Prep athletes of the year: More sports the merrier

Skyview's Aubrey Ward-El, Heritage's Tim Hergert honored

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



Three-sport star Tim Hergert will consider an offer to play baseball in the Atlanta Braves organization.

After participating in basketball and track and field this school year, Aubrey Ward-El will consider swimming again next fall.

Heritage senior Tim Hergert grew up playing catch with a football, hitting a ball with a bat, and shooting around with a basketball.

“Every sport was super fun to play,” Hergert said. “That pushed me to do all of them in high school.”

Skyview junior Aubrey Ward-El is known for her basketball abilities, a talent good enough to be chosen as the league’s player of the year this past winter

Oh, and she just happens to be one of the best throwers in track and field. One of the best in the state.

She never envisioned that happening a couple years ago.

“Dip your feet in and test it out,” Ward-El said. “You’re never going to know unless you try it.”

Hergert and Ward-El showed excellence in all that they did this school year, and they are The Columbian’s multi-sport athletes of the year.

Hergert made the All-Region team in football, basketball, and baseball. His senior year was made all the better when he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. (He will decide on pro or college ball soon.)

Ward-El followed up Skyview’s girls basketball state championship season in 2012 with the player-of-the-year honor for the 4A Greater St. Helens League this winter, then finished second in the state meet in the shot put and fourth in the javelin.

Between them, that’s five sports, five All-Region selections, and one memorable school year.

We’ve selected them to lead a special group as The Columbian celebrates the athletes who do not specialize in one sport.

Tim Hergert, Heritage

This was all by design. There was no luck involved.

Heritage senior Tim Hergert set a very high standard, then went about to make sure he reached his own expectations.

First team, all league. In three sports.

That was the plan all along.

Hergert returned to football after a one-year hiatus and had more than 1,000 receiving yards. In basketball, he led the region, scoring an average of better than 25 points per game. Then in baseball, he was part of the greatest team in Heritage history as the Timberwolves reached the state’s elite eight.

The coaches recognized him, too. Indeed, first team, all league, all sports. With his performance, Hergert is The Columbian’s All-Region male multi-sport athlete of the year.

“Not a lot of people can say they did that,” Hergert said of his trifecta. “It makes me feel really good about myself for putting in a lot of work and accomplishing my goal. Senior year, by far, my favorite year.”

Hergert did not play football his junior year, but just had to return as a senior.

“I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t play,” he said.

He ended up leading the region in receiving yards during the regular season.

Hergert was already a known scorer in basketball. Teams sent double- and sometimes triple-teams at him, but he still lit up the scorebook. He had a high of 41 points in a game and scored 30 or more five times.

Then in baseball, he helped the Timberwolves reach the elite eight at the state tournament — best finish in the program’s history.

Earlier this month, he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves. Hergert will take the coming days to figure out if he wants to go pro now or play college baseball.

Hergert said he never was pressured into specializing in one sport. He never gave it much thought because the skills used in one sport can help play another sport. Staying active in different things, he said, just made him better.

“You’re always playing a sport. You’re never doing nothing,” Hergert said of the advantage of being a multi-sport athlete.

He also would advise all younger athletes to keep their options open.

“Play as many sports as you can,” Hergert said. “When you go to college to play a sport, it’s the only one you’ll play. You play multi-sports (in high school) to get the most out of it.”

Other outstanding male athletes

  • Nathan Beasley, jr., Camas: All-Region in football as the 4A Greater St. Helens co-offensive player of the year. All-Region in soccer by leading Camas to the league title.
  • Clark Bryant, sr., Columbia River: Bryant was All-Region in football as a second-team all-state defensive back. He was a first-team all-3A GSHL outfielder in baseball and played on the basketball team.
  • Taylor Drey, sr., Mountain View: Drey earned All-Region honor in basketball as deep-shooting threat. He was a first-team all-league infielder in baseball.
  • Colby Gilbert, sr. Skyview: The All-Region cross country athlete of the year after taking third at the 4A state meet, Gilbert also earn All-Region honors in track and field.
  • Kevin Haynes, sr., Battle Ground: Haynes earned All-Region honors in football after rushing for 1,285 yards. He also played basketball and was a second-team all-league outfielder in baseball.
  • Jabari Marshall, sr., Skyview: Marshall was an All-Region linebacker in football, headed to Northern Arizona in the fall. He was an all-league pick in track and field in the javelin.
  • Luke Middelstadt, jr., Prairie: He was an All-Region pick in track and field for placing fifth in the 3A pole vault. In wrestling, he was a regional runner-up at 160 pounds, and he was one of Prairie’s top runners in cross country.
  • James Phillips, jr., Prairie: Phillips was an All-Region pick in track and field (3rd in 300 hurdles, 4th in long jump, 5th in 110 hurdles at state). He was a second-team all-league pick in basketball and a second-team all-league doubles player in tennis.
  • Te’Kwon Wallace, sr., Evergreen: Wallace was All-Region in wrestling after placing second at state. He was an all-purpose standout in football and a second-team all-league 400-meter runner in track and field.
  • Seaver Whalen, sr., Union: Whalen earned his All-Region accolade in baseball as an infielder, but he was also a second-team all-league pick in basketball.

