When I look back at the year 2002, a sense of timelessness prevails in my mind.
This palindrome year will forever live in my memory — for reasons related to sports and others completely unrelated to sports — and I feel it is important to mark the year gone by with a brief recap.
It was a year that started with state champs galore. Ben Connors and the Summit Snowboard Team. Lindsay McClure and the HRV girls ski team. Caitlyn Shortt and her Olympic effort to win the 100 backstroke state title.
We also sung the praises of a few district champions. Shortt won two, along with teammate Oliver Burton. Jacobe Krizman won one in wrestling, while his HRV teammates won it all to take their first Mt. Hood Conference title at the 4A level.
The wrestlers’ dream season ended with a solid state performance and Esteban Avila’s eighth-place finish at 119 pounds.
Then came the HRV softball team, which squeaked into the state playoffs last spring behind dominating pitching by freshman all-conference first-teamer Talia Hinman.
But softball wasn’t all.
Three more HRV athletes made their mark on the state stage. Senior Andy Murphy qualified for the state golf tournament, while the doubles team of Lauren Emmerson and Corinne Oates placed third at district and earned a berth at the state tennis tournament.
The good vibes kept on flowin’ when junior Anna Hidle and senior Christy Paul each qualified for state in track and field. Paul won dual district titles (3,000 and 1,500 meters), and went on to finish fourth and fifth, respectively, at state. Hidle pocketed her first state appearance with inspired district performances in the 400 meters and the high jump.
Then came the summer and the annual installment of the Gorge Games (which, at last rumor, may be extinct for 2003). The locals made a huge splash and gave Hood River lots to be proud of. Bruce Peterson, Dale Cook, Tamira Wagonfeld, Mitch Gingrich, Mark Doyle, Cory Roeseler, Cam Dauler, Paul and many more capped a Gorge Games week that was unlike any other.
It was simply off the hook.
The summer was also memorable for wrestler Jorge Lujano. The HRV junior manhandled the competition at the Cadet Dual Meet Nationals in July, posting a 16-1 record for Team Oregon, and went on to take sixth in the nation at the Cadet National Championships in Fargo, N.D.
Each and every name listed in this column helped make 2002 a most memorable year in Hood River sports. However, while the winter, spring and summer seasons were each monumental, the best of all had to be the fall.
Becca Meierbachtol and the HRV girls soccer team went undefeated in the regular season and won their first-ever playoff game. Matt Dallman, Dereck Ponce and the HRV boys reached the state quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Then there was the HRV football team, which went 9-2 and won its first 4A playoff game in record-breaking style. Speaking of records, a guy named Krizman set the new state rushing marks along the way.
My oh my!
That might be the only way to sum up the sports year that was 2002.