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Top 2013 story: Bears win state title

The Top 10 sports stories find the state 1A girls basketball championship trophy staying in Okanogan County with Brewster bringing it home in March.

For the Bears to claim the golden globe trophy, they had to get past the previous year’s champs, Okanogan.

The same two teams are expected to compete for the Caribou Trail League, district, regional and state title again this season. Both teams were undefeated heading to play last weekend.

There were many memorable images and stories from last year that did not crack the Top 10.

One story, that of Winthrop siblings Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, could dramatically change in the coming weeks as they each work toward a berth on the U.S. Olympics Nordic ski team.

I suspect one or both could make a team, and that the U.S. will do exceptionally well in the European-dominated sport.

Just missing the Top 10 were the Conconully outhouse races, which were filmed by a Japanese television show.

The airing could be viewed online.

The crew also participated in the races, narrowly falling in a final race.

Also absent were the Pateros girls finishing fifth in state 1B basketball and in volleyball, former Omak high jumper Jan (Harriman) Schuerman entering the Central Washington University Athletic Hall of Fame and football coach Del Talley, formerly of Okanogan, entering the State Hall of Fame, Omak Future Farmer’s of America trapshoot team finishing second in state, Kara Staggs winning the state 1A javelin title with a school record toss (134 feet, 6 inches), Ryder Lewis receiving a scholarship to play golf for the Montana State Billings men’s golf team, Shane Proctor finishing third in the bullriding average at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (fourth in the overall world standings) and Lee Morrison of Okanogan remaining undefeated professionally (7-0) at featherweight after a split decision over a Russian foe in Russia last October.

Memorable images included Bridgeport and Oroville football players trying to tackle 400-pound running back Tony Picard of White Swan.

We also got to see David “Pendo” Pendergraft in action at the inaugural Battle Ground basketball tournament in Omak and Olympian Jesse Ruiz helping with an Okanogan wrestling camp.

Who can forget some of the big fish caught locally, including a 24-pound triploid from Lake Rufus Woods by Mike Leckvold of Conconully or Alex Davis of Arlington taking first in the Brewster Salmon Derby with a 19-plus pound king salmon?

Onward to the Top 10 of 2013:

1

The Brewster High School girls basketball team added a fourth state championship by cruising through last year’s 1A tournament.

“I’m happy for the girls after losing in Spokane last year,” said Brewster coach Roger Boesel, who watched the loss to Reardan the previous year. “So I know how bad that felt.

“I’m just glad I didn’t screw it up along the way,” he said, his hair messed up with silly string from the celebrating players.

The Bears (26-1) opened with a 61-56 win over Lynden Christian (finished fourth in state). In the semifinals, Brewster won 60-36 over King’s (fifth in state) before handing Castle Rock (24-1) its only loss of the year, 72-41, in the championship.

Brewster was named in June the female Team of the Year by the North-Central Washington Sports Awards banquet following the school seasons.

Chandler Smith, who is heading to the University of Nebraska on scholarship, was named female Athlete of the Year at the awards banquet.

This followed her being the State 1A Player of the Year, making the all-state first team and Caribou Trail League Player of the Year.

Smith finished title game with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks and 5 steals.

“Chandler gets all the notice, but those other girls can play,” Castle Rock coach Don Misner said. “They are very sound defensively.

“They run the floor. As a basketball junky, they are fun to watch. Smith will definitely play for somebody.”

Brewster led 47-19 at the half over Castle Rock in the championship game.

“We said all along, if we play how we are capable of playing, we would be OK,” the coach said. “You can have lots of talent, but you have to play together.

“You can’t worry who you are playing tomorrow if you don’t take care of business today.”

Brewster used defense to run away from King’s, 60-36, in the state semi-finals.

The Bears led 28-11 at the half and sewed up the game with a 16-8 run in the third period for a 44-19 lead.

Boesel said a big difference in post-season was Landdeck getting tougher.

In the tight opener, Brewster led 27-25 at the half before opening a 14-point lead.

