches, and four special contributors will be highlighted at the ceremony.

While it took months to figure out the class, it did not take long to find the people who could help. Most of them have been part of the Columbia River family for decades.

Jim Chapman, for example, has been a coach at the school in some capacity for 42 consecutive years now. John O'Rourke, came to Columbia River in 1973. He became the head football coach in 1994. He just won another league championship this fall. Former longtime River coaches Gene Dettorre, Tom Boyle. Tim Hegedus, and Shirley Valeos added their expertise to the project.

"They have the history of the school and have known it since it opened," Selby said.

The Hall of Fame will be displayed near the entrance to the school, just outside the main office. Chapman designed the case.

"They're just so vested in this school, and it's awesome to see," Selby said.

Boys basketball coach David Long is the longest tenured current head coach of a team sport at River. He became River's coach for the 1992-93 season.

Notice a trend here?

Columbia River coaches, in a lot of sports, tend to stick around.

In 50 years, the school has had six football coaches. There have been three girls track coaches. Three wrestling coaches. And Long is just the third boys basketball coach.

"That's part of the success, the stability," Long said. "All of us run programs, not a team."

The River way has always been about encouraging its athletes to play other sports.

Long said he meets with the football coaches every year to create as few conflicts as possible with offseason workouts for athletes who play both sports.

"All of the coaches are really good about that," he said.

This is Long's 26th year on campus. He said he remembers being a rookie.

Through the years, he has always been amazed at how many graduates who he runs into who just beam about their experiences.

"People have great memories of going to school at River," Long said. "The kids get along. It's a neighborhood school. It has the reputation for strong academics and great athletics. That's a good combination to have. It's got that reputation, and it earned that reputation."

This year, all of Columbia River past and present are celebrating just that. It's River Flow now.

Or River Excellence, whenever.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at paul.valenciacolumbian.com.