Classroom acumen mixed with athletic talent delivers second straight cup to Kennedy

INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO - Kennedy High School became the first public 2A school to win the Oregonian Cup in back-to-back years after finishing at the top of the standings this past spring.After winning the 2016 2A Oregonian Cup, the student body at John F. Kennedy High School figured the accomplishment was so impressive that they may as well rewind it back and do it all over again.

Following the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year, the Kennedy Trojans once again finished at the top of the standings for the Oregon School Activities Association's most prestigious award, becoming the only 2A public school in the award's 18-year history to earn the honor in back-to-back years.

"We've had a great run of kids, I don't know how else to put it," Kennedy Athletic Director Kevin Moffatt said. "We're very blessed to have the kids that we've had."

The Oregonian Cup was created by the OSAA in 1999 as a way to honor overall excellence by schools in academics, activities and athletics.

Schools earn points throughout the year based on their performances in athletic and other extracurricular activities such as band, orchestra and choir. Half of a school's point totals are based on both how the individual teams finish in the state standings, and for good sportsmanship, which is awarded based on the number of ejections each team's programs receive in the fall, winter and spring seasons.

The other half of the points are determined by each team's academic standing, awarding points for teams that finish with a cumulative GPA above 3.0 and for finishing among the top 10 schools in their classification for grades.

Just as like the year before, Kennedy earned the 2017 award by being among the best schools in the state in both academics and athletics.

"It helps when your best athletes are also the best students in your school," Moffatt said. "Those athletes deserve a lot of credit, because they put in a ton of work."

Academically, the Trojans had 12 extracurricular activities throughout the 2016-17 year that earned a GPA above 3.0, nine of which ranked in the top 10 compared against other 2A programs. Kennedy clinched the award with its stellar spring season in which the school's baseball and softball teams each had the No. 1 GPA at the 2A level, while the boys track team was ranked second overall.

On the softball field, the Trojans were led by Conference Player of the Year Hannah Arritola and Pitcher of the Year Tressa Riedman, both of whom earned 4.0 averages and helped lift the team to a cumulative GPA of 3.73 while advancing to the state semifinals.

On the other side of the field, the baseball team was led by First Team All-State senior Brett Traeger and Jack Suing, who also shared valedictorian honors at this year's graduation.

In track and field, senior Bishop Mitchell was the school's salutatorian and won three individual titles at the 2017 State Track and Field Championships. The boys track team finished fourth at the state meet and second in GPA (3.38), while the girls team finished ninth at state and sixth in GPA (3.57).

Including the school's band program and boys golf team, every single extracurricular activity that Kennedy fielded this past spring finished the term ranked in the top 10 in the classroom.

"That's pretty rare what we've had going, and the community gets behind us," Moffatt said. "The parents, the teachers, the coaches are all backing us up and play a massive part in that."

The spring term was a continuation of what the school had been doing all year, with the winter and fall athletic programs putting up strong performances on the fields and courts while putting up some of the best grades in the state.

And the achievements extend beyond the school into the community, where many of the students participate in the Oktoberfest, perform charity work or help with youth athletics.

"Our good athletes are so involved in everything. All the same kids are volunteering for everything that we do," Moffatt said. "I wonder if they almost do too much, but they seem to get the job done with all their things. Usually something gives with a high school kid when they're that busy. But they just keep on performing well."

Although Moffatt is in charge of the athletic department and is certainly proud of the school's athletic achievements over the years, he's much more impressed with the students' academic prowess.

"The grades are going to serve those kids more than the athletic prowess throughout life," he said.

With the graduation of so many top-tier students this year, it will be difficult for Kennedy to repeat the feat for a third consecutive year. Only two other 2A schools have accomplished the feat: Santiam Christian won it seven straight times from 2000 to 2006, followed by four consecutive wins for St. Mary's from 2007 to 2010 — both of which are private schools. Among public schools, only 5A Summit has won it at least three consecutive times, doing so in each of the past four seasons.

But Moffatt believes the next crop of students can be up to the task, especially since they have such an inspiring group of outgoing seniors with which to look up to, both athletically and academically.

"It's an easy sell on the field, because everyone wants to win," Moffatt said. "It's a little tougher to sell the academic part right at the beginning of a young kid's career. Hopefully they've built up a standard of excellence that the younger kids want to live up to, (and) they come in guns ablazing and get right after it."

Phil Hawkins can be reached at 503-765-1194 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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