Fall sports: Football, volleyball, soccer and more

All-Region Football: Holden Bea, Washougal


Washougal High quarterback Holden Bea

Amanda Cowan of The Columbian

Washougal High’s historic football season is only weeks from having ended, but Holden Bea’s reflection on the past also includes looking at its future.

“It was just another step into what we want to do as a program,” Bea said, “and taking the program to another step.”

And Bea, The Columbian’s All-Region football player of the year, hopes the Panthers can take that next giant step into cementing more program history as the starting quarterback.

But before looking ahead to 2023, Bea knows the 2022 season that included an undefeated 2A Greater St. Helens League mark, the first home playoff win in program history and its second state berth in four seasons was special in its own way.

“That was really fun for us to experience and do that with our seniors,” Bea said. “All the young guys always looked up to them, and for them to be able to do that for us is really cool for the program.”

And a big part of that came from Bea, a junior and the 2A GSHL’s offensive most valuable player. As the Panthers’ second-year quarterback, he threw for 2,559 yards and 30 touchdowns to seven different receivers. He also rushed for 581 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. The latter were both second-best on the team behind all-league running back Liam Atkin.

Like the humble player he is, Bea gave teammate-first credit for his success from the receivers making plays to the offensive line creating running lanes or pass protection.

What’s different from a first-time sophomore starter on a three-win team in 2021 to the quarterback that led one of three Clark County teams to reach the state playoffs?

Quite a bit, highlighted by maturity, leadership and growth. Off-season work, Bea said, whether it was team workouts, 7-on-7 opportunities or private training, paved the way to make his junior year a memorable one.

Opportunities for players to expand their skills through 7 on 7 continue to rise. Some may argue 7-on-7 isn’t true football, and yes it’s not tackle football, but Bea reaps the benefits.

“It’s the reps,” he said, “throwing constantly and helping me get timing down with receivers. Just trying to perfect my passing game as much as I can. I kind of view it as, ‘Why shouldn’t I do it?’ ”

Bea is a Washougal guy through and through, and this generation of Beas are well-known standout athletes in recent years at Washougal. Holden Bea is the youngest of 10 Bea grandchildren and the latest in line of great athletes to walk Washougal’s halls.

In fact, one of his more memorable moments had nothing to do with on-field performance. It came pregame of Washougal’s first home playoff win in program history Nov. 5 against Shelton, when Bea and his cousin, senior linebacker Garrett Mansfield, led the team onto the field out of its traditional inflatable Panther head. Not only was it another family-shared memory, but Bea knows what the significance of that game alone and the 2022 season as a whole meant to the Washougal community.

The program last won a league title in 1999, and one has to go back to 1994 for the last time it hosted a playoff game before this season.

“It was really cool to be a part of,” Bea said. “Just the atmosphere the community brought to all the games helped out with all of that And all the players are really thankful for that. It was fun to experience.”

It’s a taste Bea wants more of in 2023, and part of what he hopes is another stepping stone for Washougal football.

“The sky’s the limit for us,” he said. “We’re not quite at the max yet.”

— Meg Wochnick

All-Region Volleyball: Lauren Dreves, Columbia River


Columbia River senior Lauren Dreves

Taylor Balkom of The Columbian

When the Columbia River volleyball team walked into its gym at the start of this season, a new state championship banner hung on the wall.

Yet, it felt like there was a void.

Gone to graduation were Rylie Reeves and Caroline Hansen, the vocal and energetic leaders of the 2021 team that earned Columbia River’s third state title and first since 2000.

Who would step into that leadership role to keep the Rapids at a state-championship level?

Lauren Dreves was perfect for the task.

On the court, Dreves elevated her game. The 6-foot junior went from partnering alongside Reeves in River’s attack to becoming one of the state’s best outside hitters.

Perhaps more importantly, Dreves let loose her competitive fire. More animated and vocal, Dreves’ intense demeanor ignited her teammates and sparked Columbia River to a nearly perfect season.

The Rapids lost just one match, dropping the district championship to league rival Ridgefield in five sets.

But Columbia River rebounded, rolling through the Class 2A state tournament before avenging the loss to Ridgefield with a 3-0 sweep in the championship match.

Just as dominant was Dreves, who averaged 23.8 kills per match in a state tournament where River dropped just one set.

