Tri-City Herald local sports stories of the year

By the Tri-City HeraldDecember 28, 2013 

Wash 4A Chiawana Camas

Chiawana kicker Matt Winn (53) celebrates along with Christian Penny (49) after making the point after kick to win 27-26 over Camas of the state 4A football championship game in Tacoma, Wash. on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

JOHN FROSCHAUER — AP

It was an eventful year on the Mid-Columbia sports scene, complete with championship runs and state heartbreak, unbeaten seasons and unrealized dreams.

Miracle finishes collided with premature endings, fast times clashed with long seasons. Some of the best at what they do, did what they did right here.

And we got to see it all.

Here is our list of the top 10 sports stories of 2013.

10. Southridge volleyball third at state
For most teams, finishing third at state for a second consecutive season would have been a blessing. But the Suns came away disappointed after being ranked No. 1 all season and losing just one match heading to state.
Still, the Suns had one of the most dominating teams in area history, headed by seniors Kylie Fraga at setter and Kimberly Brinkworth at middle. They finished 29-2, bouncing back from a disappointing semifinal loss in five sets to win their final match.

9. Evergreen Premier League franchise
The Tri-Cities is awarded a franchise in the new Evergreen Premier League, an eight-team semipro men’s soccer league that is scheduled to begin in May. The team is called the FC Three Rivers Tri-Cities.
Almost immediately, FC Three Rivers put together a core group of players and will add more before spring. However, the team will have to find a new coach after Chad Bodnar was hired to coach the Eastern Washington women.

8. Bratton caps marvelous career
Richland’s Lisa Bratton finished her high school career on a high note, repeating as state champion in the 4A girls 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke and anchoring the Bombers’ second-place 4x100 relay team.
Bratton, who is headed to Texas A&M, passed up a chance to compete with USA Swimming to come back for her senior year.
Excellence in the pool spread to the diving board, with Southridge’s Danielle Freund winning the 3A girls diving title.

7. Horse racing hangs on
After months of contentious negotiations between the Tri-City Horse Racing Association and the Benton-Franklin County Fair Board Association (acting as landlord of the fairgrounds), the two parties agreed to a contract to run a spring meet at Sun Downs.
It was six dates — three weekends — of strong racing that brought out big crowds and big betting handles.

6. Fever cools off in IFL
Plagued by injuries and a slow start, the Tri-Cities Fever failed to make the IFL playoffs in 2013 for the first time in four years.
The team finished with a 6-8 record. In July, owner Teri Carr made the decision to bring the franchise back for another season, and she re-signed Adam Shackleford as head coach in September.

5. Dust Devils get a new skipper
Drew Saylor became the youngest manager in professional baseball when he took over the Tri-City Dust Devils. He replaced Fred Ocasio, who had been a part of the franchise since it began in Pasco in 2001.
Saylor, 29, saw plenty of ups and downs, including a 10-game home winning streak and the second no-hitter in franchise history. Outfielder Mike Tauchman finished among Northwest League leaders in batting (fifth, .297), runs (fifth, 38), hits (fifth, 70), and stolen bases (fourth, 20) while closer Trent Daniel led the league with 15 saves.
In the end, however, Tri-City fell well short of a North Division title, finishing last at 34-42.

4. Spring brings wealth of titles
Kamiakin’s golden girl struck again as junior Ellie Heiden claimed four titles at the Class 3A state track and field meet for the second consecutive season to lead the Braves to a record point total (118.5) and their second straight team title.
Heiden swept the 100, 200 and 400 meters and anchored the 4x200 relay. Her time of 54.15 seconds in the 400 broke a 21-year-old record, the longest standing mark at the state meet.
Kamiakin’s Elisda Grandemange own the 3A girls discus, Hanford’s Aaron Cunningham the the 3A boys shot put, and Richland’s Elizabeth Quick the 4A girls pole vault.
The title run spilled over into softball, with Kamiakin beating Prairie 12-7 to win a second straight state title. Connell beat Woodland for its third consecutive 1A title, ending pitcher Ashley Thompson’s remarkable career with a 27-0 season and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

3. Americans reach 40 wins again
The Tri-City Americans tied a WHL record with 40 or more wins in seven consecutive seasons, and they advanced to the playoffs for the 10th year in a row, all that while working through a slew of injuries and missed games — nearly 200.
Justin Feser was named the Western Conference Player of the Year after scoring 106 points (44 goals, 62 assists). Along the way, he became the WHL’s Iron Man by playing in 321 consecutive games, breaking a 21-year-old record.
Unfortunately for the Ams, they broke a string of five consecutive seasons of advancing into the second round of the playoffs following a 4-1 series loss to Spokane.

2. Steve David’s swan song
It was a strong final showing on the Columbia River for Steve David, who drove the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto hydroplane to the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup title in July. David held off Jimmy Shane in the U-5 Graham Trucking in the final.
The veteran driver announced his retirement from unlimited racing a few months later. The win in the Tri-Cities was David’s final career victory, as Shane won the season’s final three contests and wound up the national champion.

1. Chiawana football wins state title
The Riverhawks dominated the football landscape this fall but would have come up short of their ultimate goal if not for one of the most miraculous endings in state championship history.
Chiawana trailed Camas by 13 points in the Class 4A title game at the Tacoma Dome before an eventful final 65 seconds that included Joey Zamora’s 57-yard scoring bomb to Dre Dorton, Deion Singleton recovering an onside kick and Blake Bishop catching a 4-yard TD toss with no time on the clock. That set up sophomore kicker Matt Winn’s winning extra point in the remarkable 27-26 victory.
It was the first state title for the young Riverhawks program, which started five years ago. But it was the fourth for head coach Steve Graff, who was named the state’s coach of the year and saw six of his players earn all-state honors.

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