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Year in Review, Looking Back

It's hard to believe that another school year has come and gone

It's hard to believe that another school year has come and gone, but as the state playoffs wind down and spring championships are handed out, we are left to reflect on another magnificent year of sports in western Washington County.

Fans had plenty to cheer about in Banks, where both the girls volleyball and boys track and field teams finished second in the state, the latter performance including three individual championships by Banks athletes. The Braves also sent two basketball teams to Corvallis for the Class 4A state tournament, where the boys finished eighth and the girls took sixth.

In Forest Grove, the wrestling program crowned two state champions and a talented swimmer won his second consecutive state title, while the Viking football team ended a playoff winless streak that stretched back to 1985.

Down the road in Gaston, things were looking up thanks to a softball team that won a Northwest League championship, a boys basketball team that snapped a three-decade playoff drought and a football team that earned a postseason appearance for the first time in 17 years.

Looking Back

saturday, sept. 18

A little rain and the home team coming out on the wrong end of the final score does little to dampen the enthusiastic return of football to Pacific University.

In their first home game since 1991, the Boxers lose 37-9 to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in front of 2,715 fans at Lincoln Park Stadium.

'This isn't just a football game. It's an event,' Pacific Director of Athletics Ken Schumann says.

The Boxers lose the game, but for the newly resurrected program, the scoreboard at game's end isn't the primary focus.

'It was a great day,' Pacific head coach Keith Buckley says. 'It really was. The turnout was awesome. People had a great time tailgating in the rain. Students had fun, and so I think, overall, that is all positive.'

sunday, sept. 26

Pacific rides its smothering defense to two more Northwest Conference soccer wins, and the Boxers are rewarded with another jump in the national rankings.

Pacific clips Linfield 1-0 behind goalkeeper Andrew Stevermer's 20th career shutout - which includes a diving save of a Linfield penalty kick in the first half - and the Boxers follow it with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory against Willamette the next day.

'We've had some early success and we certainly appreciate the recognition, but we still have a long way to go,' says Pacific head coach Jim Brazeau, whose team improves to 8-0-1 and moves up three spots to No. 11 in the NSCAA Division III national rankings.

'The guys are playing well and we have a strong group of seniors this year who are providing very good leadership to the team.'

friday, nov. 5

Gaston's football team whips Chemawa 68-16 in its final regular-season game, earning the Hounds a No. 7 seed in the Class 2A state playoff bracket and ending a 17-year postseason drought.

'We're happy to be here and things are looking good,' says Gaston coach Reeve Woodward. 'This has been a long time coming, but it's really good for the guys. They're enjoying it.'

Gaston's last playoff appearance was a first-round loss to Warrenton in 1992.

saturday, nov. 6

The Banks girls run to an eighth-place team finish at the OSAA Cross Country Championships, making it three years in a row that the Lady Braves finish in the Top 10.

Banks gets a 19th-place individual effort from senior Jessica Markham in her final state meet appearance. Markham's performance caps a brilliant four-year career that includes a 49th-place showing as a freshman, a 22nd-place effort as a sophomore and an 18th-place finish last year.

Elsewhere, the Forest Grove boys match the second-best finish in school history by placing 10th.

Led by steady senior Josh Johnson, who finishes 28th overall, the Vikings have five runners tame the course in less than 18 minutes.

friday, nov. 12

Forest Grove stages a dramatic defensive stand in the final minutes of its Class 6A playoff game to beat Centennial 24-21, sending the Vikings to the second round of the state football playoffs for the first time since 1985.

Centennial drives to the 12-yard line and is on the doorstep of scoring the winning touchdown, but the Forest Grove defense rises to the challenge with a sack and an interception that allows the Viks to run out the clock on the first-round victory.

'We just needed one big play on that last drive, and once we got the sack I knew the game was ours,' says Forest Grove linebacker Brandon Carow.

saturday, nov. 13

The Banks volleyball team caps a magical postseason run with a loss to Crook County in the finals of the Class 4A state tournament.

Banks plays its way into the championship match with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-10 sweep of Central in the quarterfinals and a 25-23, 25-21, 24-26, 25-19 win over league rival Astoria in the semifinals, but the Lady Braves are no match for Crook County, the four-time defending Class 5A state champions who were moved back down to 4A before the season.

The Cowgirls dominate the net and walk away with a 25-14, 16-25, 25-18, 25-21 victory that ends Banks' season.

'They've got nothing to hang their heads about,' says Banks coach Suzanne Alley. 'I think this game will just drive them for next season.'

friday, nov. 19

Banks is undone by a trick play in the second round of the Class 4A state football playoffs, as second-seeded Gladstone steals a 34-28 victory.

In a flurry of offensive fireworks, the Braves and Gladiators score four touchdowns in the final 2:51 to turn the game into a wild sprint for the finish line.

Gladstone wraps things up when senior Adrian Joyner gets loose on a 61-yard end-around that moves the ball to the 10-yard line with less than 30 seconds left. Quarterback Joe Baker delivers a two-yard touchdown run two plays later that lifts the Gladiators to a thrilling victory and ends Banks' season.

Saturday, feb. 19

Forest Grove junior Gabe Rooker wins his second consecutive state title in the 100-yard breaststroke and helps the Forest Grove boys swim team pick up its fourth straight Top 10 finish at the OSAA Class 6A State Swimming Championships.

Rooker defends his state title in the 100 breaststroke, winning by almost half a second with a time of 57.02 seconds. He also adds a second-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:41.55), fourth place in the 200 freestyle relay and seventh in the 200 medley relay.

Forest Grove teammate and sister Sharon Rooker finishes fifth in the 100-yard backstroke (1:00.94) and eighth in the 200 individual medley (2:13.07).