For her accomplishments, Dreves is The Columbian’s All-Region volleyball player of the year.

Dreves already had plenty going for her entering this season. After winning a doubles tennis state title in the spring, she verbally committed in July to play volleyball at Auburn.

Dreves knew her teammates would look to her in a way they hadn’t in previous years. For advice, she talked to Reeves and Hansen.

“They were like ‘you have to embrace this team,’ ” Dreves said. “If you want this team to do well, you have to embrace the new players and the new systems we’re going to run.”

Still, being the undisputed team leader stretched Dreves’ comfort zone at first.

“At first I didn’t think I was ready for it,” she said. “I was like ‘holy crap, that’s a lot of pressure.’ But then I realized that I have to do it for this team.”

Dreves wasn’t alone. Several players slid into new or more prominent roles.

Chief among them was Sophie Worden, who replaced Hansen as setter and served up the ball for Dreves to kill.

Dreves’ younger sister Sydney also took on a greater role and was second in the team in kills. Sasha Pelkey, Logan DeJong, Taegen Benke and Macey McCoy elevated their stature.

But none played a bigger role than Dreves in establishing a championship mentality.

“She’s the most competitive, intense, fierce player I’ve ever coached,” Rapids coach Breanne Smedley said after the state title match. “She just gets into this zone. She rises to these pressure moments like no other player I’ve seen.”

Dreves said she gets that competitive drive from her parents, who both were Division-I collegiate athletes. She also said growing up playing singles tennis, where she alone was responsible for raising her energy, helped teach her how to dial up her intensity.

“They’ve always taught me that if I want to be the best, I have to fuel the fire,” Dreves said. “I can’t just sit back and watch. There are amazing players who can do that. But just the way I was growing up, I always have to compete if I want to win.”

Dreves committed to Auburn shortly after visiting the campus. She’ll join a program on the rise, having reached this year’s NCAA tournament for just the second time in program history under third-year coach Brent Crouch.

“When I walked in the gym I felt so welcomed,” Dreves said. “Watching them play, I could see they’ll give everything they have to win. They play for each other and that is what I was looking for.”

But first, Dreves will try to lead the Rapids to a third consecutive state title. She said having a double target on their backs won’t faze the Rapids.

“We want to keep that trophy in our case,” Dreves said.

— Micah Rice

All-Region Girls Soccer: Andie Buckley, Columbia River


Columbia River senior Andie Buckley

Taylor Balkom of The Columbian

For many of the shots she doesn’t take, Columbia River senior Andie Buckley later realizes she probably should have.

As an attacking midfielder, Buckley is one of the Rapids’ most relied upon playmakers who’s often setting up teammates for scoring opportunities. Sometimes, almost to a fault.

So during practices, River assistant coach Ryan Callahan would remind Buckley to look for her own shots at goal as well.

“It’s like when I don’t shoot, I know I should shoot,” Buckley said. “(At) practices he’s always telling me, you have to have confidence in yourself. And that’s something I think I have improved on over the years, but I’ve had joy in passing the ball and letting other people score.”

Buckley, The Columbian’s All-Region girls soccer player of the year, found the right balance in her role, and the Rapids benefited greatly from it. She led a deep River squad with 15 assists and 13 goals, none bigger than the game-winning strike late in the second half of the Class 2A state championship game against Sehome to secure the program’s fifth state title.

The championship capped a decorated career for Buckley and a senior class that started their careers as freshmen on River’s 2019 first-place team.

Going into her senior season, Buckley had conversations with River head coach Filly Afenegus about the sizable impact she needed to have on this Rapids team.

“I think I just knew I needed to help other people, I knew I needed to take on a bigger role, so that’s what I was just focusing on,” Buckley said. “Maybe it wasn’t scoring the most goals, but just helping everyone.”

River won the 2A Greater St. Helens League title with a 12-2-1 record in the regular season, finished runner-up in the District 4 tournament before running through the Class 2A state tournament with wins against Bellingham, West Valley (Spokane), Tumwater and Sehome.

In the end, Buckley did score the most goals, though of the Rapids’ four state playoff games, all seven goals were put through by a different player: Ivy Henderson, Lillian Mickel, Raya Janson, Paige Johnson, Avah Eslinger, Peyton Dukes and lastly, Buckley.

