Top 10 Canby sports stories of 2019: volleyball team makes history, dancers win five in a row

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Canby placed third at the Class 6A volleyball state tournament in November.

#1 Canby volleyball team makes history

In its first trip to the Class 6A state tournament in 10 years, Canby had its best finish in school history.

The Cougars defeated rival West Linn 3-0 on Saturday, Nov. 9 in the third place match at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

Canby advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament by coming from behind to defeat Mountainside 3-2 on Friday morning.

After losing the first set 25-21 and falling behind 17-0 in the second, the Cougars roared back to win three straight games to set up a match with Central Catholic.

"That's just our team," Canby senior Ruby Kayser said. "Even though we just got our butts kicked, we're not going to lose the match. We never give up. I've never been on a team where you can be down 0-17 and come back to win a match. Mentally, that's almost impossible and just shows the mental toughness that we have."

Canby jumped out to a 2-1 lead against Central Catholic before the Rams rallied to win the fourth and fifth sets and send the Cougars to the third place match.

Kayser, who had 144 assists over the three matches, was voted to the all-tournament second team.

Canby junior Daley McClellan was selected to the first team after finishing the state tournament with 120 kills.

The Cougars, who had not won a playoff match since 2010, got to the state tournament by defeating Grant 3-0 in the first round and Sprague 3-2 in the second.

COURTESY PHOTO - Canby won its fifth straight show division state title last March.

#2 Canby dancers win five straight

The Canby dance team won its fifth consecutive state championship in the show division at the 2019 OSAA Dance and Drill State Championships on March 16 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

The Cougars recorded a top score of 88.27 to easily outdistance Clackamas (86.00), Glencoe (78.45) and the rest of the 11-team field.

The team's routine was titled "Together. Alone."

"The dance is about the idea of being together, in a room full of people, and still feeling alone," Canby coach Jennifer Chaffee said. "This was something the dancers could relate to."

The routine was built around a couple of sayings: "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," and "The grass is always greener on the other side." With that in mind, they created a glass house with grass inside to combine the ideas.

It started with just one dancer in the glass house, wearing yellow. All of the other dancers were outside of the box, wearing blue. Per Chaffee, as the dance progresses, the dancers in blue want to get into the glass house and into yellow. Toward the end, the glass house gets crowded, and one dancer decides that is not where they want to be.

For the first time, the music was created exclusively for Canby's team.

"We contacted a music producer in Utah, pitched him our concept and he created an original piece of music just for us," Chaffee said. "It's been an exciting process."

Canby coach and choreographer James Healey was also named the Class 6A coach of the year.

#3 Cougars win first football game in more than two years

Canby's football team remained on the field a little longer than usual on Friday, Oct. 25.

Players posed for pictures, hugged their girlfriends, and at least one lineman even broke down in tears.

For the first time in more than two years, the Cougars had reason to celebrate.

"We've fought for so long," said senior Bryant Raeburn after Canby's 35-28 victory over Oregon City. "Going into the season, I just wanted one (win). That was my goal, and I think we're unstoppable now. We have all the confidence in the world. We've had close games, but we didn't know how to win. I think we really started something here. I'm the happiest man on earth."

The win was Canby's first since Sept. 15, 2017 when the Cougars defeated Newberg by a similar score, 34-27.

Canby junior Chance Miller had 264 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Cougars past Oregon City.

Canby then closed the 2019 season with a 42-15 victory over Roseburg to win back-to-back games for the first time since 2016.

#4 Cougars podium at state track meet

Two Canby track athletes earned their way onto the podium at the Class 6A State Championships.

After running both a personal best and the fastest time (2:14.76) of any runner during 800-meter prelims on Friday, May 24, junior Izabela Kacalek finished fourth in 2:15 during Saturday's finals behind Jesuit's Chloe Foerster and Molly Grant, as well as Summit's Isabel Max.

"It was super cool to be on the podium," Kacalek said. "I didn't even know if I could make it to the finals, so it was cool to be fourth up there."

Canby senior Bryce Ard placed sixth in the javelin with a throw of 176'9". It was Ard's second time at the state meet in just his second season of competition. Ard moved to track from baseball after his sophomore year.

"Saying that I started only about 18 months ago, I feel like I did pretty good," Ard said. "I had higher expectations of myself, but I'd say I'm never satisfied. That being said, it was pretty good."

#5 Equestrian team high points at state

When the dust had settled and the riding was done, no one scored more points at the State Equestrian Championships in Redmond than Canby High.

Regardless of division or size, Canby's 395 total points were the class of the event, giving them the state title in the large school division, as well as the high point scorers for the event. It was, in all respects, a stellar performance by Canby's OHSET team at the fairgrounds May 9-12.

