On to State: Recognizing all winter efforts

Athletes and scholars from Hood River Valley High School and Horizon Christian School are on their way, or fresh back from, state competition in a variety of pursuits. It has been a productive winter for swimmers, wrestlers, skiers, snowboarders, hoopsters, robotics competitors and recitors.

The aquatic foursome of Daniele Miller, Kylie Webb, Dhani Freeland and Caityn Fick combined to place HRVHS third overall in girls’ state 5A last weekend – a remarkable accomplishment for just four swimmers.

Meanwhile, nine HRVHS wrestlers advanced to state this weekend at Memorial Coliseum in Portland, and 16 skiers will compete at Oregon Interscholastic Ski Racing Association Championships at Mt. Hood Meadows this weekend.

As expected, Horizon’s boys won the Blue Sky Conference last weekend for the fourth straight year and proceed to host Crane in a play-in game tonight. Winner goes to state.

Then there is HRVHS Nordic skier Sam Wiley, who took first in the 7.5-meter skate race, capping his leadership in a program that, as Adam Lapierre reported in the Feb. 26 edition, “in four years ... has gone from a fledging group of high school skiers with little experience and hodgepodge gear to a top contender in the Oregon high School Nordic Organization’s winter racing circuit.”

Boardercrosser Ethan Field leads the Hood River Valley snowboard team to state at Mount Bachelor March 18-19.

With swimming and snow sports there tends to be little fanfare, as spectators are mostly limited to teammates, competitors and family members. Nonetheless, these athletes are all deserving of the spotlight for their hard work and dedication.

Similarly, activities such as Robotics and Poetry Out Loud are far from the level of fan-heavy attendance draws – not that they shouldn’t be, but both endeavors are relatively new, and far quieter. But these participants are carving out distinction on different planes than the sports contests that are perceived to be more exciting. As quasi- or extra-curricular, the competitions are held either during school days or only on weekends, though like athletes the students doing engineering and poetry are devoting plenty of after school time to honing their skills.

The Blackhawks FTC robotics team competes in the state First Technology Challenge this weekend at Benson Tech High School in Portland, and Poetry Out Loud champion Sophia Marble, a sophomore, goes to Portland March 8 with the potential to go to nationals. It is a proud accomplishment for someone so young.

And now a word about the teams that fared less well on the season: Girls hoops teams at Horizon and HRVHS struggled, as did the HRVHS boys. Qualification at district or state, or victory at either heightened level, merits praise for those athletes, but an unburnished win-loss record takes nothing away from what these athletes strove for. It’s notable that this year in hoops, the numbers of seniors on any of the squads tended to the minority, with no HRV boys’ standing for the 2014 senior night. This year’s youth and the prevalence of losses can be looked upon as positive notes for future teams.

For all the state and district competitors, we offer congratulations, and for those about to compete on the state stage, we offer best wishes and thanks for a season of hard work, and for serving as representatives of the Hood River community.

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