Lewis County was well represented when the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) announced the 2016 fall sports state academic champions.
The Tigers’ boys’ cross country team finished with a combined grade point average of 3.777. The team is comprised of seniors Austin Snideman, Caleb Geringer and James Wisby; juniors Daniel Morales and Simon Stehr; sophomore William Brown; and freshmen Cameron Moore and Zephaniah Williams.
“I always had a sense that they were smarter than me, but this confirms it,” joked Centralia cross country coach Steve Creel. “They have been both a privilege and pleasure to coach as they are a lot of fun, enjoy one another and have a strong work ethic.”
The WIAA first teamed up with the Dairy Farmers of Washington and Les Schwab Tires in 1999 to honor state academic champions. This marks the first state title since that partnership began for Centralia’s boys’ cross country team. The Tigers also claimed the girls’ state title in 2006 when the cross country squad finished with a GPA of 3.950.
Morales was the lone member of the team to advance to the 2A state meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Morales finished 67th overall with a running time of 17 minutes, 20 seconds. He advanced to state after posting an 11th-place finish at the 2A District IV championships where he registered a personal best 17:04 over the 5,000-meter distance.
“Daniel ran his best race of the season (at districts) as he was ranked in the high 20s before the race,” Creel said. “So, getting 11th was certainly exceptional.”
Joining Morales at the state meet were Maggie Wood-Richardson and Makayla Erickson on the girls’ side.
The top three teams and top 21 runners advanced to the state meet out of districts. The Centralia girls’ finished fourth at districts. Erickson (21.09) finished 77th at state, while Wood-Richardson (22:27) came in 126th. Both are sophomores.
“They are a young team full of potential,” Creel said about Centralia’s girls’ cross country team. “If they stick together and train over the summer, they have a good chance of making it [to state as a team] next year.”
A year after Centralia claimed the 2A state academic championship in volleyball, W.F. West made sure the title would stay local after the Bearcats finished with an accumulative GPA of 3.770.
Coached by Emily Damschen, the team is comprised of seniors Jordan Crawford, Shasta Lofgren and Lexie Strasser; juniors Haley Simmons and Ashlee Vadala; sophomores Kailey Hoyt, Lauren Mason, Makenzie Moore, Megan Pallas and Jessica Street; and freshmen Payge Crawford, Maggie Vadala, Annika Waring and Paytton Crawford.
The Bearcats finished fourth in the 2A Evergreen Conference before advancing to the Southwest District 4 tournament where they lost their opening match to Great Saint Helens League 2A champion and eventual district runner-up Ridgefield.
Before bowing out in the district tournament, however, W.F. West prolonged its season by defeating Black Hills, a team which had defeated the Bearcats during both regular-season contests, 3-1, in a loser-out match.
The state academic championship is the first for a W.F. West program since 2012 when the school’s boys’ tennis squad received the honor.
Any team/group with an average GPA (based on a 4.0 scale) of 3.0 or higher qualifies for a state award. A team with an average GPA (based on a 4.0 scale) of 3.00 – 3.49 qualifies for the Distinguished Team Award, where a team with an average GPA (based on a 4.0 scale) of 3.50-4.00 qualifies for the Outstanding Team Award.
In addition, the team/group with the highest average GPA for their activities and classification level is recognized as Academic State Champion.
The 2A classification, which features an enrollment between 472 and 990 students, has a total of 64 schools statewide.
The academic state champions for fall include the following sports: Cross Country, Football, 1B/2B Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer, Girls Swimming & Diving, and Volleyball. The winning teams will be presented with a special plaque at the upcoming WIAA, Dairy Farmers of Washington, Les Schwab Tires State Championships.
The Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires Scholastic Award program is established to recognize and reward those teams or groups that maintain a high collective academic standard. It is open to sports teams, activity squads and fine arts groups such as bands, choirs, orchestras, dramatic troupes and forensics teams.