2018 Top Sports Stories

A look back through the calendar as we revisit the top stories from 2018

For Viking and Sailor fans, it was a year of ups and downs as teams adjusted to new leagues, classifications, coaches and a large influx of underclassmen onto rosters across all sports at both schools. The Vikings saw new head coaches for football, baseball and girls basketball, with new coaches at the helm for the Sailors in girls basketball and the return of second-year coaches in volleyball and boys basketball. Siuslaw’s football played its first season in the 3A while the rest of the Viking teams finished out the Far West League before starting in the new Sky-Em this past fall.

Along the way, there were individual and team accomplishments that stood out above the rest, as well as the traditional highlights of the sports year that included two new Athletes of the Year, a new class of inductees into the Siuslaw Hall of Fame, the naming of homecoming queens and kings, and other moments that will become memories.

What follows are 10 of the top stories from 2018 ...   

Huff pins second at state (Feb. 21)

While Viking senior Richard Huff was winning his semifinals wrestling match at 120 lbs. by a major decision during Saturday’s Oregon Schools Activities Association’s (OSAA) 4A state wrestling tournament, Crook County senior Pacer Quire was doing the same on the other side of the bracket.

Both steadily worked their way through the bracket toward the title round.

After Huff defeated No. 3 seed Alex Duran 16-2 to earn his spot in the championship round, he found himself facing Quire, a wrestler who had defeated Huff by technical fall earlier in the season at the North Bend Classic in 1:19.

This time, Huff lasted a bit longer, emerging into the second round before being pinned by Quire some 53 seconds later, finishing second in the state overall.

Huff, who won the 113-lb. state crown last year, went 42-6 this season, including claiming the district title.

Along with Huff, freshmen Brady Libby, wrestling at 106 lbs., and Elijah LaCossee, wrestling at 120 lbs., were on the mats at Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Both went 1-2 and were eliminated during the second round of consolation matches at last Friday’s OSAA state tournament.

Lady Vik bowlers second at state tourney (March 3)

Heading into the 2018 Oregon state high school bowling tournament at the Epicenter in Klamath Falls last March, the Lady Vikings were undefeated in tournament play as they faced off against 15 other district representatives from around the state, with large and small schools all competing together. The tournament started by bowling 24 qualifying baker-style games, followed by six more qualifying games the following day to determine the seeding in the double elimination that afternoon.

After the 30 games of qualifying, the Lady Vikings were in a good position as the No. 2 seed behind a Henley/Mazama team consisting of bowlers from both schools. The Lady Vikings started the elimination tournament by defeating the No. 15 seed Wilsonville. In the second match, Siuslaw faced No. 7 seed North Valley. In that two-game match, the Lady Viks got off to a big lead only to have North Valley rally in the second game of the match.

But the Vikings were able to weather the storm and defeat North Valley and qualify for the winners’ bracket — and a match-up with No. 3 Glencoe. In that series, the Vikings fell behind early and lost the first game.

In the second game, Siuslaw came back strong with bowling from Faith and Abby Coday, who rolled a strike in the ninth and 10th frames to win the match by 2 pins. This set up a match with No. 1-seeded Henley/Mazama.

In that match, the Lady Vikings kept the scores close with some clutch bowling, but Henley/Mazama narrowly defeated Siuslaw, sending the Lady Viks into the losers bracket.

Even so, the Vikings still had a chance to win the championship but would have to win two extra matches for that opportunity. In the first match of the losers’ bracket, the Lady Viks defeated Cascade Christian then advanced into a rematch with No. 3 seed Glencoe.

This time Glencoe was ready for the Lady Vikings. In the first game, Glencoe had a comfortable lead heading into the second game. But Siuslaw wasn’t to be denied as it came storming back to defeat Glencoe for the second time — setting up a dramatic rematch with Henley/Mazama for state title. Since Henley/Mazama remained undefeated, and the Vikings had a loss, it meant Siuslaw had to defeat Henley/Mazama twice to take the championship.

Entering the final game, the teams were only separated by 2 pins, making it a one-game, winner-take-all situation for the title. In short, after 30 games of qualifying and seven matches in the elimination, everything came down to one final game.

The Lady Vikings kept things close, but in the end lost out to finish in second place narrowly losing to Henley/Mazama on their home lanes.

