I’m nearing the end of my 25th year with The Spokesman-Review.
I could list here a number of things in life that have become tiresome in recent years. I suppose I chalk that up to age. One thing that hasn’t become stale, though, is watching high school teams win. And in the process of watching teams win, others must lose.
In the middle of victories and defeats are the entertaining and often remarkable efforts of dozens of standout athletes.
I say all of that to say this: We’re at the end of another prep year. Allow me a few words to note the top efforts of the year – and offer the usual apology for not listing all of the feats.
A pair of Sandpoint teams enjoyed the most success of all region teams. The Bulldogs’ volleyball and boys soccer teams captured their sixth State 4A championships this decade. They’ll challenge for state titles again in the fall.
Sandpoint’s volleyball team left no doubt it was the best team in 4A, but as I wrote last fall I’m not convinced they were the best team in North Idaho. Coeur d’Alene, which took third at state in 5A, fell short of its state expectations. But the Vikings were every bit as good as Sandpoint.
Former St. Maries volleyball standout Missy (Sines) Asbury coached her alma mater to a runner-up finish at state in her first year – this after the Lumberjacks suffered some big losses to graduation.
•In football, Lewiston won 11 straight games before its season ended in a semifinal loss at Eagle. It was the Bengals’ best season since 2002 when they played in the state title game.
Lake City qualified for the state playoffs for a 12th straight year – a streak that could be in jeopardy in the fall. Few gave coach Van Troxel’s 2008 team much hope of making the playoffs. So I wouldn’t bet against the streak ending even if the Timberwolves will be as young and inexperi- enced as they’ve been in some time.
Kootenai was the second- best State 1A Division II 8-man team in the state, advancing to the title game for the first time in school history.
The Coeur d’Alene girls basketball team, behind a last-second 3-point shot from senior Whitney Heleker, knocked off Centennial in overtime to capture a second straight state title.
It was the fourth straight year the Vikings played for the state title. It ended quite a run for seniors Kama Griffitts, Amy Warbrick, Sadie Simon and Heleker. They played in 101 games in that span, winning 89 times.
CdA coach Dale Poffenroth just may have to do some coaching next year instead of sitting on the bench in his typical stoic posture. Whether the Vikings can pull off a state three-peat, let alone qualify for a fifth straight state title game, will require much work – more so than the past two years to be sure. They have three starting positions to fill, but, more important, they must develop a bench.
The Vikings will definitely get back to state. They will feature the best 1-2 punch in the middle in senior-to-be post Kelsey Bybee, who has given the University of Idaho an oral commitment, and junior-to-be Carli Rosenthal, both of whom stand 6-foot-3.
The top two teams from Region I advance to state. So Lake City, Lewiston and Post Falls should have a fierce battle in deciding the second berth.
•The Lewiston boys captured a state title for the first time in 61 years. And after taking about a month to think things over, Bengals coach Dave Cornelia resigned to spend more time with his family. He coached eight years and took all eight teams to state.
Post Falls, which qualified a young team to state this year, will be heavily favored to win the Inland Empire League and Region I titles. Coeur d’Alene and Lake City should wage a spirited tug of war for the second berth.
•In 4A, Sandpoint returned to state and got its first win in 43 years.
•In wrestling, I fully expect CdA to challenge for a state title next winter. The Vikings were within shouting distance this year.
Lewiston sophomore Casey George and CdA junior Braden Mowry will be seeking three consecutive titles, while Post Falls junior Chad Booth and Sandpoint sophomore Garret Belgarde will be out to defend titles.
The Coeur d’Alene softball team peaked at the right time, earning a sixth runner-up state finish under coach Larry Bieber. Of all of Bieber’s teams to finish second, this one was hard-earned.
•It was a light year in general for area track teams.
Camille Reynolds of Lakeland set a state meet record by defending her state title in the 300-meter hurdles (44.17 seconds).
One individual win that went largely unnoticed was by CdA junior Shae Carson in the 5A discus. On her final throw, she mustered a personal best by 8 feet. She improved from 98-0 to 132-8 in one year, breaking the school record.
Amazingly, she didn’t win one regular-season competition. Talk about peaking at the opportune time.
Who will step up with a Shae Carson-like effort next year? Who knows? But I can tell you after 25 years that something spectacular will happen.
I’ll see you in the fall.