Best of 2016-17: Woodburn Bulldogs
Any reminiscing of the 2016-17 high school athletic season begins with the Woodburn boys soccer team.
Once the undisputed best 5A program in the state, the Bulldogs reclaimed their mantle as State Champions after claiming a 1-0 victory over the Wilsonville Wildcats in the title game at Hillsboro Stadium in November.
This year's boys soccer team entered the fall season desperate to bring a title back to Woodburn after failing to do so in each of past three seasons.
As they had done in each of the past seven seasons, the Bulldogs dominated the Mid-Willamette Conference and cruised to another conference title to qualify for the state playoffs for the 32nd consecutive year, the longest such streak in the state among any athletic program in any classification.
Woodburn scored a 4-0 victory over Ridgeview in the first round, then took a 2-1 win over Hermiston in the quarterfinals before running into a powerful Summit team in the semifinals.
After playing 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, the two teams went to a penalty shootout, where senior goalkeeper Eddie Cabrera saved three shots to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 edge and send the team to the championship game against Wilsonville.
In the championship game, Woodburn thoroughly controlled the game against the Wildcats, finishing with a 15-3 edge in shots.
Woodburn ultimately took control in the 35th minute on a 20-yard shot from senior Anthony Santillan that found the back of the net, lifting the Bulldogs to victory.
Santillan was named Player of the Game in the aftermath, one of nine starting seniors who finished their careers at Woodburn proudly calling themselves the best team in the state once more.
The Woodburn boys basketball team finished the winter season in dramatic fashion in February, emerging from the bottom of the Mid-Willamette Conference to claim a sixth-place finish and a berth to the play-in round of the state playoffs.
The Bulldogs started the season with five straight wins, but fell on hard times once the league schedule began.
After losing its first five games against league opponents, Woodburn went 5-4 down the stretch, including two must-win games in the final contests of the regular season to qualify for the play-in round.
The Woodburn girls golf program made school history in more ways than one this season.
Before the spring season even began, senior Michelle Torres made headlines by becoming the first Woodburn athlete to earn the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship — an annual award given out to the best high school golf caddies in the nation that pays for full tuition to a number of universities throughout the country.
But that wasn't enough for Torres, who helped the girls golf program qualify for the state championship tournament for the first time in school history.
Led by seniors Alexis Charitar and Torres, who placed third and sixth, respectively, at the regional championships, the Bulldogs placed second at regionals.
The finish qualified the team for the state tournament in Corvallis, where the team went on to place seventh overall to wrap up the spring season.
The Woodburn wrestling program saw two of its most decorated seniors finish their career on a high note at the end of the winter season.
Team captains Rafael Vasquez and Karson Christiansen each finished their careers with top-four finishes at the 2017 5A State Wrestling Championships in February.
Vasquez took fourth in the 145-pound bracket, while Christiansen led the team with a third-place finish at 170 pounds.
Together with 138-pound sophomore Giovanni Bravo, who placed fourth in his bracket, and state qualifiers Omar Lopez, Marcos Hernandez and Wesley Vasquez, the Bulldogs went on to place 15th at the state tournament.
After qualifying to the state cross country championships a year before, Woodburn senior Gustavo Lopez was determined to get back to Eugene one more time for his senior year.
But this time, he brought the entire team with him.
Led by sophomore Giovanni Bravo and Lopez, the Woodburn cross country team surprised the Mid-Willamette Conference with a third-place finish at the district championships to send the entire team to state for the first time since 2012.
Bravo led the team with a fourth-place finish at districts, followed by Lopez in 13th and teammates Philip Laduca, Koen Howell and Uriel Cruz in the top 25 to make the Bulldogs the final team from districts to qualify for state.
The Woodburn boys placed 12th at the state championships led by Bravo's 20th-place finish and a strong showing by teammates Lopez, Howell, LaDuca, Cruz, Karson Christiansen and Rolando Camacho.