Pioneers, Cavaliers will be tough to beat
TRL BOYS TRACK: The two teams clash next Wednesday at Clackamas
Clackamas and Oregon City appear to be two of the strongest teams in what promises to be a dogfight for the Three Rivers League boys track and field title.
The Cavaliers pulled off a feat that was just short of a miracle at last year's district track and field meet, claiming the first district boys track and field title in school history, despite not winning an event. The athletes that pulled it off are a year older and 13 of them who placed 22 times in 11 individual events at district are back.
The Pioneers, who have several big-meet athletes returning, were impressive in last week's Three Rivers League dual-meet opener, a 92-53 win over Lakeridge.
The Cavaliers buried a shorthanded team from Milwaukie 105-1-/2 to 39-1/2 in their league opener.
'I've got a great group - one of the best groups I've ever had in terms of their work ethic,' said Clackamas coach Ford Morishita. 'I think we'll be competitive with everyone.'
But Morishita cautioned, 'Everyone's got their strengths and weaknesses. The team that ends up on top at the end of the season is going to be the team that does the best job developing athletes to fill their holes.'
The Cavaliers don't have a lot of holes. There are only four events where they don't have district place-winners returning - the 800, shot put, javelin and triple jump.
The Cavaliers will be especially tough in the distances and in the hurdles.
Led by sophomore John Paden, the Cavaliers return three district place winners in both the 1,500 and 3,000. Paden was district runner-up to Oregon City senior Jacob Goertz in the 3,000.
The Cavaliers return three district place winners in the hurdles. Junior David Marcus was a district runner-up in the high hurdles; seniors Eric Serres and Greg Inahara placed third and fourth respectively in the intermediates.
The Cavaliers won't be hurting in the sprints, where they have four district place winners returning - sophomore Spencer Bankofier, juniors Gabe Garza and Alex Galvan, and senior Micah Strong. Garza was district runner-up to Putnam junior Ricky Garcia a year ago.
Inahara, last year's district runner-up in the long jump, is the top returnee in that event.
The Pioneers have the top returnees in the district in the pole vault, high jump, and 3,000 (Goertz). Goertz is also second only to Lake Oswego junior Elijah Greer as the top returnee in the 1,500.
Oregon City will be dominant in the pole vault, with the return of senior Jack Hippler, junior Jared Hippler and senior Todd Laughlin. They placed first, second and fifth respectively at district a year ago. The Hippler brothers could be state title contenders this spring.
Jared cleared 14-6 in last week's meet with Lakeridge.
'We have four guys who can soar over 14 feet,' said Oregon City coach Adam Thygeson.
Oregon City senior Derek Hinkle, last year's district runner-up in the high jump, is the top returnee in that event.
Kody Kozak cleared 6-2 in a preseason meet with Tigard, setting a new Oregon City freshmen class record.
The Pioneers also have a couple of talented jumpers in the sophomore twins Tyler and Trevor Ferguson.
Tyler is second only to Inahara among returning district place winners in the long jump. Trevor was a district placer in both the long and triple jumps as a freshman.
'We have six or seven boys who can jump 20 feet in the long jump, five who can go 40 in the triple jump and three who can clear 6-2 in the high jump,' said Thygeson.
Trevor Ferguson set a new PR of 42-4-1/2 in winning the triple jump in the dual with Lakeridge.
Tyler Ferguson and Jack Hippler both earned points in the javelin at last year's district meet, as Oregon City finished third - behind Clackamas and Putnam - in the district meet team scoring.
Milwaukie senior throws specialist Jon Opperud is the district's top returnee in both the discus and shotput.
Putnam has an outstanding hurdler returning in junior Alex Gay, the defending district champion in the high hurdles.
Lakeridge junior Bill Mitchell is the district's top returnee in the short sprints.
Lake Oswego junior Elijah Greer, returning district champion in both the 800 and 1,500, is one of the top returning distance runners in the state.
Clackamas and Oregon City will find out how they stack up on a dual-meet bases in a hurry. They go head-to-head at Clackamas next Wednesday.