Presenting East County's all-time best squads
Any other year, sports fans would be gearing up for some blockbuster Final Four matchups this weekend in college basketball. The COVID-19 outbreak has canceled that celebration, but let us present our own version of bracket madness with a 16-team tournament that will match the best East County high school teams of the past 40 years.
Look for the bracket to be released online in the coming week at greshamoutlook.com where readers can vote their favorites through to the next round.
Here is a look at the 16-team field in no particular order.
1989 Gresham volleyball
This squad won the second of what would be four consecutive state titles for the Gophers, but this group was the only one to do it with a perfect 33-0 season.
The Gophers landed three players on the all-state squad. Joy (Lambert) Russell and Lori (Weaver) Cook went on to win an NCAA Division II national title at Portland State in 1992 and reached the national semifinals three other times.
Another all-state player that season, Stephanie Warren, went on to play at the University of Oregon where she led the Ducks in kills in 1992.
2015 Barlow girls track and field
Barlow became the only team in state meet history to pull off a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100-meter dash with Danelle Woodcock, Sara Turner and Macie Allen sprinting through the line. Renick Meyer would join that trio to win the short relay, and Woodcock would finish first in the 200 and became the meet's high-point athlete for the second year in a row.
All four sprinters went on to compete in college. Woodcock at Mt. Hood CC, Turner at Goerge Fox, Allen at Concordia and Meyer at Seattle Pacific.
Barlow totaled 57 points to beat Jesuit by five in the team trophy chase.
2000 Centennial girls soccer
The Eagles outscored their playoff foes by a combined 14-3, capped by a 1-0 win over Jesuit to hand the Crusaders their first loss in 128 matches. Melena Ertler notched the only goal in the opening minutes of the finale and would go onto to be a stalwart along the back line at Oregon State.
Teammate Lindsay Clute also landed at a Pac-10 school playing the midfield at Cal, while Jamie Blakesley ranks seventh on Portland State's all-time scoring list.
The Bruins reached the big-school semifinals for the second time in school history, finishing the season with a 10-3 record — its only losses coming to eventual state champion Central Catholic and to Tigard, which finished the regular season ranked No. 1.
Four players, Jadon Morgan, Dawson Northrup, Nick Collins and Josh Nomie, earned second-team, all-state honors.
2003 Sandy boys track and field
The Pioneers won the big-school state title with two athletes earning All-American status.
Tommy Skipper cleared 17-feet-7-inches to set a prep national record in the pole vault. He also won the 100-meter dash and was runner-up in the 200. He would go on to win three NCAA pole vault titles at the University of Oregon, setting the school record at 19 feet, one-quarter inch.
Teammate Derek Andresian won the discus that day coming up five feet short of the state record.
Sandy finished with 59 points — beating is closest pursuer Beaverton by 14.
1997 Barlow wrestling
The Bruins finished second, less than seven points behind Newberg, in a down-to-the-wire state tournament. Ryan Gunderson won the heavyweight division and went on to play on the defensive line at Brigham Young University. David Jansen won the 151-pound bracket and entered the world of Mixed Martial Arts where he built a 20-4 record as a professional.
1985 Reynolds girls soccer
The Raiders ran through the playoffs, outscoring their four opponents by a combined score of 9-0, to give coach Joe Balla his third consecutive state title. Karen (Alderton) Kilburg was named the State Player of the Year and went on to play at Brown University where she guided the Bears to four straight Ivy League crowns.
1993 Centennial football
The Eagles reached the big-school semifinals with wins over perennial powers Roseburg, Jesuit and Glencoe. Chris Knudsen was named the state's Coach of the Year, while lineman Chris McNeel and defensive back Jesse Brand garnered all-state honors.
1996-97 Barlow boys basketball
The Bruins landed Freddy Jones on the first-team, all-state squad, while Jared Price earned second-team honors. The duo combined for a 49-4 (.925) record in their final two seasons together, finishing second in state in 1996 and reaching the semifinals in 1997.
Jones would help the University of Oregon reach the Elite Eight before embarking on a seven-year NBA career spent mostly with the Indiana Pacers.
1982 Gresham football
The Gophers raced to the big-school state title with a 13-1 record, highlighted by playoff wins over state powerhouses Lakeridge and Medford before beating Lebanon 13-12 in the title game. Gresham's defense did not allow Lebanon across midfield over the game's final 20 minutes.
The Gophers landed four first-team, all-state players with lineman Rich Haggerty garnering honors on both sides of the ball. He went on to play at Oregon State where he still is tied for the single-game record in sacks with four.
2008 Barlow boys track
The Bruins picked up first-place finishes in 5 of the weekend's 17 events, and finished with 74 points — the highest boys team total in 26 years.
Ryan Crouser would become a four-time NCAA shot put champion at the University of Texas and won gold in the event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Eric Capelle raced at Boise State where he is a member of the Broncos' all-time fastest short relay, while sprinters Malcolm Johnson (Boise State football) and Kevin Cook (Seattle U. soccer) would also compete in college.
1991-92 Gresham boys basketball
An overtime loss to Sheldon left the Gophers one bucket short of claiming the big-school state title. Gresham finished the season with a 25-2 record with John Kromer and Dan Meckel each earning a spot on the first-team, all-state squad. Kromer would go on to play professionally overseas for four seasons.
2013 David Douglas wrestling
The Scots had finalists in four weight classes with Vagif Afrasov (138 pounds), Elijah Turner (160) and Ihog Odighizuwa (195) all having their hand raised on the championship mat. Odighizuwa would go onto wrestle at Oregon State. His younger brother Osa, a rookie state qualifier on this team, is now playing defensive end at UCLA.
2001 Barlow baseball
The Bruins made a run to the big-school title game, upsetting a pair of league champions along the way, before falling to Lakeridge in the finale. Ace pitcher Mike Ekstrom went on to collect 45 strikeouts in five Major League seasons spent with San Diego, Tampa Bay and Colorado.
2013 Sandy softball
The Pioneers dropped their season opener in extra innings before running off 27 straight wins on their way to the 5A state title. Sandy outscored their opponents by a combined 223-32 that season and swept the 5A all-state honors. Kellie Wilkerson was voted Coach of the Year, Sammie Byron was Pitcher of the Year and teammates Chelsea Spanier and Meghan Luebbert shared Player of the Year honors.
2019-20 Barlow boys basketball
The Bruins took a 15-game win streak into the 6A state tournament when the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Senior guard Jesse White topped the program's all-time scoring list and finished his prep career fifth on Oregon's all-time list.
White has signed to play at Western Oregon next season, while backcourt teammate Evan Inglesby has earned a preferred walk-on spot at Gonzaga.
Look for our online bracket in the coming days to vote through your favorite teams.
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