Benson sprinter Deborah Jones, who has led the Techsters to the Class 4A girls track and field state title the last three seasons, has signed a letter of intent with Texas Christian University.

Jones, who won the 100- and 200-meter titles the last two years and nearly won the 400, also visited Washington and Washington State.

'I have family in Texas, so it's not like I'll be totally alone there,' she says. 'I just thought it was the best setup for me.'

TCU has a thriving sprint program, and its 4x100 relay team finished eighth in the nation last year.

Meanwhile, Benson's sprinters are preparing for the indoor track season. The Techsters will be a huge favorite to again win the state track title next spring.

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Business connections landed former Trail Blazer Michael Harper at Franklin High, where he is the junior varsity girls coach.

Harper, who played for Portland in 1980-82, has coached throughout the Portland area, from Lewis & Clark and the University of Portland to four seasons as the head boys coach at Valley Catholic in Beaverton.

This is his first season coaching a girls team.

'I'm enjoying the excitement of a girls program,' says Harper, who is an assistant to the Quakers' varsity coach, Floyd Hall. 'We seem to have a lot of good shooters on the junior varsity and an up-and-coming program.'

Harper says he wound up at Franklin as a favor to the school's principal, Opal Chancler-Moore, whom he has represented on insurance matters for years. Harper owns an insurance sales business.

'You could call this payback,' he says. 'The good thing for me is, it's helping me look and stay young.'

Most high school teams open their seasons the week of Dec. 2.

PIL: The struggles at Portland Family Entertainment are likely to affect the move to install lights at Cleveland, Marshall and Roosevelt in time for the 2003 football season, PIL Athletic Director Greg Ross says.

Part of PFE's deal with the city of Portland included putting money into a fund to help the school district install lights around the football fields of the three schools that don't have them. The plan is expected to cost about $500,000. So far, $80,000 has been collected.

PFE, though, has struggled to meet its obligations with the city and could possibly walk away from all of its business dealings. A new operator for PGE Park and the Portland Beavers and Timbers probably would strike a new deal with the city, and there's no guarantee that the deal would include the lighting projects.

'We have enough money to get through the initial permit process, which we expect will be done in the spring,' Ross says. 'But there's no guarantee we'll have any money to build anything once that happens.'

Fund-raising efforts have begun at all three schools.

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