Aubrey Ward-El, Skyview

Let’s make this clear: Skyview junior Aubrey Ward-El is a basketball player first.

“It really is who I am,” she said. “I’d probably be lost without it. It is my love.”

Still, she has plenty of time and plenty of passion for other activities.

“I just like to broaden my horizons, just touch on different things, and get a different experience from something besides basketball,” Ward-El said. “If you’re in high school and you have the opportunity, go for it.”

Ward-El made the most of her opportunity this school year. She was named the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League’s player of the year in girls basketball, then finished second at the 4A state meet in the shot put and fourth in the javelin. For her efforts, she is The Columbian’s female multi-sport athlete of the year.

Ward-El said she was too intimidated to go out for track and field her freshman year. As a sophomore, though, she gave it a try.

It turned out, she was a natural in the throwing events.

One year later, she was second in state in the shot put.

“It’s a really weird feeling,” she said. “I know there are girls who have been doing this since elementary school and I picked it up last year. But I’m also really proud of myself. It shows I’m versatile. I can do other sports besides basketball.”

Track and field is not just a hobby. She said she made it a point to work at this new sport, to stay for the full two-hour practice every day, determined to improve.

She expects more of herself next spring, too.

“The girl who won (the shot put) is a senior. I plan on taking first,” Ward-El said.

Of course, she would prefer winning another state championship in basketball. She and the Storm won the 4A title in Ward-El’s sophomore year. After losing several talented players to graduation and injury, this year’s squad was virtually a new team.

Ward-El helped Skyview get to within one win of a berth to regionals.

“I was just really honored,” she said of her player of the year award.

As a senior, Ward-El is considering a return to the pool. She was a swimmer for Skyview as a freshman and sophomore.

“So I can end as a three-sport athlete my senior year,” she said.

If she does swim, with her “track” record, watch for Ward-El to go to state in that sport, too.

Don’t worry, basketball. You’re still her No. 1.

Other outstanding female athletes

  • Shannon Boyle, jr., Ridgefield: Boyle was a first-team all-2A Greater St. Helens League pick in volleyball, basketball and softball for the Spudders.
  • Sarah Case, sr., Columbia River: In the fall, Case was the All-Region player of the year in girls soccer, leading the Chieftains to the state title. In the spring, she was part of an all-league doubles team in tennis.
  • Emily Dobbin, jr., Skyview: After a foot injury wiped out most of her sophomore year, Dobbin came back to earn first-team all-league honors in soccer and All-Region honors in softball.
  • Alexa Efraimson, so., Camas: The only thing Efraimson didn’t do much of in her sophomore season was lose. She won the 4A state cross country title in the fall, then won state in the 800 and 1,600 meters in track and field.
  • Carly Estes, sr., Ridgefield: Estes earned All-Region honors in the fall in soccer, and she was a first-team all-2A GSHL player in softball. In between, she also played basketball for the Spudders.
  • Jessica Flanagan, fr., Woodland: Flanagan had an impressive freshman year for the Beavers, earning first-team all-Trico League honors in basketball and softball, and second-team honors in soccer.
  • Alexis Fuller, so., Union: Fuller earned All-Region by placing third at the 4A state cross country meet, and second in the 1,600 and third in 800 at state track.
  • Nicole Goecke, jr., Prairie: An All-Region athlete in cross country (7th at 3A state) and track (5th in 1,600 at state), Goecke was also a key contributor on the district champion Prairie basketball team.
  • Kelsey Whiles, sr., Hockinson: Whiles earned All-Region honors in golf by placing fifth at the 2A state tournament. She also was a first-team all-2A GSHL pick in volleyball.
  • Katie Whitten, so., La Center: Whitten earned All-Region honors in basketball after being picked the Trico League co-player of the year. She also was the top local finisher at the 1A state meet in cross country, and competed in the distance events and pole vault in track.