For baseball, basketball, football, softball and volleyball, here’s a look at the top three winningest high school coaches in Washington state history for each sport:
No. 1: Dave Johnson (Ephrata), 687 wins in 36 seasons (1971-2006)
No. 2: Dan White (Eastmont), 600 wins in 33 seasons (1971-2003)
No. 3: Bill Walker (Connell, Toledo), 538 wins in 33 seasons (1973-2005)
The pace setters: Those Tigers teams knew how to swing the bats for Johnson (687-210 record), who led the program to eight Class 1A titles, second-most in state history. They went to the state tournament 28 times, and outscored opponents, 489-239. … A former football letterwinner at Washington State University, White knew a thing or two about baseball, too. Eastmont had 31 winning seasons, and made the final four nine times – winning the 3A crown in 1981. … Walker (538-231) was a Central Washington University hall of fame first baseman – and carved out a stellar coaching career, too. His Connell teams captured 1A championships in 1984 and 1992.
Look out for: After five state runner-up finishes, it was fair to wonder if Selah’s Mike Archer (519-163 in 28 seasons) would ever win the biggest game. In 2016, he did, leading the Vikings to a 14-3 win over Cedarcrest for the 2A title. Heading into regionals this weekend, Archer has 537 career victories.
* active-coach win totals are entering 2019 season, unless otherwise noted
No. 1: Ed Pepple (Mercer Island, Fife, Mark Morris), 952 wins in 49 seasons (1961-2009)
No. 2: Pat Fitterer (Ellensburg, Eisenhower, Sehome, Kentwood, Highland), 728 wins in 37 seasons (1978-2014
No. 3: Ron Brown (Centralia), 722 wins in 56 seasons (1961-2017)
The pace setters: The man in the maroon-colored blazer demanded excellence – and Pepple (952-306 record) achieved that in his 42 seasons at Mercer Island with four state titles (1985, 1993, 1997, 1999). According to the NFHS record book, Pepple ranks 23rd all-time nationally in career wins. … Fitterer (728-232) is so respected by his peers, WIBCA name its annual coach of the years award after him. He won two state titles – a 1A crown with Highland in 1988, and a 4A title with an undefeated Sehome squad in 1996 that many consider the best team in state history. … It is up for debate which streak Brown (722-541) put together was more impressive – 56 years on the bench or nearly 1,300 career games without a technical foul? His Tigers captured a pair of 3A titles, in 1979 and 1981.
Look out for: Rainier Beach’s Mike Bethea is already eighth all-time in victories (571-143 in 25 seasons), and with the talent the Vikings seemingly showcase every year, he easily could add a few more to his haul of eight 3A titles — and overtake Fitterer for second place in wins.
No. 1: Curt De Haan (Lynden Christian), 772 wins in 34 seasons (1980-2014)
No. 2: Al Aldridge (Prairie), 719 wins in 32 seasons (1979-2012)
No. 3: Al Smeenk (Sunnyside Christian), 711 wins in 36 seasons (1982-2018)
The pace setters: De Haan (772-149 record) was as consistently great as coaches come. In his 34 seasons, he won 20 or more games 30 times, and led the Lyncs to 13 Class 1A title game appearances in 31 state trips. They won eight 1A crowns. … Aldridge (718-139) is a legend in Southwest Washington, taking the Falcons to 27 state tournaments in his 32 years. Prairie won six state championships, including the final one in 2012. He also coached the softball team to a pair of state titles (2000, 2006). … An Iowa native, Smeenk (711-139) started the program with just six players – and kept building it from there. The Knights made 21 state-tournament trips and advanced to the 1B title game four times – but never grabbed the golden ball.
Look out for: Clark Vining is just 47 years old, and he has already built a hall-of-fame coaching career in just 14 seasons at Colton High School. In March, he led the Wildcats to their 10th 1B title in the past 11 seasons. His career record is 340-30.
No. 1: Sid Otton (Tumwater, Colfax, Coupeville), 394 wins in 49 seasons (1967-2016)
No. 2: Monte Kohler (O’Dea), 335 wins in 34 seasons (1985-present)
No. 3: Bob Ames (Meridian), 328 wins in 45 seasons (1974-present)
The pace setters: Always calm and classy, Otton (394-131 record) retired in 2016 after 43 seasons at Tumwater as the state’s football king. He won 361 of those games, along with five state titles (1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2010), with the Thunderbirds. … Kohler (335-55) just quietly goes about his business, winning four 3A titles with the Irish (1991, 1994, 1995, 2017) and setting the state record for consecutive state-tournament appearances (21). Based on his current winning pace, he could pass Otton sometime in 2024. … Ames (328-159) came over in 1974 as an assistant coach at Mount Si and turned Meridian into a state powerhouse (three 1A titles in 1999, 2003, 2006). The Trojans have been in the state title game six times during Ames’ tenure.
Look out for: There is only one coach in state history who wins games at a 90-percent clip — Cedar Park Christian’s Butch Goncharoff (196-23 in 18 seasons). He built the Bellevue dynasty (nine 3A titles from 2001-11), only to see it crumble under rules-violation scrutiny that forced the school to forfeit two more 3A titles — and him to resign in 2016.
No. 1: Tom Swapp (Anacortes), 596 wins in 39 seasons (1980-present)
No. 2: Bruce Welling (Central Kitsap, North Kitsap), 551 wins in 33 seasons (1982-2016)
No. 3: Daniel Robillard (Zillah), 544 wins in 30 seasons (1989-present)
The pace setters: Early this spring, Swapp became the first softball coach in Washington to reach 600 wins. The Seahawks are currently undefeated (18-0) heading into districts, and could contend for their first state title since 1994. Swapp’s current career mark is 614-352. … Welling (551-203) never had a losing season in 32 years at Central Kitsap, and led the Cougars to their lone state championship in 1993. … Also a WIAA hall-of-fame wrestling coach, Robillard has guided the Leopards’ softball program to three Class 1A titles (1991, 2000, 2001) under his watch. Last month, Robillard moved past Welling for No. 2 all-time – and sits at 556 wins.
Look out for: It’s hard to ignore what Othello’s Rudy Ochoa has done (513 wins, four state titles), but all Montesano’s Pat Pace does is bring home 1A titles. Since 1998, the Bulldogs have won nine state titles. In his 23rd season, Pace currently has a 488-140 record heading into districts.
* active-coach win totals are entering 2019 season, unless otherwise noted
No. 1: Susan Doering (Colfax, Deer Park), 904 wins in 34 seasons (1984-2017)
No. 2: Laurie Creighton (Olympia), 832 wins in 40 seasons (1979-present)
No. 3: Jim Greene (Pomeroy, Reardan), 735 wins in 30 seasons (1979-2017)
The pace setters: Doering (904-234 record) had a run like no other, rebuilding a bottom-feeding Deer Park program (three state appearances in four seasons) before winning 14 state titles at Colfax. According to the NFHS record book, Doering’s career total ranks 19th all-time. … Creighton (832-331) has guided the Bears to 14 top-eight state finishes, including the 3A title (1998) and 4A title (2011). Not bad for a coach who spent just one season coaching seventh-grade volleyball to start out. … Greene, a Pomeroy graduate, captured seven state titles between Reardan (four) and his alma mater (three during two stints). He also won three state girls basketball titles at Reardan.
Look out for: What Lynden Christian’s Kim Grycel has accomplished in 23 seasons, eclipsing 500 career wins while leading the Lyncs to 22 consecutive state-tournament appearances and three Class 1A titles (2014, 2015, 2018) is astonishing. She is on track to make a run at Doering’s career wins mark.