west albany

West Albany finishes off magical season

The Bulldogs beat Churchill in four games to claim school's first title
Nov. 10, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - A year after losing in the state final, the West Albany Bulldogs finished a three-year drive to win the school's first volleyball title with a four-game win over Churchill Saturday night at Liberty High School.

Sophomore Payton Rund had 17 kills, Amber Parker had 12 assists and Haley Wells dished out 40 assists to power the Bulldogs, who finished 28-1 with the 25-17, 20-25, 25-17, 25-14 win.

The Bulldogs finished fourth two years ago before reaching the final last year.

Churchill got 13 kills each from Kendra Bodine and Bre Gibbons, and had the smell of a major upset in mid-match, but settled for taking at least one game from the Bulldogs, who lost only seven games all season.

Churchill had its 15-match win streak snapped and finished 23-3.

The agony of sports is what makes it great

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 1:17pm
Cliff Pfenning
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It took only a short while for the state cheerleading championships to vault right into the arena of being labeled a sport rather than activity.

After the three dozen teams competing in the afternoon session congregated on the competition floor at Memorial Coliseum, the fourth place teams in the three categories were announced. In the Class 6A/5A Large division, West Albany took fourth. The team captains collected their trophy, returned to the spot the team had staked out right in front of the awards area and sat in stunned silence.

Then, some of the girls broke down and cried.

West Albany won the state title in the Class 5A Small division last year, but expanded its team and moved up to challenge the much larger schools this year.

They had a fantastic, energetic performance that showed the kind of swagger a defending state champion might have. So when the announcement came that those girls had finished fourth, it caught my attention, too.
Fourth? What? No, no, no.

Turns out they did have a great performance according to judges, scoring the second-highest total in the dance and choreography category. They had only an average score in the tumbling/jumps category, though, and were penalized for something known only to the judges.

The penalty, which can be for a variety of reason that include suggestive hip movements, caused them to slip from second to fourth, which is a big difference when you’ve got the idea you might have won.

West Albany had, by far, the most emotional reaction of the awards ceremony, and that included the celebratory screaming from the three teams that finished first: Westview at Class 6A Small; Springfield at Coed; and Tualatin at 6A/5A Large.

Tualatin, which won the state title at Class 6A Small last year, had a better score in tumbling/jumps and smaller penalty.

Mike Fratello, telestrator in hand, might have pointed out that West Albany likely would have won with one more gymnastics element.

That kind of reaction all the cheerleading team had happens in activities quite often because the outcome of a competition is hidden until it’s released. There’s no scoreboard to tell you who’s winning. In a sport, you can have lost by the third quarter and just be waiting for the game to end.

Even sports where the outcome is in some doubt rarely get the kind of reaction involved in Saturday’s awards ceremony. At the state cross country championships, for example, the four teams awarded a trophy are singled and know they’ve at least finished fourth. Then they’re reduced to two - champion and runner-up. When the announcement of second place is  made, it’s the signal the other team’s won. At the 2011 championships, only one of the 10 boys or girls team champions seemed to have a pulse when the announcement came.

“If they’re second, then we won, right?”

Yes, that’s how it works.

We’re all familiar with the thrill of victory, but it’s the second and third, even fourth-place finishers that give you a real sense of how important a sport is. Or an activity.

Division changes make for new champions

Westview moves down, while West Albany moves up in size
Feb. 7, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

When the state’s top cheerleading teams take the floor at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday, the line-up of top teams will look significantly different from a year ago as many have switched divisions.

Westview, which has won five of the last seven titles in Class 6A Large, will compete in the 6A Small division, while West Albany, which has won the past three titles at 5A Small, is moving up to the 6A/5A Large group, where it’ll tangle with Tualatin, the 6A Small champion last year.

Wilson, which made a run at the 6A/5A Large division title last year - finishing second to Westview - is returning to the small division, where it’s won titles in three of the past four years and now won’t have to face West Albany.

And Pleasant Hill, which won a title the past four years, is sitting the meet out entirely.

The staple of the competition, though, will continue to be Springfield, which is looking to run its string of Coed division titles to seven straight.

“We look at how many girls we’ve got every year to make our determination of which division we fit into,” Westview coach Melissa Hoekert said this week. “We like to be in the large division, but we had a large class of seniors graduate last year and we just felt we fit better in the small division this year.”

Hoekert said after Westview’s tryouts, there were 14 girls who fit on the varsity team with 13 or more being the dividing line for the large division. There had planned on competing in the  large division until two weeks ago.

“We’ve competed in the small division before,” she said. “The big differences are the stunts you can perform and how big you can make your pyramids.”

The Class 6A Small division is likely to be among the most competitive of the finals with 14 schools involved, including four that finished in the top 3 of their finals last year.

“It’s a good change of pace for us,” Westview senior Allie Butler said. “There’s really good competition in that division.

Oregon City, which finished third in the large division, also moved to the small division, where it’ll be looking for its first title or even runner-up spot.

Newberg, which placed second the past two years in the small division, is also looking for its first title.

Lakeridge, which finished third in the small division, also returns.

Westview, Newberg and  Oregon City have all won competitions in the past month.

“We think we’ve got an outside shot at winning,” Oregon City Tara Mahoney said. “We have a pretty high degree of difficulty in our routine, so if we can get through it super clean, we’ll be in great shape.”

Mahoney works full-time as a tumbling, stunting and cheerleading coach through her company Thunder Elite, which took over coaching the Oregon City program two years ago. She said the sport is rapidly advancing as college programs offer more scholarships, thanks in part to Title IX requirements.

The University of Oregon recently created an acrobatics and tumbling  team in order to add baseball.

“The number of scholarships is definitely helping to make the sport more attractive,” she said.

While the 6A Small division appears highly competitive, the 6A/5A Large division has plenty of intrigue with defending champions lining up against one another. Tualatin tied for the top score in the meet last year at 72.50.

Brookings-Harbor and North Marion will be defending their titles in 4A Large and Small, respectively.

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