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Benson sprinters run into Oregon history books, again

Benson High's track and field team ventured to Los Angeles over the weekend and returned with two record times for their effort.

Tech's long and short relay teams both set records at the Arcadia High Invitational, which boasts a crowd of around 10,000 spectators and many of the top athletes from around the nation.

'It was quite an atmosphere with some great competition,' Benson coach Leon McKenzie says. 'It was nice to get out of the rain.

'We had some great times, and we look like we can go faster. I'm glad we went.'

The Techsters' 4x100 relay team of Brandi Probasco-Canda, Deborah Jones, Ashley Taylor and Sara Callier ran 47.44 seconds to eclipse the state record Benson set last year of 47.52.

The 4x400 relay team of Callier, Probasco-Canda, Jones and Priscilla Chandler, who is the school's Rose Festival ambassador, ran 3:52.14, which beat Benson's state record from last year of 3:53.1. Benson won that heat of the meet. But another heat was won by Long Beach Poly, which finished in 3:43.03.

In other meet highlights, Grant's Joaquin Chapa finished second in the mile at 4 minutes, 11.54 seconds; Grant's Lizzy Wild ran 2:20.33 in the 800; and Jones and Probasco-Canda went 55.51 and 56.65, respectively, in the 400. The times in the 400 and 800 are near the state bests this season.

LACROSSE: The boys program at Grant continues to be impressive, with 57 players signed up this season. The program has a varsity and two junior varsity teams and 37 more players in a middle school program.

'Things are going really well for our program,' says coach Matt Augspurger, who guided the Generals to the state semifinals last season. 'And we're seeing more interest around the PIL, too.'

Franklin has invented a JV team this year. Wilson and Lincoln already have programs that play against Oregon Episcopal, Hood River and Hermiston in one of four divisions of the state league. There are 26 boys varsity teams in Oregon, up two from last year.

Grant is hoping to return to the state playoffs.

'We're definitely progressing skill-wise,' says senior Chuck Mowdy, who has played on the squad for four years. 'We could go a long ways again this year because we have a lot of four-year guys.'

Grant plays today at its toughest division rival, Oregon Episcopal.

GOLF: The Cleveland boys golf team seems to have rebounded well from a disappointing state tournament last spring. The Warriors are in position to win their first district title in 20 years.

The Warriors, who finished 18th out of 18 teams at the state tournament last May, are the team to beat in the Portland Interscholastic League this season. On Friday at Eastmoreland, Cleveland won the PIL mid-district tournament by 10 strokes after defeating top challengers Grant, Lincoln and Wilson in dual meets earlier in the week.

'When I saw the schedule, I knew this would be the week that would make or break us,' coach Brian Taylor says. 'Winning all three of those matches and the mid-district really has us looking good.

'The guys weren't happy with their performance at state last year, and they want to make amends for that.'

Cleveland last won the PIL title in 1983. The district meet is May 12 at Heron Lakes Golf Course.

Cleveland's team goes six players deep: seniors Nick Blatner and Chad Ableson, juniors Mark Howe, Nick Rogers and Andy Peterson and freshman Mark Gray.

Howe, who finished last among the individuals at the 2002 state tourney, tied Jon Horner of Wilson for medalist honors at 72. Grant's Drew Hastings was third at 75 on the rain-soaked course.

'Mark was our fifth player last year,' Taylor says of Howe. 'But he got a job at Eastmoreland in summer and plays almost every day. Now, he's our leader.'

Lincoln senior Cassie Castleman, the defending Class 4A girls state champion, shot 77 at the girls mid-district Friday at Heron Lakes, tying May Lynn Chu of Grant for medalist honors. Those players finished first and second, respectively, at the PIL district meet last year.

Notes: Benson athletic director Bruce Alton says he already has 12 applications for the vacant boys basketball job and expects more before interviews begin May 17. All but one of the applicants are head coaches in Oregon. He expects to name a successor to Don Emry, who stepped down following the state tournament, by the end of May. Wilson AD Fred Freimark says he has 15 applications for the job of head football coach for the defending PIL champions. É The state's 4A football coaches support expanding the state playoffs to 36 teams, which might mean the fourth-place teams from most leagues would play one another on Tuesday prior to the first-round of the state playoffs, which will begin on a Friday in November Ñ this according to the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association. The OACA also is supportive of expanding the 2A playoffs from 16 to 24 teams. The Oregon School Activities Association might support that move as well, because it likely would put dollars into the OSAA kitty. And football is a big part of the kitty.

Contact Cliff Pfenning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..