Liberty softball program continues its run of success with another playoff appearance

Five straight trips to the state quarterfinals has been both a blessing and a curse for the Liberty softball team.

After another outstanding season, the Falcons made their fifth straight trip to the Class 5A quarterfinals this year, but they also saw their season end there for the fifth straight time.

“We left there holding our heads high,” Liberty coach Nolan Meeuwsen said after Liberty’s 4-1 loss to Pendleton on May 30. “I felt like we played as well as we could have. But it still stings when you lose a quarterfinal game for the (fifth) year in a row.”

Meeuwsen’s Falcons established a lot of program firsts this season — including most wins (22), most wins in a row (11) and most wins against 6A opponents (8) — but they ultimately fell short of the one first that everybody wanted: a trip to the state semifinals.

The future is bright, however, with only one senior on this year’s roster, meaning the Falcons should be a legitimate threat to finally break through the glass ceiling next year.

“A lot of good things happened this season,” Meeuwsen said. “There’s so much about this ballclub that has nothing to do with softball that’s really cool. This is just a great group of kids. They play the game the right way and they really reinvigorated me as a coach.

“I looked forward to every single day I got to spend with these kids and I think they felt the same way about each other.”

And he’ll get to spend a lot of time with them next year, too.

Girls golf team extends streak of state tourney appearances

Speaking of streaks, Liberty extended another one this spring when the girls golf team earned its seventh consecutive berth to the Class 5A state championships.

Led by junior Stephanie Miller, who captured medalist honors at the Northwest Oregon Conference district tournament on May 13, the Falcons qualified as a team for the state tourney yet again.

Miller showed her mettle with an impressive third-place finish at state, matching the best finish in school history. Miller’s two-day score of 19-over-par 163 was better than every golfer except the Summit duo of Madison Odiorne and Alyssa Kerry, who swept first and second place at 158 and 161, respectively.

That performance also helped power the Falcons to a fifth-place finish as a team with a cumulative score of 790.

Liberty’s other scoring golfers were senior McKenzie Oster (17th, 95-90–185), freshman Netianah Northcutt (30th, 109-105–214) and sophomore Elaina Maki (41st, 118-110–228). Freshman Lorrin Santoro also competed (58th, 141-145–286).

Young basketball team makes impressive run in NWOC play

Liberty’s boys basketball team didn’t feature a single senior starter this year, but that didn’t stop the Falcons from making a run at a regular-season NWOC championship.

Led by sensational sophomores Koby Alvarado, Blake Walker and Jacob Mast — who were all named to the NWOC all-star team — Liberty rolled to a 17-9 overall record and a 10-4 mark in conference play, two games behind league champ Sherwood and good for a tie for third place.

That sent the Falcons to the play-in round, where they whipped Dallas 62-51 to earn a spot in the 16-team state playoff bracket. Liberty’s season ended with a loss to Bend with a trip to the Class 5A state tournament on the line.

The Falcons graduated two seniors and will return all five starters next year, including 6-foot-3 post Byron Greenlee, who also picked up all-NWOC honors.

Boys swim team earns another fourth-place trophy at state

Two years. Two state trophies.

That’s what the Liberty boys swim team could say for itself after a dynamite performance — good enough to earn a second consecutive fourth-place trophy — this past February at the Class 5A state swim meet at Mt. Hood Community College.

A week after earning its first-ever district title, Liberty made the finals an exciting session all the way through on the second day at state. Anton Loncar, Daniel Lupro, Max Schmitt and Jake Collins got the Falcons on the board with a fourth place in the 200-yard medley relay.

And then the fireworks really started.

In the 100 butterfly, the University of Denver-bound Loncar upset three-time defending champion Carlos Hunnicutt of Springfield in near meet-record time for his second-ever individual state title.

Next up, Lupro finished second in the 100 freestyle, missing a championship of his own by just .04.

Then, Loncar, the 2013 100 backstroke state champion, put in a great bid to defend his title, but Mountain View’s Brandon Deckard went out fast and held off Loncar at the final wall. Both boys smashed the Class 5A meet record (50.77) and almost broke the OSAA record (50.02), with Deckard finishing in 50.03 to Loncar’s 50.23.

Lupro added a fourth place in the 100 breaststroke, and then helped the Falcons cap the meet with a stirring performance in the 400 free relay. The team of Decker Strom, Nathan Allison, Lupro and Loncar was sixth at the halfway point, but Lupro and Loncar swam the fifth-fastest and fastest legs of the entire race to overhaul Summit at the finish for second place.

In all, those efforts added up to 36 points for Liberty, which finished just a point behind co-runners-up Mountain View and Springfield.

Quite a day for those Falcons.

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