From the fields to the courts to the pool, the Jesuit athletic program not only has no holes but it possesses few rivals, no suitable foil.
The Crusaders continually push the limits to just how great an entire athletic regime can be in a single season. It's a credit to the coaching, the dedication of the athletes and the talent that comes through Jesuit's doors every season that their teams are simply a cut above the rest, that state championships are the unofficial yardstick for which success is measured. Complacency has never set in. Contentment does not exist. There could be a day when Jesuit monopolizes every single Class 6A crown there is to capture, the ultimate tour de force that incites the haters and sparks even more statewide debate about Jesuit's place in the state's athletic sphere. The Crusaders are close and closing in on the holy grail with each passing year. And, after yet another banner season across the board in which giants thrived, underdogs came out of nowhere, individuals emerged and units galvanized, there's no cap to the Crusaders' capabilities.
For the second time in four years, Jesuit (Portland, Ore.) is the MaxPreps Cup champion, identifying the school as having the nation's No. 1 high school athletic program. After finishing the winter sports season more than 400 points behind Carmel (Ind.), Jesuit had a huge spring sports season. The Crusaders racked up state titles in boys golf, boys tennis, girls golf, women's lacrosse and baseball while finishing second in girls track. Meanwhile, Carmel picked up one state title (boys golf), allowing Jesuit to race past the Greyhounds with 2,243 points. Carmel finished second with 2,087 points while La Salle Academy (Providence, R.I.) was the only other school over 2,000 points with 2,035.
The MaxPreps Cup is a system used by MaxPreps to determine the No. 1 high school sports program in the nation. Schools accumulate points for finishing first or second in the state finals/championship or finishing in the Top 25 national rankings for a particular sport. Points are also awarded based on the size of the state, the popularity of the sport, the playoff classification for the sport played and for the number of teams competing in that playoff classification.
No. 4 Bishop England (Charleston, S.C.) might have had the best spring sports season of any school as it picked up six state titles and a runner-up finish. Meanwhile, Western Albemarle (Crozet, Va.), which wasn't even in the Top 100 after the winter sports season, moved up to No. 5 in the final standings thanks to four state titles and two runner-up finishes. Jesuit becomes the third school to double-up as a MaxPreps Cup overall champion. The Crusaders also won in 2016. Bentonville (Ark.) won back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015 while last year's champion, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), also won the inaugural Cup championship in 2012. With 11 state championships in 2018-19, Jesuit has 159 all-time state titles in school history. The 11 championships ties their annual mark of 11 state titles the Crusaders also earned in 2011.
The champions came in all sorts of forms. There were squads such as the girls' soccer team led by Katie Duong and Callan Harrington that could arguably be the best in state history as well as the boys' golf team that set fire to 6A. There were dynasty cementers like the boys swimming team that won its fourth straight 6A title, the boys' tennis team that dominated the tennis scene, the girls' golf squad that repeated as state titlists. Of course, there were avengers like the girls swimming squad, hair-raisers such as the girls' lacrosse team. The boys' basketball and boys soccer teams weren't expected to contend, yet proved the skeptics wrong by rising to the state title challenge. A year after going two-and-out at the state tournament, the volleyball team came back with retribution and buried the state with an undefeated season. The baseball team went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the land and won an all-time state title bout classic against Central Catholic, clipping its Holy War rivals in a 15-inning thriller. The boys and girls cross country teams were state runner-ups as was the girls' track team. The football team made the 6A semis. The girls' basketball team battled back to the state tournament.
Though winning isn't the end all be all by any means, the different squads from season to season don't want to be the ones without a banner next to their name. There is a healthy, competitive culture that orbits Jesuit athletics. Go to a Crusader football game and you'll likely find the entire boys basketball team in the middle of the student section leading the chants and cheers. Look up in the bleachers at a basketball team on a Friday in the winter and in all likelihood a horde of football players is at full throat, talking trash to Jesuit's on-court opponent. As much competition as there is inside Jesuit's walls, there's a sense of community that's widespread. Athletic social circles mingle together away from their respective sports outside of school. Though multisport athletes are becoming fewer and far between, the Crusader athletes all want the best for one another and support each other at every turn.
"The athletic community at Jesuit is so strong, everybody is doing it for each other," Jesuit outgoing senior Will Sheaffer said. "The football dudes are busting their (tails) so that the basketball guys can all go around the stands bragging and they're in the front row of every student section for us. You're not just doing it for yourself, you're doing it for a lot of people."
The various programs want to see their classmates and friends succeed at the highest level. The teachers fully support athletics, as does the Jesuit administration and the alumni. Principal Paul Hogan is an omnipresent fixture at every event he can get to. President Tom Arndorfer was a former standout athlete himself who had two sons play baseball and football for the Crusaders. Each higher up understands the importance of sports and its place in the scholastic infrastructure.
"This incredible accomplishment for our school—for all those hard-working student-athletes (many of them out on our fields right now, preparing for their upcoming seasons)," Hogan said. "Their parents, boosters, our supportive educators, and of course, our remarkable coaching staff. Our coaches and student-athletes pursue high expectations, but come away having learned and expressed empathy and compassion and love."
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