OSAA struggling with governor's orders

Changing directions on pandemic have prep seasons on edge
By Cliff Pfenning,

High school athletics are on tap to begin on Monday for fall sports across Oregon, but what that means for each school is vastly different - largely dependent on which county the school resides within.

For cross country, for example, schools can practice, but when a meet arrives, there's a limit to teams and/or runners that meet can handle as established by state guidelines for the Oregon School Activities Association. Larger schools are limited to meets involving just two schools, while smaller schools are limited to just 50 runners per meet.

A state championship meet remains unclear as to whether it will be allowed due to so many schools and runners participating annually.

Football and soccer practices are set to begin Monday, but volleyball, due to it taking place indoors, has not been cleared for anything other than workouts.

The fall seasons can begin as soon as the week of March 1, with the culminating week April 5-10 for all fall sports. Winter sports begin at that time with spring sports set to happen beginning in late May.

Scheduling is a key, very complex issue for each school with guidelines for counties affecting all of them. 


Volleyball clubs eye Dec. 5 for tryouts

Across state, programs have the date set aside for expanded practice
By Cliff Pfenning,

The ability to practice is going to be something of a challenge into the near future for all youth sports teams, but directing players to their correct voleyball team at least has a date set for it - Dec. 5, according to most clubs within the Columbia Empire Volleyball Association.

Tryouts will be held across the state for girls 15 and older, 14 and younger and also boys teams.

The season's Power League schedule is tentatively set to begin for 18s and 16s squads on Jan. 3 and run for seven weeks. A second half of the annual season would begin in late May after the high school season has played out from late February to early May.


Prep seasons start to come into focus - almost

Statewide plans for winter are drastically in need of government guidance
By Cliff Pfenning,

In following the virtual conversations among high school coaches and administrators from various sports this fall, there's one thing made very clear - everyone across the state wants to play, whatever the challenges. They all just want to play, get back to action, back to some form of the normal that was just nine months ago.

But, there's a key issue that is hampering that for all the sports - guidance from the state that continues to hammer on the facts that gatherings and virtually any kind of physical contact will cause the potential for spreading the COVID-19 virus and therefore are not allowed.

Some of the prospects are an awakeing to the fear of spreading the virus that has engulfed the nation, and in particular Gov. Kate Brown: virtual swim meets, wrestlers wearing masks and mats being sterilized between every round, basketball players wearing masks and the ball being sterilied during every timeout.

Reaction to these ideas in OSAA committee meetings has been tempered at best, but overall unified: whatever it is, schools, leagues, teams are willing to do them. They just don't have any guidance from the state, and in the case of basketball and wrestling - sports set to open up again in January, whether they'll actually be allowed to start.

Wednesday, the day after the 2020 Election, is a key day for OSAA committees as many are set to convene virtually that evening.


WHL will play, but Winterhawks season remains in jeopardy

Phase 3 guidelines mean the team cannot play with a mandatory crowd
By Cliff Pfenning,

There are some amazing challenges facing the teams in the US Division of the Western Hockey League these days, even on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Portland, for starters, the Winterhawks are still for sale, having been put on the block by owner Bill Gallacher mostly because he's in Canada and there's no crossing the border these days. 

In Seattle, the Thunderbirds now play in a market soon-to-be dominated by the NHL-expansion Kraken - due to begin play in October 2021.

And scheduling, well, it's a major stumbling block because none of the five teams can guarantee they'll be able to host a crowd, and the league has mandated games must be played before fans. Currently, strict guidelines for events being played before fans, from pro to college to prep, are nowhere near being met in either Oregon or Washington.

Oregon recently allowed for skating rinks to re-open in the Portland area last week, so the Winterhawks can practice. But, the league has stated it will begin play on Jan. 8 of 2021, which is slightly more than two months away. Canadian teams can play before limited crowds.

All of the US Division games would be played among its five teams.