“I have been to a lot of state bowling tournaments, including winning three titles, but this was some of the most intense bowling I have been a part of,” said coach and program coordinator Dusty Anderson, who added that rallying from behind in so many matches “was unbelievable.”

In addition to a hard-fought second place finish for the Lady Viks, Abby Coday, a senior, was named by coaches to the league’s First-Team All-Star roster and was recognized as the state tournament championship Most Valuable Player.

Going… going… gone (April 7)

The final remnants of the original Hans Petersen Memorial Field off of Quince Street were demolished on April 4 as excavators from Earth Works Excavation brought down the iconic bleachers structure. It had been some 17 years since any cheers had echoed across the original Hans Petersen Field located off of Quince Street, below the Florence Events Center.

With its official opening on Oct. 5, 1951, the first group of seniors to take the field included James Faulkner, Dean Small, Jim Wilson, Jack Dante, Richard Swigert, Ronald Harmon, Leon Coit, Bud Miles and Laurie Walker.

The location served as the hub of Viking football for the next 50 years, its cleat-pocked earth absorbing the sweat, blood and tears of generations of Siuslaw fans and players as they shared moments of both elation and disappointment, defeat and triumph. The final group of Siuslaw High School seniors to compete on the field — Brandon Little, John Sims, J. Sandman, Sean Lang and Jordan Stone — gathered there morning of Oct. 5, 2001 to commemorate both the field’s 50th anniversary and its final season.

The next fall, the field re-opened at its new location, behind Siuslaw Middle School on Oak Street.

Since 2002, remnants of the original field have slowly been relocated, removed or torn down, leaving the iconic structure that once housed the bleachers as the only reminder of the field’s long history.

On Wednesday, April 4, 2018, that reminder disappeared as excavators turned the structure into a pile of twisted metal and old lumber. The field’s beginnings stem back to 1948, when, on one September day, 82-year-old Hans Petersen was tragically struck by a car while crossing a street in downtown Portland.

Known throughout Florence, Petersen was a local businessman whose love for children made him an endearing figure within the community. There are stories told of how he provided space in his construction company building for kids to display their animals during the annual county fair — and of his often-heard wish for a community playing field that families could enjoy.

It was that wish that members of the Hans M. Petersen Memorial Committee set out to grant on his behalf. After settling on the idea of building a stadium, the committee, chaired by Edward Niespo, approached the Seaman family about a hilly piece of land on the edge of the city covered with pine, rhododendrons and huckleberries.

The site’s ownership was shared by brothers W.A. Seaman and A.E. Seaman, along with W.A. Seaman’s wife, Olive, of Coos Bay.

A deed was soon drawn up, transferring ownership of the land to the Petersen committee for a token $10 — just enough to cover legal fees involved in the transaction.

By January of 1951, the new field was taking shape as residents and local businesses donated time and materials, working together to build grandstands and complete the turf that would become not only a legacy for Hans Petersen, but a tradition for Viking fans in the decades ahead.

Siuslaw track claims two state titles (May 5)

Early success breeds future success. And if last year’s state performance by the Siuslaw track and field team is any indication, the Vikings can expect great things for the future. Two track members, sophomores Ryan Rendon-Padilla and Hannah Rannow, each brought home the state crown in their respective events — Rendon-Padilla in the javelin and Rannow in the 800 meters.

Rannow also placed fifth in the 3,000-meter race (10:40.14) over the weekend.

Rendon-Padilla launched a personal record throw of 181 feet, 7 inches for the javelin title; Rannow won the 800 event with a PR as well, finishing in 2:18.54.

A total of five Siuslaw athletes scored points for the Vikings during last weekend’s two-day state meet at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, competing in what was the final high school state meet to be held at the facility before construction of the new Hayward Field begins, possibly as early as the fall. It was a fitting end to the careers of the team’s only three seniors to reach state, throwers Trent Reavis and KC Tatum, and para-racer Josh Payne.

Reavis, who was sidelined most of the season while healing from knee surgery, came in late and managed to secure a place at state in the shot put, eventually landing fourth at 51-10.5. Tatum threw the discus 133-9 to take eighth in the 4A. Payne, making a return to state, finished with a pair of personal bests, placing second in the para 1,500 meters (5:13.85) and third in the para 400-meter race (1:16.87.)

