For both Hood River Valley High School and Horizon Christian School, 2015 will go down as one of the most successful years for athletics in either school’s history. Records were smashed, state and conference titles were won, and teams that had struggled in past years suddenly found themselves in the playoffs.
But sports in the Hood River Valley go far beyond school grounds. Windsurfers and kiteboarders had a windy summer — even more so than usual — making events like the Bridge of the Gods Kitefest a great success. Most recently, the snow has returned in force after last season’s dismal winter impacted Mount Hood ski resorts, and the skiers and snowboarders are rejoicing in the fluffy, white bounty brought by El Niño.
Below, we take a look back at some of the year’s top sports stories, month-by-month, as they were published in the Hood River News:
Lucy McClean and Austin Keillor, both seniors on the HRV ski team, repeat as champions in the Christine Cato Memorial Race at Timberline Lodge. The seniors’ performance helped lead HRV to a second overall team finish.
The HRV boys basketball team continues its breakout season, and climbs to the top of the 5A standings in scoring by mid-January, dropping in 857 points over 13 games. Also in January, the boys break the 100-point threshold for the first time in recent memory with a 101-92 win over Stevenson High School Jan. 16.
The HRV wrestling team adds a trophy to its already burgeoning case at HRVHS by winning the Columbia Gorge Invitational, beating out nine other teams to take the top honor.
The HRV girls wrestling team brings home the team title for the state qualifier tournament in Cottage Grove. Both Payton Rigert and Jessica DeHart place first overall in their weight classes.
Swimmers for HRV take the Columbia River Conference by storm, racking up 15 titles and winning the CRC overall. The team would take 17 swimmers to the state championship and end up placing fourth.
The Horizon boys basketball team, on the heels of going 14-0 in league play, take the Big Sky conference title for the fifth year in a row and finish the regular season with a 24-3 record and a No. 1 ranking in 1A boys basketball. The team would ultimately place third in the state tourney, losing to Nixyaawii in the semifinals, but defeating Siletz Valley in the third-place game.
Work nears completion on the Hook launch, located on the west end of the Hood River Waterfront. The spot quickly became a favorite launch point for kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders looking to cruise around Wells Island and other areas of the waterfront.
The HRV girls wrestling team wins the team state trophy, thanks in large part due to individual state titles claimed by Payton Rigert, Sarah Sullenger, and Jessica DeHart. It was DeHart’s fourth consecutive state title, giving her the distinction of being the only wrestler in school history, boy or girl, to secure four titles in a row.
The boys basketball team narrowly misses what would have been its first playoff appearance in 20 years, losing in the fourth quarter to LaSalle, 75-70.
The HRV ski team sweeps the state ski championships, taking both the freestyle and alpine categories. One of the many highlights of the event was Hannah Bergemann in freestyle, who swept all three events (skiercross, slopestyle, rail jam).
One of the worst snow seasons in the history of Mt. Hood Meadows forces the resort to get creative with both snow management and customer incentives. By late March, only 99 inches had fallen on the resort that season.
The HRV boys lacrosse team has won of its most lopsided victories in its history, pummeling Valley Catholic by a score of 24-0 in a game April 8.
Fresh off their wins at the ski state championships, Tucker FitzSimons and Hannah Bergemann grab national titles at the USA Snowboard and Freeski Nationals in Copper Mountain, Colo. FitzSimons took first in the men’s 14-up rail jam and Bergemann took first in the women’s 16-18 slopestyle and 14-up rail jam.
Jason Shaner places sixth at the World of Wrestling Championships, a national wrestling tournament in Reno, Nev., in a field of 117 wrestlers in his bracket. The win gives him an “All-American” designation.
RGA gymnasts bring home gold medals from the state championships. Gymnasts capturing the gold include Jacy Johnston, Audrey Fuentes, and Regina Sanchez.
The HRV baseball team mounts a crazy comeback over the Pendleton Bulldogs. Down 6-0 in the first inning, the team is able to force the game into extra innings and then erupts for 11 runs in the top of the 10th to win the game.
Outgoing (in both senses of the word) HRV Athletic Director Keith Bassham is awarded the 5A/Large School AD of the Year by the Oregon Athletic Directors Association. Bassham served in the district for 35 years, eight of which were as AD.
Conference title overload: HRV athletics had a great spring season, with boys tennis and boys and girls track winning their first CRC titles ever, and the baseball team winning its first conference title in 22 years. Over at Horizon, the boys track team takes the Big Sky Conference title. Also notable, the HRV girls lacrosse team heads to the playoffs for only the second time in its history, making it through the first round before losing to Lake Oswego in the quarterfinals.
Boys and girls win individual state titles at the 5A track and field championships in Eugene. Sebastian Barajas repeats as discus champ, while Jestena Mattson takes the 100 and 200. HRV places fourth overall. Horizon also fares well, with Hannah Kempf and Salvador Ramirez placing first in the triple jump and the 1500, respectively, for the school’s first-ever individual state titles, in any sport.
