Area sports’ biggest moments in 2023


Ridgefield girls teams wrap up successful year, soccer wins first state championship

The Spudders’ girls sports teams had a huge year with a state championship victory in soccer and second-place finishes in both volleyball and softball.

In November, the Spudders volleyball team took home second place after a loss to league rival Columbia River High School at the Yakima Valley SunDome. In May, Ridgefield’s softball team brought home second place after a loss to North Kitsap in Selah.

The biggest success, however, was when the Spudders soccer team clinched its first state championship in program history after penalty kicks against Spokane’s West Valley High School in November at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma.

“When we came home, we had some police escorts. Once we got off the exit, they drove us back to the school, and then there were so many people waiting for us back at the school, whether it was students or parents,” Spudders girls soccer head coach Steven Evans said. “[It was] such a cool feeling to be able to see everybody and to see all that support when you get home at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night.”

Other moments:

Battle Ground, Prairie send bowlers to state tournament

Battle Ground and Prairie high schools each sent a bowler to the state tournament following districts at Hazel Dell Lanes in January.

Battle Ground High School sophomore Emberly Stephenson advanced to the 4A state tournament after a solid performance in the 4A/3A district tournament, while Prairie High School  sent Kasumi Crouse to the 3A state tournament.

Ridgefield boys basketball only local team to advance to state tournament

The Ridgefield boys basketball team was the only team in north Clark County that advanced to the state tournament in February.

The Spudders defeated Black Hills, 55-30, and advanced to play Enumclaw in a loser-out game, which resulted in a season ending 49-33 loss.

North Clark County wrestlers reflect on state championship wins

Prairie High School sophomore Faith Tarrant earned her second state-championship win at the Mat Classic state tournament, while La Center High senior Malachi Wallway earned the honor of the top wrestler in the 120-pound division in the 1A classification in February.

“It’s not only about wrestling. Getting to know the girls and community being around wrestling is amazing with body positivity,” Tarrant said. “Like your weight doesn’t matter, especially if you’re me [because] I’m bigger. … So, like for girls my size to know that it’s OK, we’re accepting of everybody.”

Wallway said he was emotional after his win.

“It’s been my goal my whole life. [It’s] 16 to 17 years in the making right there, so my favorite moment was when I got that pin and I realized I just won a state title. I just achieved my life goal.”

Yacolt’s Bigfoot Run grows with over 300 participants

Yacolt’s Rendezvous Days’ action-packed Saturday started with the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer Bigfoot Run on East Yacolt Road in July.

The run featured an elusive bigfoot among the 336 participants. Before and after the run, the bigfoot was hounded for photo opportunities.

Ridgefield Raptors secure south division first-half title for first time in franchise history

The Ridgefield Raptors earned the West Coast League’s first playoff spot and south division first-half title with a 10-3 victory over the Portland Pickles in July at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreational Complex.

The Raptors were led on the mound by pitcher Camden Orem from Lower Columbia College. Orem went for five innings, striking out three and giving up five hits and two runs in the game.

Tigers football team picks up first league win since 2016

The Battle Ground Tigers last won a 4A Greater St. Helens League game in 2016 against Union. They ended that drought in October, again with a win over Union when they defeated the Titans, 48-30, and improved to 7-0 on the season.

The Tiger defense was instrumental against the Titans as Battle Ground’s Artem Bahnyuk, Thomas Avery, Saveliy Tkachenko and Angel Lopez made key interceptions. Bahnyuk also forced a fumble that was recovered by the Tigers.

“These kids, I’ve coached teams that have been good but don’t have this approach to the game or this kind of energy, and these guys make it so much fun at practice,” Tigers head coach Mike Woodward said.

Woodland Beavers football team secures first league title since 2007

After Woodland jumped out to a 28-6 halftime lead over the Ridgefield Spudders, the Beavers held on for a league-capturing victory, 28-21, in the 2A Greater St. Helens League in October.

Woodland’s win gave the Beavers their first league title since 2007 and secured their first home playoff game since 2015.

When the time on the clock ran out, Woodland students and parents rushed the field to celebrate the victory. Emotions were high after the game, and Beavers head coach Sean McDonald realized that everything he talked about with his team, including winning the league championship, last spring during spring practices came to fruition.

“I’m so proud of them for coming through and battling until the end,” McDonald said.

La Center girls soccer earns fourth at state, best finish in program history

The La Center girls soccer team earned its best finish in program history after claiming fourth place in the 1A state tournament at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma in November.

In the third-place match, the fifth-seeded Wildcats played sixth-seeded Montesano High School but fell 3-1. The day prior, the Wildcats lost to Klahowya High School, 3-0, in the semifinals game.

The history-making season for the Wildcats marked head coach Horst Malunat’s first season at the helm, and he coached eight seniors this year.

“As a program, they have never won a state playoff game. They’ve never been out of the first round,” Malunat said of the soccer program. “It was a brand-new experience for them to get that first win to get in.

Hockinson High basketball teams host visitors from the land down under

While both the Hockinson High School boys and girls basketball teams lost to the Tenison Woods Titans of Mount Gambier, Australia in November, the international experience was more about forming friendships and a shared love for basketball rather than the final scores.

The girls varsity game ended with Tenison Woods College beating the young Hockinson team, 77-23, while the Titan boys defeated the Hawks, 82-63. Tenison Woods College, a Catholic co-educational secondary school is the equivalent of an American K-12 private school.

“We’re blown away by everyone [being] so friendly, and to do things like the anthem, it makes it even more special for us,” Tenison Woods College head coach Matt Sutton said. “We really appreciate everything they’ve done for us.”