Over the course of a school year, many phenomenal stories take place. 4 of our regular contributor’s selected their personal favorite story of the year. There are no doubt many others that could make the list or many that we did not witness but after 1,200+ broadcasts we did this past year these were the 4 that stuck out to us.

If there’s a story we didn’t mention and you want to share it with us, tag us or private message us on Twitter (@Youresn), message us on Facebook or e-mail us at Tyler@elisportsnetwork.com.

We just may add another series of stories and possibly run a poll later this summer on which stories were the tops so please send us what we missed but in our 1st release of stories of the year let’s get to our 1st four.

Richland Caps Off Perfect Season in Spectacular Fashion

By Tyler Hergert

The Richland Bombers have become a powerhouse in 4A Baseball over the last 25 years. Before this year, Richland had five State Championships and has won them since 1999. The Bombers were coming off of a tough out last year in the state tournament, losing to 11-seed Sumner in 9 innings, 8-4 in the Quarterfinals. Richland was looking to add a sixth state title banner and hoping to do so in their backyard, at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.

Richland State Champs

Richland navigated through the regular season with ease and cruised to the State Semis where they would face North Creek, who made their first-ever Final Four in their school’s short history. It was there that Richland and North Creek would face off in one of the most epic State Tournament games ever.

Both teams started their aces and it showed, in the first seven innings, both teams only had two hits apiece. In the 8th inning, North Creek loaded the bases with only one out, but Chris Daniels who came in relief of star pitcher Alec Ammerman, struck out the next two batters to keep the game scoreless. In the top of the 9th, Richland would get runners at first and third and attempted a bunt with only one out but Ryan Moran for North Creek read it perfectly, charged in, and tossed the ball to catcher Ethan Swallom who applied the tag in time for a crucial second out. North Creek held Richland off the scoreboard and in the bottom of the 9th, North Creek had runners at second and third with two outs but couldn’t score. The next scoring opportunity would be one that left people talking about the play the next day. In the top of the 12th, Richland had runners on second and third with two outs. In a stunning turn of events, North Creek decided to attempt a pickoff at second base, which would’ve been in time for the third out, but the ball sailed over the head of the shortstop and into center field, allowing Brody Bocek to score and give the Bombers a 1-0 lead. North Creek was able to get a baserunner to third with two outs in the bottom of the 12th but Daniels got out of the jam and Richland kept their dream season alive with a thrilling 1-0 win.

The Championship Game was another instant classic, featuring the two best teams in Class 4A going at it. Richland taking on Puyallup for the state title. Richland loaded the bases up for their nine hitter, Josh Woodard, who in the 4A State Basketball Championship Game, almost recorded a triple-double. Here, Woodard would slap a double down the right field line to score all three runners and give the Bombers a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd. Puyallup answered with an RBI single from freshman sensation, Max Hemenway in the top of the 4th to make it 3-1. The next at-bat was a line drive to Woodard at second base who leaped up, made the grab, and fired the ball to first to complete an unexpected double play to quickly get two outs. Puyallup was able to drive the runner in from third on a Gage Thompson RBI single to make it 3-2. In the bottom of the inning, Richland was able to score a run on a passed ball to make it 4-2, where it would stay that way until the top of the 7th.

It was in the top of the 7th where Richland still held on to their 4-2 lead. After Puyallup drew a walk to lead off the inning, Richland forced a ground ball double play to get one out away from a perfect season and a state championship. Freshman, Brayden Landry stepped in for the Vikings and after taking a foul ball off his leg and needing an extra minute to catch his breath, hit the next pitch right back up the middle to keep the game alive. On a drop third strike, Tristan Ringrose got on base as Landry was stealing second while the pitch happened to allow Ringrose to make it safely to first. Then Mason Pike, who in the Semifinals had a perfect game going into the sixth inning, was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kai Halstead stepped into the batter’s box and was also hit by a pitch to bring in a run and make it a 4-3 game, with the bases loaded and two outs. Richland moved Woodard to the mound to pitch where he would face Hemenway and got it to a 2-2 count. Everyone was on their feet as Hemenway swung on the fifth pitch of the at-bat and lined it into left field where Michael Revell, who was pitching before Woodard replaced him, made the catch to secure history for Richland.

The Bombers poured out of the dugout to celebrate and dogpiled on Woodard, who was our game MVP. It was fitting the game ended with a one-run victory between the two highly talented squads. Richland had gone six years without winning a state title in baseball before getting their sixth state championship in exhilarating fashion and capping off an undefeated season. The Bombers sang their fight song with their fans before receiving their state championship trophy.

One of those games alone could be worthy of being a story of the year, but both games involving the same team, to cap off a perfect season, is almost inconceivable. Congratulations to the Richland Bombers on completing the undefeated season, and getting banner number six to hang at Bomber Field.

Manson High School Girls Volleyball Team Wins State Championship

By Paul Beattie

The Manson Trojans won the 2B Volleyball Championship after several years of knocking on the door. The Trojans finished 3rd in 2022 and 2021 with their best finish in 2007 taking 2nd. They had additional placings in 2005 (8th) and 1997 (7th) with appearances in 2018, 2016, 2004, 2003, 2000 1996, 1979 and a run from 1984-1989 but no placings.