Reavis graduated holding school records in the discus and IAAF javelin and could still break Siuslaw’s shot put record of 52-1, set in 1972 by Bruce Plaep, if he can do so by August 31 — the cut off for high school qualifying.

All told, eight more individuals and one team had top-14 or better showings at this year’s state meet, all of them underclassmen.

For the girls, freshman hurdler Gracie Freudenthal was fifth in the 300-meter hurdles after clocking a PR time of 46.83. Junior Madison Reynolds was ninth in the shot put at 33-11.75; freshman Andrea Osbon placed 11th in the discus (96-3) and 12th in the shot put (32-11.25); freshman Brea Blankenship was 12th in the 1,500 meters (5:19.04); sophomore Anne Wartnik was 14th in the 1,500 meters (5:32.04) and the relay team of Naomi Shoji, Rannow, Blankenship and Freudenthal ran the 4x400 relay in 4:16.71 for 11th place at state.

For the boys, sophomore Brendon Jensen ran both the 1,500 meters (4:27.21) and 3,000 meters (9:37.19), finishing 13th in both events. Freshman Ryan Jennings, competing in the 300-meter hurdles, finished 14th in 46.25.

Athletes of the Year (June 2)

During last June’s Athletic Excellence Awards Dessert hosted by KCST at Siuslaw High School, 26 athletes were recognized for their commitment and contributions to athletics at Siuslaw and Mapleton high schools, as well as their individual accomplishments over the 2017-18 school year. Gathered with friends and family, each athlete at the dessert had been spotlighted at some point throughout the year — some more than once — as KCST’s Athlete of the Week.

During the course of the last three sports seasons, the athletes being honored had contributed to a total of 19 new school records and won 17 individual district and state titles between the Vikings and Sailors. Among those athletes, 12 finalists were announced earlier in the week. Finalists for the girls included Abby Coday, Hannah Rannow, Gracie Freudenthal, Alexis Smith, Emma Collins and Brea Blankenship for the girls; boys finalists included Kyle King, Trent Reavis, Richard Huff, Jared Brandt and Ryan Rendon-Padilla of Siuslaw, along with Gabe Simington and Dominic Wells of Mapleton.

“It was a tough group to select from,” said KCST news director George Henry. “There were so many outstanding student athletes, with each of them making big contributions to their teams’ overall successes.”

At the close of the awards ceremony, which included entertainment provided by Siuslaw’s cheerleading squad and specialty desserts prepared by Siuslaw High School’s culinary students and served by PRIDE members, Siuslaw sophomore Hannah Rannow and senior Kyle King were named as KCST’s Athletes of the Year because of their athletic accomplishments as well as academic achievement.

Athletes of the Week

2017 - 2018

Makenzie York, Jordan Long, Brendon Jensen, Kendal Robinson, Dominic Wells, Hannah Rannow, Emma Collins, Trent Reavis, Isaac Griffes, Kyle King, Richard Huff, Brea Blankenship, Dylan Wynn, Patrick Hill, Abby Coday, Riley Jennings, Brady Libby, Jake Hickson, Ryan Rendon-Padilla, Haley Meier, Caleb Hennessee, Gabe Simington, Alexis Smith, Ariel Rosenbaum, Dylan Rogers and Gracie Freudenthal.

Siuslaw honors 2018 HOF inductees (Aug. 15)

As Siuslaw wrestling coach Neil Wartnik put it, “Life is like a relay race, handing the baton from one generation to the next. To get a clean hand-off, you need examples of leadership and excellence from those who come before you.”

Wartnik’s words came early in the 2018 Siuslaw Hall of Fame induction ceremony last August, spoken during his introduction of inductee and 1974 wrestling state champion Dwight Chapman, who echoed Wartnik’s sentiments about the importance of legacy.

“The people who came before us — we stand on their shoulders,” said an emotional Chapman, who wore his father’s 1943 Siuslaw High School letterman jacket to the ceremony.

It was an evening full of reminiscing that spanned decades of Siuslaw tradition, recognizing athletes and coaches from 1964 through 1994. Despite the span of three decades, it was clear that there was a common thread of shared experience from the generations of Siuslaw alumni who gathered to recognize some of the individuals who contributed to those the school’s legacies.

Among them was the late Dennis Howell, a legendary first-team all-state linebacker who was a member of the 1963 team that claimed the school’s first state play-off bid and went 11-1 upon reaching the state semi-finals. Howell’s family was there to receive a plaque on his behalf, with past Florence Police Chief Lynn Lamm speaking about his life-long friend.

