Day shines bright for Eagles
Three-Sport Athlete Award
East County winner
Centennial High's Dawson Day celebrated plenty of big moments during his senior season with the Eagles, but his ultimate goal remained in doubt with only a few weeks left in his prep career.
Our 2017 Outstanding Three-Sport Athlete started the school year with a return to a place he hadn't visited since fourth grade — the soccer field. He had a bunch of friends on the team and what better way to start his final high school season than alongside his buddies.
It didn't take him long to make his mark.
Day scored twice for the Eagles in a jamboree against the Dallas Dragons to start the season. Two weeks later, he scored the equalizer before halftime on Centennial's way to a monumental 3-1 win over powerhouse Jesuit.
"He was diligent about running balls down, and once he got there, it was pretty tough to take him off the ball," Centennial assistant coach Steve Baker said.
Day topped the team's scoring chart with seven goals in seven games, capped by another two-goal performance in a win over Parkrose in the final preseason tune up.
It would be his final match of the season.
"We were getting ready for the start of league, and he's going through drills, nobody is nearby and he just goes down," Baker said. "I thought he had twisted an ankle or something."
It turned out to be more serious — a broken foot. He still came out and supported his teammates, watching the Eagles finish second in league before coming up a goal short against Newberg in the playoffs.
Day put in 10 weeks of recovery work on his foot — an injury that kept him sidelined through the early weeks of basketball. He was cleared to return to action just as the games started.
Centennial coach Osa Esene remembers when Day first arrived in the gym for his rookie year.
"I didn't realize it at the time, but I kept calling him by the wrong name," Esene said. "Every time there would be these giggles, but he never said anything. We were a month into the season before one of his teammates stepped in and corrected me. Dawson is just that kind of kid — he's going to roll with the punches and he's going to do it with a smile."
By his senior year, Day had developed into a main cog in the starting lineup and everyone on campus seemed to know his name. In the Eagles final regular season game, he came out from the halftime locker room and knocked down four straight 3-pointers as part of a shooting display that saw him put up 20 points in five minutes.
It was the type of flurry that would make Steph Curry jealous.
When Reynolds called timeout, the student section erupted with chants of 'Dawson Day.'
A few days later, Centennial moved past Aloha by two points in a qualifier game to make its way into the 6A playoffs.
The Eagles travelled to Salem to take on No. 8-ranked Sprague, pushing the Olympians to overtime before falling 74-69.
Day's ultimate goal of tasting playoff victory had eluded him once more.
"Getting our team back into the playoffs after missing out the previous year was a big deal, and even though it ended in a loss, we knew we had given them a great battle," Day said.
Next up was baseball season — Day's favorite sport.
"I started baseball at a really young age and have a lot of passion for it," he said. "You still have the team aspect, but you are also in an individual battle every single play. The mental game is important — you always have to stay sharp."
By the end of the season, Day was voted Player of the Year in the Mount Hood Conference. He dominated at the plate where he hit .434 on the season with 15 extra-base hits — three of those clearing the home-run fence. Day was just as unstoppable on the mound where he finished with a 9-1 record, and an ERA (0.22) that you need a magnifying glass to see. He struck out more than twice as many batters (76), as he gave up hits (33).
"He's extremely advanced both skill-wise and with his mentality for the game," Centennial baseball coach Kevin Christie said. "That mental component is what separates him from the rest."
Despite the impressive numbers, Day was still chasing that first high school playoff win.
Standing in his way was a Tigard team that had piled up 19 wins and entered the playoffs ranked in the top 10.
Day took to the mound and refused to leave until he walked off a winner.
That meant staying out there longer than usual, as the playoff game stretched to nine innings before the Eagles secured the final out in a play at home plate. Day and the Eagles walked off the field 1-0 winners.
"That was a big moment," Day said. "There was big hugging and screaming, and all that good stuff. Getting that first playoff win, that brought up a lot of emotions."
Day has signed to continue his baseball career at Yakima Valley Community College.
Look for recaps on our other top nominees in our Friday, June 16, print edition.