PORT ANGELES — A year of All-Star celebrations, a Major League Baseball draftee, hall of fame enshrinements, the return of roaring engines and record-book breaking runs all went down on the North Olympic Peninsula in 2018.
We look back at the Year in Sports with our top 10 sports stories of the year.
Cole Uvila drafted by Texas Rangers
Port Angeles’ Cole Uvila overcame Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow to reach the NAIA World Series with Gwinnett (Georgia) College and get drafted in the 40th and final round of last June’s MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers. Uvila was assigned to their short-season Class A affiliate, the Spokane Indians.
The Indians won the Northwest League North Division’s second-half title and defeated Everett in the divisional playoffs before being swept by Eugene in the NWL Championship Series 3-0.
A reliever, Uvila appeared in 19 regular season games, posting a 1.42 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched. He had a 48-to-15 strikeout to walk ratio with a 0.88 walks/hits per inning pitched, while opposing batters hit just .127 against him.
In the postseason, Uvila posted a 0.00 ERA in 4.1 innings over two appearances with two holds.
Uvila is a 2012 Port Angeles High School graduate.
The weather was perfect, the downtown Port Angeles waterfront location hard to beat and the hometown home run derby winner left no doubt: The Lefties can host a shindig.
Port Angeles’ Ron Brown (University of Houston) stole the show, capturing July’s West Coast League All-Star Game Home Run Derby in overtime while hitting off a barge offshore at Hollywood Beach, but the All-Star Game itself was no dud the next night at Civic Field.
Lefties’ All-Star Kyle Schimpf went 3 for 4 with a double, three RBIs, a run scored and a walk to earn MVP honors as the North squad beat the South 10-6.
Port Angeles will open the 2019 West Coast League season, the franchise’s third at Civic Field, in June. The Lefties have a total of 35 home games between June 7 and Aug. 8.
Port Angeles High School Hall of Fame
Seventeen Port Angeles High School Hall of Famers were selected for the inaugural class of the Port Angeles High School Hall of Fame, and were recognized and formally inducted at a dinner April 21.
The brainchild of Port Angeles High School Director of Athletics Dwayne Johnson, the 35-member Hall of Fame Committee was formed last spring after Johnson brought the proposal to local Roughrider supporters. The committee researched athletes in every class since 1910, initially compiling a list of 130 candidates.
“It was a difficult task narrowing the field down to the final 17 – we had to play catch up over a 107 year period,” said committee chair Bruce Skinner. “There are many other equally deserving graduates that will be inducted in future years.
The initial inductees were, in alphabetical order were Kelli Antolock, golf, 1980; Tyna Barinaga, badminton, 1964; Mike Briggs, football, 1960; Scooter Chapman, media, 1952; Mike Clayton, basketball, 1966; Sherri Felton, track and basketball, 1977; Bernie Fryer, football and basketball, 1968; Ken Fuhrer, basketball, 1952; Penny Graves, track, 1984; Scott Jones and Jim Michalczik, football, 1984; Leigh Morgan basketball, 1986; Jeff Ridgway, baseball, 1999; Art Sandison, track, 1966; Lee Sinnes, basketball, 1966; Joel Thomas, football, 1993; and Henry Wyborney, track, 1958.
Sequim Girls Soccer
When you make history as the first team in program history to ever advance to the state soccer tournament, your team earns a spot in the year’s top 10 sports stories.
And the manner in which the Wolves cemented that legend status? Hard to believe even if it was a piece of fiction.
Sequim opened the first half of Olympic League 2A Division play 0-6 and dead last among league counterparts.
But the Wolves surged in the latter half of the regular season — a 2-0 win at rival Port Angeles a catalyst for a 6-1 regular season finish and the fourth and final district playoff berth.
Three district wins later, including surviving a loser-out contest against Highline and knocking off No. 1 seed White River, Sequim raised the West Central District title after knocking off Olympic League champ North Kitsap for the second time that season.
“Not too bad, right?” Sequim coach Derek Vander Velde said after the Wolves locked down a state bid.
“I was just hoping to turn it around. The girls needed some positive reinforcement, they needed to believe in themselves and once they did that they turned it around. They believe in themselves individually and they trust each other as a team.”
The Wolves weren’t content with the state tournament berth — Sequim fought mightily in a 4-3 penalty kick shootout loss to Ellensburg in the round of 16.
Sequim looks to bring back nearly its entire roster in 2019, potentially losing just three players to graduation.
“The team is going to be good,” Vander Velde said. “They’ve done something phenomenal.”