“I struggled in the first half, but I always try and keep my composure and don’t let it get to me,” Smith said. “My teammates did a great job. My coach told me to take it to the hoop and keep my teammates involved, and that is what I did in the second half.

Smith, scoreless in the first half, went 7-7 from the field and finished with 16 points.

The Bears graduated three seniors: Becky Mae Taylor, who is attending Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle on a scholarship; Andie Gebbers, a right-side hitter in volleyball at Spokane Falls Community College, and Jessie Hammons, who will try out for softball for Wenatchee Valley College this spring.

2

Liberty Bell High School won the state 1B/2B team trophy from Mat Classic XXV last February in the Tacoma Dome.

The Mountain Lions placed six into the finals, but only Justin McMillan at 126 pounds came out a champ.

Lake Roosevelt, behind Orrin Gross winning at title at 145, finished second at state.

Brewster’s Janet Carillo finished second at 170 pounds in the girls competition.

Finishing second for Liberty Bell were Trent Skelton at 106, Taylor Woodruff at 120, Jacob McMillan at 132, Emmett Fink at 138 and Milo Holston at 145.

Like McMillan, Lake Roosevelt’s Gross was ranked No. 1 heading to state.

Also for Lake Roosevelt were Sean Waters second at 182, Oscar Pakootas third at 120, Kodie Horn third at 138 and Octavio Alejandre fourth at 285.

1B/2B team scores: 1, Liberty Bell 112. 2, Lake Roosevelt 79. 24, Pateros 12. 30, Oroville 3. Republic 0.

3

Members of the Owners and Jockeys Association, which puts on the World-Famous Suicide Race following each performance of the Omak Stampede, rebounded from the board walking out last winter.

Former president Stephanie “Pete” Palmer and other board members resigned Jan. 30 after being confronted by member Preston Boyd.

Boyd asked why Palmer was allowed to remain president after being cited for marijuana possession at the 2012 race and rodeo.

“We needed to confront one of our own regarding the rules and regulations,” Boyd said of the group’s zero-tolerance policy toward drugs and alcohol. “There should be no exception.”

Palmer said she had a medical marijuana card and used the drug to combat symptoms of Grave’s Disease.

Neither the Colville Confederated Tribes nor the federal government recognizes the state’s medical marijuana law, so weed is illegal to possess on the reservation.

East Side Park, which becomes the Stampede grounds during the rodeo and Suicide Race, is owned by the city but lies within the reservation.

In mid-January, Palmer entered a deferred prosecution agreement in tribal court for the charge stemming from last August’s arrest.

Taz won the first three races to claim his fifth overall title Aug. 8-10.

The 12-year-old horse, jockeyed by Loren Marchand of Omak and owned by Jim Phillips of Coulee Dam, has now finished first 17 times out of 20 races and second twice.

This year’s inaugural slate of Owners and Jockeys Association officers, which puts on the race, was tested following Sunday’s World-Famous Suicide Race.

Abe Grunlose appeared to have steered Commando from the back of the field to the front for first place.

A complaint led to the disqualification of SKARTAR following a review of starting line video.

The video also allegedly showed Commando with a hind leg over the line at the start, which led to the horse’s disqualification.

When association president Aaron Carden announced Commando wasn’t the winner, it brought forth, “Rip off,” by Grunlose in the paddock area.

Carden reiterated to the Commando camp that he’d said in meetings over several weeks leading up to the races that if there was a review of one horse at the start it could lead to disqualification of any other horse found in violation.

4

The Republic High School boys track team finished second in 2B with 44.50 points, edging third place Crescent with 44 points.

That half point came from John Koffel in the high jump, where he tied for sixth.

Dan Slagle leaped 6-0 in the high jump, a personal record, to get points for the Tigers.

“It was awesome,” he said of going two inches higher than his previous best on his last attempt. “Saxon (Brown) won the 400 and he gave me an adrenaline boost. He came over (before final attempt) and said, ‘Dude, you have to get this.’ I just went out and jumped it and made it.”

