Wednesday, January 1, 2014
The phrase “never a dull day” comes to mind when looking back at the last year’s worth of sports pages in the Hood River News. Despite being a small, rural county, Hood River is blessed with an unrivaled combination of active and athletic residents, a great variety of world-class outdoor sports and a supportive community that gives young athletes more opportunities than they could possibly have time for.
This makes for a busy, and fun, life for the local sports reporter. From chasing skiers and snowboarders down the mountain, following bikers down single-track trails and soaring from the hills attached to a big kite to enduring four weather, long hours and hectic mornings in the never-ending quest to make deadlines, keeping up with Hood River’s sports beat could be considered a sport in itself.
2013 was a year of many accomplishments, both for local teams and athletes and for organizations striving to maintain Hood River’s label as an action sports capital of the world. Below are some of the year’s greatest hits.
In early 2013 Hood River was represented on the national stage at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo. Snowboarder Dylan Thompson finished with a bronze medal in the rail jam event, while local high school snowboarders Tucker Fitzsimons and Connor Goodwillie competed on the same course after qualifying through the Mt. Hood Series. Also at the Games, Hood River-based snowmobiling apparel company HMK and owner Kirk Zack had a large presence.
Hood River Valley High School winter sports teams had great success in 2013. Both boys and girls swim teams finished with Columbia River Conference titles for the first time in school history. HRV wrestling was well represented at the state tournament, with 13 qualifying for the “big show.” Christian Marquez led the team with a third-place finish, while Andrew DeHart was fourth, Nick Morgan was fifth and Jessica DeHart was first in the girls tournament. HRV boys and girls ski teams claimed Mt. Hood League titles and Corey Cimock went on to claim the individual combined state title for the downhill team, while the freestyle team cleaned house, winning overall team state titles and bringing home individual titles for Kayla Van Hoose and Tucker FitzSimons.
The HRV snowboarding team saw success at the state level as well, with Autumn Inouye claiming an individual halfpipe state title, the girls team claiming the state halfpipe title and boys team taking second in slopestyle and halfpipe.
Horizon Christian School Hawks basketball team ended its Cinderella 30-0 season with a 41-39 loss to City Christian in the state finals to claim second place.
Also last winter, the Gorge Roller Girls hosted a first-ever home bout after being formed less than a year prior. The roller derby team is a first for the area and has since become a great success.
Ending the winter season, Hood River Valley Swim Team added five new state champions to its ranks — Chad Klaas, Scott Bergstrom, Danielle Miller, Erin Nelson and Connor Webb all won state titles in March.
HRVHS sophomore Hannah Bergemann brought home a national USA Snowboarding and Freeski Association national skiercross title and was second in the rail jam event in April. The same week, HRVHS senior Brandon Dominguez brought home a state Greco wrestling title in the heavyweight division.
In May, Cascade Locks welcomed a new and wildly popular Short Track racing series to its newly constructed EasyCLIMB trail system. The five-race series ran through the summer and attracted hundreds cyclocross of participants.
HRVHS alumni Erin Jones, training and attending college in Colorado, made national news when she won the USA Triathlon National Championship. She now has her eye on qualifying for the next summer Olympics in Rio. For HRVHS track and field, the Eagles claimed two state titles; Jestena Mattson won the 200-meter title and Sebastian Barajas won the discus title.
HRV golfers Alicia Hay, Laura Waller, Korey Cimock and Gabriella Whitehead set school history by winning the girls CRC title in the spring. For HRV baseball, Kyle Beam was named the state’s 5A player of the year for his role as catcher in the Eagles’ 12-14 season.
A plethora of summer events kept residents busy, streets full and area businesses bustling with a healthy influx of visitors flocking to the Gorge for its famous adventure sports. The annual Gorge Cup windsurfing race series had a successful season, with more than 50 racers turning out for the summer-long series. Jac leRoux, Bruce Peterson Fiona Wylde, MacRae Wylde and Sam Bauer finished in the top five overall (in that order). Windsurfers also welcomed back the Freestyle Frenzy event, which was graced with strong winds, big swell and a field of world-class competitors.
The kiteboarding world saw a return of the annual Kiteboarding 4 Cancer event, which raised about $100,000 for cancer survivorship programs, as well as a new big-air event called the Hood River Huckfest, both of which were hailed as great successes. Another successful event was the third NAISH Columbia Gorge Paddle challenge, which brought hundreds of stand-up paddlers to the Gorge for two days of course and downwind racing. At the end of the summer, Port of Hood River staff summarized the waterfront season as, “the best ever.”
The city of Cascade Locks and the Columbia Gorge Racing were host this summer to a full schedule of world-class sailing events, including the return of the Tasar World Championships.
The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic held its 11th and final race in June, after which event organizers thanked the Hood River community for its continued support of the annual cycling stage race. Organizers cited lack of industry and corporate sponsorship as a reason for ending the race.
High school athletes Chantelle Carter and Parker Kennedy made headlines over the summer as well — Carter for winning the 4-H state barrel racing title and Kennedy for winning state and regional USA Track and Field decathlon titles.
Hood River Valley High School boys soccer took the spotlight for fall sports this year with a first-ever state championship run. The Eagles went undefeated in Columbia River Conference action and advanced to the 5A state finals with an unforgettable double-overtime semifinal win at Woodburn. Summit went on to defeat HRV 2-0 in the finals, while HRVHS sophomore Giovanni Magaña went on to earn 5A Player of the Year honors.
The HRV girls team claimed the CRC title with a 4-0-2 league record before being defeated in the state quarterfinals. Defender Sophie Grace was named the 5A co-Player of the Year for her role in the season.
Also on the soccer beat, SO SAMBA FC announced its formation as the first semi-pro men’s soccer team in the Gorge. Later in year the team was accepted in to the National Primere Soccer League and helped with the formation of a new five-team Northwest division. The club is now forming U18 and youth teams for spring competition.
In cross country headlines, Sascha Bockius was the runner to watch in the fall season. The sophomore won the CRC title and went on to finish sixth at state.
The Columbia Gorge Marathon was once again hailed as a great success, with several thousand people turning out for what is labeled the most scenic marathon and half marathon in the country.
Wrapping up highlights for the fall, Hood River Valley High School received welcome news when the OSAA reversed its recommendation to redraw Hood River into the Intermountain Conference. To the great relief of HRVHS and fellow CRC schools, OSAA staff heard objections to the change and decided to keep the CRC intact for the next four-year cycle.
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Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest 2016
Kiteboarders in action during the pro competition Friday at the 16th Annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson. All photos by Ben Mitchell. Enlarge