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Hard work. Overcoming obstacles. Achievement in the face of adversity.COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove High alum Jake Bennett throws a ball in from the outfield in a game last season.

These virtues form the foundation of any life or athletic success story, and all are prevalent in the story of Forest Grove’s Jake Bennett.

Bennett is an exceptional athlete. While at Forest Grove High School he won two state wrestling championships, was an all-conference linebacker on the football team and earned first-team all-league, first-team all-state and Pacific 8 Conference Player of the Year honors as both a junior and senior. But in spite of his success, the player and person former coach Kevin Tucker called “easy to be a fan of” has had to work for everything he now has — and will continue to do so in route to the goals he hopes to achieve.COURTESY PHOTO - Jake Bennett watches a hit to centerfield against the Utah Utes.

“I learned at Forest Grove the mentality that you’re not going to be gifted anything,” Bennett said. “You’ve got to work for it.”

So in spite of his high school success, including batting over .500 both his junior and senior years, Bennett received nary a Division-I scholarship offer. If he wanted to achieve his goal of playing Division-I college baseball, he’d have to go to work.

Bennett ended up attending Western Nevada College, a community college in Carson City, Nev., where — while not what he had hoped for —he started down the path toward his goal of big-league college baseball.COURTESY PHOTO - Jake Bennett heads to first following a hit against arch rival Oregon State.

“It was a little disappointing not getting any bigger offers,” said Bennett. “But once Western Nevada came along, I knew it was my road.”

Yet, even that wasn’t easy.

His first year at Western Nevada, Bennett was asked to redshirt by his coach.

“It was hard at first. But I took it as a

challenge,” he said. “I had to prove I could play at that level.”

And he did.

As a freshman in 2014, Bennett hit .324 with

a .448 on-base percentage and 25 RBI, earning second-team all-conference recognition. As a sophomore, he batted .398 with 36 RBI, while swiping 17 bases and earning Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors — enough to gain the attention of various Division-I programs, and more importantly, one of the offers he coveted most.

“I always wanted to play for an Oregon school,” Bennett said. “So when they offered me a scholarship, it was big-time.”

The University Of Oregon offered Bennett a scholarship, which he accepted, and when he arrived it was to a familiar situation: a view from the outside looking in.

He didn’t crack the starting lineup until the 15th game of the season, but once inserted remained there until season’s end, leading the team in batting average and playing a pivotal role for a team competing for a Pac-12 Conference title.

Stepping up to the Division-I level was another challenge for Bennett, but one — like his initial experience at Western Nevada — he faced head-on.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s what I expected. They’ve treated me really well here, and it’s been a great experience both on and off the field.”

While he still has a season left to play at Oregon, Bennett hopes his playing career doesn’t end there. An opportunity in professional baseball is his goal, and he’s been fortunate to see a couple of

his teammates make that


Two recent Oregon graduates, outfielder Austin Grebeck and shortstop Mark Karaviotis, started professional careers this summer, Grebeck for the Single-A Tri-City Dust Devils and Karaviotis with Hillsboro’s Hops.

“I talked with them when they played in Hillsboro a couple weeks ago,” said Bennett. “It’s cool to see them playing for their job.”

Bennett knows it’s a tough road, but one he’d love to try and tackle.

“I hope to have my name called in the draft,” he said. “Absolutely!”

Jake Bennett is a great athlete, but his success on the field hasn’t come easy. He’s earned his success and in the process earned the respect of the people who’ve helped him along the way.

“The greatest thing about coaching and knowing Jake is that his success is organic,” said Tucker, his former coach at FGHS. “It’s been earned daily, grinding it out when no one else wanted to. I’ve admired his ability to overcome the obstacles that have come his way.”

Tucker and Bennett have history to prove it.