The Hawks, led by No. 13 overall NHL draft pick Seth Jarvis, were atop the league standings when the 2019-20 season came to an abrupt close in March. It was shortly thereafter that Gallacher, a Calgary, Canada-based investor who has owned the team since 2008, allowed the team to go into bankruptcy after defaulting on several loans rather than handle the forthcoming financial problems caused by the pandemic. Heading into November, the team has yet to find a new owner.

Portland's four division rivals all play in Washington (Seattle, Everett, Tri-Cities and Spokane), and nine of the past 11 league championship series have involved have involved one of them. All five were among the top 10 teams in attendance within the league last season.

This is a developing story.



Les Schwab sold to out-of-state group

One of the state's major sponsors changes hands in sale
Staff Report

One of Oregon's most esteemed companies and sponsors of sports teams and events across all levels of competition finalized its sale last week, changing hands from the family that started the company in Prineville more than 60 years ago.

The company announced Tuesday it had agreed to a sale with Meritage Group, an investment firm with offices in California, Connecticut and New York.

"The decision to sell has always been about securing the long-term success of the company, Les Schwab Chief Executive Officer Jack Cuniff said in a statement. "Meritage Group has a history of preserving culture and values while growing its companies with investment over time. This is a great fit and aligns well with Les' vision and all we have built together."

The company has been one of the top sponsors for high school athletics, including the Oregon School Activities Association.

Les Schwab opened the company in 1952 and it has grown to nearly 500 stores in 10 states with annual sales of approximately $1.8 billion.

The company had been seeking a new owner since December, with the intention of a sale of at least $3 billion. At the time the company cited "the complexities of operating a family-owned business with five generations of family members, as well as the company's strong position" as factors in the decision, according to a news release.

The sale is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. The company said none of the management team will change.

Meritage Group also owns Portland-based beverage distributor Columbia Distributing which it acquired in 2012.


Dobler wins overshadow Jesuit dominance

Aloha senior sets national record while Crusaders rule 6A again
By Cliff Pfenning

BEAVERTON - Oregon's most elite-level swimmer, Aloha senior Kaitlyn Dobler, performed as expected to highlight the individual portion, but Jesuit also performed as expected to dominate the team element of Class 6A at the OSAA State Swimming Championships Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center.

Dobler, who is headed for USC, set a national prep record in the 100 yard breaststroke on the way to winning the event for the fourth straight year, and also set a state records in the 50 freestyle.

Jesuit won the boys and girls titles for the second consecutive year. For the boys, it was actually their sixth straight and eighth in the past 12 years.

In the Class 5A meet, Churchill won its first boys title and became only the second Eugene School District team to win at any level, following Sheldon, which last won a title in the 2000 girls meet.

Crescent Valley won the girls meet for the second straight year at Class 5A.

Dobler missed the 50-yard freestyle record by 0.20 seconds on Friday, but went 0.25 faster Saturday to lower the event record to 22.30. In the 100 breaststroke, she set the state record at 58.75 Friday, then lowered that to 58.35 Saturday to edge the national record by 0.05 set two years ago in Indiana.

"I knew what the record was and I had a thought I could do it," Dobler said, "but I didn't have any idea if I was close to it during the race."

In her four years at Aloha, Dobler won seven individual titles, including the 50 free three times to go with the four 100 breaststroke titles. She's among the top contenders nationally to qualify for the Olympic Team in the 100 and 200 breaststroke in June.

Fellow senior Tia Lindsay of Sunset, who is headed to Arizona, missed winning four individual or relay titles for the second straight year with a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke. She won the 200 individual medley for the third time in four years, and the 200 and freestyle relays - the 400 freestyle relay for the fourth straight year. She also swam on the winning 200 freestyle relay for the second straight year. In four years she won 11 individual or relay titles. Sunset also won the state team title during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Jesuit ran away with the Class 6A boys meet again, winning two relays and three individual wins to outscore second-place Lakeridge 124-68.

Jesuit's girls won one relay and finished second in two others to outscore Sunset 110.5-89.5.  



Churchill got a pair of wins from sophomore Charley Page-Jones and a win in the 400 freestyle relay to highlight its first title after never having even finished second. 

