Local girls and some teams have a good chance to do well this fall

There was a lot of talk during the recent Olympicby: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington Games in London about this being the Year of the Women for medals by Americans. The women exceeded the medal count of the men and did it in more sports.

With this year being the 40th anniversary of Title IX, I thought that was only fitting and proof that given the chance women have come a long way in sports. Of course, there are many countries making only baby steps in women’s sports, but I believe I heard this was the first time every country had a woman representative. Many of those women competing weren’t medal winners or even contenders, but obviously just happy to be there.

After just completing our annual Fall Sports Preview it would not be a giant leap to suggest this might be the Year of the Women for local high school sports as well.

That’s not to say the boys sports won’t have their moments, but there is a strong possibility some of the local girls teams and individuals could do very well.

Take Scappoose High cross country. The girls’ team won the 4A state championship for the first time last fall. They have a number of girls returning, including two of their top runners—Tia Carnahan and Charlie Davidson. While Davidson won the district meet with Carnahan right behind, it was Carnahan that had the better state meet, taking fifth overall. Davidson was out for cross country for the first time last fall. That followed her memorable state championship in the 1,500 meter run at state the previous spring.

And don’t forget, Davidson was also one of the top players on the Scappoose High girls soccer team that also made the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

The cross country team will be a favorite in league and considered at least one of the top five teams in the 4A ranks. Coach David Harley has a couple of spots to fill, but he has two other girls returning, and some talented incoming freshmen, including Davidson’s sister (who will also play soccer this fall). That’s a lot of talent and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them win another title. They narrowly won by just a point last year, but may also be back even stronger this year.

The soccer team also has good prospects. Coach Chris Dorough not only has Davidson back, but also the state’s leading scorer in Ariel Viera. All she has done in her first three years is score 78 goals with a like number of assists. Viera is bound for the University of Portland, a Division 1 powerhouse. Her mere presence plus other factors like the World Cup and the Olympics has helped make soccer a popular sport for local girls. The team had a huge turnout and had to pare their rosters this year.

I did a story on Ariel a couple of years ago and one mother complained that she wasn’t the entire team. Of course she isn’t and I never suggested she was. She has meant a great deal for Scappoose, though, and has helped drive the program to heights that appeared out of reach just a couple of years ago. By all accounts, she is an unselfish player that spends a good deal of time helping her teammates.

This fall in St. Helens, the volleyball team may be another success story. The Lady Lions lost some players but have back a big, powerful team that will make its mark. The squad finished third in league last year, but just a win or so out of first. That’s pretty heady in one of the state’s toughest 5A conferences. They’ve set their goal as nothing less than putting a championship banner in the gym. I like the attitude and I like their chances for a really good season.

While some of the other girls’ sports may not be considering state titles, they are showing signs of great improvement. St. Helens girls’ soccer has a new coach, a good turnout, some energized freshmen, and some old hands. They, too, are in a strong league, but could be a big surprise this year.

The St. Helens girls’ cross country team will also be better this season. They also have a good turnout, some decent returning runners and could finish higher than their sixth place last year.

The Scappoose volleyball team also should do better this fall. Last year they won just one match. They would get a lead or tie a match, but couldn’t seem to close the deal. They have a new-old coach with the return of Mark Sprenger. The team is also big, but experience and confidence are issues. Sprenger may be able to get them on the right track.

It should be a good fall for the local girls in many ways. There will also be some girls doing well in other seasons—think St. Helens softball, Scappoose track, for instance, and surprises in others.

I’ve watched girls’ sports progress for the last 40 years and couldn’t be happier about it. I’ve seen state championship teams, and many come close. It’s been a joy to watch. In my view, women’s sports have helped changed society and for the better.

You go girls.

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