Big Bend women clinch at least share of East Region title, first time since 2002-03

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Rodney Harwood

The Big Bend womenís basketball team has already done something that hasnít happened in a good long while, and they arenít done yet.

The Vikings (24-4, 13-2 East) clinched at least a share of the East Region championship after beating Blue Mountain and Friday, becoming the first Big Bend team since 2002-03 to finish first. That, of course, means they return to the NWAC Tournament for the second consecutive season, again, something that hasnít happened since 2001-02 and 2002-03.

The Vikings won it all in 2002 in a remarkable season that featured an all-East Region Final Four at the NWACs. The following season at the Tri-Cities Coliseum, Big Bend finished second behind Chemeketa and the East Region put four teams in the top eight.

Weíll have to see if history will repeat itself 16 years later, but thereís an interesting scenario going into the 2018-19 NWAC Tournament. Big Bend can roll in on a nine-game winning streak if they take care of business in Walla Walla on Wednesday.

How Wenatchee Valley is ahead of Big Bend in the RPI standings is a mathematical equation beyond my grasp, but if things stay as they are, the tournament will begin with four of the top five RPI ranked teams from the East, including the top three. Letís count that down a little bit. Five of the top seven and seven of the top 10 in the RPI are from the East Region.

Interesting, ainít it? The East Region has teams that arenít even going to the tournament ó Yakima Valley (16-11), Columbia Basin (12-13) and Spokane (10-16) ó ranked in the top 10, higher than other regional champions.

Runniní Vikes

Mingo Scott has done a lot this season, juggling a lineup that saw a major player in Denis Ulyanchuk of Moses Lake go down to a torn ACL in the very first game. Joey Andrews, the teamís second-leading scorer, missed significant playing time with an ankle injury.

Yet here they are, right in the thick of things. A win at Walla Walla on Wednesday will secure their return to the NWAC Tournament since 2015-16. They are not that far removed from back-to-back East Region championships (2014-15 and 2015-16).

With a win at Walla Walla, Treasure Valley (9-16, 7-8) canít catch them for the final postseason slot. Of course, if they both get beat in the regular season finale, Big Bend is in. Should the Runniní Vikes lose and Treasure Valley win, there would be a play-in game.

Moses Lake boys swim team

The efforts of the greatest Moses Lake swimmers of the 20th century are slowly being erased in the winds of change by the greatest swimmers of the 21st century.

Only Aaron Fittererís 1996 time of 20.94 in the 50-yard freestyle and Brad Grantís 57.85 in the 50 breaststroke (2004) remain on the school record board at the Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams. The rest are owned by clearly one of the most talented group of swimmers of this decade.

Sophomore Zach Washburn owns six individual records with swims on all three record-setting relays. Washburn holds the 100 freestyle (45.91), 200 freestyle (1:42.30), 500 freestyle (4.46.88), 100 butterfly (52.11) 200 individual medley (1:54.85) and the 100 backstroke (52.77).

Washburn, who became the youngest swimmer from Moses Lake to qualify for the Junior Nationals this past summer, was a part of the 4A state champion 200-yard freestyle relay that won in school-record time.

Brett Jorgensen, Noah Heaps, Dylan Bond, and Washburn clocked 1:26.40 to become the first Chiefs relay to win a state championship since 1996. That same lineup set the 200 medley relay record (1:36.95) at the 4A District 6 meet, which is also the district record.

And finally, the year before in 2018, Washburn, Bond, Heaps and Ander Molitor set the school record in the prelims, then broke that record in the 400 freestyle relay finals with a 3:11.39 swim.

Yep, the times they are a changiní.

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at

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