Doing the sports reporter marathon at 65

This column is nostalgic for me. The last time I wrote a sports column was decades ago. It was called “Backseat Coach,” and it won awards while I was sports editor in LaGrande, Ore., and Lake Tahoe, Calif. I switched to news after that and have been an editor ever since.

But I’m reviving it this week to write about a recent weekend — when I participated in a sports reporter’s marathon. It was a wild ride.

It started that Friday morning at the Tacoma Dome for the state wrestling championships. While that event is amazingly organized for the hundreds of wrestlers participating, it’s not well organized for the media. There was no help at all, so I had to walk around the entire 24 mats to figure out how to cover the Mat Classic. For about an hour I couldn’t find any local wrestlers, so I took photos of some from Central and South Kitsap to help our sister paper in Port Orchard.

I finally figured out in one corner there was a screen that showed 4A matches, another had 3A and another with girls, 1B and 1A. But there wasn’t one for 2A, which of course is where North Kitsap and Kingston wrestled.

Finally, I found NK’s Makayla Heymann’s second-round match. She was trailing badly then turn the tide to win by pin. Just the opposite happened to Bainbridge’s Aubrie Aukland, who was leading 6-0 before her foe turned the tables to pin her.

Kingston’s Gavin Garner put up a good battle against a much more experienced wrestler for three rounds before being pinned. Then I waited a half-hour to try to cover BI’s Wyatt Goade’s match, but by the time the schedule said it was his turn when I got to his mat it was already over.

Saturday started at 7:30 a.m. in Federal Way to report and take photos of the 2A swim championships. NK’s Isaac Beers was the highlight, winning state titles in the 100-yard freestyle in a state record time, along with the 100 backstroke. He was also on the winning 200 free relay team.

I felt bad for Rocco Velie of Kingston, who was favored in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly, but placed second in both. He, and many other swimmers, seemed disappointed if they didn’t win.

Then it was to Mount Tahoma for the NK vs. Renton girls basketball game. What a great contest — close the entire way – and it went into overtime. It was a great team effort, especially without key starter Sophia Baugh playing.

Then it was back to Federal Way for the 3A swim championships. Oskar Bannister of BI was the star there, placing second in the 50- and 100-free races. Bainbridge had one of the biggest and loudest crowds there cheering them on. For that matter, NK did, too, in that earlier competition.

Then it was back to Mount Tahoma for the Kingston girls basketball game. Having not seen them all season I was specifically impressed with the ball skills of Eilee Brockman and Brianna Jorgensen. They put up a great fight for three quarters before losing.

Before heading home there was one last stop — at Highline High School to watch No. 2 seeded NK take on No. 1 seeded White River. When I found out leading scorer Jonas La Tour wasn’t going to play due to an injury, I didn’t think the Vikings would win. Boy, was I wrong. Aiden Olmstead played a lot like La Tour scoring inside and outside and grabbing rebounds to lead the Vikings to victory. As usual, Cade Orness made some amazing passes, and Johny Olmsted played tough as nails, especially on defense guarding the much-taller star player of the Hornets.

It was an exhausting weekend for an old man of almost 65. But it was fun, too.

However, after three months of covering sports, I’d love to find a full-time sports reporter. I’m doing it part-time in addition to my regular job. Just like most businesses, we’re finding it hard to find employees.

Until then, I hope coaches in the spring sports do a better job of providing our newspapers with key information about their games and matches through email. My coverage of winter sports often was incomplete. If you’re the parent of an athlete please encourage the coaches to email so we can get these kids the publicity they deserve.