Students and alumni in Ridgefield voted early and often, and their beloved mascot “Spudder” has been named by USA Today’s High School Sports as the best in the state of Washington.
With a winning tally of 23,503 votes, the regal potato mashed its nearest opponent, the Richland Bomber, by 6,923 votes and the third-place Camas Papermaker by 10,858 votes.
“The contest has been fun for all of us, with the students, staff, community and alumni all contributing to finish at number one in the state,” said Ridgefield High School Athletic Director Debbie Bentler.
There was a time, in the early part of the city’s infancy, where Spudder almost didn’t come into being. The early 1900’s saw Ridgefield as a hotbed for both potatoes and prunes. Luckily, the citizens went with the vegetable over the fruit, and Spudder has been the symbol of the school ever since.
Even so, Spudder has been given his fair share of grief in the years since.
“Over the years, our teams have been called some pretty funny potato names,” said Bentler. “There have also been some pretty original taunts from opponents at times, like bringing potato mashers to games.”
As the contest got underway, students and alumni harnessed the power of social media to get the word out in voting for their mascot.
“We did a lot of networking and considering we got over four times as many votes as there are people in town, I was pretty happy,” said Dolly Herrington, a 1969 Ridgefield graduate. “It was exciting, though, because I woke up about a day before the voting ended and found out we were in second place, so we had to rally the troops.”
While they were able to get Spudder over the top in the state, he was not as successful in the regional round against rivals from California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Ridgefield managed an impressive 30,358 votes, but were drubbed by winner Carbon High School of Price, UT. Their mascot, “Dino the Dinosaur” inched out Oregon Espicopal’s Aardvark by just 3,823 votes, despite both schools clearing the 1.5 million vote plateau.
“I think it’s still pretty impressive for us, being a small school and community, to finish with such a high number of votes,” said Bentler. “One thing’s for sure. Our mascot is special and there’s a great amount of pride in being a Spudder.”
The winning mascot’s school will receive $2,000 from USA Today. For more information or to cast a vote for the finalists, go to contest.usatodayhss.com.