VANCOUVER — It has been several days since champions became champions.
There was a state title for a Clark County baseball team, the first of its kind for its school. There was another repeat performance from a couple of standout track and field athletes from another school. A golfer won his third title.
All championships are special.
So, too, are the journeys just to get to the final week of competition. Win or lose, those who competed last week are among the best of the best. The spring sports season for Washington high schools concluded Saturday, but the memories will last a lifetime.
First though, they have to become memories. The King’s Way Christian Knights know they won the Class 1A state baseball championship Saturday in Yakima. They experienced it. However, days later, they were having a tough time grasping that achievement.
“It’s more of a reality that hasn’t come true yet,” said senior Garrett Wellman, who was one of several athletes from Seton Catholic High School who competed with the Knights for one championship baseball team.
“I don’t think this feeling of winning a state championship has really sunk in yet,” added senior Liam Nabors.
King’s Way Christian won three consecutive one-run games in the state playoffs to reach the title game. Then the Knights rallied to beat Cedar Park Christian 5-3 in the finals.
Brannan Meriwether fielded the grounder at third base and threw it to Cooper Conway at first base for the final out of the game.
“That play unfolded in slow motion,” Nabors said.
Then everything sped up.
“It was just like mayhem,” Wellman said. “I lost my hat at one point. Don’t even know where it went.”
But high school sports are more than just what happens in competition.
“The last ride home,” senior Karter Graves said of he and his teammates, jamming to the music, celebrating from Yakima to Vancouver.
“Literally the last ride with these guys,” Graves said. “You’re laughing so hard you’re crying at times. Once we got home, it felt like one of the greatest days.”
“Everything was perfect,” Wellman added.
Over in Tacoma, Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn Merriweather of Union were putting the finishing touches on two of the greatest track and field careers in Southwest Washington history.
Jai’lyn won the 400-meters for the third consecutive year at the Class 4A state girls meet. Dai’lyn won the 200 for the third consecutive year. And together, they helped two Union relay teams bring home state titles.
Jai’lyn finished the day as the anchor in the 1,600 relay.
“I crossed the line, I looked over, and they all came running over to me. They were crying. I started crying,” she said. “Happy tears because we won, but sad tears because we won’t be able to run together again. It was amazing.”
“It’s still so surreal,” Dai’lyn said. “It’s an overwhelming feeling. I feel really accomplished. But it’s bittersweet, too. Senior year. Everything’s coming to an end.”
They will not be splitting up, though. Both are planning to compete for the University of Maryland.
Before high school graduation, before college, they were able to enjoy one final weekend of high school competition.
“I’m so in awe of everything,” Jai’lyn said. “The three days of state were success after success. To be able to share that experience with each other and our team is a great feeling.”
In other repeat news, Spencer Tibbits of Fort Vancouver won his third Class 3A state boys golf title. Tibbits, who has signed with Oregon State University, won his first title as a freshman, got his second as a junior and repeated the feat this spring.
Back to track and field, Daniel Maton of Camas won two titles at the 4A boys meet: the 1,600 and 800. Curtis Stradley of Battle Ground won the 4A javelin. Connor Jensen of Skyview won the 4A discus. And Silas Griffith won the 3,200 in the 2A meet, helping Ridgefield tie for a team championship.
Madison Peffers of Camas won the 4A girls high jump. Sarah Petter of Woodland won the 2A high jump and Julia Stepper of Woodland won the 2A 100 event to cap her high school career.
In tennis, Andrew Kabacy of Skyview won the Class 4A boys singles title, leading the Storm to the team championship, as well. Andrew Chanthavong and Alex Calpagiu of Union teamed up to win the 4A boys doubles title. Hannah Gianan of Camas made it to the finals of the 4A girls singles, finishing second.
In softball, La Center was the top finisher from Clark County. The Wildcats, who won the 1A state title in 2016, went on another long run this postseason, reaching the title game before falling to district-rival Montesano in Richland. Camas responded from a loss the first day of the 4A state tournament to make it back to a trophy game on the second day, finishing fourth place in Spokane.
In baseball, while King’s Way Christian was winning it all in Yakima, Skyview reached the final four in Class 4A, playing at Safeco Field in Seattle.
“It was like a dream moment,” Skyview senior Nick Jennings said of being on a major league field.
Jennings even made a couple of ESPN-worthy highlights on the field.
“Hopefully I can meet Kyle Seager one day and show him those plays,” Jennings said.
Skyview lost in the semifinals on Friday but did win the third-place game Saturday.
Jennings’ attitude proves that winning it all is not the most important thing in high school athletics.
“We’re going to have a big celebration at our banquet,” he said. “That destroyed us (losing in the semifinals) but then we came back and took a W for third-place. We didn’t want to throw the white flag out and give up.”
The Clark County high school spring sports season is over, with a lot of champions and even more championship efforts.