OSAA

For real team excitement - it's cross country

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 11:19am
Cliff Pfenning
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It's right there in vivid color from a year ago, the final feet of the OSAA Cross Country state finals.

With St. Mary's and Grant expecting a tight race for the girls Class 6A team title, junior Paige Rice of St. Mary's bore down on Grant freshman Ella Donaghu on the track and Lane Community College - the clock keeping track of time clearly in sight.

Rice, the defending state champion, had not had an optimal performance and was headed for fourth or fifth as she ramped up to a full sprint.

Donaghu had run alongside senior teammate Parkes Kendrick until the final corner and was near collapse having spent her energy on the first 4,980 meters of the 5,000-meter course.
Rice caught her - nearly.

The timing chip attached to each runner's shoe clocked both runners in with the same time - 18 minutes, one second, but Donaghu finished fourth with Rice fifth. Another foot and the results would likely have been reversed. In the overall team standings that foot gave Grant the team championship, 66-68, over St. Mary's. Had the positions been reversed the teams would have tied, giving the Blues a share of the school's second state title.

Instead, Grant won its second title, having won the first girls title in 1974.

Even though Rice had an individual title to her name from her sophomore season, that closing burst has stuck with her through the past year.

"That's been there all year," she said after winning the Mount Hood Conference title for the third straight year last week. "This is my shot at redemption."

The drama at the finish of last year's race is one of the reasons the cross country finals the best team event on the OSAA schedule. Each runner competes in two or three races, depending on their school's district results. They race themselves and their personal best, they race the other individuals for placing in the overall standings, and they race runners from other teams, with each placing making a difference in the team standings.

Every year, the team title of at least one of the eight races is decided by that foot or two that separated Rice and Donaghu - often its between runners from the teams battling for first and second.

What puts the cross country finals ahead of other championships is that foot is often between runners well behind the individual champion - those boys or girls dueling for 18th or 33rd or 60th place.

The weight of scoring for each team's top five runners is equal, making those final feet as valuable for fourth as it is for all other spots, regardless of what school the other runner is from so long as its one involved in team scoring.

At Class 3A boys, Union beat East Linn Christian by one point - 93-94. In the final standings, East Linn Christian senior Kody Osborne finished eighth in 16:48. But he finished in a three-man rush in which two other runners were also timed in 18:46 - both ahead of him. Second in the rush was Rich Fettig of Westside Christian, which finished sixth in the team standings. Had Osborne edged Fettig his school would have celebrated its first team title. But, its a result each of the other four members of his team can reflect on - all of them finishing within three seconds of the runner ahead of them.

In the case of St. Mary's, its second finisher, senior Ellen Patterson, was timed in 18:37 - the exact time of West Salem freshman Brooke Chuhlantseff, but Patterson placed eighth in the team scoring instead of seventh. The Blues other three scoring runners all placed within two seconds of the runner ahead of them - each spot making that critical difference in team scoring.

Of course, it works both ways as some runners do catch the person in front of them and that's what makes the team scoring as close as it becomes. That's the drama of the cross country team finals - there's no scoreboard that lets a runner know how those final meters will impact the team scoring. In those final meters, the race is in each runner's head.

Rice's finish, though, ended up having the most drama of the 2012 championships as it was between runners in direct competition in overall scoring, which involves a two-point swing. It's what will drive runners Saturday as they look ahead at the starting line, then look to the right and left at others in the race. The final seconds before the opening gun, those are the ones where everyone on a seven-member team will wonder who will be ahead or behind them in the final meters and will they be able to catch or hold onto their spot on behalf of their school?

 

 

State preps for title runs

There's more to winning than just finishing first in cross country's team races
Nov. 1, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

It's right there in vivid color from a year ago, the final feet of the OSAA Cross Country state finals.

With St. Mary's and Grant expecting a tight race for the girls Class 6A team title, junior Paige Rice of St. Mary's bore down on Grant freshman Ella Donaghu on the track and Lane Community College - the clock keeping track of time clearly in sight.

Rice, the defending state champion, had not had an optimal performance and was headed for fourth or fifth as she ramped up to a full sprint.

