Year in review: Top sports stories of 2019
1. The Culver wrestling program under the helm of J.D. Alley won its 12th state title in 13 years.
Make it 12 state titles in 13 years for the Culver wrestling squad and coach J.D. Alley.
The Bulldogs had three state champions and one runner-up in 2019. Lane Downing won his first state title last season as a junior. The 138-pound wrestler pinned his opponent in the second round.
Cylus Hoke (190) became a two-time state champion pinning his challenger at the 3:15 mark. Hoke finished his senior season with a 39-5 overall record.
Lorenzo Vasquez became one of Culver's most decorated wrestlers during his career as a Bulldog. Vasquez not only became a four-time state champion at the 2A level, joining Miguel Baltazar (2005-2008) and Jared Kasch (2010-2013) as the only Bulldogs to accomplish this, but also became a back-to-back Reser Tournament of Champions first place finisher.
Vasquez also won outstanding wrestler of the tournament, which is given to one wrestler in all classifications at all levels. Hoke and Vasquez played a vital role in last year's wrestling success and are both currently wrestling at Southern Oregon University.
Culver scored 136 points at the 2A State Wrestling Tournament to claim gold. Glide placed second behind Culver with 71 points. Alley was named both the 2A Wrestling Coach of the Year and the National Wrestling Coaches Association State Coach of the Year.
2. Ellsbury's great career ending soon, cut by the Yankees because of big contract dispute.
Madras High School graduate Jacoby Ellsbury, 36, was cut from the New York Yankees Nov. 20, and now the Yankees, who still owe Ellsbury $26 million, are accusing Ellsbury of unauthorized medical treatment.
The doctor that treated Ellsbury claims Ellsbury was not treated for any sports-related injury, and Ellsbury was already injured before beginning treatment with Dr. Viktor Bouquette. Bouquette also said that the treatment did not conflict with or impair Ellsbury's injury rehabilitation. It is also reported that the players association will defend any action taken against Ellsbury or his contract.
After Ellsbury graduated from Madras High, he 0played at Oregon State University. At OSU, Ellsbury became a star, an All-American, and even landed on the conference all-century team.
Ellsbury was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2007 and 2013. A parade was held in Madras in 2007 in honor of Ellsbury and his World Series win. A ceremony was held in a packed MHS gymnasium and the city of Madras designated Nov. 17 as Jacoby Ellsbury Day.
In 2011, Ellsbury was the Major League Baseball runner-up for the Most Valuable Player award. At the age of 27, Ellsbury had a .321 batting average, 32 home runs, 105 RBIs and 39 stolen bases. During that 2011 season, he won a Golden Glove and Silver Slugger award, as well as making an All-Star Game appearance.
Ellsbury signed with the Yankees after his 2013 season with the Red Sox, signing a seven-year $153 million contract. Over four seasons with the Yankees, Ellsbury hit .264 with 39 homers, 198 RBIs and 102 stolen bases in 520 games. He led the league in steals in 2008, 2009 and 2013. During his time with Boston, he had a .297 career average, 65 homers, 314 RBIs and 241 steals.
Ellsbury has not played since 2017, as he has dealt with a variety of injuries, including a bad back, hip surgery, and plantar fasciitis. The Yankees also had an outfield power roster with players like Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks during that time.
3. Bike/horse trail across from Juniper Hills
In 2019 it was announced that a trail for bicycles and horses would be made in Madras with the help of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance.
Just East of Juniper Hills Park a start point is available, and when you enter the gate, old bones and skulls are at your feet. Trails will be around 10 miles long, with rolling hills, cross country style mountain bike trails and it will make for winter and summer use.
The soil being used is slightly clay based, making for solid trails year round, and the clay makes less dust than other soils. The clay also allows riders to go at a faster speed than they could without it. Trails run through sagebrush with great views all around.
The trail is still being worked on by COTA and volunteers, but both the horse and bike trails are usable and open.
Juniper Hills also had a few improvements made to the park on July 18. A pavilion, bathroom and concessions were not the only new facilities and projects that the park and Jefferson County Little League have developed. New dugouts at the softball fields were put in a few years ago, as well as a batting cage near the baseball fields. Several volunteer hours also went into redoing the fields for the District 5 All-Star tournament hosted by Madras June 21-28.
