It was another wildly successful school year for Wilsonville sports teams. The Spokesman listed some of the most notable feats from the year that was.
1. Wilsonville girls golf captures first state title
In the days after the state title run, head coach Mike Nichols would look over at the state championship trophy in disbelief. "We did that," he said. Wilsonville had been one of the top teams in the state for a number of years and yet, because of the presence of state juggernaut Summit, Nichols often viewed the Oregon State Championships as a race for second place. But not this year. While Summit took a step back, nearly the entire Wildcat varsity roster from the 2016 season returned, including perennial top-seven state finisher Kaitlyn Howe. The Wildcats weren't a shoo-in to win state heading into the state championships. And yet Howe came one stroke from capturing the individual state title, Jessica Berry played rock solid from hole one to 27, Haley Schulte turned in the round of her life in the rain-shortened second day and Darian Breshears and Lexi Huebert also pitched in. In turn, Wilsonville led from start to finish and captured the program's first-ever state title. The seemingly impossible became a reality.
2. Wilsonville boys boys basketball goes back-to-back
Adversity was not something Wilsonville faced much during its 2016 state title run or its 2017 regular season. The Wildcats won all but one game during the regular season and stampeded through the first three rounds of the 5A state tournament. And yet, in an exceptionally well-played high school basketball game, Churchill gave the Wildcats a run for their money in front of a packed crowd at Gill Coliseum. In fact, Wilsonville held just a one point lead with 4:49 remaining in the game. But Zach Reichle buried a momentous 3-pointer and Wilsonville players contained powerhouse guard Lucas Miller and hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win. The win culminated a three-year run in which Wilsonville won two state titles, reached three state title games, won three Northwest Oregon Conference titles and generally laid waste to 5A competition. It was a satisfying ending for all.
3. Wilsonville football quarterfinals win
With their backs standing nine yards away from the goal line late in the fourth quarter of its state quarterfinals game against St. Helens, Wilsonville's offense needed 21 yards just to keep a sliver of hope alive.
But the Wildcats' dangerous passing game came through when the team needed it most.
On a clutch conversion, Connor Neville found Harrison Steiger for a 29-yard connection near the sideline for the first down. A few plays later, Neville connected with Steiger in the end zone to complete the miraculous comeback. The Wildcats had trailed 28-6 at halftime and could not stop the Lions' running game. But their front seven stepped up in the second half while the Wildcats' passing game awoke. Though they went on to lose in the state championship game, Wildcat players will likely never forget this improbable comeback.
4. Wilsonville reaches state finals via penalty kicks
Penalty kicks would decide which Northwest Oregon Conference team would advance to the final round of the boys soccer state tournament. And due to the heady goalkeeping of Oscar Baron-Soto, the cross bar that ricocheted Carlos Ulloa's penalty kick into the goal and Henry Tellez' game-winner, the Wildcats sealed their second consecutive appearance in the state title game. It was the apex of a remarkable playoff run for a team that lost three all-state players and a plethora of other contributors from the year before. It was a performance that proved that the Wildcat program's durability and consistency from year-to-year can rival any team in the 5A classification.
5. Wilsonville baseball's
extra innings triumph
Wilsonville's worst nightmare turned into a dream scenario during its first round victory over Summit. The Wildcats led 5-0 heading into the seventh inning but gave up six runs in the top of the frame to relinquish their lead. Kristjen Mertes's triple and steal home tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, Gage Gloster's lights out relief performance provided the Wildcat offense room for error and Camden Crystal's game-winning bunt drove in Dominic Enbody in the bottom of the ninth inning and capped the dramatic contest. Wilsonville went on to reach the semifinals of the playoffs and played in an even more bonkers game against Churchill in which the Lancers survived in 11 innings. Despite the loss, Wilsonville had its best season in years.
6. Rodenbeck's hard
work pays off
Perry Rodenbeck had worked all offseason for this moment — for the chance to compete in the state championship match. And the Wilsonville junior accomplished his goal. After trailing 5-2 in the state semifinals to Jace Godley, Rodenbeck came back to tie the match 5-5 with 30 seconds left in the third round. In overtime, he was ready for a quick attack from Godley, countered it and earned the match-winning takedown. Rodenbeck was elated to reach the state finals and performed remarkably well once there. Going against a two-time state champion in Redmond's Mitchell Willett, Rodenbeck kept the match tight until the final seconds before losing 7-5 following an unusual scoring error. Rodenbeck remained level-headed after the match but said the experience provided motivation for next season.
7. Sidney Lowry bests
seeded Summit players
Wilsonville junior girls tennis singles player Sidney Lowry was disappointed she did not earn a seed in the state tournament bracket. But seeding only matters so much. On the court, Lowry proved she was the third best player in the 5A classification after beating two seeded Summit players and placing third in state. To earn her first appearance in the state semifinals, Lowry controlled the match against Summit's Autumn Layden and won 6-3, 6-3. Instead of being frustrated by Layden's consistency and defensive mindedness, Lowry remained patient and ran Layden across the court with sweeping forehands. Lowry has improved steadily from her freshman season to her junior season and the junior state tournament was her most impressive breakthrough yet.
8. Stenstrom and Whitaker sweep district cross-country individual titles
Wilsonville cross-country runners Brooklyn Stenstrom and Nicholas Whitaker had contended for the district titles before their junior season but fell just short of victory. Whitaker finished second in the boys cross-country district meet during his sophomore season while Stenstrom placed third during the girls varsity race in 2015.
But in their junior season, both crossed the finish line first. Stenstrom cruised to a 13-second victory in the race at Blue Lake Park while Whitaker edged out Sandy's Michael Calloway by 2.7 seconds. Both runners were elated to win their first titles and felt that the hard work they'd put in throughout the offseason had paid off.
9. Wilsonville girls lacrosse beats West Linn in state quarterfinals
Though they play in a different classification in most high school sports, Wilsonville has always had a friendly but competitive rivalry with West Linn. And the rivalry is even more intense in girls lacrosse — possibly because the teams play in the same classification and, as of this year, the same league. This year, not only did they clash in the Three Rivers League but they matched up in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. And despite missing all-state caliber player MacKenzie Welberg, Wilsonville upended the higher-seeded Lions to reach the state semifinals. Izabella Chimienti had a dynamite game offensively while goalkeeper Annalyssa Sassara stonewalled many West Linn scoring attempts. While West Linn, which had reached five consecutive state title games before 2017, held bragging rights in years past, the Wildcats snatched it back this year.
10. Reichle scores
56 points in a game
Zach Reichle had gone on impressive shooting stretches many times throughout his high school career. But the game in the Milwaukie High School gymnasium blew all others out of the water. The Wilsonville senior dropped 56 points, made nine 3-pointers, hit 20 shots and floored the Milwaukie High School crowd. It was simply one of the greatest individual performances in the history of Wilsonville High School and maybe even Oregon high school basketball.