Paul Valencia: A quick look through preps time capsule

Paul Valencia: Commentary

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



Happy Almost Half-Way Through The Year, everybody.

All those people who claim Jan. 1 is New Year’s Day must not be fans of high school sports. The New Year begins in mid-August, when athletes report to practice for the fall school season of sports.

A three-sport athlete such as Heritage’s Tim Hergert was a senior in high school in December and is still a senior now in January. See, where I am coming from, this is not a new year.

Plus, ask anybody who has watched me watch a football game. I’m a time-clock management expert. You can trust me when it comes to things such as time, calendars, and especially play clocks.

It turns out, I’m also old enough to be a time capsule.

Last school year, I celebrated my 10th year as the high school sports reporter at The Columbian. I wrote a couple of pieces to note the occasion and also promised, from time to time, to go back in time.

Well, with so many thinking ahead because it’s their “new year,” here is a little bit of a look back 10 years ago because it’s just the middle of the school year for me.

• Hockinson golf had some success in the fall of 2002. Not bad considering there was no Hockinson High School campus just yet, just some freshmen who had to wait until they were sophomores before they could move into their new school.

Who knew at the time that Hockinson would turn into a small-school golf power? Hockinson teams have won three state championships and have finished in the top five at state in eight of the past nine school years.

I’m pretty sure there is a hidden golf training facility located in a bunker below the gymnasium that Hockinson officials never explained to the taxpayers when that school under construction. Hockinson High School? Yeah, that’s just what they call it publicly. Secretly, it’s the Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy, Northwest Headquarters.

• The Camas football team lost a half of a playoff, but all of its season.

So glad we evolved from this terrible set-up. Back then, three teams got together on a Monday night to fight for one playoff berth. Camas traveled to Chehalis to play a half-game. If they had won that, they would have played another half game. Instead, they lost. Regardless, it was a bad idea. And no, this was not some sort of tiebreaker that we have now, a just-in-case kind of thing. This was all by design.

This was not the only oddity regarding football playoffs. This was also back in the day when we asked some of our teams to play a Thursday Week 9 game, then play a Tuesday “play-in” game in order to get to Week 10 on Friday or Saturday.

I think I got injured just covering these games. Must have been tough to play in them.

• In 2002, Mountain View and Columbia River both reached the Tacoma Dome in football. Columbia River lost to Bellevue in the 3A semifinals.

A team losing to Bellevue? Don’t need a time capsule for that info. Every year, on a loop.

• Speaking of things that seem to happen every year, in March of 2003, the Prairie girls basketball squad won the state championship.

It gave Prairie its fifth state championship. The first one that I covered, though, so I will always remember that game. I hope to catch up with that team for a Where Are They Now feature later this winter.

But I also wanted to make note of that sentence I just wrote. “Speaking of things that seem to happen every year …” Well, no, these things do not happen every year.

The Prairie girls won their sixth state title just last year. They went to state in all those years in between titles but went eight consecutive trips without the biggest prize.

Even for teams that make it “happen” every year, such as Bellevue football, it’s really not every year. Not for the athletes, not for their closest fans: their classmates and family. Because there are new athletes on all of those championship teams.

Remembering that is key to this job.

I’ve seen a lot through the years. But it’s all new every year to the new athletes on every team.

It’s my job to tell their stories.

Hopefully, those victories in competition, and in life, will be remembered 10, 20, 30 or more years later.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or email Follow him on Twitter: @360PaulV

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