Sunday, April 11, 2021
April 11, 2021

Linkedin Pinterest

For first time in 333 days, Clark County high school sports are served

Athletes don’t mind cold, masks as tennis, golf matches usher in return

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:
2 Photos
Mountain View senior Nathaniel John, left, watches his Skyview opponents while senior Bryce Penick hits a return in a 3A/4A Greater St. Helens League boys tennis match on Monday at Union High School. Monday was the first time in 333 days that local high school sports held competitions.
Mountain View senior Nathaniel John, left, watches his Skyview opponents while senior Bryce Penick hits a return in a 3A/4A Greater St. Helens League boys tennis match on Monday at Union High School. Monday was the first time in 333 days that local high school sports held competitions. (Photos by Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Scores didn’t matter. The cold didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered is high school sports were being played again.

“It was awesome to get going again,” Mountain View golfer Graham Moody said. “It was a long time there when we didn’t think we would get the opportunity to have a senior season.”

Monday kicked off regular-season events in boys golf and boys tennis in Season 1 of the revised 2020-21 high school calendar.

And from the players to the coaches, the excitement was palpable.

Skyview tennis coach Jay Gowen called his team’s match against Mountain View “probably the most enjoyable experience I’ve had in my 16 years of coaching.”

“It was different and little weird with all the masks and restrictions,” Gowen said. “But just being able to something that the kids have so desperately needed just outweighed any of that.”

Union and River played Washougal in a golf match at Orchard Hills Country Club in Washougal.

“(Union coach) Gary Mills and I were standing at the first tee just smiling under our masks,” Columbia River golf coach David Long said.

And when the River golfers left the course, Long had even more to smile about.

Led by two freshmen — Jack Kendrick and Noah Larson — shooting 1-over-par 35s, River posted a team score of 145 to beat Union (161) and Washougal (168).

“Normally, in basketball, I can see what’s coming down the pike,” said Long, who also coaches boys basketball at River. “But in golf, it’s normally you show up on the first day and see what newbies you have. Well this year, two of the newbies we got are really good.”

Moody, who shot a 2-over 36 at Fairway Village in the Thunder’s win over Heritage, said it was great to be doing something in group setting again.

“It was just easy to tell how excited everyone was to be out there,” Moody said. “There has been a lot of social frustration from being cooped up at home with online schooling.”

Moody said the positive vibe filtered even down to the less experienced players.

“For kids who are not competitive golfers, it can get uncomfortable out there, especially early in the season,” Moody said. “It’s easy to get frustrated. But you didn’t see a lot of that today. I think everybody is just embracing the opportunity to play again.”

There was a little frustration from parents. At Orchard Hills, a few peered in from behind the fence along 39th Street to catch a little bit of the play on a couple of holes.

“Golf is not a huge spectator sport,” Long said. “So it’s been tough on parents. We’re asking them to provide transportation to and from the course, and then we’re telling them they can’t watch.

9 Photos
Mountain View senior Nathaniel John, left, watches his Skyview opponents while senior Bryce Penick hits a return in a 3A/4A Greater St. Helens League boys tennis match on Monday at Union High School. Monday was the first time in 333 days that local high school sports held competitions.
First day of prep sports Photo Gallery

“But no one has been screaming about that. It’s just been about getting the kids a chance to play.”

At Prairie High School, some parents watched matches while sitting in their cars along the tennis courts.

“We’re going to have a similar set-up at Skyview where we’re going to cone off the parking spaces by our courts for the parents whose kids are playing in the matches,” Gowen said.

Hopes are that next week, if the region moves to Phase 2, restrictions on spectators will be loosened a bit.

But after 330 days since the last regular-season high school event in Clark County, everyone could agree it was great to be playing again.

“It’s nice to stop focusing on what we can’t do and now focus on what we can do,” Gowen said. “Even though we lost today, we won.”

Loading...

Commenting is no longer available on Columbian.com. Please visit our Facebook page to leave comments on local stories.