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2007 saw thrill of victory, agony of defeat at WL

by: File Photo / Vern Uyetake, 
The volleyball team’s fourth state championship in 10 years made the choice for 2007’s top sports story a no-brainer.

For West Linn High School sports, 2007 ran the gamut of emotions. The year was loaded with dramatic finishes and impressive team and individual achievements as well as a few bizarre moments that will likely not be forgotten for quite some time. Here is an unscientific list of the top stories of 2007.

1: Volleyball wins state

It's no secret that West Linn's volleyball program has a long tradition of excellence. But, heading into this season, many believed that whatever happened would simply be good experience for next year's squad.

The Lions had just one senior on this year's team which was still ranked in the top five for much of the season. After flying under the radar, West Linn caught fire at the right time. In the state tournament the Lions hammered Lincoln then came out ahead in an epic match against top-ranked Central Catholic and finally knocked off North Medford to earn their fourth state title in 10 years.

2: Garner wins state title, wrestlers take second overall

Much like the volleyball team, it seems like every year, West Linn wrestlers are among the elite in the state. Last year's team could have been its best ever. The Lions took 16 wrestlers to state, dominating the district tournament.

Prescott Garner led the way, winning a state title at 119 pounds. In the end, West Linn took second place for the second time in four years.

3. Ali Super wins second straight javelin title

Ali Super didn't get to throw as much as she wanted to last spring during the track season. She was battling an injury in her throwing arm for the entire year and, as a result, was limited. Often her one throw in a meet would be good enough to win it, however.

Super got as healthy as she could leading into the state meet, where she was the defending champion in the javelin. Once again she came through in the clutch, winning the event handily for back-to-back titles.

4. Baseball team makes semifinals for third straight year

It was a bittersweet year for the Lions on the diamond. On one hand, West Linn accomplished a rare feat, making at least the state semifinals in three straight seasons.

However, the year came to a disastrous conclusion when the Lions blew a huge lead in the bottom of the seventh inning in the semifinal game against Westview. The tying runs came across on a misplayed pop-fly in the infield in one of the most bizarre games in Oregon high school baseball history.

5. Football team ends playoff drought

West Linn had fielded some talented teams on the gridiron in the past eight year but, surprisingly, none of them had won a playoff game.

This year, after a slow start, the Lions seemed to get better with every game. West Linn's momentum culminated with a victory in the opening round of the postseason over Beaverton. The Lions also gave top-ranked Lake Oswego and powerhouse West Salem a scare in losses.

6. Girls rugby team wins fourth straight state title

West Linn's rugby team rarely faces a team that can give it much of a challenge. The Renegades have been a dominant force over the past few years and that was the case again last spring.

The squad won state for the fourth consecutive year with a victory over its biggest rival, Canby.

7. Tennis teams each earn top-5 finishes at state

The West Linn girls, coming off one of the best district tournaments in school history, kept up their winning ways at state, earning a fifth place finish with, arguably, the most talented team in school history.

Meanwhile, the West Linn boys also cracked the top-five led by the young doubles team of Chris Erbin and Miles Rifkin which went on a late-season run, winning the district title and advancing all the way to the state championship match before eventually finishing in second place.

8. Cross-country teams both make state meet

Both the boys and girls teams were ranked in the top-10 for much of the season but that still didn't guarantee the Lions a berth at state in the competitive Three Rivers League.

The district meet couldn't have been much closer. The West Linn girls nipped rival Clackamas by a single point to earn its third straight district title.

The boys team ended up in a tie for second place with Lake Oswego but earned the trip to Eugene for the first time in a decade by winning the tiebreaker.

9. Girls basketball team wins in playoffs again

The West Linn girls followed up a terrific season with a wild playoff game against Tigard. On the road, the Lions and Tigers battled in a defensive showdown that went down to the wire.

With 12 seconds left, Nikki Aden hit a jump shot to give West Linn a 39-38 lead and a pair of Tigard shots were off-target, allowing the Lions to advance against the eventual state champions from Southridge.

The difference in the game was a jumpshot that Tigard player Corinn Waltrip scored at the wrong basket.

10. Boys basketball makes the playoffs

Playing in a league with Lake Oswego's Kevin Love and Oregon City's Brad Tinsley, West Linn qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years, taking third behind the above-mentioned teams.

The Lions drew a difficult first-round opponent however in Benson, an extremely quick and athletic squad which knocked West Linn out.