Senior Finn had a second place in the 500 freestyle and junior Davis Wingard had a pair of top 4 finishes to spark the Lancers.

West Albany missed its own first title by finishing second for the second straight year.

In the girls meet, Crescent Valley won one relay and finished second in two others to outdistance Churchill 75-50. The Raiders also got an individual win from senior Paula Lomonaco in the 200 freestyle, and Francesca Criscione in the 200 individual medley. Criscione also won the 100 butterfly and sister Vivi Criscione won the 500 freestyle.



Newport won its second straight boys title, while Catlin Gabel also became a first-time champion by winning the girls title.

Newport won all three boys relays and got two wins each from seniors Luke Bachart and Caden Shanks to easily outpoint Madras 75-30. Backart won the 200 and 500 freestyle finals, while Shanks won the 100 freestyle and 100 bacstroke. The Cubs won for the third straight year.

Catlin Gabel moved up from second last year by winning two relays and getting two wins each from juniors Eva Carlson and Lizzy Cook to outpoint last year's champion Sweet Home 78-65. Carlson won the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, while Cook won the 50 and 100 freestyle. 

Sweet Home's program continued its consistency by finishing either first or second the past six years with three titles.







Thurston girls turn frowns upside down with title

Lack of individual champion doesn't overcome a team championship
By Abby Emrich, Oregonsports Writer

PORTLAND - On the final day of the OSAA State Wrestling Tournament, Thurston High School’s girls had a bittersweet victory. 

 Individually, the Colts did not have a champion. But, they did enough before Saturday night's finals to secure the school's first team title in girls wrestling, edging Bend 72-66.

Thurston moved up from sixth last year.

“Our one disappointment is not having a champion,” Thurston coach Bob Simons said. "But the title, that's huge."

Kaylee Annis lost to Century’s Nimo Sheikh at 105 pounds, 4-3. Cailee Hallett lost to Century’s Tyler Rabang at 120, 15-2. And Lindsay Burrell fell to Mountain View’s Taylor Ohlson, 3-1, at 135 pounds.

With three in the finals, and winning 7 out of 8 matches, the outcome of the Thurston girls matches were a surprise to many. That lead going into Saturday night is what saved the Colts.



Sports media headed in a new direction

Online coverage is next phase, and readily available
By Cliff Pfenning, Publisher

Greetings fellow Oregonians and sports fans far and wide, and viewers interested in the future of sports media coverage.

These are challenging times for everyone, individuals, families, communities, businesses both small and large. It’s been especially harsh on the sports media world, as without events to cover, and with advertising revenue basically coming to a halt, a significant portion of writers and editors have been laid off, leaving some big questions about what might be coming in the future when the world gets back to some kind of normalcy. The stories that have been told through sports coverage generation after generation, are simply not going to be produced like they have been for the athletes and fans involved with those stories. That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be any coverage, it’s just going to less and for some time because that’s how capitalism works.

But, that’s the traditional business model based on newspapers, and I’m here to promote the shift in sports media that’s ready to happen. And, it’s going to be through the website We have a number of significant advantages over traditional media starting with the very key one - low overhead. As revenue does improve, we’ll be able to direct that to staff, which will make the company stronger and more valuable to the Oregon sports community. And, we also don’t have key limitations of newspapers - paper and the space
available - and TV stations and the time they have available. Through the internet we have all the space in the world to cover stories, and all the time avail to showcase those stories through video. We just need the writers, photographers, editors, etc., to produce those stories. And that’s the true shift in sports media - it’s going to involve the public to a significant degree.

Our main coverage is going to be the pro teams and major college programs in the state because that’s where the most interest is. But, we’ve got the ability to cover every level, every sport, every activity to a degree that has not been available in the past, it’s just going to involve your content, mostly volunteer and primarily through blogs. And they can be very specific blogs such as 6A volleyball or 3A wrestling or 2A baseball or softball. Or badminton, or ... if you can dream it up, and provide a few paragraphs on a regular basis, we can make it happen.

And, we’re going to have a lot of fun with this, too. That’s our motto, We have fun with Oregon.