“I’ve been telling stories about Denny since 1961 because, to put it plainly, he was an unforgettable character who was as passionate as he was compassionate,” said Lamm. “He remains the toughest man I ever knew, and that’s after 40 years in law enforcement.”

On Oct. 29, 1973, Howell lost his life in a tragic logging accident near Thorne Bay, Alaska, while saving the lives of two co-workers.

Howell is the subject of a chapter in recently published book “The History of Siuslaw High School Football: A Tradition of Excellence” written by SHS alumni Don Hunt, who introduced the next inductee, Jim Weber — who also graduated in 1964 and played on the same football team with Howell.

Weber, who spoke from his seat at a special table with family and friends, joked that Hunt’s speech “was longer than my high school career,” which drew laughter from the room.

He then added, “I’m glad and very proud to be a part of leaving behind a legacy of expectancy.”

Others honored by induction included:

Kenon (Scanlon) Neal, Class of 1984; Stephanie (Vavich) Henderson, Class of 1989; John Condie, Class of 1991; Travis Knabe, Class of 1994; and long-time cheerleading coach Diane Conlee, who coached three teams to the state championship in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

The evening ended with the recognition of three teams of cheerleaders from 1991 through 1993, each of which won state titles in those years.

Among those honored were:

1991 — Tracy (Weeks) Brown, Erica (Sanders) DeBois, Mary Girard-Anderson, Kim Murphy, Dawnielle Anderson, Lisa Patterson and Cari Maxwell.

1992 — Emily (Harline) Head, Amy Summerfelt, Shannon (Johnson) Vavich, Brown, Murphy, DeBois and Anderson.

1993 — Tanya (Church) Eckroth, Emily (Clark) Parmenter, Amy Durbin, Karen Ellison, Kathy Grange, Julie Gray and Head.

Siuslaw fields first soccer team (Sept. 22)

With the success of the Siuslaw Youth Soccer Association (SYSA) over the past few years, and with numbers growing to well over 100 players each season, it was only a matter of time before that popularity would translate into the Vikings fielding a high school team. As of last September, that time had come. Fourteen players — 12 boys and two girls — took the field for the first time to represent Siuslaw on the soccer pitch as they faced Sutherlin’s boys junior varsity team.

Though the crowd was relatively small, Siuslaw co-coach Nyra Campbell said, “The team was excited to play and the nerves showed a bit in the first half.” It took a full 31 minutes of play before the first goal was scored, when the Bulldogs were able to get past Siuslaw’s defense and launch a kick into the far post corner along the ground.

“The team settled into the game after that and played the way we know they can,” said co-coach Londi Tomaro.

Strong defense at both ends of the field continued for a good portion of the second half, creating a virtual stalemate until late in the match when senior forward Zoe Leech lined up for penalty kick. Moments earlier, freshman forward Casey Adams had taken a hard knock while attempting to score from the penalty box.

Leech was sent in to kick for Adams, placing the kick into the left side of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

“Once the team felt the rush of adrenaline from scoring a goal, they really put their all into it,” said Campbell.

Siuslaw’s defense went into high gear, dominating the Sutherlin offense for the remaining 8 minutes of play and holding the Bulldogs scoreless to end the match in a tie.

Campbell said she and Tomaro were pleased with the team’s debut and are excited to get back on the field for competition Oct. 1 at North Bend.

“Although we didn’t win, it felt like a victory for the team. The players are excited to work toward the next contest,” said Campbell.

Though the Siuslaw team is technically an Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) boys JV team, rules allow female players to compete on the team as well.

Because schedules for OSAA-sanctioned contest are made at least a year in advance, Siuslaw will compete in non-league JV games through this and probably next fall, with the potential of joining regular league schedule in 2020.

This season’s Viking roster includes:

Seniors: Zoe Leech at midfield and forward, Kaeli Ramos at midfield, Hannah Freudenthal at defense; juniors: Caleb Hennessee at goalkeeper and defense, Matthew Hubbard at forward, Ramiro Ramirez at forward, sophomores: Jacob Lloyd at defense, Sonny Stillwell-Coverdale at defense, Jaxson Jensen at midfield; freshmen: Imanol Pelayo at forward and midfield, Kassandra Dietrich at defense, Casey Adams at forward, Jerrel Brumley at defense, Jason Garcia at mid-field, goalkeeper.

