Centralia High School capped the 2017 fall sports season by earning a classification-best three state academic championships. The Tigers posted the highest combined grade point avenge among all 2A Washington high schools in both boys and girls cross country and volleyball. The three academic state championships were the most for any school in the state among the three largest classifications (2A, 3A and 4A) and tied 2B Northwest Christian (Colbert) for the most by any school regardless of size.
The boys cross country team, which featured Vance Voetberg, Daniel Morales, William Brown, Simon Stehr, Cameron Moore, Gabe Lewis and Zephaniah Williams, was tops in the state with a 3.932 GPA, while the girls team, which was comprised of Makayla Erickson, Maggie Wood-Richardson, Brynna Rooklidge, Laura Geringer, Tawnee Craig, Kendra Sutton and Tate-Madison Bell, posted a GPA of 3.993.
“It’s very rare to have both boys and girls from the same school win the academic state championship. I will likely not see this again,” said Steve Creel, who coaches both Tigers cross country squads. “This has been such a fun group to be around. A coach likes athletes that listen, apply what they’ve learned and want to improve. Cross country and a high GPA really parallel each other. You need to be independent, hard-working, patient and determined to persevere through difficult times.”
Centralia sent a pair of runners to the state meet on November 4 in Pasco. Voetberg, a senior, crossed the wire in 17:04.70 to place 69th on the boys side, while Erickson, a junior, covered the distance in 20:45.60 to finish 75th among the girls.
“I would have to say seeing them receive their state award,” said Creel about what he thought was the season highlight for the team. “Seeing both boys and girls on the podium together was a nice ending to the season.”
The 11-member Tigers volleyball team finished the season with a combined GPA of 3.824.
“This group has been great both on and off the court. We had some big wins on the court, including beating district runner-up Black Hills in four and sweeping W.F. West on our Senior Night,” Centralia coach Neil Sharp said. “Off the court the girls are great role models, too. They are dedicated and put in countless hours in the gym, the classroom and in the community volunteering. They also impress me with their leadership skills. Several of them hold leadership positions in different groups and clubs in the school.”
The Tigers finished third in the extremely competitive 2A Evergreen Conference before advancing to the district tournament before seeing their season end in a loser-out contest against Columbia River.
The team featured seniors Joelle Mettler, Jessica Wu, Rachel Wilkerson, McKenna Smith and Chelsea Petrino; juniors Danika Jensen and Jaelyn Friberg; and sophomores Kennedy Strophy, Kylie Sharp, Lilly Johnson and Jasmine Mora.
“This (senior) class has been great and I am really happy for them to earn this honor to cap off the season,” Sharp said. “We talked earlier in the season about having different types of leaders and this group led in a variety of ways – some were verbal, some led by example and they all contributed in their own way.
“We didn’t end up where we wanted to – losing two district matches,” Sharp continued, “but we have some great achievements and memories to take with us. It was a fun and challenging journey and I think the team really grew this year. This (senior) class was really proud to carry on the tradition of Tiger volleyball. They helped us complete our 11th straight winning season and 11th straight playoff berth.”
Centralia also received several individual honors at season’s end. Wilkerson and Smith were both named to the all-2a Evergreen Conference first team. Mettler was a second-team recipient, while Petrino earned an honorable mention nod.
“The seniors did a great job this year,” said Sharp, who was named co-Coach of the Year in the EvCo, “but they also understand how important our juniors and sophomores were to the team’s success this year – both on the court and with the Academic State Championship.”