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Cleveland golf team ends long drought

The Cleveland boys golf team celebrated its first Portland Interscholastic League title in 20 years on Monday, but everyone was back to business Wednesday, playing the OGA Members course in Woodburn.

The golfers are hoping to play the course again today and Sunday in preparation for the Class 4A state tournament, which will be played on that course Monday and Tuesday.

'It's a nice course, one that suits us pretty well,' says senior Nick Blatner. 'It's pretty dry, too, so you get a lot of roll.'

The team Ñ Blatner, senior Andy Peterson and juniors Mark Howe, Nick Rodgers and Mark Gray Ñ won the PIL district meet Monday at Heron Lakes to conclude a season in which the Warriors were undefeated in dual meets as well.

Coach Brian Taylor is hopeful that the team's experience Ñ including dual meet wins over rivals Grant, Lincoln and Wilson in the same week Ñ will help it perform well at the state meet.

'That was a lot of pressure for us in one week, and we played very well,' Taylor says. 'And maybe it's our year.'

The Warriors were last among 18 teams at the state meet a year ago. A PIL team hasn't won the boys title since Madison took the crown in 1975.

Defending champion Tualatin is the likely favorite. But numerous teams, Mount Hood champion David Douglas among them, have scored under 300 for an 18-hole round. That averages out to four players each shooting around 3-over per round. Tualatin won last year by shooting rounds of 305-308 at Langdon Farms in Aurora.

'I've been watching the scores, and it seems like there's a lot of teams playing well,' Blatner says. 'It's going to be a very competitive tournament.'

One thing that would help keep scores low is rain this weekend. Blatner says the dry weather this week helped greens on the OGA course dry out, which made them fast.

'They're pretty slick,' he says. 'It's pretty tough to stick your ball on them, so that'll be a challenge.'

The girls state tournament is Monday and Tuesday, also at Langdon Farms.

BASEBALL: Cleveland wrapped up a spot in the state playoffs under some playoff pressure Wednesday with a 9-1 victory over Benson at Powell Park. The Warriors lost unexpectedly to Madison on Monday, which put drama into Wednesday's game.

But the Warriors were ready and played like the team that defeated Lincoln last week.

'There was some playoff pressure, but we're undefeated in games like that,' says junior outfielder Ry Kagan, a three-year varsity player. 'Now we're in the state playoffs. It'll be fun to see what we can do there.'

The playoffs begin with subround games May 23.

Benson sneaked into the running for a state playoff berth by beating Wilson 9-3 on Tuesday. Senior outfielder Gary Jones homered for the Techmen. Benson, which had won just two PIL games last season, might have forced a playoff with Cleveland had it gone 4-0 this week. The loss Wednesday spoiled that scenario.

'But we've exceeded our hopes for this season,' says coach Rob Herder, who expects as many as four starters to return next season. 'We learned to win again.'

Herder started freshman Andrew Curtain at shortstop throughout the season. He also hit third in the batting order.

Lincoln junior pitcher Matt Berning, who is 6-7, is getting interest from several colleges in the Atlantic Coast Conference, coach Paul Benzer says. Berning throws in the mid-80s and has a solid slider.

'And he's a 4.0 student,' Benzer says.

TRACK: Grant's 79-66 victory over Wilson on Wednesday gave the PIL dual meet title to the Generals, who went unbeaten during the regular season. Benson won the girls dual meet title.

The PIL district meet is set for Tuesday and Thursday at Marshall High. The Mount Hood meet is Tuesday and Wednesday at Mt. Hood Community College, and the Metro meet is Tuesday and Wednesday at Jesuit.

Class 2A schools from the Northwest League will congregate for their district meet today and Saturday at Portland Christian High. The state meet is May 23-24 at Western Oregon University.

Track & Field News refuses to list Benson sprinter Deborah Jones' 11.54 time in the 100 from the Westview Invitational on April 19. The reason? It's too fast.

Mike Kennedy, who compiles the national list for the paper, wrote in a recent e-mail that he is waiting for confirmation of her time, because it was significantly lower than her previous best of 12.0.

TENNIS: Seniors Emily Kirchem of Reynolds and Steven Ly of Centennial won their fourth straight singles titles at the Mount Hood Conference meet Wednesday.

Kirchem reached the semifinals at the Class 4A girls state tournament last season and should be ranked either first or second in the seeding that will be done this weekend. She was seeded second last year.

Ly was the fifth seed in the boys tournament but lost to Lincoln's Charlie Cutler in the second round.

The district tournament results were as broad-based as possible. All 10 schools in the conference wound up with at least one representative in boys or girls singles or doubles headed for the state tournament.

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