On the biggest stage, it wasn’t a coincidence Buckley came through in the clutch with the shot of the season.

With less than 10 minutes left in the state championship game, senior Logann Dukes lofted in a long pass to the edge of Sehome’s penalty area, where Buckley gained possession on a couple high bounces of the ball, maneuvered through the Mariners defense with a few dribbles and slotted a shot into the top of the net.

After the game, Afenegus remarked that Buckley “is the coolest, calmest player I think I’ve ever coached.”

“It just kind of summarized who she is,” the head coach said of the goal. “She’s just so cool, calm and collected in all pressure situations.”

Buckley said that demeanor is reflective of her personality away from soccer, but on the pitch, she credits Afenegus with keeping the team grounded through the ups and downs.

“Filly has helped with this too … when we score a goal, when we win a game, you can’t get too high. When you get scored on, when you lose a game, you can’t get too low,” Buckley said. “Just kind of staying even and not getting too nervous under pressure situations.”

Buckley leaves the program with a long list of accomplishments that includes three state semifinal appearances in four years (no postseason events were held in 2020), two state championships and a third-place finish in 2021.

At the end of the high school season, Buckley went right into her club season with Northwest Elite FC. Also this month, she plants to commit to Seattle Pacific, a Division II women’s soccer program in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Buckley will still be connected to River as well. Her younger sister is set to join the Rapids’ program next year, continuing a legacy that the elder Buckley stepped into her freshman year in 2019.

“As a freshman I was more timid, more quiet, I think it’s expected,” Buckley said. “Over the years, this great environment helped me open up, be a better person, both on the field and off the field. It’s a great program, one I’m glad my sister is coming to next year.”

— Will Denner

All-Region Boys Cross Country: Samuel Grice, Washougal


Washougal High School Cross Country runner Samuel Grice

Taylor Balkom of The Columbian

To take his cross country talent to new heights, Samuel Grice naturally looked to the hills.

Whether it’s the gradual slog up 39th Street to Washougal High School or something short and steep, Grice made a point of working hills into every run he could this fall.

That was for one reason — to run well at the state meet. That rolling course at Pasco’s Sun Willows Golf Course is extra challenging for runners who aren’t well-practiced in cross country’s literal ups and downs.

Grice thrived at the season’s biggest event, finishing second in the Class 2A race despite a stiff wind that made the course extra challenging.

That race capped a stellar season for the junior, one in which he ran under 16 minutes for 5,000 meters four times.

Grice also nearly set the Washougal school record when he ran a personal best of 15:24.9 at the Nike Portland XC on Sept. 24. For his accomplishments, Grice is The Columbian’s All-Region boys cross country runner of the year.

Washougal cross country coach Tracey Stinchfield credits Grice’s attention to detail for his success.

“He takes his training so seriously,” Stinchfield said. “He has an idea in his mind about what his body needs. He studies workouts that are exciting to him.”

Grice didn’t always want to be a runner. Soccer was his favorite activity until seventh grade. That’s when his parents Rachel and Zachary, who both ran cross country at Seattle Pacific University, urged him to try the sport.

By the end of his first season, Grice was second-fastest on the Jemtegaard Middle School team. By eighth grade, he owned the school record for 3,000 meters.

“That was when I really started taking it seriously,” Grice said.

As a freshman, Grice finished third at the district meet to cap a 2020 season shortened by the COVID pandemic.

As a sophomore, Grice finished second at the district meet and 11th at his first state meet.

But a challenging sophomore track and field season, in which Grice dealt with injuries and his own bout with COVID, boosted his motivation for this cross country season.

Grice upped his weekly mileage during the summer. At his season debut at the Ultimook Race near Tillamook, Ore., Grice won on a course that features steep hills, sandy terrain and two water crossings.

“I beat my time from last year by 40 seconds and we were going slow until 1,000 meters to go,” Grice said.

Grice’s best time of the season came three weeks later at Nike Portland XC. He placed ninth in the elite-division Danner Championships race against runners from across the western United States, missing the Washougal school record by 0.3 seconds.

“It really boosted my confidence,” Grice said. “It was the first race where I was really going to put the hammer down and go for it. I did that well and exceeded my expectations for that race.”

Grice set a goal of finishing in the top three at the state meet. He did one better with a runner-up time of 15:56.7, about 19 seconds behind Zack Munson of Sehome.

