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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Martinez: Champions don’t come along every day

Tim Martinez: High school sports

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: November 23, 2021, 7:29pm

A question popped into my head on my drive back from Puyallup last weekend.

“When was the last time I watched — in person — a local team get awarded a state championship trophy?”

Well, in short, it’s been a while.

I know I lot of people think I’ve been covering high school sports in Southwest Washington for two decades. And I have.

It’s just, that for most of the past 20 years, it has been in a supporting role on our staff.

I might get out to one, maybe two, prep events a week.

And typically when a season culminates on state championship weekend, my duties typically found me in the office directing traffic for reporters in the field, editing stories, laying out the section and posting stories online.

But the pandemic led us to redirect our resources. And that has put me more on the front lines, covering prep events and reporting on the action.

While I’ve had a couple of opportunities to cover state championship events over the years, the last time I covered a local winning a state championship happened back in 2009, when the Union boys basketball team won the 3A state title at the Tacoma Dome.

And that fact escaped me as I was watching the Camas girls soccer team win the 4A state title in a penalty-kick shootout at Sparks Stadium.

I guess I got so got up in doing the job and trying to do it in a timely fashion to lessen the burden on my colleague back at the office, Jeff Klein — the unsung hero of our weekend coverage.

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But one recollection did pop into my head as I spoke with Maya Parman, the team captain for the Camas girls soccer team.

We talked about the first time we chatted after a match this fall. That came after a season-opening match against Hockinson, way back on a warm evening in early September.

On that night, I got to watch two teams play that would eventually compete for state titles on the very same night some two months later.

Two weeks after that match, I was out at Columbia River watching Ridgefield and River play an early season volleyball showdown.

The Spudders won that match in three sets. They were hard-fought sets, and it was evident after that night that the Rapids and Spudders would face off more times than in just the second round of league play.

And sure enough, two months late, River and Ridgefield met for the fourth time this season, this time at the Yakima SunDome for the 2A state championship. And this time, the Rapids came out on top for their first state title in volleyball in 21 years.

Just a couple of days after that first Ridgefield-River matchup, I watched the Seton Catholic girls cross country team run its first meet of the season at the Nike Portland XC meet in Fairview.

The Cougars opened the season on COVID protocols. Sophomore Alexis Leone was just two weeks removed from recovering from COVID-19 when she ran that Saturday in late September.

Six weeks later, Leone won the individual 1A state championship in Pasco, helping the Cougars girls captured the first state team title the Seton could call its own.

So there were three state champion teams in Clark County this fall, and I got to see those teams in the very beginning of the season. And at least in the case of the Camas girls soccer team, I got to see the very end in person.

And that was a special treat.

Now we turn the page to the winter sports season. I look forward to all the different teams and athletes I will get to see in action.

I encourage all of you to get out to as many prep teams that you can.

Who knows, maybe some of those team’s journeys will end with a state championship.

And if I’m lucky enough to be there in person, I will try to take some time and soak in what a rare event that truly is.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator. He can be reached at 360-735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow him on Twitter at 360TMart.