Saxon Brown won the 400 meters in 51.31 seconds, setting a school record while nearly breaking the state record of 51.16.

Zach Brown, no relation to Saxon Brown, was ecstatic after finishing third in the 1B 110 hurdles (17.57).

His left ankle was heavily taped after he twisted it a week earlier in a relay.

“This was one of my best runs all year,” he said of the 110.

5

Mansfield junior Macen McLean won three 1B events while breaking state records.

He won the long jump on his last jump at 21 feet, 9 inches, breaking his record of 21-8.25 he set last year.

He won the triple jump at 44-10.5, breaking his record of 43-10 set last year.

He won the high jump – interrupted by running the 300-meter hurdles – at 6-7, breaking the record of 6-3 set in 2008 by Brian Young of Grace Academy. McLean won last year with a jump of 6-2.

He’d won the high jump at 6-4 and asked the bar to be set at 6-5 when he excused himself to run the 300 hurdles, where he finished second (41.07). It took a state record run (40.81) by Keigan Gardiner, a junior, of Wishkah Valley, to beat McLean. The previous record was 41.03.

“I gave it my all for what legs I had left under me” in the hurdles, McLean said.

He then returned and made 6-5 in the high jump.

After conferring with his coach, he had the bar raised to 6-7, which he also cleared for a five-inch improvement over his previous best of 6-2.

Several colleges noticed McLean’s achievements. he plans to study mechanical engineering wherever he goes.

6

Sierra Speiker of Oroville put an exclamation point on her cross-country running career with her third state 2B cross-country title in four years.

The speedy runner covered the 5K course unchallenged in November, finishing in 18 minutes, 20.41 seconds. That was 24 seconds faster than her best-ever time at state when she won as a freshman.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was named Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Athlete of the Week for Oct. 27-Nov. 2. Oroville threw her a parade on her return.

“The closest person behind her was 40 seconds back,” Kee said. “She was in front right from the start. When there is no one pushing you the whole way, that does make it tough.”

“It’s not like she ran slow. She ran very, very well. She beat her best time on that course and was well under what she ran last year. She ran an excellent race.”

At state, she ran 18:44.8 as a freshman to win the title, 19:25 as a sophomore when she finished second and 18:58.4 to win last year.

To put her performance in perspective, Speiker would have finished seventh in the 4A race (maybe faster with other runners able to push her?), fourth in 3A, third in 2A and would have won the 1A title by 12 seconds.

She was the 11th fastest girl in the state amongst all schools.

This year, she produced career bests of 16:43 for 2.8 miles, 17:10.4 for 3 miles and 18:11 for 5K (12th fastest time in the state at all levels), which was on a hard surface at Colville.

Last spring as a junior at the state track meet, Speiker won the 3,200 in 11 minutes, 31.74 seconds. She was fifth in the 1,600 (5:27.00).

At that time the University of South Carolina contacted Speiker, who planned a visit during her senior year.

Speiker is weighing her options for a college degree in physical therapy.

“I imagine there will be quite a few colleges contacting her in the next couple

One possibility is Eastern Washington University, where Speiker’s brother, Zack Speiker, is studying criminal justice. Former Hornet teammate Catie Arrigoni is there, too, competing in cross-country and track.

“I haven’t decided yet,” she said. “I’m still looking.”

Speiker followed up state finishing fifth overall (third from Washington state) in the Nike Border Clash on Nov. 23 in Beaverton, Ore.

By winning the state 2B title, she qualified for the race that pits the top state-finishers from Oregon and Washington.

“She not only works her tail off but has a great attitude,” Kee said. “She also in the running for valedictorian. She’s a hard working kid. They don’t come along very often. It’s been a pleasure to work with her.”

7

Omak High School’s Xtreme Powerlifting Club returned with five state champions and set a ton of state records at the Washington State High School Powerlifting State Meet on May 4.

State champions include Beckah Thomason, Shawnee Covington, Jacob Cutrell, Brandon Zaragoza and Matt Thornton.

This is by far the most champions for the three-year-old club, which competes with all other state schools on an even level, coach Jordan Lesamiz said.

