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News / Clark County News

Columbian sports staff’s best of 2012

The Columbian
Published: December 29, 2012, 4:00pm

We here in The Columbian sports department have “our” teams, events and activities that we follow.

We also get to see upclose and personal what the average sports fan might not experience on a daily basis.

Here are just a few unforgettable moments — as either as a fan or a journalist — that we either witnessed or experienced in 2012:

Greg Jayne, sports editor

They were the queens of the court, leaving no doubt about which corner of the state ruled girls basketball. In the span of about six hours on a Saturday in March, Skyview and Prairie both walked off the Tacoma Dome court with state championship trophies.

For Skyview, a game-ending 8-0 run concluded when Aubrey Ward-El made a 3-pointer with one second left, breaking a tie and completing an unlikely journey to the Class 4A championship. You want a Cinderella angle? Then consider that Ward-El was 0 for 10 in the game until the shot that mattered most. For Prairie, the 3A title game was more of a coronation than a battle, completing a 27-game winning streak since a season-opening loss — to Skyview.

One of the great joys of sportswriting is to watch a local team win a state championship, to watch players and coaches you have followed throughout the season — or sometimes for years — reach the pinnacle of their sport. You understand the effort and the sweat that has gone into the making of that moment, and you understand what that accomplishment can mean to the local community. To see it once a year is gratifying; to see twice in one day is unforgettable.

Tim Martinez, assistant sports editor

If Game 4 of the World Series had been a Game 7 or even Game 6, it may have been considered one of the better World Series games in recent memory.

Neither team led by more than one run, two-run home runs were hit by each eventual MVP in each league and a world championship was won by an extra-inning clutch hit.

In any event, the Giants’ 4-3 win over the Tigers gave San Francisco its second world title in three years during a postseason in which San Francisco won six elimination games.

Al Thomas, outdoors editor

Spring chinook anglers got a long season on the lower Columbia in 2012, yet all I had to show when it ended in late April was one wild fish released.Then, in mid-May and on a lark, I went trolling at the mouth of Wind River, not my favorite place to fish. As usual, it was windy, cold, and crowded.

After six hours of getting pounded by the wave chop, still no fish. Ten more minutes and we’re pulling the lines and heading in. Five more minutes. Then the rod tip goes down and the clown-pattern Fatfish produces.

One keeper is a much better spring season than none.

Candace Buckner, Blazers beat writer

When the curtains went up on the new NBA season on Oct. 31 in Portland, the satellite trucks outside the Rose Garden were parked there for one reason: the unveiling of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, it was the new-look Trail Blazers who upstaged the SuperTeam and stole the moment.

This was memorable for a couple reasons. First, the selfish one: I was the giddy reporter on press row pecking out her first regular-season game story for The Columbian. But also, this moment will stay with me because the Blazers shocked the NBA world with an effort that was both bold and promising.

Not since Jamie Lee Curtis spent the entire night running hysterically from a mad man in a mask has Halloween been so frightening for folks in Hollywood. All five Blazer starters scored in double figures. The legend of Damian Lillard took flight as he outplayed (and sorta, kinda, accidentally injured) his Hall-of-Fame counterpart Steve Nash. And fans inside the sold-out arena roared, rocked and certainly fantasized how good this young team could be after the 116-106 victory. It was the first game of the season, but lives on as my most memorable moment of the year.

Paul Danzer, sports reporter

What does it say about my 2012 that my favorite sports moment was Russell Wilson spiking the ball?

What does it say when that thrilling event happened on the second day of the year? In a year that included the San Francisco Giants remarkable run to the World Series title, Olympic drama provided by (among others) the United States women’s soccer team, Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas? In a year when the Portland Winterhawks came up one win short of a Western Hockey League title with another entertaining playoff run?

Heck, in the year I discovered (thanks to my wife) that the Tour de France can be entertaining?

It says I am a lifelong Oregon Ducks fan who for my first half century on this globe never celebrated a Rose Bowl victory. And so, on Jan. 2 when time ran out as Wilson spiked the ball into the Rose Bowl sod instead of throwing a pass into the end zone — assuring the Ducks the 45-38 win over Wisconsin — I had my 2012 highlight.

Paul Valencia, high school sports

My family is an NFL family. That’s what we do every Sunday. Watch the NFL.

While we follow all of the NFL, our love is the Raiders.

There are only two kinds of fans in the NFL. Raider fans, and those who wish they had the discipline and loyalty to be Raider fans.

Trust me, we are very loyal, and we have had to be after the last 10 years.

While I try to attend a game each year, this year was special. We brought our 6-year-old son to his first game.

We explained to him that every person in the stadium who was wearing Silver and Black was family. He could say “Go Raiders” to any of them and they would respond in kind.

He loved every second of it, and he even witnessed a Raider victory. No, really.

After the game, another fan learned that the Raiders had never lost a game with my son in attendance. That fan suggested we set up a website to ask for funds to send my son to every game next season.

Anything to get the Raiders to win more games.

Raiders forever.

Kurt Zimmer, sports copy editor

I went to watch Sarah Porter, but I got to see so much more.

My wife and I attended the opening day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at the sport’s shrine, Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Leading up to the final race of the night, the women’s 10,000 meters featuring Hockinson’s Porter (now Sarah Crouch), the day was a parade of athletes who it feels like a privilege to see compete live.

I saw half of the events in what became a world record posted by decathlete Ashton Eaton, who later won Olympic gold.

Even watching world-class athletes cruise through preliminaries in their events was awesome. I saw Kellie Wells, Dawn Harper and Lolo Jones run hurdles. I saw Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter sprint the 100, and Nick Symmonds run the 800. If we had not arrived late, I would have also seen Sanya Richards-Ross and DeeDee Trotter in the 400.

In the 10,000 runs to finish the night, I saw London silver medalist Galen Rupp win the men’s race in a half-hour downpour and Shalane Flanagan in the women’s race.

And although Porter’s night was disappointing, it marked the first time I’ve seen someone who I’ve been interviewing and writing about periodically since she was in high school actually run a race live. And that was pretty cool, too.

Track Town USA, indeed.

Jeff Klein, sports copy editor

The headline was written … at least in my head it was.

Andy Murray was going to win Wimbledon. The first British man to do so since Fred Perry in 1936. And I had the award-winning headline … at least I thought it was.

But it never happened.The tennis fan in me will always remember 2012 for Murray’s tearful, heartfelt concession speech to the British fans on Centre Court after losing the final in four sets to Roger Federer.

Murray did win an Olympic gold medal on that Centre Court a month later as well as the U.S. Open title in New York in September.

That headline, however, will just have to wait for another Wimbledon.

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