As advertising revenue returns, we’ll be able to provide more traditional coverage. In the meantime there’s several things you can do as viewers that will help this shift take place - and that’s simply viewing. Check back with us on a daily basis Monday through Friday for now, and see if there’s anything interesting.
If there is something interesting, please feel free to leave a comment. And visit our social media pages and subscribe or follow those, especially YouTube. Video is a key element to our gameplan and having subscribers will allow for generating revenue through YouTube.

Another element is local ownership, something that's been cast aside for many, many years.

So, thanks for viewing and think about how you might become involved with this because that’s the future - we just put a brand on it:

It's official, spring sports cancelled

High School Class of 2020 has played for final time
Staff Report

Spring sports were officiall cancelled for the remainder of the year by the OSAA Wednesday following a directive by Governor Kate Brown to close schools for the remainder of the academic calendar year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Effectively, because schools are now closed through mid-June, there's no ability to schedule practices and games, so any hope of returning after then initial closure to April 28 ended.

“Today’s heart wrenching decision is difficult for all members of the OSAA family,” said Peter Weber, OSAA Executive Director. “We empathize with students and school communities, especially our graduating seniors, but recognize that these cancellations will allow our collective focus to remain where it’s most needed at this time - on the health and safety of all Oregonians.”

The OSAA halted its schedule March 12 during the final days of the boys and girls Class 6A, 5A and 4A basketball state tournaments following a decree to close schools by Brown. No contests have been played since.

It is the first time state championships will not be held in OSAA sports since 1962 when all three classifications ended in co-champions due to finals being rained out. State finals were also rained out in 1954 and '53. State finals were held both years in boys golf, as well as boys tennis.

The state boys track and field meet has never been cancelled since it began in 1927.



Crane leads top seeds to state titles

Only Oregon Episcopal provides an upset in 3A, 2A, 1A brackets
Staff Report

The first weekend of OSAA boys and girls basketball championship tournaments played out basically as expected with five of six brackets being won by the top-ranked team - except for the Class 3A boys.

In a remarkable weekend, Oregon Episcopal - seeded 10th, beat two-time defending and top seed De La Salle on the way to its first title, which came over ninth-seeded Cascade Christian in the final. The Aardvarks, who lost twice to De La Salle by an average of 18 points, had never even been to a final.

The other five brackets were all won by the top seed - Clatskanie (3A), Kennedy (2A) and Crane (1A) on the girls side and Toledo (2A) and Triad (1A) on the boys.
Only Clatskanie, though, repeated as champion. With its core group being juniors, the Tigers look primed to be a three-time champion next season.


3A - No. 1 and defending champion Clatskanie beat No. 2 Sutherlin 51-40 behind an all-star trio of juniors - Shelby Glodgett, Olivia Sprague and Kaity Sizemore, who combined for 46 points and 33 rebounds, helping the Tigers close out a 23-2 season.

2A - Sophia Carley and Ellie Cantu combined for 36 points to lead No. 1 Kennedy to a 48-26 win over Monroe. Carley finished with 13 rebounds as well.

1A - Top-ranked Crane won the girls title with a 45-41 decision over St. Paul, closing out an undefeated season. St. Paul’s two losses were both to the Mustangs, who featured just two seniors.


3A - Tenth-ranked Oregon Episcopal completed an improbable run to its first title with a 35-33 win over No. 9 Cascade Christian. The Aardvarks, who beat No. 1 De La Salle in the quarterfinals, trailed 30-25 with 6:55, but finished the game on a 10-3 run, finishing the season at 22-7.

2A- No. 1 Toledo beat No. 2 Western Christian 58-48 to complete a 26-3 season. The Boomers won their three tournament games by an average of 21 points led by all-tournament seniot Conner Marchant, who had 22 points and seven rebounds in the final. Four of Toledo’s starters played all 32 minutes of the final.

1A - Triad edged Damascus Christian 58-56 in spite of making just one of six free throws in the final 51 seconds. The Timberwolves, who avenged a loss to the Eagles in the second game of the season, had won their previous four state playoff games by an average of 24 points.

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