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Woodburn native soon may have 2 rings

Ay caramba! In the next couple of weeks, Paul Castro might need to be fitted for his second NBA championship ring.

Castro, 41, is a Woodburn native and Oregon State graduate who is in his ninth season as radio play-by-play voice for Spanish broadcasts of San Antonio Spurs games. He served the Trail Blazers in the same capacity for three years before landing in San Antonio, where he earned his first ring when the Spurs won the 1999 title.

'It's really been exciting,' Castro says. 'I have one of those dream jobs anyone would like to have. It's hard to describe how I feel about it, really. The Spurs are a class organization from top to bottom. They treat me great and make me feel like part of the team.'

Castro enjoyed the Spurs' run to their first title, when they went 15-2 in the playoffs. He says he thinks the 2002-03 Spurs are even better.

'We are younger and more athletic,' he says. 'There's even more of a team concept with this group. Manu Ginobili has been the X factor, and all the veterans on the bench Ñ Steve Smith, Steve Kerr, Danny Ferry, Kevin Willis Ñ have played an important role. They have mentored the young players and been about as unselfish as a group of guys could be.'

Castro holds a special place in his heart for Kerr. The former Blazer was the fourth-quarter hero of San Antonio's Game 6 victory that eliminated Dallas in the Western Conference finals.

'Steve is the same casual, down-to-earth guy he was when I met him years ago,' Castro says. 'He's the first to get to practice, the last to leave, and he was ready and waiting for his moment when it came.'

Castro, who spends most of his summers in Woodburn visiting with family and friends, likes the idea of another championship ring, but don't expect him to be showing it off this summer if he gets No. 2.

'I've only worn my ring three times,' he says. 'It's in a bank vault. I know I have it, and that's good enough for me.'

• Portland State is losing its track and field coach. After two seasons, Tony Veney is heading for Azusa, Calif., where his wife, Cloe, will be a professor of education at Azusa Pacific University.

'She left her job when I came to Portland State; it's time for me to do the same,' says Veney, who will seek teaching and coaching work in California. 'I feel mixed emotions about leaving. Whoever takes over this job is going to be getting it just as the program starts to crest the wave. It has been a rewarding experience to see it grow and watch the young people step up.'

One of them is sophomore Ryan Brown, a 6-2, 190-pound football wide receiver who placed sixth in the NCAA West Regionals at Stanford last week with a jump of 24 feet, 3 inches. Brown, who set a school record of 25-2 1/2 in winning the Big Sky championship two weeks ago, missed fifth place by an inch at the regionals, which would have qualified him for the NCAA Championships.

Brown hadn't practiced the long jump at all since April 12, Veney says. First there was a commitment to PSU spring football. Then there were turf toe and groin injuries.

'I was afraid of getting him hurt,' Veney says. 'For him to go out there without runway practice and do what he did the last two weeks is amazing. He's the kind of athlete who would excel at anything. If he concentrated on the long jump, he would be a midrange 26-foot jumper on a consistent basis. He's explosive and very fast. Most guys, they just don't have both.'

nÊThe Blazers want to interview Ed Stefanski, the New Jersey Nets' director of scouting, for their vacant general manager job.

• New Detroit coach Steve Mariucci liked what he saw in QB Joey Harrington during the Lions' recent minicamp.

'He is progressing well,' Mariucci says. 'You can't compare him to (John) Elway, (Dan) Marino and (Brett) Favre. You have to compare him to where he was a year ago, and his head was swimming in this camp then because it was all new to him. He is light-years ahead of that now.'

nÊPGA Tour golfer Ben Crane's pastor and good friend, Ron Mehl of Beaverton Foursquare Church, died last week of complications from leukemia.

• University of Oregon pole vaulter Becky Holliday keeps going higher. She cleared 14 feet, 8 inches ÑÊa collegiate record Ñ in the NCAA West Regionals last weekend at Stanford. Stacy Dragila's American record is 15-21Ú4. The Duck men swept the sprints at the same meet, with football receiver Samie Parker winning the 100 meters and basketball guard Jordan Kent taking the 200 in a personal best 20.99 seconds. Kent also made his first appearance in the 4x400 relay as that squad qualified for the NCAA Championships, June 11-15, in Sacramento.

• Jefferson High basketball guard Thomas Gardner is going to be in even better company now at Missouri. Joining Gardner there this fall will be 6-8, 240-pound power forward Linas Kleiza, a Lithuanian inside-outside threat who has Tiger fans thinking Final Four.

nÊPortland golfer Chris Maletis won the amateur crown on the second hole of a playoff last week at the Pacific Northwest Senior Players' Championships. He defeated Jerry Fehr, a member at the host course, Sand Point Country Club in Seattle.

• The University of Hawaii is close to giving football coach June Jones a new five-year deal, with raises for his assistants.