Had Nicole Goecke specialized in her favorite sport heading into high school, she would have earned a college scholarship in basketball.
Probably not Pac-12, though.
Because she did not specialize, Nicole Goecke is headed to the Pacific 12 Conference, only in a sport she never dreamed she would be competing in just a few years ago.
Goecke, a recent Prairie High School graduate, is going to Oregon State on a scholarship for cross country and track and field.
"I had ran the mile in P.E. sometimes, but I had never run track," Goecke said, remembering her days before high school. "It seemed crazy to me that people wanted to run track."
Her neighbor gave her a suggestion, though: Give distance running a shot.
Oh yeah, that neighbor just happens to be Prairie's track and field coach, Curtis Crebar.
"I owe it all to him," Goecke said.
Goecke would end up winning back-to-back district Class 3A cross country crowns, and in her senior year, finished third at the state meet. This winter, she was voted the 3A Greater St. Helens League's girls basketball player of the year. And if not for an injury in the spring, she likely would have placed at the state track and field meet. (She finished fifth in the 1,600 as a junior.)
For her three-sport excellence, Goecke is The Columbian's All-Region multi-sport female athlete of the year.
Goecke did not fall for running instantly — "I hated it at first," she said — but she grew stronger and faster as she put in the miles.
Always an athlete who could play basketball, Goecke turned into a basketball player her senior year, going on a dominating run in the postseason with points, rebounds and steals, leading Prairie to the state's round of 16.
Her track and field season was cut short by an an injury to her right leg, a pre-cursor to a stress fracture.
Goecke said she has to be patient and heal, but she hopes to be running for the Beavers in the fall.
Running in college was not her original plan, of course. Nicole Goecke kept her options open, and because of that, she found a different sport to conquer.
Best of the rest
The Battle Ground junior was an All-Region pick in track and field and basketball, plus she was second-team all-league in volleyball.
The Ridgefield senior was the only All-Region selection in three sports this year: volleyball, basketball and softball.
The Camas junior was an All-Region performer in track and and field and basketball, and she also swam for Camas in the fall.
The Columbia River sophomore was an All-Region pick in softball and was a second-team all-3A GSHL pick in basketball.
The Skyview senior was an All-Region player in softball and soccer. She will continue her softball career at Kent State.
The Camas junior was one of a kind, winning a national title in cross country and setting a national 1,600 record in track and field.
The Woodland sophomore was All-Region in softball, the Trico League co-MVP in basketball and first-team all-league forward in soccer.
The title of second-best distance runner in Clark County is not so bad for this Union junior who was All-Region in cross country and track.
The All-Region girls basketball player of the year, the Skyview senior also earned All-Region honors and a state title in track and field.
The La Center junior was All-Region in basketball and cross country and a state meet qualifier in track and field.