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2010-11 saw a handful of standout stories

by: VERN UYETAKE The Civil War games this season were terrific and more competitive than they have been in a number of years.

The past school year featured the usual array of both triumph and heartbreak for the athletic teams at both Lake Oswego and Lakeridge High Schools.

There were terrific individual achievements and displays of teamwork.

After the final playoff games of the spring have been completed, I often sift through the papers from the past nine months.

And here, in no particular order, were my five favorite sports stories from the 2010-11 school year:

The resurgence of Lakeridge's football team and the renewed rivalry between the Pacers and Lakers:

At the beginning of the season, I predicted that Lakeridge would go 3-5 in the regular season and 1-4 in league.

At the time, I thought I might be giving the Pacers a bit of a hometown bump. It turns out that, even though I was one of the few people picking Lakeridge to finish above the basement in the league, I still underestimated the team.

The energized and much-improved Pacers steamrolled three preseason opponents and gave every Three Rivers League opponent a run for its money, knocking off both Oregon City and Clackamas.

Lakeridge then blitzed McNary in a play-in game to make the state playoffs.

The Pacers also gave themselves a chance to beat both Canby and West Linn.

While the final score of last year's Civil War game looked lopsided, Lakeridge hung with mighty Lake Oswego well into the third quarter.

The Lakers would go on to fall just one play shy of a trip to the state championship game but, for me, the biggest story of the year was the rejuvenation of the spirited Civil War game.

The Lake Oswego girls lacrosse team's state title:

If there is one thing I have learned in my eight years on the job, it's to never underestimate the Lake Oswego girls lacrosse team in the playoffs.

The Lakers have made a habit of going from plucky underdogs to state champs in just a few short weeks.

In all three of its state championship seasons, Lake Oswego has entered the state title game as the underdog.

And each time, the Lakers have had a flair for the dramatic. In their first two state titles, Lake Oswego came away with thrilling overtime victories.

This year, the Lakers entered the season's final game as a decided underdog against an Oregon City squad that had been a juggernaut all year.

The Pioneers had already picked up two wins over Lake Oswego in the regular season and many assumed that the semifinal game between Oregon City and Wilson was the real state championship game.

But the Lakers were resilient on the biggest stage once again, rallying from a big first-half deficit to pull off another shocker.

Lakeridge vs. Lake Oswego boys basketball games:

This is what Civil War games are supposed to look like. For the very first time, Lake Oswego and Lakeridge squared off against each other three times in the regular season and all three contests were exceedingly close.

The games were sloppy at times and didn't feature either team's prettiest effort of the year. But they were each hard-fought battles.

Playing in front of large crowds for each game, players dove for loose balls and showed plenty of emotion.

The Lakers would sweep the Pacers this year but all three games were decided in the fourth quarter and all three were extremely fun to watch.

The new format for state wrestling:

While I was sorry to see the annual district wrestling tournament done away with by the Three Rivers League, it's difficult to argue with its replacement.

The implementation of the new regional wrestling tournament, which combined the Three Rivers League and Mt. Conference for a competitive tournament to determine state berths, was one of the few recent changes made by the OSAA that could be deemed as unequivocally positive.

The tournament was considerably more exciting and competitive than the district tournament and it made winning a tournament championship or advancing to state a significantly more impressive achievement.

The regional format also made for a much more competitive state wrestling tournament.

This year's event was perhaps the most entertaining I have covered as only the top 16 competitors from each weight class advanced.

The state swim meet:

In what is always a fun event to cover, both Lake Oswego and Lakeridge rose to the occasion again this year.

Lakeridge's Amy Wiley picked up another state championship in the breaststroke and was second in the 50 freestyle, capping a fantastic high school career.

Wiley graduates as one of the most decorated swimmers in Lakeridge history and will compete for the University of Miami next year.

Lake Oswego's Andrew Heymann also earned a state title in the individual medley but the most exciting race of the evening came at the very end of the meet.

The Lakers' 400 freestyle relay team took more than three seconds off of its time in the prelims, getting great swims by Luke Marshall, Alex Lyons and Kevin O'Leary before Santo Condorelli pulled away in the final leg to help his team win the title.