Siuslaw, Mapleton crown Homecoming royalty (Oct. 10 and 17)

During halftime of last year’s homecoming football games at Siuslaw and Mapleton in mid-October, students and parents of both schools were on hand for the announcement of homecoming courts for 2018.

Siuslaw’s homecoming court included: Freshman royalty included Hayden Muller and Henry Muller; sophomores Savannah Morris and Liam McClellan; juniors Bryn Clement and Brandon Jensen; and the 2018 queen and king, seniors Kaitlyn Snook and Ethan Hack.

Mapleton’s homecoming royalty included: Freshmen Levi Torrence and Brier Shird; sophomores Robbie Burnett and Jordan Simington; juniors Cody Soverns and Trinity Holmes; and seniors Jade Starlight, Baileigh Johnston, Eric Hayes, Brittany Wilson, Evan Moso and Erin Michael.

The 2017 homecoming queen and king, Alexis Gierki and Dominic Wells, were on hand to crown this year’s king and queen.

Lady Viks XC second at state, boys eighth (Nov. 7)

After securing a trip to state with a second-place finish by both Siuslaw cross country teams at the Sky-Em League district title meet, the Viking boys and girls were on the 5,000-meter course at Lane Community College on Saturday for the OSAA state 4A meet last November. With sun breaks, cool temperatures and no wind, racing conditions were near perfect for runners from all 12 teams competing for state titles.

For the girls team, which returned six of its seven runners from last year’s team that finished fifth at state, it was an opportunity to capitalize on its experienced line-up for a higher finish this year. Siuslaw made the most of that opportunity, finishing with two runners in the top 15 and five in the top 30 to secure second place — just four points away from overtaking Marist for the state title.

Junior Hannah Rannow had Siuslaw’s highest individual finish, running a time of 19:02 for fourth place, which was an improvement of more than 1 minute over her 2017 time (20:12). Sophomore Brea Blankenship had the Lady Viks’ second-highest finish, placing 15th overall with a time of 20:16, followed by freshman Rylee Colton in 22nd (20:33), junior Chloe Madden in 25th (20:44) and fellow junior Anne Wartnik finishing Siuslaw’s scoring in 30th place with a time of 20:44. Gracie Freudenthal, a sophomore, was 41st (21:38) and senior Naomi Shoji finished 45th in 21:47.

Tillamook junior Solace Bergeron, the defending state title holder, claimed her second consecutive title, trimming 14 seconds off of last season’s winning time, finishing in 18:30 for the 2018 title.

In the boys race, juniors led the way for Siuslaw, beginning with Brendon Jensen’s time of 17:15 for 25th place overall. Kiger Johnson was the next Viking to cross the finish line and 38th overall in 17:41, followed by Jonah Jarman in 17:57 for 39th place.

Sophomore Ryan Jennings was the fourth to score for the Vikings, placing 56th in 18:08, and senior Robert Mans was the final scorer, finishing 58th with a time of 18:09. Junior Jared Northrop didn’t score but ran a season’s best time of 18:26 and 64th place, and freshman Chad Hughes finished with a time of 18:42 for 71st place.

Marist won the state title with 54 points.

Neece named to All-State football roster (Dec. 19)

When the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) released the names of players recognized for the 2018 1A Football All-State Roster, among them was Mapleton’s JJ Neece.

The sophomore linebacker and quarterback was one of only two underclassmen included on the list of juniors and seniors from 1A teams throughout the state. In addition to leading the Sailors in scoring and tackling, Neece entered the 1A 8-man football record books last fall during the team’s 70-54 win over Oakridge. The 6-foot-2, 200-lb. Neece rushed for 484 yards and eight touchdowns on 26 carries against the Warriors. He also completed 4-of-6 passes and scored six 2-point conversions for the Sailors.

Neece’s 484-yard total ranks sixth on the all-time list, and his eight rushing touchdowns ties him for No. 4 on the all-time list.

In the first four games of the season, Neece had already rushed for more than 1,100 yards and had 17 touchdowns.

Defensively, he chalked up more than 100 tackles — including 14 in the game against Oakridge.

Neece’s performance as a linebacker earned him Honorable Mention on this year’s OSAA 1A All-State roster for 8-man football.


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