“I was super focused,” Grice said. “I knew it was time for a good race.”

With his elevated performance comes elevated goals. Grice wants to win the state championship next season and break the school record held by friend and current University of Idaho runner Gabriel Dinnel.

This season also sharpened Grice’s desire to run for a Division-I college program. He eventually wants to become a pilot like his father, who flies for Alaska Airlines.

Whether it’s his career path or cross country, Grice is all about elevating himself and those around him.

“They love running with Samuel,” Stinchfield said of Washougal’s runners. “They know they can’t beat him, but his positive attitude rubs off on others.”

— Micah Rice

All-Region Girls Cross Country: Alexis Leone, Seton Catholic


Seton Catholic junior Alexis Leone

Taylor Balkom of The Columbian

To take her running to the next level, Alexis Leone went many levels deep in her preseason cross country training.

There were lots of miles, of course. Only this summer, Leone ran in the late afternoon instead of the morning to steel her body against the heat.

Leone also spent more days in the gym lifting weights, more sessions in the pool aqua jogging and more time doing plyometric exercises to boost her strength.

“I’m expanding my horizons,” Leone said. “I’m learning more and more about running as I go on.”

All that resulted in a dominant season for the Seton Catholic junior. Leone repeated as the Class 1A state cross country champion, winning the Nov. 5 race in Pasco by 36 seconds.

Leone was among just eight girls across all classifications statewide to break 18 minutes this year. She did it twice, setting a then personal-best of 17 minutes, 46 seconds at the Meriwether Classic on Sept. 16 and clocking 17:52 at the district championships Oct. 27.

Leone has since lowered her 5,000 meter personal-best to 17:39 in winning the Pacific Northwest Regional XC Showcase two weeks after the state meet.

For her accomplishments. Leone is The Columbian’s All-Region girls cross country runner of the year for a second consecutive season.

As a sophomore, Leone became state champion and led Seton Catholic to the Class 1A team title despite a difficult start to the season. COVID swept through the team, sidelining Leone and her teammates for most of September.

This year was different. Leone threw down an early marker in winning the Meriwether Classic in Hillsboro, Ore., going nearly 20 seconds faster than she ever had for 5,000 meters.

“It was faster than I thought it was going to be,” Leone said. “But then again, I also had some pretty good competition.”

Seton Catholic cross country coach Jaysun Pyatt said not having early-season disruptions set the table for Leone to succeed.

“We could be consistent and set up meets that were working toward getting her under 18 (minutes) on a consistent basis,” Pyatt said. “The training allowed that and the schedule allowed that to happen.”

Despite being the favorite at the state meet, Leone took nothing for granted. With wind gusting up to 30 miles per hour over an already challenging course, Leone ran an aggressively fast 5:38 for the first mile. That built a large lead she never surrendered.

“It just shows her dedication and the mindset,” Pyatt said. “Conditions were not favorable. But to stand up and say hey let’s go out, run as hard as we can and see what happens. The mindset was top notch.”

Leone is eyeing some national events over the winter before turning her attention to track and field. She won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Class 1A state meet last spring before winning national titles in the 1,500 and 3,000 at the USATF Junior Olympics over the summer.

All that success has put Leone on the radar of many colleges, including several Division I programs. Leone said she will take her time during the recruiting process and balance her interests outside of running.

“It has been interesting,” Leone said. “It’s something to explore a bit more and get my priorities straight on what colleges I prefer instead of who comes to me. Academics is a priority for me over running because you can only be so good.”

When asked how far Leone can take her running career, Pyatt didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“As far as she wants to,” he said. “I’m super excited to see what she does after high school. She’s got the mindset and good things will happen.”’

— Micah Rice

All-Region Girls Swimming: Campbell Deringer, Camas


Camas senior Campbell Deringer

Taylor Balkom of The Columbian

Whether it’s on a boat, wakeboarding or waterskiing, Campbell Deringer loves to be out on the water.

Heck, even in the winter, she likes to be out on frozen water.

“I like to go skiing,” she said. “In the winter, my friends and I try to go up whenever we can.”

So it was a natural move that when she was 12, Deringer made the move to competitive swimming.

“I did little summer leagues and I thought I was a pretty good swimmer, so I started swimming club,” the Camas High School senior said. “It turned out, I really wasn’t that good when I started. But I still enjoyed it, and I wanted to start doing it more so I could get better.”

