Warriors leave wreckage in their wake
Prep Watch • Cleveland wrestling blitzes through PIL, sets sights on state
Cleveland has made a couple of things clear.
The Warriors have the deepest wrestling team in the Portland Interscholastic League, and they have a shot at bringing back a trophy from the state tournament.
Cleveland showed its strength Wednesday in a four-way meet at Wilson. The Warriors beat another good PIL 5A team, Jefferson, 52-12, and then beat the PIL 6A's top team, Wilson, 54-14. Wilson stopped Jeff 51-27.
'We got it going pretty well. Wilson was a big win for us,' Cleveland coach Jeff Zerba says.
Jefferson won the most featured individual match, as Tarrence Williams raised his record to 2-0 against Cleveland's Eric Luna this season with a 9-4 victory. Last year, the two met in the state final, with Luna winning by pin at 119 pounds. This year, both are juniors and wrestling at 135.
Cleveland heavyweight Shaun Awai-Palakiko, fourth in the state last year as a sophomore, defeated Wilson's Jacob Mitchell 8-6 in another highlighted match.
Luna (29-2) and Awai-Palakiko (26-4) have plenty of teammates with successful seasons so far. Senior Jay Lowe is 25-6 at 215 pounds, senior Anthony Boggs is 20-8 at 152, and senior Jacob Wilson is 18-7 at 119.
Cleveland usually gets off to a good start in matches, with senior Joanna Leavy at 103 and junior Spencer Pottebaum at 112. Junior Lonnie Sahagen came through with a pin at 140 against Wilson, and senior RJ McKeever has been good at 189.
'It's a pretty experienced team, with guys who have been through the battles,' Zerba says. 'We work hard, and the key is probably our schedule -every weekend we're wrestling somewhere in the state. Our kids are used to wrestling some pretty tough matches.'
The state meet for all levels is Feb. 14 to Feb. 16 at Memorial Coliseum. Cleveland finished ninth last year.
'We're shooting for top four,' Zerba says. 'That's probably a tall order for us - 5A is every bit as tough as 6A - but that's our goal.'
PIL football teams will open the 2008 season on Aug. 28 -Zero Week -with five 6A/5A games.
The highlight matchup is at Madison, where defending PIL 6A champion Grant will face PIL 5A champ Jefferson at 5 p.m. After that, Wilson will play Madison at 7:30 p.m. Madison quarterback Steve Littleton transferred from Wilson a couple of years ago.
Cleveland will play host to a tripleheader -with Franklin-Marshall at 2:30 p.m., Roosevelt-Benson at 5 p.m. and Lincoln-Cleveland at 7:30 p.m.
The five early games replace the PIL jamboree; most coaches wanted to have a full game before going into nonleague play against teams from other leagues.
Another traditional rivalry that is now a nonleague game will have Cleveland at Franklin on Sept. 26.
Wilson will wrap up the regular season Oct. 31 at home against Jefferson in what figures to be a playoff tuneup for both squads.
Grant, Lincoln and Wilson could find themselves in a three-way battle for the PIL 6A title. Wilson will play host to Grant on Oct. 3 and then travel to Lincoln (or PGE Park) on Oct. 9. The Grant-Lincoln game is set for the final week of the regular season, Oct. 31, with Lincoln the home team.
Madison, in addition to playing 6A Wilson, also will have to take on Grant (Oct. 17 at Madison).
Jefferson has toughened up its nonleague slate, as coach Anthony Stoudamire desired. The Demos will play host to 5A state champion West Albany on Sept. 5 and Crater on Sept. 19 and travel to Sherwood on Sept. 12 and Marshfield on Sept. 26.
One of Cleveland's nonleague games will be at home against Monte Vista (Cupertino, Calif.), a school with an enrollment of about 2,800, twice that of CHS. In 2009, Cleveland will travel to Monte Vista for the rematch.
• Benson will replace Doug Bilodeau (6-30 in four seasons, 0-9 last year) soon with a new head football coach. Athletic Director Bruce Alton wants to have all applications by Wednesday and interview top candidates the first week of February, if possible, to make a hire before the Feb. 22 deadline for eighth-graders to declare their first choice of high schools.
Alton says he'd prefer someone who has coached at 6A. 'We hope to at least have someone who has been a head coach at the high-school level,' he says.
What a lot of Benson people want is a 'Benson man.' The school has other alums in head coaching positions, such as Leon McKenzie (track and field), Troy Berry (baseball) and J.D. Taylor (wrestling).
As Alton says: 'We're looking for a coach who can attract kids to come to Benson, and the most important thing is that he understands the heritage and history of Benson. We want to get back to Benson being a school of choice (for kids) and not a school of default.'
Alton says he called Bill Dressel, who coached Benson football from 1977 through 1997, going 160-59 and winning the 1988 state title, but says Dressel wasn't interested in coming out of retirement.
• Benson, which doesn't have a home field, will play its home games on Cleveland's new FieldTurf.