Donaghu had run alongside senior teammate Parkes Kendrick until the final corner and was near collapse having spent her energy on the first 4,980 meters of the 5,000-meter course.
Rice caught her - nearly.

The timing chip attached to each runner's shoe clocked both runners in with the same time - 18 minutes, one second, but Donaghu finished fourth with Rice fifth. Another foot and the results would likely have been reversed. In the overall team standings that foot gave Grant the team championship, 66-68, over St. Mary's. Had the positions been reversed the teams would have tied, giving the Blues a share of the school's second state title.

Instead, Grant won its second title, having won the first girls title in 1974.

Even though Rice had an individual title to her name from her sophomore season, that closing burst has stuck with her through the past year.

"That's been there all year," she said after winning the Mount Hood Conference title for the third straight year last week. "This is my shot at redemption."

The drama at the finish of last year's race is one of the reasons the cross country finals the best team event on the OSAA schedule. Each runner competes in two or three races, depending on their school's district results. They race themselves and their personal best, they race the other individuals for placing in the overall standings, and they race runners from other teams, with each placing making a difference in the team standings.

Every year, the team title of at least one of the eight races is decided by that foot or two that separated Rice and Donaghu - often its between runners from the teams battling for first and second.

What puts the cross country finals ahead of other championships is that foot is often between runners well behind the individual champion - those boys or girls dueling for 18th or 33rd or 60th place.

The weight of scoring for each team's top five runners is equal, making those final feet as valuable for fourth as it is for all other spots, regardless of what school the other runner is from so long as its one involved in team scoring.

At Class 3A boys, Union beat East Linn Christian by one point - 93-94. In the final standings, East Linn Christian senior Kody Osborne finished eighth in 16:48. But he finished in a three-man rush in which two other runners were also timed in 18:46 - both ahead of him. Second in the rush was Rich Fettig of Westside Christian, which finished sixth in the team standings. Had Osborne edged Fettig his school would have celebrated its first team title. But, its a result each of the other four members of his team can reflect on - all of them finishing within three seconds of the runner ahead of them.

In the case of St. Mary's, its second finisher, senior Ellen Patterson, was timed in 18:37 - the exact time of West Salem freshman Brooke Chuhlantseff, but Patterson placed eighth in the team scoring instead of seventh. The Blues other three scoring runners all placed within two seconds of the runner ahead of them - each spot making that critical difference in team scoring.

Of course, it works both ways as some runners do catch the person in front of them and that's what makes the team scoring as close as it becomes. That's the drama of the cross country team finals - there's no scoreboard that lets a runner know how those final meters will impact the team scoring. In those final meters, the race is in each runner's head.

Rice's finish - Donaghu's too, though, ended up having the most drama of the 2012 championships as it was between runners in direct competition in overall scoring, which involves a two-point swing. It's what will drive runners Saturday as they look ahead at the starting line, then look to the right and left at others in the race. The final seconds before the opening gun, those are the ones where everyone on a seven-member team will wonder who will be ahead or behind them in the final meters and will they be able to catch or hold onto their spot on behalf of their school?

 

 

Prep sports gears up for new year

Jesuit continues hold on role of state's top athletic program
Aug. 20, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

The fall sports season began with workouts for high school athletes across the state Monday, and Jesuit's seniors have plenty of pressure on their shoulders without having stepped on a field.

For the past nine years, Jesuit has dominated the state's largest schools in terms of titles won, title games played in and overall results as deemed by the OSAA through the Oregonian Cup. The Cup measures athletic programs with a points system using individual and team results to determine the state's top program. Jesuit has won every year since 2004-05.

Las fall, the Crusaders opened the school year with titles in volleyball and boys and girls basketball.

West Albany, sparked by the school's first volleyball title, won at Class 5A, while La Salle of Milwaukie won at Class 4A.

Valley Catholic of Beaverton, Portland Christian and Triad School of Klamath Falls won at Class 3A, 2A and 1A, respectively.

Championship events begin with Cross Country, Nov. 2.