Sprint boats return
With ownership issues of Extreme Sports Park resolved, sprint boat races returned to Port Angeles after a one-year hiatus at the area venue. Two races were held, in late July and late September, and two more are planned for 2019.
Ticket sales for the 2019 races, set for July 27 and Sept. 7, are scheduled to go on sale today (Jan. 1).
Visit www.facebook.com/EspPortAngeles/ for more information.
Fantastic Freshmen girls basketball
Freshman basketball phenoms powered North Olympic Peninsula teams to success in 2018.
Port Angeles’ Millie Long won the Olympic League 2A Division MVP, while Madison Cooke and Jaida Wood were huge reasons why the Roughriders won the Olympic League title and advanced to the Class 2A state tournament.
Neah Bay, which started four freshman (Laila Greene, Ruth Moss, Courtney Swan and Patience Swan) and had others contribute off the bench, won the Tri-District championship for the first time and finished 23-4 and sixth at the Class 1B state tournament.
Sequim’s Kali Wiker, Jayla Julmist, Melissa Porter and Abby Schroeder, all played heavy minutes for the Wolves and are off to a solid start as sophomores this season.
Clallam Bay started three freshman last season in Cedar Johnson, Jada Clemmons, and Sydney Smith in rolling to a state regional round appearance.
Other fabulous freshman included Forks’ Chloe Leverington and Chimacum’s Mia McNair.
Peninsula College women’s soccer title
The Peninsula College women’s soccer team produced its second Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) championship in three years after taking out No. 1 seed Highline in the NWAC semifinals and scoring two goals in the first 15 minutes of the championship final against Clark, a team that had yielded just one goal all season.
The Pirates (19-2-1) became the first program in NWAC history to win four women’s soccer championships with their 2-0 defeat of Clark.
Peninsula sophomore defenders Halle Watson and Sam Guzman were pivotal to the Pirates’ shutout run through the NWAC Tournament and were named National Junior College Athletic Association First Team All-West Region members and Pirate coach Kanyon Anderson was picked as NWAC North Region Coach of the Year.
Record-breaking Sequim football
The Wolves were the embodiment of team football as strong senior and sophomore classes came together to win the school’s first Olympic League football title and advance to the 16-team state tournament since 2011.
Sequim head coach Erik Wiker won his 100th game as Wolves head coach in an early season victory over Kingston. Sequim quarterback Riley Cowan set school records for career passing yards and career touchdown passes during the season as the Wolves produced an Olympic League 2A Division title and a 9-2 overall record.
Peninsula College men’s basketball
An area standout (Forks’ Marky Adams), and a Las Vegas connection in starters Colby Jackson, Cameron Burton and Kaelin Crane, boosted the Pirate men to a run to the NWAC Men’s Basketball championship before a 90-83 overtime loss to North Idaho in the title game. Peninsula finished the season 22-11 overall. Adams transferred to play for St. Martin’s College in Lacey and Peninsula head coach Mitch Freeman stepped down in June to take over as head coach at Corban College in Salem, Ore.
Riders win baseball title
The Olympic League 2A Division baseball title came down to the final game of the league season: North Kitsap at Port Angeles on a sun-splashed late April afternoon at Civic Field.
Teams don’t often win baseball games when they spot opponents seven-run leads, especially when that opponent has an NCAA Division I-bound pitcher (Ryan Hecker) throwing smoke and piling up strikeouts in the early going.
If win probability graphs existed for prep sports like they do for pro sports, Port Angeles’ chances at a comeback win likely would have been in the low single digits when the Vikings chased Riders ace Colton McGuffey with a 7-0 lead and the bases loaded in the third inning.
But Port Angeles persevered. Reliever Brady Shimko came in and got North Kitsap’s No. 3 hitter and eventual Olympic League MVP Kyle Green to fly out to deep center field. Riders relievers Shimko, Ethan Flodstrom and Brody Merritt combined to allow just one run on one hit, two walks, a hit batter and one error in the remaining 4 1/3 innings to give Port Angeles’ hitters a chance.
The Riders clawed back to within 7-5 on a two-out, two-on RBI double by McGuffey and 8-6 on an RBI double by Tyler Bowen.
Trailing 8-6 in their last at-bats in the bottom of the seventh, Port Angeles plated three runners to cap the comeback. The Riders received crucial hits from Brody Merritt, pinch hitter Lucas Jarnagin and Joel Wood, with Bo Bradow’s two-out chopper to third base bringing home Wood with the winning run as Port Angeles pulled off the walk-off 9-8 victory over the Vikings for the Olympic League title.