State championship weekend: Bottelberghe plans to go out at state with a bang

River swimmer signs letter of intent with Boise State

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter



More than 50 students gathered to watch their classmate sign her letter of intent.

photoMonica Bottelberghe

State championship weekend

What to watch over this weekend:

CLASS 4A VOLLEYBALL: The tournament will be played at St. Martin’s University and Timberline High School in Lacey. Camas gets an early start, facing Mead of Spokane at 9:45 a.m. The Papermakers have earned a trophy three of the past four years at state. There side of the bracket includes title contenders Bellarmine Prep and Emerald Ridge.

CLASS 3A VOLLEYBALL: The tournament will be played at St. Martin’s University and Timberline High School in Lacey. Both 3A Greater St. Helens League teams play at 3:15 p.m. Defending state champion Prairie meets Seattle Prep in the first round. League and district champion Columbia River meets Ferndale. If both teams win (or lose), they would meet in the next round for the fifth time this season. Other title contenders Timberline and University are on the same side of the bracket as the Falcons and Chieftains.

CLASS 2A VOLLEYBALL: The tournament will be played at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood. Ridgefield opens against North Kitsap at 1:30 p.m. The Spudders earned a trophy back in 2011, but that was at the 1A tournament. Ridgefield has contenders Burlington-Edison and West Valley of Yakima on its half of the bracket.

CLASS 1A VOLLEYBALL: The tournament will be played at the Yakima SunDome. Woodland, which won a state title in 2003 and runner-up in 2004, is looking for its first state trophy since then. Good news for the Beavers? They won’t have to face league rival Kalama until the trophy round. Woodland opens against Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls at 11:30 a.m. La Center opens with Cedar Park Christian of Bothell at 1:30 p.m. The Wildcats are in Kalama’s half of the bracket.

CLASS 4A SWIMMING: The 4A swimmer draw the early meets at the King County Aquatic Center. Preliminary heats begin at 9:45 a.m. Friday. Finals start at 10 a.m. Saturday. Camas’ Julianee Reed is the highest seeded local swimmer, qualifying fifth in the 100 freestyle and seventh in the 50 free. Teammate Anna Panebianco is seeded sixth in the 100 backstroke. Camas’ 200 medley and 200 free relays are both seeded seventh.

CLASS 3A SWIMMING: The 3A swimmers compete in the evening time slot. Prelims start at 6:15 p.m. Friday; finals at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Columbia River’s Monica Bottelberghe is the defending state champ in the 200 free. She is seeded fifth this year. She’s also seeded third in the 100 free. Mountain View’s Darya Samiee is seeded fifth in the 500 freestyle and ninth in the 200 individual medley.

Monica Bottelberghe was quiet. A senior from Columbia River High School and one of the best swimmers in the Northwest, she thanked her friends and family for being there as she made her college choice official: She is going to Boise State.

After a silent moment, a school administrator asked Monica to talk about her soon-to-be college team.

"We're the best," she said, then implying if the Broncos aren't the best now they soon will be when she arrives.

Later, she laughed at herself for that bit of bravado. Then she clarified.

"You need two Bottelberghes," she said.

Monica will swim next year with older sister Jessica at Boise State.

This week, though, belongs to Monica.

Soon after Thursday's signing ceremony, the Columbia River swim team was set to head to Federal Way for the Class 3A state championships. Monica Bottelberghe is the defending champion in the 200 freestyle and last year's runner-up in the 100 free.

"Win," she said of the goal. "Go out with a bang. It's senior year. It's going to be all about having fun. I'm ready."

Being ready is a blessing in itself for Bottelberghe. Her life has changed considerably since winning the state title last November.

In August, she had her thyroid removed. She is still in treatment for cancer -- expecting to start radiation this winter -- but she says she is strong.

"I'm a lot better. I feel better every day," Bottelberghe said. "It's as good as it can be."

So, good, in fact that she does not want to be bothered by cancer this weekend. She wants to enjoy every minute with her teammates.

"It's not my last meet, but it is my last meet as a Chieftain, and that's going to be really sad," Bottelberghe said. "Senior year is sad. But everything's going to be so new next year that it's going to be exciting."

Having her older sister excel at Boise State certainly helped with Monica's decision. Then, with everything she has been through, she really wanted a place to be like home.

"I already felt part of the Bronco family," Monica said.

There are 19 individuals from Clark County who qualified for their state championships at the 4A, 3A, and 2A classifications. Bottelberghe is seeded in the top five in both of her events, and Darya Samiee of Mountain View is in the top five in the 500 freestyle.

The championships are held at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Preliminaries are Friday, with finals on Saturday.