 

The Road to the Olympics runs through Eugene

Zac Brunson has a schedule for getting to the world's biggest sports stage
Feb. 21, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

It didn’t take long for Zac Brunson to impress his wrestling coaches with his ability to focus when he dove into the sport as a 6-year-old.

In less than a year, Brunson honed in on the biggest goal available - the Olympics.

“He’s had that goal basically since he started,” says Scott Kearney, who began as Brunson’s coach with the Churchill Wrestling Club more than a decade ago. “He’s been focused on being a high school, college and Olympic champion and that hasn’t changed since he was a little kid.”

When the OSAA/U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires State Wrestling Tournament begins Friday, Brunson will aim to complete the first step of his path to the Summer Games by winning his fourth state title.

Following graduation, Brunson will head to the University of Illinois, where his goal is to win four NCAA titles.

Then, it’ll be time to work on qualifying for the Olympics. If his path works as he hopes, that’ll be in time for the Summer Games in Rio De Janiero, Brazil.

“I  have goals for later this week, goals for later this year and goals for five years from now,” he says. “I can absolutely see myself in the Olympics in Rio.
“I want to be the best in my sport and if it works out in four years, I’ll be in the Olympics.”

FOCUS ON WINNING
Brunson says he found wrestling to be his sport almost immediately. He showed up in the first week that Kearney, whose brother Chuck was the coach at the University of Oregon, and assistant Jeff Thomas started the Churchill Wrestling Club.

“I love the one-on-one aspect, and think it’s the toughest sport,” Brunson says. “I love how in-depth it goes, how much there is to it.”

Brunson’s skill began to mature as a freshman, when he won the state title at 135 pounds despite being unseeded.

As a sophomore, he won at 145 pounds, scoring a fall or technical fall in all four matches, a feat he repeated last year at 160 pounds.

Heading into his fourth state tournament, Brunson says he’s lost just once to an Oregon wrestler during the high school season. As a freshman, he lost 12-9 to Cleveland’s Eric Luna, a senior who won the state title at 140 pounds later that year.

Brunson’s strategy is very basic - score points.

“My goal is to score 30 points each  match,” he says. “If someone takes me down three or four times, I don’t worry about it because I’m trying to score 10 or 12 takedowns and win that way.

“I’ll take a fall if it’s there, but if you can score 30 points, you’ll win.”

“He’s extremely motivated and driven to succeed in the sport,” Scott Kearney says. “He always in the wrestling room, working out, training, figuring out ways to get better.”

Brunson’s skill earned him a national title at the Junior National Freestyle Championships in Fargo, N.D., last summer. He won 11 matches at 152 pounds in three days.

Brunson’s win made him only the ninth national freestyle champion from Oregon, according to Scott Kearney.

Despite being unbeaten and a three-time champion, Brunson was seeded second behind junior Quinn Dreher of Silverton for the state tournament.

Winning a fourth title would put Brunson in a category with only 20 others since the OSAA began sponsoring state tournaments in 1948. Four high school titles has been a goal of his for years.

“When I first started wrestling, I looked ahead and saw you could win four titles in high school,” he says. “That’s something I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time.”

Three other seniors will be competing for their fourth title this weekend as well. Brandon Griffin (182 pounds) of Sprague, Joey Delgado (138) of Hermiston and Quinn Johnston (145) of Gold Beach have all won titles since their freshman seasons.

Griffin, an occasional practice partner for Brunson, has signed with Lehigh University.

Churchill, which finished second in Class 5A two years ago, also features Chase Kearney, Chuck’s son who won a state title last year. The Lancers expect to compete for a trophy this weekend.

The Next Step
Brunson chose Illinois over programs at Minnesota, Missouri, Cornell and Oregon State, although Scott Kearney says Brunson likely would have chosen Oregon if the school hadn’t cut its program in order to restart baseball.

The lure of the Big 10, though, would have been tough to overcome.

“Earlier this year, the Oklahoma State at Iowa dual had 15,000 people in the stands,” Brunson says. “Illinois at Iowa had almost the same size crowd.
“I’m really excited about competing in that environment.”

Illinois, which can seat 4,500 fans for home dual meets, has never finished as high as second in the NCAA Tournament but was fifth in the latest NCAA Rankings.

