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Dec. 9, 2021

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A look at the most-viewed high school sports stories of 2019

High schools: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
10 Photos
Football and his players, helped Union head coach Rory Rosenbach through the tragedy of losing his daughter.
Football and his players, helped Union head coach Rory Rosenbach through the tragedy of losing his daughter. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Years ago, I received the best reminder that a young sports reporter could get.

An editor once told me: “Try to find stories about people. Readers would rather read about people than players.”

In other words, don’t just write a story about an athlete who is simply having a great season. Write about athletes who have a story to tell.  Stories about tragedy or triumph, overcoming challenges, special skills or circumstance, perseverance, making a difference and community.

With stories like that, a reader doesn’t have to be a fan of a particular school or sport. In fact, they don’t have to be fan of sports at all. Stories like that have a broader appeal.

And looking over the most-viewed high school sports stories of 2019 on, it’s clear that piece of advice I received years ago remains true.

Columbian readers like to read about people.

And football.

Of the top 11 most-viewed prep stories on, five were football stories – game stories or football news.

The other six were stories about people. And what’s more, the sports those stories originated from were diverse – volleyball, girls soccer, softball, track and field, gymnastics and, yes, football.

Now online analytics can sometimes be deceiving. But they give a fairly good indication that decisions we made to pursue certain stories and take time to develop them was time well spent and appreciated.

And in most cases, these were stories you could only find in The Columbian and at

So here are the top 11 most-viewed high school sports stories of 2019. And if you’re reading this online, I’ve included links to the stories so you can revisit them or read them for the first time if you missed it.

No. 11 —   Meg Wochnick’s story from Jan. 26 on Columbia River gymnastics coach Alicia Green, who served a surrogate for her sister who had struggled to have a child of her own.

No. 10 – My column from May 5 on longtime Hudson’s Bay track and field coaches Tom Petersen and Phoebe Miletich as they approached a much-deserved retirement.

No. 9 – Micah Rice’s story from May 9 on beloved Ridgefield softball coach Dusty Anchors entering hospice care more than a year after a receiving a terminal diagnosis for heart failure. Anchors would pass away a few days later.

No. 8 – Joshua Hart’s game coverage on Nov. 8 of the Washougal football team’s playoff win at W.F. West, clinching the first state berth in two decades for the Panthers.

No. 7 – Meg’s game story from Nov. 30 on the Camas football team beating Mount Si to reach the 4A state championship game.

No. 6 – Meg’s July 18 story announcing that Hockinson star receiver Sawyer Racanelli would miss the upcoming season after suffering a torn knee ligament.

No. 5 – Meg’s Dec. 5 story previewing the outside venue and no live TV coverage of Camas’ state championship football game.

No. 4 – Meg’s story from Oct. 27 on La Center volleyball player Tiffany Chandler, whose tragic family experience with suicide led her and her mother to become advocates for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

No. 3 – Meg’s game story from Dec. 7 of Camas’ state championship football win over Bothell.

No. 2 – Micah story from Sept. 12 on the Camas girls soccer team honoring Alicea De Vera, a former player and cheerleader who died suddenly after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

No. 1 – Meg’s Sept. 6 profile of Union football coach Rory Rosenbach, who found comfort from football and, more importantly, his players after he dealt with the grief of losing his daughter in an automobile accident last spring.

So 2019 was a year of highs and lows, and we at The Columbian were proud of how we were able to bring these stories to you.

We already have more stories in the works for 2020.

And if you have any good stories about the people of high school sports in Southwest Washington, please feel free to share them.