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Centennial High School sports teams prepare for 5A conference competition

The long time Mt. Hood Conference members will now be playing a new cast of opponents as Centennial High School moves to the 5A Northwest Oregon Conference this fall. PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR  - Centennial High School moves to the 5A Northwest Oregon Conference this fall.

The move was part of efforts to improve the district's athletic program and level the competition for the high school teams. While many recent Centennial teams have fallen near or at the bottom of the conference standing, some teams have even struggled to gather enough students to field a varsity level team.

In the 2021-22 school year, Centennial High School didn't have a varsity girls basketball team because of a lack interest.

"It was an opportunity that came up for our kids," said Centennial High School's new athletic Director Daunte Gouge. "We hope that being in a new conference with more equal competition could build some excitement back into the department, which will hopefully build our numbers and get more momentum going for our sports programs."

In the 5A Northwest Oregon Conference, Centennial will be playing against a lot of new faces including Canby, Hillsboro, Hood River Valley, Milwaukie Academy of the Arts, La Salle Prep, Parkrose, Milwaukie and Wilsonville.

The Eagles team have solid leadership in place during the transition as Gouge is very familiar with the division working as the athletic director for Parkrose High School for three years.

"Joining the Northwest Oregon Conference doesn't' make the competition any less hard. Those kids are working just as hard, but this conference is a little bit more evenly distributed," Gouge said. "We won't be going up against giants like the Central Catholics of the world, but we will still have some real competition like Wilsonville. It will be interesting for sure."

Gouge also said coming out of the pandemic and entering a new conference could spur more interest in students on the fences of joining in the past.

"I think coming out of the pandemic we have already seen a lot more interest in our teams," Gouge said. "We have been able to field three boys' soccer teams this year which is very exciting."

Gouge also said the support the district is putting into sports in general will also improve students' excitement toward joining a team. Gouge highlighted the district bringing back middle school sports like track and field, wrestling and basketball.

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