“I really like what they have going on there,” Brunson says. “They’ve got a new staff, and I really connected with them when I visited.
“I think they’re the guys I need to be with if I want to win four NCAA titles.”

Collegiately, Brunson will likely run across one of the nation’s top wrestlers, Penn State sophomore Dave Taylor, who competes at 165 pounds and is the leading contender for Wrestler of the Year.

Brunson says he’s ready for that step to college training a competition, which likely will include a redshirt season, along with the challenge of getting a degree.
Academically, Brunson says, there’s not a subject that’s jumped at him as being his career path.

“I look at the education as a bonus,” says Brunson, who carries a 3.8 GPA. “I’m going to get my degree, but my main goal in college is to win four NCAA titles.”

Four titles would put Brunson on a level with Cael Sanderson, who won four while at Iowa State (1999-2002) and then won a Gold Medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Summer Games.

Sanderson, who redshirted as an academic freshman, is Taylor’s coach at Penn State, which won the NCAA Tournament last year.

Recently, Sanderson returned to active competition and is the nation’s top wrestler at 84kg.

THE OLYMPIC DREAM
As a junior national champion, Brunson is among the challengers for the National U20 team that will be determined in summer. The first step toward earning a spot on that team is a tournament in Madison, Wisc., in April. Brunson will be there.

The trials for the US team that will travel to London for the Summer Games will be held April 21-22 in Iowa City, Iowa. Brunson will be following them closely via the Internet.
Brunson would be a college junior or senior (depending on whether he’s used his redshirt season) when the next Olympic Trials arrive, and competition for those spots is likely to be tougher than ever as financial support for the sport increases.

Wrestlers, who used to support themselves as amateurs, are subsidized by USA Wrestling, and many, such as Sanderson, coach.

Mixed Martial Arts regularly attracts wrestlers due to its financial success, something Brunson says has already thought about.

“I can see myself doing that,” he says, “but I look at it as what wrestlers do when they can’t handle wrestling anymore.”

With his focus on and motivation to reach the loftiest of goals, Brunson says he’s very happy with the plan he has for the next stage of his life.

“If I’m good enough, I’d love to wrestle on the Olympic Circuit and make wrestling my profession,” he says. “I’d love to wrestle for the rest of my life.”

Is there an RPI for state associations?

Oregonsports Journal examines the OSAA and its ability to run prep sports
Jan. 29, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

The OSAA has run state high school championships since 1919, but it's in the middle of a classification and district battle that's cause to look at how other states are managed by their similar organizations.

How well does the OSAA stack up against Washington? Colorado? New Mexico?

When is Lacrosse going to be an OSAA sport?

This week's issue looks in on that.

 

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

The Portland Timbers head to Arizona to begin training camp with a roster full of new talent from a busy offseason.

Oregon State and Oregon begin their spring camps for baseball season with dreams of a visit to Omaha.

Grant's new boys basketball coach Paul Kelly is having a fabulous rookie season as coach, even though he's not a rookie.

The Evergreen Curling Club made sure to add a key component to its dedicated facility when it got the ice put in.

And, the Oregon Sports Awards nominees are out. See who you can vote for.

 

SUBSCRIBE TODAY AND GET A COPY OF THE PRINT PREVIEW ISSUES BEING PREPARED FOR CHEERLEADING, SWIMMING AND WRESTLING

 

 

 

Prep hoop season closes in on big tournaments

The Les Schwab Invite and Nike Interstate Shootout are just a week away
Dec. 19, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Jesuit continued on its pace toward a fifth consecutive state title with an 88-55 win over South Salem Tuesday night, improving the team to 6-0 on the season heading into a game Firday at Silverton.

The Crusaders narrowly survived a series of three games against Class 5A schools early in the season, including an overtime win over Jefferson, but have won their past two games by 33 points each time.

They begin play in the Les Schwab Invitational Dec., 26 against Sheldon.

Lake Oswego, which lost to Jesuit in the state final last year, is also set for the LSI and will play Sunset in its opener.

In girls play, Oregon City won the Iolani Classic in Hawaii with a 49-44 victory over Dr. Phillips Academy, whch had been previously unbeaten, in the final.

