The thing about a Top 10 stories of the year list, you sit down wondering if you can come up with 10 and by the time you’re halfway through, you are wondering if you can keep it under 900 words.And of course, any kind of list is always subject to scrutiny. Not every list is going to please everyone, especially if you scroll down and don’t see the thing that’s near and dear to your heart.
Take my top 10 list for local sports events in 2018, I got a scathing email from Cleon Claassen.
“I believe you have made a gross error in your article,” the email read. “Putting Moses Lake girls basketball as honorable mention when, as you say, “their only loss was to state and national champion Central Valley.” And you didn’t mention Jaimie Loera’s single game scoring record.”
Must have missed my previous column about being more positive in the new year.
Yeah, I get it. The program produced three NCAA Division I players in the past three years and and one of them finished with the school scoring record. They certainly are a credit to Moses Lake and the 4A girls basketball community, and they did make the list.
Some picks could have been higher, some lower, but I make no apologies for trying to include bits and pieces of as many communities in the Columbia Basin as possible. I’m sure there’s people in Warden saying, “Hey, Martin Dominguez won a 1A state championship in wrestling.” Folks in Royal have an argument for not having the Associated Press 1A player of the year Sawyer Jenks or Alonso Hernandez, who capped his career with all-state selections on both offense and defense. The good people of Mattawa could say, “Our team finally beats Royal in the semifinals and plays for a state soccer championship. Where’s the love?”
I got news for you, it’s just a list and I tried to include as many communities as possible. But Claassen was correct, I did make a gross error not including the passing of radio announcer Mel Olson, the voice of Moses Lake wrestling. Mel was an icon that used his voice to bring to life the work, the trials and tribulations of a Chiefs program that has won 18 state championships. He was tragically killed in a bicycle accident.
I thought this quote from Moses Lake wrestling coach Jaime Garza summarized what a lot of people in the area thought about Mel. “He was able to bring it every time. I really do commend him for the work he put in and his ability to craft such a wonderful message over the radio as if you were there.”
Here’s some other cool stuff that happened in 2018. You know, the beauty of the First Amendment is that if you don’t like my list, make your own.
AP All-State selections: 1A player of the year Sawyer Jenks; all-state linebacker/running back Alonso Hernandez; all-state wide receiver Angel Farias, Royal; 2A all-state defensive end Isaiah Perez, Othello; 1B quarterback, Maguire Isaak, Almira/Coulee-Hartline.
Wahluke boys soccer: The Warriors beat Michael Rrojas-led Royal in a shootout in the 1A state semifinals, then played in the 1A championship match where they finished as the state runner-up.
Othello’s David Garza drafted/Alix Garcia signs with Oklahoma State: Former Othello standout David Garza was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 38th round of the MLB draft. Garza, who was pick No. 1,149, recently completed his collegiate career at Tennessee Tech University. Garcia finished his junior college in Arizona with a career batting average of .350 and 108 RBIs. He was a first-team all-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference selection in 2017. He got married this summer and now they’re off the Stillwater, Okla.
Wrestling coaching legend Ruben Martinez returns: Forty five years of coaching wrestling wasn’t enough for Martinez, who won two 2A state championships and produced 16 individual state champions at Othello. He’s back in the saddle in his first season at Royal.
Big Bend wrestling: The local community college brought back wrestling to its varsity programs under the direction of former Warden standout Jose Tanguma and Ryan Foster. The program features standouts from local programs including, Cade Cox (Ephrata), Martin Dominguez (Warden), Eddie Rodriguez, (Royal), Jose Galindo (Royal), Pablo Mejia (Moses Lake) and Phillip Ontiveros (Othello).