There was, in my estimation, a whole lot to like about the past year in Beaverton-area sports.
There were state championships galore. There were stunning comebacks. There were incredible performances and there were jaw-dropping collapses.
That said, here's my list of 10 great things from 2007, presented unscientifically, unapologetically and in no coherent order.
1. Valley Catholic's 1-2 punch: From the 2006-07 winter season, there was no bigger or better story than Valley Catholic's stirring run through the Class 3A boys and girls state basketball tournaments. The Valiant boys topped Regis in a thrilling finale to win their first-ever state title, while the VC girls fell just short in the 3A championship match and finished second to Nyssa.
That both teams reached state championship games in the same season was exciting enough, but the details were what made these efforts particularly memorable. The Valley Catholic boys, whose program struggled for years after the school first began accepting male students in 1992, were making their first-ever state tournament appearance and their first-ever state playoff appearance in 2007. To make it even more exciting, the Valiants had to come back from a 10-point deficit at the start of their game against Regis, and then from a six-point deficit late in the fourth quarter before winning 52-50 in overtime.
Likewise, the Valley Catholic girls soared to new heights in 2007, putting together the best season in school history, winning their second (and best) state tournament trophy to date. They also knocked off the state's No. 1 and No. 2 teams in their first two games and might have matched their male counterparts in winning a state championship if not for talented Nyssa, which ripped off a 15-0 run to open the game and rolled to a 59-39 victory.
2. Southridge hits a triple: The Southridge girls basketball team won its third straight state championship in '07 and added another jewel to what has become the crown program of Oregon high school girls hoop.
And the Skyhawks showed that every title is distinctive and new, this time coming back from a second-place finish in the Metro League season to rout Metro rival Jesuit 50-27 and avenge two regular-season losses to the Crusaders.
3. Westview's Sunday best: Not to be outdone, the Westview girls swim team also added a third consecutive state championship in 2007 and did so in dramatic fashion, winning the final event of the Class 6A state meet - held for the first time on a Sunday - to hold off Tualatin and win.
The Wildcats, who'd finished third in the Metro League regular season after battling injuries and absences, described their state championship as the most nerve-wracking of the three, but perhaps the most rewarding as well.
4. Hayward highlights: The Class 6A state track and field meet was a virtual cornucopia of exciting story lines involving Metro League athletes. Among the highlights were:
Beaverton hurdler Tyler McBee (at right) finished his incredible high school career in style, winning the high hurdles for a third straight time and taking second in the intermediates only after mixing up his steps and taking the final hurdle with the wrong leg. His runner-up finish there ended a streak of two straight championships in that event.
Southridge javelin thrower Michael Thompson ended his high school career at state with another dramatic victory over Tigard rival Chase Dalton. Thompson, who'd won the 2006 state title over Dalton by just 1 inch, won again in 2007 and it was even closer - this time, the two tied for first place and Thompson won by virtue of the better second-best throw.
Other state titles came from Jesuit discus thrower Lauren Wilkins, Valley Catholic shotputter Jordan Casey, Jesuit shotputter Andrew Matschiner and the Southridge girls 4 x 400 relay team of Falissa Smith, Alyssa Rife, Chloe Steinbeck and Arianna Edwards.
5. Net gains: Another senior who capped a strong career on top was Jesuit tennis player Rika Mehndiratta. Mehndiratta, the top threat to two-time Sunset state champ Laura Neal in 2005-06, found herself second to freshman teammate Meghan Moore at district as a senior.
But Mehndiratta made sure she didn't finish in the state runner-up spot. She steeled herself for the state final, mowed down Moore in straight sets and walked away a winner in her final high school match.
6. Diamond gems: Valley Catholic cashed in at the end of the spring season like no one else, winning a second state title under coach Roni Illias and sending seniors Emily Keagbine and Greta Mannen out in style. The Valiants beat West Valley League foe Willamina 6-0 in the state title contest.
But there was more noteworthy diamond action last spring too, including: Westview's stirring run to the Class 6A
state baseball championship game (the Wildcats lost to North Medford 3-2 in their first-ever title-game appearance); top-ranked Valley Catholic's stunning loss - its first of the season - to Glide in the Class 3A state quarterfinals; and surprising semifinal softball losses by both Jesuit and Westview - the 2006 state champion Crusaders and 2004 state champ Wildcats had high hopes of an all-Metro showdown in the 6A championship game, but Central Catholic and eventual champion Forest Grove had other ideas.
7. Summer breeze: There was plenty worth remembering about the summer season too, including another Oregon State championship in the College Baseball World Series, featuring prominent performances by Southridge grad Darwin Barney and Westview alum Jason Ogata.
And also noteworthy:
n Southridge High graduate Meredith Brunette led the Linfield College softball team to its second
straight consecutive NCAA Division III championship-game appearance and first-ever national title for a Wildcat women's team.
n The Beaverton Little League Majors all-star team won a district title and rolled into the Little League Softball World Series.
n The Dr. Barney's AAA American Legion baseball team surprised even itself by playing its way into the Legion state tourney and then into the state championship game before falling to the Medford Mustangs 11-7.
8. In the fall season, there was just no bigger story than that of the Jesuit girls cross country team. The Crusaders, love 'em or hate 'em, proved themselves again to be an unstoppable juggernaut. Jesuit won its sixth straight state title, and no matter what you say about the Crusaders' advantages over public school teams, you have to give them their due for hard work, talent, consistency and success.
9. The Westview boys soccer team fell short of its lofty goals this fall, yet still soared to new heights, beating Jesuit for the first time (not to mention the second time), winning its first-ever Metro League title and falling just short of a second state championship appearance.
10. The Westview football team followed a similar route, winning a share of the Metro title for the first time ever, then being the only Metro team to survive the first round of the playoffs. The Wildcats were eventually ousted by Class 6A state runner-up Tualatin in the state quarterfinals.
And in a couple most deserving honorable mention slots, let me make mention of: the Sunset girls soccer team, which pushed eventual state champion Lincoln to the limit on the Cardinals' home field before finally succumbing 2-1; the Valley Catholic girls soccer team, which fell to eventual state champion Hidden Valley by a 3-2 margin in overtime on the Mustangs' home turf; and the Jesuit volleyball team, which rebounded from a first-round loss at the state tournament with two straight victories and a fourth-place finish.