Time to reflect on some of the highlights from the just-completed winter season.
• We’re four weeks removed from the Washington state wrestling tournaments and I’m still in awe of what North Central accomplished.
The Indians captured the State 3A championship with six wrestlers. That means they didn’t have competitors in eight of the weights. All six placed and two – the Quintanilla brothers, Clai (106) and Izaec (160) – brought home individual titles.
But I must correct an error. I was told the highest previous finish by an NC team was third. Actually the 1965 NC team, coached by Les Hogan, was second. That team was led by Jack Coffey, who won a state title at 148, and Dean Nakagawa, second at 106, and Dave Young, second at 178. The correction along with a copy of NC’s highest finishes at state was courtesy of Anna Mae Hogan, Les’ wife.
Back to the current team.
NC coach Luke Leifer believed his team had a chance of winning a state title but he knew it would have to be as close to a perfect performance as possible.
And it was. With a handful of participants, NC had to have multiple state placers, if not winners, and the Indians obliged.
The title was especially sweet to Leifer, an NC graduate.
“To come in here with six (wrestlers) is unbelievable,” he told me at state. “Usually this is a numbers game. You’ve got to get the numbers through and then you have to have the horses. We had the horses.”
NC will be a factor at state again next year. As will Mt. Spokane.
The 3A landscape changes next year with University, Sunnyside and Decatur bumping up to 4A.
• Another amazing feat was pulled off by the Gonzaga Prep girls basketball team.
The Bullpups captured their first trophy two years ago when they finished fifth. Had it not been for a horrible opening half in their state opener last year they might have played eventual state champ Mead in the final, but Prep walked away with fourth a year ago.
That set the stage for this year. The Bullpups were a one-point loss to St. Mary’s Academy of Portland away from a perfect season. Interestingly, the Bullpups opened state with a win over Skyview of Vancouver, which split with St. Mary’s.
G-Prep finished with 23 straight victories – a streak that could carry well into next year. The Bullpups return four starters (Laura Stockton, Otiona Gildon, Lauren Weir and Oona Harrington) and three reserves (Tayler Drynan, Shafalika Byrd and Molly McDermott). And they’ll promote a sophomore post from Nigeria that may have the most raw talent in the Greater Spokane League.
And coach Mike Arte will be back for a 27th season – all at Prep, all as head coach. His third decade coaching is proving quite rewarding.
Arte knows how much his players will desire a repeat. Stockton and Gildon, who play on the same club team, were asked what they’d do to celebrate the title.
They said they planned to go right back to work.
• The Coeur d’Alene girls captured their fourth state title in 10 years under coach Dale Poffenroth. And it was with an all-senior lineup.
For the first time in his career at CdA, Poffenroth has much work ahead. The cupboard is bare. He plans at this point to return but he said that could change if the returning players and incoming freshmen don’t commit to play this summer.
• Tiny Colton had quite the winter as the girls and boys pulled off a sweep in the 1B title games. It was the sixth straight title for the girls.
Colton was the lone school to pull off a sweep. The last school to do so was Brewster when it was in 1A in 2002-03.
• The Craig Brantner-coached Pullman boys, led by Race Martin, made it two straight in 2A.