Friday, feb. 25

Gaston makes its first state playoff appearance in three decades, but can't keep up with high-powered Stanfield, which rolls to a 90-72 victory.

The Greyhounds finish second in the Northwest League during the regular season but fall to fourth through a series of league playoffs, sending them on the four-plus-hour bus trip to face Stanfield in the program's first postseason appearance since 1980.

The third-ranked Tigers jump out to an early nine-point lead, then smother Gaston with a 21-9 surge in the second quarter.

Dusty Brown scores 16 points for the Greyhounds.

saturday, feb. 26

Forest Grove crowns two state wrestling champions, with senior Josh Johnson earning his second career championship at 112 pounds and junior Jake Bennett getting his first title at 160 pounds.

Johnson, who won a 103-pound state title as a sophomore but failed in his quest to repeat last season, storms to a championship in a stacked 112-pound bracket, beating John Vara of Hillsboro in the finals.

Bennett is just as dominant in winning his first state championship, giving up only one point in his first three matches and then beating top-seeded Jose Cruz of Grants Pass in the finals.

Another Viking, junior Kyle Vanderkin, finishes fifth at the state tournament at 171 pounds after losing a controversial decision in the consolation bracket.

wednesday, march 2

Forest Grove plays its way into the Class 6A girls basketball playoffs, but the Lady Vikings falter in a 45-35 first-round loss to Thurston.

Forest Grove digs out of an early deficit and pulls within three points in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Vikings fade down the stretch, turning the ball over three times and allowing Thurston two easy offensive putbacks that ice the game.

'I think we came out a little tense and a little tight, and (Thurston) took advantage of that,' says Forest Grove coach Dan Lumpkin. 'We dug ourselves a hole early on. Offensively I thought we were very patient and we took care of the ball pretty well, we just didn't get as many shots as we usually do.'

The Lady Vikings get 13 points from senior Kristi VandeBergh, eight from junior Jessica Ortman and seven from Taylor Lira.

sunday, april 22

Forest Grove finishes off a critical three-game sweep of Newberg to move into first place in the Pacific Conference baseball standings.

The Vikings smash five home runs in the series, which boosts the team from middle of the pack into a first-place tie with Tualatin and McMinnville.

'I think we're hitting our stride,' Forest Grove coach Kevin Tucker says. 'We're swinging the bats pretty well and our pitching is solid. If we can just get our defense to step up, I think we're going to be tough.'

Junior Jake Bennett goes 6-for-11 in the series with two home runs and eight RBIs, raising his batting average to a team-high .511.

tuesday, may 10

Gaston beats Nestucca 17-4 to clinch an outright Northwest League softball championship and guarantee the Lady Greyhounds a spot in the state playoffs.

One day earlier, Gaston sweeps a doubleheader against Neah-Kah-Nie, clinching at least a share of the league title, but the Hounds leave nothing to chance and take three straight from Nestucca to lock up the championship.

The Lady Hounds win 14 of their final 15 games in league play, and all while playing without a home field due to heavy rain and flooding.

'We haven't had a field to play on or practice on all season, so I'm pretty happy with the way we're playing,' Gaston coach Erik Lentz says. 'We've faced an uphill climb, not only with the field, but we only have two seniors on the team, and one of them had never played softball before this year.

'Considering all that, I think we've done quite well.'

saturday, may 14

Forest Grove crowns two district champions at the Pacific Conference track and field meet, including freshman Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski, a surprise winner in the boys 800 meters.

Lizier-Zmudzinski goes out hard and holds off a talented field to win the 800 with a career-best time of one minute, 59.98 seconds, earning him his first-ever bid to the state meet in Eugene.

'We knew he was a long shot, but he just went out and didn't turn back,' Forest Grove coach Scott McCahon says. 'He ran a great race.'

Senior Kristi VandeBergh also successfully defends her district title in the girls shot put with a lifetime-best throw of 40 feet, 6¾ inches.

tuesday, may 17

Forest Grove freshman Hannah Swanson puts the finishing touches on an 11th-place finish at the Class 6A state girls golf championships.

Swanson, who won every Pacific Conference match during the season, fires rounds of 81 and 80 at Emerald Valley Golf Course in Creswell to finish 11th at the state tournament.

After starting the first round with five straight pars, Swanson falls off the pace with three tough holes, but the freshman regains her composure and is just three-over par for the final 10 holes. On day two, Swanson makes her only birdie of the tournament on the 400-yard, par-five 13th hole.

Prior to the state tournament, Swanson also captures a Pacific Conference district title, shooting rounds of 80 and 76 at Forest Hills Golf Course on May 9-10.

thursday, may 19

Banks, a pre-season favorite to contend for a state softball title, is upset in the play-in round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

'I guess it just wasn't meant to be,' Banks coach Jenny Compton says after her team's stunning 3-1 loss to Molalla. 'It was just one of those games. Things happened to fall their way that day - everything went right for them and it didn't for us.'

Molalla jumps out to a quick 3-0 lead with two runs in the first inning and one in the second, and Banks struggles to figure out sophomore pitcher Sierra Benson, who fires a two-hitter.

'This is one of those games that I'm going to re-live for a while,' Compton says afterward.

saturday, may 21

Banks improves on last year's third-place team finish at the Class 4A state track and field meet, scoring 54 points to finish second behind Philomath.

The Braves get their point total from five athletes who combine to win three state championships.

Senior Linus Norgren wins a state title in the 400 meters, and he is chased to the tape by teammate Colby Seyferth, who finishes second. Seyferth also finishes second in the 100 meters and Norgren adds a runner-up finish in the 200.

Those two combine with T.J. Sandstrom and Deven Murray to win a state title in the 4x400 relay, and Matt Hidalgo adds a pole vault championship to the haul.