The Cougars came away with plenty of medals during state, including gold from Jordyn Tietz (Hunt Seat Equitation), Makenna Reierson & Hannah Schweitzer (Working pairs), Lauren Augustus (Showmanship), and the in-hand obstacle relay team of Augustus, Schweitzer, Jenny Tibbetts and Tietz.

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Issabella Berge shot a perfect score at trap shooting nationals.

#6 Canby trap shooter top female finisher

Competing in the USA High School Clay Target League National Championship, Canby's Issabella Berge shot four perfect rounds of 25 on July 13 in Mason, Michigan.

Out of 1,800 competitors, she was one of only seven, the rest all boys, to kill all 100 clay targets on day one.

"I was shaking," Berge recalled. "It was insane. It was a miracle. It just sort of happened."

After hitting 90 straight, the crowd began counting down as Berge took aim at the final 10.

Entering the finals of nationals tied for first place, Berge continued her streak by hitting another 25 straight targets.

After shooting a total of 138 in a row over the two days, she finally missed, but then regrouped to hit 96 of 100 in the finals.

Berge's most costly miss came on her final attempt of the tournament. Due to a longest run tiebreaker, Berge finished last of the 14 shooters who posted a 196, which placed her 25th in the nation overall. She was both the top female and top Oregon shooter.

#7 Canby wrestler places fifth in state

Wrestling in the 160-pound bracket at the Class 6A state tournament, Canby junior Logan Doman went 4-2 to get on the podium.

Competing on Feb. 28-29 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Doman pinned Mountain View's Leslie Combs in the opening round, and then scored an 18-7 major decision over Westview's Brison Mortenson in the second round. In the quarterfinals, Doman won a shutout decision 7-0 over North Medford's Thomas Hamilton.

Doman then lost to Sprague's Landon Davis, who would go on to win the state championship, by a 7-2 decision in the semifinals.

After falling to Roseburg's Darian Thacker 6-2 in the consolation semifinals, Doman regrouped to edge North Medford's Thomas Hamilton 10-9 in the fifth place match.

Doman qualified for the state tournament by winning the 160-pound division at the Three Rivers League meet on Feb. 16 at West Linn High School.

#8 New coaches revive programs

Football coach Jimmy Joyce and boys soccer coach Ryan McCormack brought new life to their respective programs.

The boys soccer team went 3-2-1 in its final five games, including a 2-2 tie with Three Rivers League champion Tigard. The Cougars lost to Tigard 6-0 the year before.

The varsity football team also finished the 2019 season strong, defeating Oregon City 35-28 and Roseburg 42-15.

Canby's offense put up 221 points during the 2019 season after scoring just 62 in 2018, and 139 in 2017.

#9 Canby athletes sign with Division I programs

Canby seniors Ruby Kayser and Mairen Chard signed national letter of intents at the high school on Nov. 13.

Chard, who has qualified for the OSAA state swim meet all three years of her high school career in the 100 butterfly and backstroke, signed with the University of Idaho in Moscow.

"It kind of seems unreal because I don't think of myself as being that fast because I know there's always someone faster than me," Chard said after signing. "It's eye-opening, and insane and crazy. It doesn't seem real. I can't believe it's happening."

She visited the University of Idaho campus at the beginning of September, which included dinner with the team and attending practice.

"It was just a really good time and I got a feel for how the team dynamic worked," Chard said. "I love the campus and the team and everything. I really love the coach (Mark Sowa). He's awesome. I get along with him really well."

Kayser, a First Team All-Three Rivers League setter for three straight years, will play volleyball at Mountain West powerhouse Colorado State.

The Rams won their 21st conference championship this fall.

"It's a special thing to be a part of," Kayser said. "There's a lot of tradition. The volleyball culture was the thing that I wanted so much out of a school and it ended up being perfect. As a little kid I always dreamed of playing a sport in college. I'm super competitive so I'm always reaching for the next step."

#10 Cross Country runners advance to state

Izabela Kacalek punched her ticket first.

Then 15 seconds later, came teammate Jennifer Torres.

And the news just kept getting better and better for Canby's cross country team on Oct. 30 at Clackamas Community College.

By the end of the Three Rivers League district meet, nine Cougars had qualified for the Class 6A cross country state meet.

"I felt real good coming into the meet, just because the process all year has been real good," Canby coach Tom Millbrooke said. "The kids have worked real hard and gotten better. It's been a very successful year. Our kids ran great and they ran to their potential today."

Kacalek and Torres both ran personal best times.

Kacalek finished third in 18 minutes, 35.3 seconds, and Torres placed fourth in 18:50.3.

Noelani Hernandez, Kahleia Rose and Emma Ulven also scored for Canby as the girls edged St. Mary's Academy by five points to place third in the team standings and qualify for state.

Individually, Canby sophomore Tommy O'Neil and senior Matthew Powell also qualified for the state meet, finishing fifth in 16:44.1 and seventh in 16:46.1.

Derek Wiley
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