After losing in the finals last year, the HRV baseball team completes its incredible playoff run with a 2-0 defeat of top-ranked Liberty in the 5A state championship game in Salem. The Eagles shut out all four of the teams they encountered in the playoffs, including CRC rival Pendleton in the semifinals. Coach Erich Harjo is named 5A Coach of the Year, while Ryan Ward is named 5A Pitcher of the Year.
Triathlete Erin Jones, a 2009 HRVHS graduate, wins the Dallas duathlon. It’s her second win of the season, taking the Puerto Rico Tri earlier in February.
Three Hood River Crossfit athletes qualify for the Crossfit Games: Christine Wells, Karen McCadam, and Regan Huckaby. Wells would place 14th in her division, Huckaby 33rd, and McCadam placed second.
HRV baseball pitcher Ryan Ward is honored by The Oregonian with the Brian T. Meehan Oregon Baseball of the Year Award. Through his 2015 senior season, Ward went on a 64-inning streak of allowing no earned runs.
Fish and wildlife agencies report that record-high temperatures are stressing Pacific Northwest fish causing fish die-offs. The temperatures are exacerbated by low water levels caused by a diminished snowpack.
Kiteboarding 4 Cancer has its biggest year yet, with 225 kiteboarders in attendance at the Hood River Waterfront. The event raised over $115,000 for Camp Koru, which offers week-long adventure retreats to cancer survivors.
The 14U JBO team from Hood River wins the state championship. The baseball team defeated Banks in the title game, 8-2.
Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson has its 15th running. Numerous Gorge residents make a good showing at the event.
Both the Bridge of the Gods Run and the Naish Paddle Challenge see significant increase in attendance. The Paddle Challenge’s increase was especially remarkable, since wildfire smoke choked the air at the Hood River Waterfront during the event.
Members of the Portland Timbers come to town as part of the Rose City Road Trip, visiting patients at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, beautifying Wy’East Middle School, putting on a youth soccer clinic, and holding a pub Q&A event. The Timbers would go on to sneak into the playoffs and win their first-ever MLS Cup.
New athletic directors grace the high schools of the Hood River Valley. Horizon hires Brian Stenberg and HRV hires Tom Ames for the positions ahead of the fall sports season.
Amy Hay, a 2009 HRVHS graduate, heads to the USA Weightlifting Championships as the top-ranked weightlifter in Oregon and Washington based off pound-for-pound strength. She earned sixth in her weight class.
Michael Cuevas, a 2015 HRVHS graduate and Odell native, racks up awards at the Oregon Horse State Fair, winning blue ribbons in Fancy Commodity, Western Equitation, and Trail Classes. He was also named state champion in barrel racing and reserve state champion in pole-bending and champion keyhole.
HRV cross country gets off to a fast start with back-to-back invitational wins, defeating stout CRC rival Hermiston.
HRV volleyball defeats Pendleton for the first time in three years. The Eagles beat the Buckaroos in four sets.
The HRV boys soccer team defeats Woodburn, 1-0, in a rematch from the 2014 5A state title game.
HRV volleyball qualifies for a play-in spot for the first time since 2012, defeating The Dalles in a huge upset. The team would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs to Ashland.
The girls water polo team, after failing to win a single game in its inaugural season in 2014, makes it to the state championship tournament, where the team places third.
HRV has one of its best fall sports seasons ever in the history of the school, with every single team making the playoffs. In addition, the boys soccer, girls soccer, boys cross country, and volleyball teams all win CRC titles. Boys and girls water polo also win the Metro 5A Conference.
After winning the conference title, the Horizon co-ed soccer team wins the 1A soccer championship in a thrilling overtime game against C.S. Lewis Academy, defeating the Watchmen, 2-1.
After remaining scoreless through regulation and overtime, the HRV girls soccer team beats Ashland in penalty kicks to head to the 5A quarterfinals, where the Eagles would lose to Summit.
The HRV boys soccer team officially create a dynasty by winning the team’s second consecutive 5A state title, defeating Wilsonville, 2-0, in Hillsboro. The win followed a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Hillsboro earlier in the week, when down 2-0 in the second half, the Eagles came from behind to win 4-3 thanks to four goals by Andres Baeza. It was the team’s second undefeated season in a row. Jaime Rivera is named 5A Coach of the Year, while Noe Magana is named Player of the Year.
Gorge windsurfers have a great showing at the Nove Nove Maui Aloha Classic in Hawaii. Sean Aiken, Fiona Wylde, Sara Hauser, and Ingrid Larouche all have podium finishes.
Longtime columnist Buzz Ramsey announces the end of regular publication of his monthly outdoor column in the News. The column began publishing in the newspaper in 1996.
HRVHS announces that the HRV football team will be moving to the Intermountain Conference for at least the next two seasons, joining five Bend-area teams and CRC teams Pendleton and Hermiston. The move is prompted by The Dalles requesting to compete as an independent team.
After last season’s dismal winter, El Niño pounds the hills at Mt. Hood Meadows with welcome snow. By the third week of December, the resort had already passed last year’s snow total.