That, in itself, is a nice story, but does it rise to the level of a top story of the year? How about if we add that this is not only the 1st State Volleyball Championship In school history, but also the 1st EVER State Championship of any sport in Manson High School history!

Manson State Champions

We think Manson High School opened in 1923 but for sure it was in the early 20’s so on the 100-year anniversary of Manson High School they won their 1st ever State Championship. Their first official entry into WIAA post season was the 1961-62 boys’ basketball team. 

This was also only the 2nd State Championship game they’ve ever played in and that was Volleyball in 2007 where they had their highest finish in any sport. Boys’ basketball and baseball each have a 3rd placed finish and a few other top 8 finishes but the Trojans broke through this past season with their 1st ever “Big Trophy”. 

Plus, we throw in that Chelan won the 1A Volleyball Championship this year as well to have 2 Titles on the shores of one lake may also be a 1st ever. 

The town was also there in the Yakima Sundome and we’ve never seen a celebration at girls volleyball quite like this one so congratulations to the Manson Trojans, no doubt one of the top stories of the year!

For our original coverage of Manson’s Championship win, click here.


Anacortes Football Wins State Championship

By Matthew King

In 2019, only 10 upper classmen (Seniors and Juniors) turned out for the Anacortes football team. That was a year after Anacortes had to forfeit their playoff game against Lakewood due to a lack of players. They only had five linemen on that team as the season came to an end. As they looked to return to varsity football, Covid-19 shutdown the world and forced an abbreviated 2021 spring season.

Anacortes State Champs

Anacortes did play varsity football in the 2021 spring season but returned fully in the fall of 2021. However, they would play as an independent program in 2021. Normally a member of the Northwest Conference, Anacortes opted for another year of trying to rebuild the numbers in their varsity program.

A successful 2021 saw the Seahawks finish 9-1 and return to the NWC in the fall of 2022. With a much smaller roster than most 2A football programs, Anacortes still made an impression in their return to the league. Anacortes went 8-1 and made the state playoffs and got all the way to the quarterfinals with a win over West Valley. A loss to North Kitsap ended that season but gave plenty of reasons for optimism heading into 2023.

With just 36 players on their roster, everything clicked for the Seahawks under head coach Travis Anderson. They rolled to a perfect regular season that was capped off with a road win over the perennial power that is Lynden as the Seahawks earned the NWC title and the #2 seed in the 2A state tournament.

Only three state titles had been won at Anacortes coming into 2023. A slowpitch state title in 1994 was the first and they then earned a girls swimming & diving title in 2005 before the boys team won their own in 2015. With an opportunity to win their first ever football title, the state took notice of the special story as a wave of purple swarmed over the state.

Anacortes fans were packing whatever venue they were playing in on their path to the top of the mountain. Back-to-back wins over Rogers (Spokane) and Orting pushed the Seahawks through to the semifinals. They would then have to grind out a win over another very strong program in Enumclaw but the 34-20 win sent Anacortes to the title game.

In the championship game at Husky Stadium, Anacortes went toe-to-toe with one last perennial power in Tumwater. The result would be a historical performance on many different levels. Anacortes set a state record for most points scored in a 2A championship game with a 60-30 win over Tumwater, claiming the Seahawks’ first football state championship in school history.

The senior class that was just in 8th grade when the program had to forfeit their season got to go out as state champions. An absurdly quick turnaround took Anacortes from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs as the 2023 team changed the Anacortes football program forever and gave hope to all other schools facing similar issues.

Our original coverage of the Anacortes Championship win https://www.elisportsnetwork.com/2023/12/02/wiaa-2a-anacortes-seahawks-stun-tumwater-for-their-1st-title/

Soccer Crowns 7 Brand New State Champions
By Tony Davila
Out of the 10 boys and girls state championship matches 7 new teams raised the big trophy for the first time. Skyline girls won back-to-back titles and matched the Seattle Academy girls winning their 6th Soccer championships in history. The Overlake Boys won their 6th title as well holding off Royal 1-0 and keeping the Knights from making it 8 new champions.
We’ll start with the girls because they play their championships first. Crosspoint took home the B’s championship beating Kalama 2-1, the Warriors highest previous finish was 3rd in 2011. In the 2A match either team was going to be a first-time champion with Ridgefield outlasting West Valley Spokane 3-2. Roosevelt avenged their loss in the championship game last year and took home the big trophy with a 4-1 win over Shorecrest. Shorecrest wouldn’t have been a new champion but it would have been their first title since 1995.
Most of the boys’ championships are played in the spring. The new 4a boys Champion Mount Si beat Camas who is a 3-time state champion. Lake Washington boys won not only their first title in 3A boys’ soccer but their first trophy in boys’ soccer ever. Franklin Pierce beat Sehome for the 2A boys’ championship. The Cardinals finished 4th in 2018 but their last championship game appearance was in 1990 and that was for a 3A title. The gem of the boys’ tournaments was played in the fall with Upper Columbia Academy beating Orcas Island 2-0. Orcas has played in the last 3 B title matches with a win in 2022.Upper Columbia Academy has never placed in state in any sport in school history until this year when they won the 1B/2B Boys Soccer Championship not a bad first trophy to put on display.
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