Benson has tried in recent years to arrange for a home game at the adjacent Buckman Field. Alton says the school hasn't given up hope of playing a game there as early as next season. 'We just need to work with the parks bureau to have the field taken care of the last month or so of summer,' he says.
Eventually, through the '10 Great Fields' project, Benson would like to have its own football stadium, with lights, 'like Cleveland has now - their facility is awesome,' Alton says.
The marquee matchup tonight is Wilson at Grant boys. It's the first of three meetings between the top teams in PIL 6A. And the teams have been going in different directions -Wilson (4-0 in league) has won five games in a row, while Grant (2-1) is on a two-game skid, with losses to Jefferson and 73-59 against Benson on Monday. '(The Techmen) played better that night than I've ever seen them play,' Wilson coach Scott Aker says. 'Grant is much better than that.'
Wilson (11-3 overall) is undefeated against Oregon teams but will have to contain Grant's arsenal, which includes guards Paul McCoy and Mike James and 6-8 wing Mike Moser. 'We're going to focus on just staying in front of Paul and keeping Moser off the boards, because he's a rebound machine,' Aker says.
nJefferson boys coach Marshall Haskins has talented sophomores Terrance Ross, Terrance Jones and Noah Kone, all three of whom could be significant college players. Haskins says seniors Tyrone White and Henry Williams also have been recruited by colleges, including Cal State Bakersfield, and White has been looked at by Columbia and Dartmouth 'because he's a good student and the student body president.'
The Jesuit High Baseball Forum, set for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the school, will offer tips for youth and prep coaches and players.
The lineup of speakers includes former Seattle Seahawk All-Pro running back Curt Warner. Baseball presentations will come from Larry Casian, University of Portland pitching coach; Jack Dunn, former coach at Portland State; Randy Rutschman, catching coach at George Fox University; and hitting specialist Jeff McKay, founder of Baseball Northwest.
Check-in is at 12:30 p.m. in the Jesuit Theater. Cost is $50 for coaches, $35 for players ages 13 and over; check or cash only. Contact Jesuit coach Don Lovell, a.lovell@comcast .net, for information. Jesuit and Madison are partner sponsors.
Grant's boys are marching toward the PIL 6A district title, while Grant, Lincoln and Wilson all are shooting for first place in the girls meet Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 at Matt Dishman Pool.
'I'm feeling pretty confident, although our girls have more of a challenge than the boys,' Grant coach Laura Tyrell says. 'Our boys are really, really deep.'
Grant senior Robert Ellertson is the premier swimmer in the league and a threat to win at state.
'We have a bunch of really strong swimmers,' Ellertson says. 'It's a rock-solid team. It's fun to swim with all of them.'
Leo Dworkin, Owen Bley-Male, Matthew Richmond, JP Cumming, Zach Walker and others should pile up the points at district. Dworkin won the district 500-yard freestyle last year, and Richmond captured the 100 breaststroke
Lincoln's boys are led by Chris Wright, the defending district champion in the 200 free and a co-captain with Alex Herman. Other top Cardinals include Brian Weller-Gordon, Spencer Hutchinson, Aaron Anderson, Riley Whitaker, Thomas Lovett and Corbin Brindle, a freshman.
Wilson's best boys are sophomore Dana Emerson, defending league champ in the 100 butterfly, and senior Steven Carreno.
• Wilson's girls beat Lincoln by one point in a dual meet last week, but they didn't know it immediately.
'We have a parent who posts the scores on the wall, but he doesn't get all the disqualifications and places right away,' Wilson coach Kelsey Bowen says, 'so we thought we had lost by 30 points.'
Wilson was missing one of its top swimmers, Andrea Chunga-Celis. She and Katelyn Liebe, Erin Schenk and Jandy Kiyuna - all club swimmers - lead the way, along with senior captain Christine McFadden.
The Trojans are going this year without their ace of 2007, Lizzie Mahalic. 'She's focusing on her club swimming, which I think is a good decision,' Bowen says.
A big race at district will be the girls 200 free, where Lincoln's Morgan Azinger nipped Grant's Kristen Sharp by .03 seconds last year, as both are back this season.
Other potential district scorers for Lincoln are Claire Diener, Victoria DeNegri and Mackenzie Perkins.
Grant's girls are led by Sharp, Ivette Dailey-Deaton, Nicole Jones, Kristen Delwiche and others.
Cleveland coach Olivia Poblacion has the itch to develop another young runner - herself.
Poblacion, a former distance standout for the Warriors who has been coaching at the school since she was 18, wants to compete in college. She'll continue as assistant track and field coach this spring and as cross country head coach next fall, but she has started to explore her options as a collegiate athlete.
'I'd like to run Division I, but it depends what kind of shape I get into and other things,' she says.
She won PIL cross country and track titles as Olivia Bender, then spent time traveling in Europe and New York City and then was an intern at a sustainable living community in Cottage Grove.
'I'm interested in a school that features biology, botany or environmental science,' says Poblacion, who turned 21 in November. 'I've always enjoyed being outdoors, not just running but also learning how the world works, the ecology, how all the systems work together and interact.'