The Pioneers begin play in the Interstate Shootout Dec. 27 against Southridge, which it beat 79-38 two weeks ago, in one half of the tournament, which has two 16-team brackets.

One team that is skipping out on the Interstate tournament is defending state champion South Medford, which is traveling out of state to to Maryland for an eight-team tournament. The Panthers will play in a four-team tournament in San Francisco in January as well.

 

Officials had a unique impact on title games

The teams that were penalized more won almost all the title games - again
Dec. 11, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Everyone's favorite punching bag during a team sport - officials - got plenty of action during the championship season this fall, as they do for any event.

And, they had an effect on the six championship football games, although not what you might expect.

Five of the six games were won by the team that had either more penalties or more penalty yards, including Oakland, which got pummeled for 16 penalties and 119 yards but still beat Portland Christian 50-27 in the Class 2A final.

Lake Oswego lost the 6A final, but had just one - yes one - penalty for five yards.

so, what to make of that?

Fans of the Portland Timbers are continually impressed and incredibly loyal to midfielder Diego Charra, who led the MLS in fouls last year and challenged for the title this year, too - a sign fans promote as his heart showing through to his play.

That work for high school football, too?

Coaches in every sport and at every level want their athletes to lose just a little bit of discipline for a moment of passion, as long as it doesn't affect the outcome of a game. And, this year, you could argue that's what happened.

Here's the numbers:

6A: Sheldon 13, Lake Oswego 6

Sheldon 5 penalties for 43 yards, Lake Oswego 1-5

5A: Sherwood 46, Marist 20

Sherwood 3-20, Marist 3-12

4A: Baker 52, North Bend 22

Baker 11-71, Norh Bend 8-54

3A: Dayton 34, Cascade Christian 28

Cascade Christian 9-87, Dayton 7-55

2A: Oakland 50, Portland Christian 27

Oakland 16-119, Portland Christian 9-41

1A: Camas Valley 24, St. Paul 8

Camas Valley 7-46, St. Paul 5-30

 

So, here's the real entertaining thing - it happened that way last year, too. In only one of the games did the team that lost have more penalties, or more penalty yardage than the team that won. The only significant difference in the teams was Class 4A, where Siuslaw had a measurable difference and lost by just five points.

Here's the numbers:

6A: Lake Oswego 47, Sheldon 14

Lake Oswego 7-54 yards, Sheldon 4-47

5A: Mountain View 14, Sherwood 13

Mountain View 8-74, Sherwood 2-15

4A: LaSalle 45, Siuslaw 40

Siuslaw 15-113, LaSalle 7-57

3A: Santiam Christian 31, Dayton 28

Santiam Christian 4-31, Dayton 3-26

2A: Gold Beach 30, Scio 0

Scio 7-66, Gold Beach 7-58

1A: Camas Valley 66, Perrydale 22

Camas Valley 6-44, Perrydale 31

 

Without a lot of penalties the game went quickly, too. The Class 6A final, played Dec. 8, lasted just two hours, 19 minutes, and was held up far more for television timeouts than replaying downs due to penalties.

One penalty for five yards - that's the kind of discipline a coach wants to see at the end of a long season, although ...

 

 

Oregon City girls get ready for Hawaii

The Pioneers have seven days of hoop, sun planned for this week
Dec. 10, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

A year ago, the Oregon City girls basketball team was getting primed to challenge South Medford, Central Catholic, Clackamas, Westview and the rest of the elite girls basketball world on the way to a state title.

But, they ran into one big problem - themselves, and lost in the quarterfinals of the state tournament to a league rival they’d beaten twice already by an average of 27 points.

“Last year’s loss was a big deal because we didn’t give it our all,” says guard Montana Walters, one of 11 seniors on the team. “We should have easily won that game.
“We ended up fighting a lot in the season. We’re around each other a lot, and it’s like a sister - you fight a lot.”

This year, the Pioneers have worked on getting over that hurdle on their way to a trip to Hawaii for the second-straight year to play in the eight-team Iolani Classic beginning Thursday.

