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Decision was tough to pick a ‘best-of’ for Cheney sports in 2012

Crunch Time


It’s a difficult exercise making selections for a “best of” list. Even in doing year in review stories, some events and issues, and in this case, teams and/or individuals, are going to either get left off or won’t receive enough of a write up to do justice.

Instead of doing an annual, two-part year in review epic, the Cheney Free Press editorial staff instead is naming and re-running what we believe are the top stories of 2012, three from our various areas of coverage. On this page, or in this section, readers will find the top three sports stories from Cheney, Medical Lake high schools and Eastern Washington University, along with maybe another miscellaneous story or two if space allows.

The stories from Cheney, Sanne Holland’s state title and the girls’ track team, the Blackhawks’ boys soccer squad returning to the title game and the Lady Hawks softball team reaching state for the second time in three years when they hadn’t gone in over 20 years, are all deserving of being the top stories. But there were others as well making a sort of “top-10” list that were considered, all significant achievements in their own right and to be celebrated.

For starters, the Blackhawks baseball team also made a return to the state playoffs, their third appearance in four years, advancing to quarterfinal action. It’s a performance we’re beginning to expect every year from Randy Elam’s successful program.

Getting out of spring and into fall we have Cheney’s football and cross country programs. Jason Williams’ grid iron squad surprised everyone but themselves by landing a playoff game for the second straight season, this time landing the Great Northern League’s No. 2 that unfortunately pitted them against Central Washington Athletic Conference champion and top-ranked, unbeaten Othello, ending in a 42-7 loss.

Head coach Jay Martin’s runners were again a factor in the GNL cross country picture. Both the boys and girls teams advanced to the state meet in Pasco, the girls getting a chance to defend their 2011 2A state crown.

And while that kind of success is anticipated each year, the Cheney boys showed the value that off-season work can bring, with a young, somewhat inexperienced varsity squad surprising everyone with a No. 2 finish at district and regional competition and fifth in Pasco. Holland wrapped up her Cheney cross country career by finishing second individually, giving her top-four finishes in all four years.

In winter the Cheney boys swimming team notched one of its best years, finishing second at 2A Eastern Washington districts and sixth as a team at the state meet at Federal Way. Senior Ruston Babcock was second in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events, setting meet records in both while senior Joel Watts finished second in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 200 free. The 200 medley relay team of Watts, Babcock, Nick Steele and Max Schreiber finished sixth.

On the hardwood, the Cheney girls’ basketball team capitalized on its senior-laden squad to earn the league’s No. 2 playoff seed, losing to Ephrata in regional action. And finally, rounding out a top 10, going outside high school competition the West Plains Little League’s Junior League (age 13-14) All-Star baseball team won their sixth District 13 title to advance to state, where after losing their opener they went on a three-win streak through the losers’ bracket, ending their tournament with a loss to state runner up Bonney Lake.

We know there are sports teams and individuals we have left off this list that could very well be included – the WPLL Majors Softball team that also advanced to state, comes to mind. Whether on the list or not, all of our student-athletes should be thanked and congratulated for putting in the extra time and sacrifice it takes to strive for success on the athletic fields as well as in the classroom at all levels.

Instead of waiting for next year, their next season is likely right around the corner.

John McCallum can be reached at


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