The boys team, which was two lifters short of a full team, finished third. The club sent five girls to state, too few for a team score.

Dylan Green (2012’s No. 2 story of the year) was the only previous champion for the club, winning two titles before graduating last year.

Thornton, a 280-pound senior competing in the unlimited class, is the state’s strongest pound-for-pound high school lifter after setting several records.

He finished with a total of 1,670 pounds compiled in squat, bench and dead lift.

The total shattered the previous state record for a heavyweight of 1,600 pounds and the state record for any weight of 1,625.

“Matt is the strongest kid to have ever lifted in the state of Washington at any weight class,” Lesamiz said.

“We have a lot coming back next year,” Lesamiz said of the team that competes February through May but trains year-round.

“We are going to be considerably better next year. We will have more strong kids. But there will only be one Matt Thornton.”

8

Perhaps the last hurrah for the minor league football team Commandos turned out to be a spirited game, but a 30-14 loss to defending champion Wenatchee on June 8.

“We did not hang our heads after that one,” General manager and former head coach Malcolm Townsend. “They have not lost in the regular season. We gave them a run for the money. If that is our final game, we are proud of it.

“It was a great ride. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I hate to say this is it. Hopefully, a group of people will step forward and keep it going.”

Dwindling player numbers the last few years – four or five more planned to quit after the game – has made it difficult to field a competitive team due to no new players turning out for the team.

“Well, basically, we are planning on probably ending it,” Townsend said. “You know that’s not to say if people want to keep the team going we would be more than glad to give them advice.

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun,” Townsend said. “We’ve had guys coming from all over the place to keep it going.”

That included quarterback Iain Ashley, who plans to hang up his cleats, and Stockton. Both travel from Spokane for games.

The duo helped guide the team along with a stellar defense to the Washington Football League championship in 2011.

9

The Liberty Bell High School soccer team overcame adversity, much as it had all season, and finished with a third place state 1B/2B trophy — the best in school history — this fall.

The Mountain Lions (12-8) suffered through many injuries including a broken arm to Cassidy Butler, broken fingers by MacKenzie Woodworth and concussions to Tulie Budiselich, Lauren Ochoa and Ella Hall.

In early October, the Lions lost coach Mike Wilson after he was placed on administrative leave.

Assistant coach Erik Olson took over coaching chores then was unable to attend state due to an medical emergency.

The team fell 7-0 to two-time state champ Bear Creek Academy then rebounded for a 1-0 victory following a shootout (5-3) over Adna for third place.

10

The Okanogan High School boys basketball and soccer teams each finished fourth in state tournaments.

Bench players played a pivotal role in the basketball team edging Cashmere, 45-43, for fourth place in the state 1A tournament last March.

“It was a dream season,” Okanogan coach Mike Carlquist said. “Finishing on a win is huge.”

Jason Perez would tip the ball forward to Justin Rivas, who raced down court for a layup and a 41-39 lead.

“I saw Jason diving for the ball,” Rivas said. “I knew he would get the ball when the ball was needed. It was a great way to end the season. That dive was the best play of the season.

“I think it was a great season overall,” said Perez. “We had each others backs, helped each other up.”

The Bulldogs soccer team traveled to its first-ever trip to the state 1A Final Four, taking a fourth-place soccer trophy May 24-25 at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium.

Seattle Christian nipped Okanogan, 4-3, in the opener.

Lynden Christian topped the Bulldogs, 3-1, in the match for third and fourth places.

The Bulldogs looked strong the first half against the Seattle Christian Warriors.

Justin Rivas scored off an assist from Fabian Rodriguez in the 30th minute to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 halftime lead.

Jason Perez scored off an assist from Rodriguez in the 48th minute for a 2-0 lead

Rodriguez scored with 12 minutes to go on a Perez assist.

In the match against Lynden Christian, Okanogan fell behind 3-0 with the last goal by the Lyncs coming with about six minutes to go.

With five minutes in the game, Jorge Marquez scored on an assist by Brendan Chalmers.

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