 “We’ve become a lot closer as a team this year,” Walters says. “Law year really woke us up to how important that is.”

Oregon City has four players headed for college programs, including Walters and 6-foot post Johanna Paine, who have both signed to play at Santa Clara of the West Coast Conference.

Catelyn Preston is headed for Northern Arizona of the Big Sky and Jenae Paine will play at NCAA Div. II Metro State of Denver.

A core of college-bound seniors is nothing new for Oregon City, but the team’s leaders, Walters and Johanna Paine, have, coach Kurt Guelsdorf says, done a fantastic job of creating a highly supportive team environment.

“I really like how they’ve worked to bring the girls together, and not just the seniors, but the younger girls, too,” he says. “That’s the kind of thing we love to see and they’re doing it.

“That’s great leadership.”

Johanna Paine, one of four returning starters, says working with the program’s younger players has helped focus the varsity team beyond itself.

“We want the younger girls to get better and keep the program strong after we leave,” Paine says. “But, we really want to win a title. None of us have won one and that’s really important. This is the time.”

In Hawaii, the Pioneers will have a chance to play teams from Florida, Texas, even China as well as the host state. The boys portion of the tournament, which is 16 teams, includes Oak Hill Academy.

Oregon City’s trip is seven days, only three of which include basketball.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the beach,” Walters says. “We’re going to spend a lot of time on the beach.

Sheldon finally gets over LO hurdle

Irish edge the Lakers 13-6 in defensive showdown for 6A football title
Dec. 8, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

After two season of misery at the hands and feet of the Lake Oswego Lakers, the Sheldon Irish got some vengeance at the best possible time - with the state championship on the line.

With a pair of field goals by kicker Nathan Starnes providing the scoring difference, Sheldon avenged last season's loss in the title game with a 13-6 victory at Jeld-Wen Field Saturday afternoon.

Sheldon's defense stymied the Lake Oswego offense throughout the game other than a 12-yard scoring drive set-up by a fumble that gave the Lakers a 6-3 lead when the point-after was blocked. Sheldon responded with a 75-yard scoring drive of its own to take a 10-6 lead when Connor Strahm ran in from a yard out and Starnes hit the extra point.

Starnes added another kick just moments later and the Irish held on defense - ending the game with five turnovers - for the schools fourth title since 2002.

Sheldon finished 14-0, while Lake Oswego finished 13-1.

The Irish have lost just twice in the past to seasons - both to Lake Oswego in the playoffs.

"They ended our season im misery the last two seasons, so it's nice to get back at them this year," Sheldon junior Tanner Davis said. 

Both teams moved the ball offensively, but with only the one sustained drive for a touchdown. Starnes' field goals were from 27 and 26 yards, and he missed another short kick that would have made the score 16-6 late in the fourth quarter.

The Irish picked off Lake Oswego quarterback Justen Ruppe four times and held the team to 3 of 10 on third down, and only 1 of 3 on fourth downs.

Sheldon finished with 243 yards of offense on 59 plays, while Lake Oswego had 269 yards on 55 plays.

With only six penalties to slow the game, it lasted just two hours, 19 mninutes, which included stoppages for television breaks.

 

Baker returns to title form

After a disappointment last year, the Bulldogs top North Bend, 52-22
Dec. 1, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - Baker High got a stellar defensive performance Saturday and beat North Bend 52-22 in the Class 4A football state championship game at Hillsboro Stadium.

The Bulldogs intercepted five passes, and returned one for a touchdown on the way to winning the 4A title for the second time in three seasons.

Quarterback Braden Phillips threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more to spark Baker, which finished at 11-1 a year after a quarterfinal loss stopped the school's run of consecutive title game appearances at two. With Saturday's win, the Bulldogs are 12-2 in playoff games the past four seasons.

North Bend got a pair of scoring plays from Cameron Lucero, but lost in its first trip to a championship game.

Baker led just 27-15 after Lucero returned a punt 60 yards for a score with 1:06 left in the third quarter, but responded with a 66-yard touchdown drive capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Phillips to Dane Bachman with 9:51 left in the game.

Baker then intercepted passes on the following three drives to salt the game away.

 

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