Deringer has never the type of person to shy away from challenges. She continued to get better.

At the 4A state swim meet last month, Deringer capped her high school swim career with a pair of runner-up finishes, placing second in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.

And for those performances, Deringers was selected as The Columbian’s All-Region girls swimmer of the year.

Deringer said the breaststroke is her specialty, but her performance in the IM came as a surprise. She said swimming that event without big expectations helped her relax and swim well.

“My backstroke is my weakest stroke, but I had a really fast split on my backstroke, like faster than it normally is,” Deringer said. “So I think that combined with my freestyle, just coming home strong on the last 50 really fast is what really made the difference.”

Deringer has had a tumultuous four years of swimming at Camas. The pandemic pushed her high school sophomore season from the fall into the spring. Then longtime Camas swim coach Mike Bemis retired after that COVID year.

“When he left the program, it was a really big shock,” Deringer said. “Having a new person come in and fill that role was really scary. It could have shaken the team up a lot, but it didn’t. It made us closer.”

Deringer said she was proud of the role she played in being a team leader and promoting the sport at Camas High School.

“We’ve changed the ways people view swimming at our school and in our community,” Deringer said. “People don’t really show up for swim meets. It’s not something they do. But recently, we’ve been seeing more friends and teachers show up at meets to watch and support us. So that has been really nice and positive.”

Having Camas home meets back at Gold’s Gym in Camas, formerly Lacamas Swim and Sport, also helped, Deringer said.

And it brought her back to the site she got her start in competitive swimming as a seventh grader.

Except now, she is a pretty good swimmer.

Next year, Deringer plans to continue to swim at the University of Nevada in Reno.

“I talked to schools from all over, and I just love the coaches from Reno from the very first call I had with them,” Deringer said. “And when I visited there, the team, I just instantly got along with them. I liked Reno a lot. I had never been there before. It didn’t feel like too huge, but it also didn’t feel too small. I chose it because I felt like I fit right in there.”

— Tim Martinez

All-Region Slowpitch Softball: Maggie Tumelty, Union


Union senior Maggie Tumelty

Taylor Balkom of The Columbian

Maggie Tumelty wanted to play her senior season with the Uniion slowpitch softball team so badly that she was willing to give her right arm to the Titans.

Well, sort of.

Tumelty delayed shoulder surgery until after the slowpitch softball season. Then playing on offense only, Tumelty’s potent bat helped power Union to its first state trophy by placing third at the Class 4A state tournament.

And for that, Tumelty was selected as The Columbian’s All-Region slowpitch softball player of the year.

“We had a lot of new freshmen come in this year, and they were all really nice,” Tumelty said. “The team atmosphere was really fun. Everyone just got along. Getting the chance to go up together at state made everyone super close.”

One of those freshmen was Tumelty’s sister Sophia, which was another added motivation to play slowpitch this fall.

Tumelty had been bothered by a sore shoulder since before her junior year of high school.

“My junior year I did a bunch of X-Rays and MRIs, did physical therapy and I even went to a chiropractor,” Tumelty said. “And we’re not sure what I did to it, but they think it was just overusing it. But then I was playing fastpitch last spring, and I dove for a ball. That made it way worse.”

Tumelty found out last summer that she had a torn labrum, which would require surgery.

But surgery would also take her out of her senior season of slowpitch, so Tumelty made the decision to delay surgery until after the slowpitch season.

That decision paid off for the Titans. Tumelty batted .554, had 27 RBI and scored a team-high 36 runs.

A great finish to a high school slowpitch career that almost never began.

“In my freshman year, I started out by trying out for the volleyball team,” Tumelty said. “But I really didn’t like it, so I decided to do (slowpitch). People had told me it was fun, so I decided to try it.”

A couple of weeks after Union earned third place at state with a 12-7 win over West Valley of Yakima, Tumelty had her surgery. Recovery is expected to take four months, which would put her right on schedule to start the season with the Union fastpitch softball team in March.

Looking back, Tumelty has no regrets about her decision to delay surgery.

“Last year, I didn’t get to go to state (in slowpitch), so getting to go this year felt really good,” she said. “I was kind of wishing we could do a little better than we did, but finishing third is still pretty good.”

— Tim Martinez

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