From the first practices in August to the final state championships in late May, a year in high school sports is filled with triumphs.
No group better showcases Southwest Washington’s excellence in prep sports than The Columbian’s All-Region athletes of the year.
Each year, The Columbian highlights one outstanding athlete in 23 sports, plus a boy and girl who excelled on multiple teams.
Each athlete represents a spirit of endurance, dedication and achievement that is impressive on its own. But when viewed together, this group shows the depth of talent and commitment that is found in this corner of the state.
Because of that, The Columbian is honoring all of our 2022-23 All-Region athletes with this special project.
Many of these athletes will continue their athletic careers in college. All will use the lessons learned through sports to make their future families, professions and communities better.
And whatever success each athlete goes on to achieve, their stories all share one thing — they started in Southwest Washington.
Multi-sport: Jacob Martin, Mountain View
There’s no shortage of important lessons sports taught Jacob Martin about life: commitment, self-discipline, leadership, and learning how to win and lose are just a few of many.
But when a medical disqualification from the Air Force Academy forced Martin’s future up in the air, other lessons through sports shined brightest: resilience amid adversity.
“Sometimes, the path you think you’re going to go now isn’t the right one,” said Martin, a recent Mountain View High School graduate. … “The biggest thing, especially from late in my high school career, is adjusting — adjusting to the opportunities that are given to you.”
For Martin, The Columbian’s boys multi-sport athlete of the year, adjustment went hand-in-hand during his four-year career for the Thunder. He won 11 varsity letters in three sports — football, basketball and baseball. It might’ve been a perfect 12 had he given football a shot as a ninth grader instead of sophomore year when he made an instant impact on both sides of the ball.
Football — not baseball as he first thought — is where Martin caught the most attention from college programs. That included the prestigious Air Force Academy, where he received an appointment and verbally committed to play football for the Falcons earlier in 2023. Yet the final months of high school were filled with ups and downs from medical appointments to appeals processes of trying to earn a waiver because of Martin’s celiac disease (gluten allergy).
The appeals were unsuccessful. Martin learned of the disqualification ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
“That pretty much closed the door for all football-related activities and also my appointment to the Air Force Academy,” he said. “Getting that phone call from (Air Force coach Troy Calhoun) was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do in my life.”
But the adjustments took another step when Martin verbally committed to play football at Washington State as a preferred walk-on the week of Mountain View’s graduation. Martin said former Thunder coach Adam Mathieson and Air Force coaches were key in helping Martin find another program so late in the school year.
“It’s a blessed opportunity for me,” he said. “They wanted to give me a new home, and I think I found it in Washington State.”
Known as a baseball and basketball standout in his younger days, Martin gave football a shot sophomore year during the abbreviated COVID-19 spring season of 2021. His centerfielder instincts from baseball transitioned well to the secondary.
Flash forward to his senior year, Martin was captain of all three sports and helped the Thunder to the postseason in football, basketball and baseball. He was a two-way all-league player at receiver and defensive back in football, an all-league point guard in basketball and hit a career-best .381 to earn all-league honors on the diamond. In basketball, the Thunder reached 3A regionals for the first time since 2012.
“I wouldn’t take back anything from any of my senior seasons,” Martin said. “They all happened for a reason. I made so many memories and so many friendships that I’ll have forever.”
But Martin’s big senior year goes beyond sports. He was part of the first senior class to open the new Mountain View building, which features new sports fields and facilities.
A new school building, new facilities and a soon-to-be new home for college. Martin’s Mountain View career was filled with adjustments, but important lessons through sports set him on a path to success.
“Being able to see all of this,” Martin said, “this is the highlight of my year.”
— Meg Wochnick
Multi-sport: Anna Mooney, Seton Catholic
For her senior year, Anna Mooney found herself at a new high school with new teammates.
But by the end of the year, the three-sport standout learned that change is good.
“It was different sports-wise,” he said. “I took on a different role at Seton than I did at Camas. But I feel like I embraced that. It was just the best decision I could ever make.”
Mooney left a lasting impact in her year at Seton Catholic, leading the girls soccer team to its first state berth in eight years, leading the girls basketball team to its first-ever state berth. In the spring, she rediscovered track and field.
For all that, Mooney has been chosen as The Columbian’s All-Region female multi-sport athlete of the year.
Mooney was a standout athlete for three years at Camas High School. As a junior, she was a key contributor to the girls soccer team that won the 4A state championship.
But the basketball season did not go so well for Mooney, who was home-schooled her sophomore and junior years while playing sports at Camas. Those facts led to her move to Seton for her senior year.
“I was just ready for something new,” Mooney said. “Camas was just not a good fit for me.”
The transition was made easier because she already knew her future teammates.
“I grew up playing soccer with Keira Williams, and she’s here at Seton,” Mooney said. “I got to reconnect with her and play with her again. And Hannah Hammerstrom, I went to kindergarten with her. So there were a bunch of these reconnections I was able to make this year.”
Those connections led to success in sports.
In soccer last fall, Seton Catholic finished second to La Center in the Trico League. Then the Cougars beat La Center in the district playoffs to clinch the school’s second state tournament berth.
“When we beat La Center in soccer to go to state, I just remember running up and hugging the goalie Hailey Hammerstrom,” Mooney said. “That was something the girls at Seton hadn’t experienced before, so it was great to experience that with them.”
In basketball, Mooney was the Trico League player of the year, leading the Cougars to a league co-championship, then helping the team clinch the first state tournament berth in school history.
Mooney said after a sub-par season in basketball her junior year that she had decided not to play sports in college.
But her experience at Seton changed that.
“This year, I just had such a good experience … I kind of fell in love with basketball again,” she said. “So I wanted to continue with that because I didn’t want it to be over.”
Mooney plans to study sports marketing and play basketball at College of Idaho.
With the encouragement of her friends, she took up track and field in the spring for the first time since sixth grade, competing in the long jump and placing sixth at the district meet.
“It was like learning something completely new, which was kind of nice,” Mooney said. “I’ve been used just playing soccer and basketball my whole life. That’s what I know. … But I wish I had done track before because I had a super good experience with it.”
In a way, a year at Seton changed her life.
“It was a great life lesson for me to learn at a young age that sometimes life will take you a different way, a way that I hadn’t planned,” she said.
— Tim Martinez
Click the links below to read about each of the All-Region athletes
for the 2022-23 school year.
The 2022-2023 All-Region Athletes of the Year:
- Football: Holden Bea, Washougal
- Volleyball: Lauren Dreves, Columbia River
- Girls Soccer: Andie Buckley, Columbia River
- Boys Cross Country: Samuel Grice, Washougal
- Girls Cross Country: Alexis Leone, Seton Catholic
- Girls Swimming: Campbell Deringer, Camas
- Slowpitch Softball: Maggie Tumelty, Union
- Boys Basketball: Yanni Fassilis, Union
- Girls Basketball: Addison Harris, Camas
- Boys Wrestling: JJ Schoenlein, Skyview
- Girls Wrestling: Faith Tarrant, Prairie
- Boys Swimming: Sam Empey, Union
- Gymnastics: Madi Williams, Camas
- Girls Bowling: Kierra Wilcox, Evergreen
- Softball: Maddie Milhorn, Skyview
- Baseball: Max Fraser, Camas
- Girls Track and Field: Josie Settle, Kelso
- Boys Track and Field: Landon Kelsey, Ridgefield
- Boys Soccer: Alex Harris, Columbia River
- Girls Golf: Jade Gruher, Union
- Boys Golf: Eli Huntington, Camas
- Tennis: Hailey Kerker and Aiden Brasier, Camas