Thursday, April 22, 2021
April 22, 2021

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Columbian to debut ‘Spring Back’ series, republishing state championship stories from years past

High schools: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

It almost doesn’t seem real that we are almost two months into this new reality.

But later this week, it will mark the two-month anniversary of the day schools were closed across the state.

It feels like time has managed to march by, even though we feel like we’ve been running in place.

But had things been normal, this week would have marked the start of the spring postseason. The week’s schedule would have been filled with district track meets and playoffs for baseball and soccer.

And while we don’t have any postseason action to enjoy this year in high schools, we thought there still might be a way to enjoy postseason accomplishments.

So I decided to take a break from our Senior Salute series – we actually moved up this week’s salute to Sunday to coincide with Mother’s Day – to explain a new feature that will debut this week.

If you turned on the television to your favorite sports channel – ESPN, the Pac-12 Network, MLB Network – what you’re likely to find is a replay is great games of the past.

So we thought what if we could do that with the stories that we run in The Columbian’s sports section.

Starting Wednesday, and continuing on Friday and Sunday this week – and for the next four weeks after – we will be diving into our digital archives and scrolling through microfilm to relive some of the great highlights of high school spring state championships of years past.

So here’s how it will work:

If we decide to relive a special moment that happened in, let’s say, the 2008 state track and field meet. Then what we will do is pull the exact story that The Columbian ran in covering that meet from 2008 and republish it, with a little scene-setting introduction. And we’ll also include photos, if we have them.

We’ll call this series “Spring Back.” For the first installment of Spring Back, which will appear in Wednesday’s edition of The Columbian, we’ve gone back a long, long time to fish out a story that originally ran in The Columbian 75 years ago this month.

We picked out the first three Spring Back moments to kick things off this week. And I can tell you the research for this project has been distracting.

As I roll through the microfilm to look at Columbian editions from the 1990s, 1980s, all the way back into the 1940s, I get distracted by reading the other stories in the paper on those dates. And not just the sports stories, but stories about what was happening and how people interpreted things back then.

For example, in researching a story on track and field, I stumbled across a nugget about the year when the 440-yard dash at the state track meet was first run in assigned lanes.

Today, the only weird thing about the statement “the 440 is run in assigned lanes” should have been that it’s 440 yards, and not 400 meters.

But back in the day, the one-lap race around the track was a free-for-all of pushing and jostling. And the state meet director back then liked it that way and really wanted to keep it that, but was overruled by the state athletics association.

Also, apparently, it was a commonplace occurrence to have some random dog run out onto the track and impede a runner in some way. That’s what happened at one state meet in 1940s, leading the writer to report “as often happens” in track and field meets when a dog got in the way of one runner at the meet.

Hey, I might be weird, but I love historical tidbits like this.

And if you enjoy looking back in time, we hope you will enjoy our Spring Back series.

The first three have been selected. But for the stories we will run over the following four weeks, we’re open to suggestions.

So send me an email or tweet, or leave a comment on Facebook about a particular year, event or team you’d like us to revisit.

But it has to be an event that The Columbian covered. If I go back in the archives and find that we just run a paragraph or two on the event, because we were unable to staff it, then that won’t work.

This week’s stories I pulled for the first week were events that occurred in the past decade, the past three decades and the past eight decades.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editors/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at( (360) 735-4538, or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.


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