The 2020-21 school year and high school sports year is over.
And we can all take a breath now.
After all the hassles — the mask wearing, the limited capacity, constant sanitation, protocols, ever-changing schedules, pauses and cancellations — it was all worthwhile.
It was great having prep sports back after nearly a year away. And we all hope things can return as close to normal when the 2021-22 athletic calendar kicks off later this summer.
But before we look forward to next year, I thought it was nice to look back on some of the memorable moments of 2020-21 — which was really just 2021 from February to June (listed in chronological order):
Return of sports, Feb. 6-8: The day we had been waiting almost 11 months for. On Feb. 6, I went to a cross country jamboree at Fort Vancouver, this first prep event I covered since March 12, 2020. Two days later was the first full day of prep sports being played in Southwest Washington. 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.”
Ridgefield-Hockinson football, March 13: This game wasn’t memorable for the game itself — and it was a pretty good game — but for how it came about. Hockinson and Ridgefield were not originally scheduled to play each other in the abbreviated 2A Greater St. Helens League schedule. But the league athletic directors were about to mix things up to make the matchup between unbeaten teams happen. When it did, Hockinson’s defense turned away the Spudders from inside their own 5 in the final two minutes of the game to preserve a 14-7 win. Hockinson would go on to claim the 2A GSHL title in coach Rick Steele’s final season.
Camas-Skyview football, March 23: An instant classic for an eventual three-way tie atop the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League. Clark Coleman’s TD pass to Xavier Owens with 1:19 left put Skyview up 24-21. A late 35-yard pass from Jake Blair to Andrew Caroussos set up Matt Gerardo’s 31-yard field goal that forced overtime. In the second overtime, a Blair-to-Bryce Dewey TD pass put Camas up, and the Papermakers defense made it stand up for the win.
Washougal-Fort Vancouver softball, April 23: Fort rallied from 17-3 deficit in the fifth inning to force extra innings, where Washougal won the game in eight innings 26-25. The winning pitcher was Chloe Johnson of Washougal. The losing coach was her father Erick. “Played baseball for 15 (years), have coached (high school) the past (nine),” Johnson posted on Twitter. “Wildest game I’ve ever been part of. And in the end, my daughter ends up with the pitching win … for the opposing team.”
Ridgefield-Columbia River baseball, April 27: Wyatt Bartroff hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to give Ridgefield a 5-4 win for the league title. That would make the game memorable enough. But the Spudders also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh with the help of the hidden-ball trick. However, the play should have resulted in a balk. River appealed the game, but that appeal was not upheld, giving the Spudders the league title. But the Rapids would get a bit of revenge a week later when they beat Ridgefield in the district playoffs.
Wrestling at Doc Harris Stadium, May 15: There was a lot of creativity shown by athletic directors to make some athletic events happen despite strict COVID restrictions. A no sport faced greater restrictions than wrestling. But one way ADs made wrestling work was to hold matches and meets outdoors. And several schools did this. But the visual spectacle off all those mats out on the football field at Doc Harris Stadium still sticks out in my mind for the first big outdoor meet in Clark County.
Camas-Skyview baseball, May 19: Skyview would finish 17-0 on the season, but the Storm got their biggest scare in this game with the Papermakers. Camas’ Ethan Hubbell took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Camas took a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Skyview tied the game on doubles by Cade Reitzenstein and Mikey Miller in the bottom of the seventh. Zayne Boyes’ RBI double in the ninth won it for Skyview 2-1.
4A/3A GSHL track and field, June 2: Winning the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters in a big track and field meet is a rare feat. But at the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League Invitational, Union’s Tobias Merriweather and Brinley Jackson both swept all three events for the boys and girls.
Katie Peneueta, one final big day, June 2: When the 4A/3A GSHL opted to play spring and winter sports season concurrently this spring, it meant many athletes would play two sports at the same time, often on the same day. But few had a better day than Heritage senior Katie Peneueta when she won the javelin, placed second in the shot and fourth in the discus at the 4A/3A GSHL Invitational in the afternoon, then that evening she scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds, as Heritage beat Prairie in the 4A/3A GSHL quarterfinals 54-52.
Hockinson-Washougal girls basketball, June 9: In the 2A GSHL playoffs, Hockinson jumped out a 35-21 halftime lead before Washougal used a 20-1 run to get close before taking a 50-49 run in the final minute. Kylie Ritter’s 3-pointer with 10 second left put the Hawks up 52-50 before Jaiden Bea’s basket forced overtime. In OT, Kylie Ritter’s 3-pointer tied the game 59-59. Then Gracie Brammer got a steal and found Ellie Ritter in the key with two seconds left to lift Hockinson to a 61-59 win.