4. Local trap shooters have amazing year
The Madras High School trap shoot team beat out 31 other Oregon teams, becoming state champions June 28 in Hillsboro. The team consisted of Mason Lee, James Lange, Logan Lee, Seth Feigner, Elias Tollefson, Nico Navarro, Connor Comingore, Justin Borchert and was coached Kevin Tollefson.
The team had 11 kids total and brought eight to the state competition. Teams can bring as many kids as they want. Some schools bring over 30 kids, but the best five shoot for the team. Trap shooting is a competition that consists of 25 or 50 targets from a 16-yard station.
Up to five shooters occupy the stations on the trap field.
The Madras trap shoot team has been on the rise since joining the Clay Target League in 2017, placing third. Madras finished in second place at the state competition last season, losing to Hermiston.
This year, the White Buffalos defeated Hermiston, which has an elite trap shooting program, by one target, claiming gold. Elias Tollefson placed second overall individually and was tied for 11th overall in the state. He was also recognized as a member of the All-State team.
Most recently, Four Jefferson County 4-H youths have qualified to compete alongside 700 4-H youths from 36 states in the 2020 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships, hosted by the University of Nebraska Lincoln and Nebraska 4-H.
The competition will take place June 21-26, 2020, at the Heartland Public Shooting Park near Alda, Nebraska, and the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, Nebraska.
The 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships is a free event and open to the public. Youths ages 14-18 will compete in 27 events across nine disciplines, including compound archery, recurve archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, shotgun, muzzle loading and hunting skills.
Seth Colton, Carson King, James Lange and Logan Lee, along with coach Kevin Tollefson, will represent the state of Oregon in the Shotgun Discipline.
5. New coaching era in Jefferson County
The volleyball, cross country, boys basketball, track, baseball, water polo, swimming and wrestling programs all have new captains sailing the sea of Madras athletics.
Natalie Villanueva was named the new Madras volleyball coach in the fall and Brian Martz was the new Madras cross country coach, replacing Andrew Jensen. Water polo was available again this season after not having a coach last year. The new aquatics manager at the Madras Aquatic Center, Eric Bostard, took over the duties as the water polo coach.
Nick Brown is the new boys basketball coach, who replaced his father, Evan Brown. Brad Padgett, who coached the MHS wrestling team for one year five years ago, came back this season and is at the helm once again. Mikayla Howell was hired as the new high school swim team coach, replacing Tim and Sara Nelson.
Jerry Shaw was hired as the new Madras baseball coach, taking over for Sam McCormick this spring. Longtime track assistant Eddie Adams is the new MHS track coach, replacing Andrew Jensen.
The Bulldogs have new girls and boys basketball coaches this season. T.J. Foltz replaced the 10-year Culver girls coach Scott Fritz and John Spinelli is taking over as boys basketball coach for Johnny Wilson. Joey Graves became the new Culver baseball coach in the spring of 2019, replacing Shea Little. The Culver softball program was co-coached by Shelly Brown and Megan Woychack.
Carter Spear replaced Tom Kirk as the new cross country coach, and Nate Barber will be the head track coach for the upcoming season. Shea Little also came back as the football coach after a short stint away from football and led the 2A Bulldogs to the state playoffs. Graves also led the baseball team to the 2A state playoffs.
This year's honorable mention athletic stories just missed the cut, but are all worth recognition to wrap up a great 2019 sports year.
The Madras tennis program had one of its most successful years ever. Girls doubles team Erika and Jessica Olivera did not lose a set all regular season. They also had a great district tournament, becoming district champs. The two did not lose a single match until the state tournament.
The boys doubles team of Tony Giron and Esteban Gomez had a bit of a falling out after placing second and making state the prior season. They decided to play together again toward the end of the season, placing second at districts for the second straight year. They also made it to the second day at the state tournament in the spring of 2019.
Both the Madras and Culver football programs made the state playoffs this fall. The Madras football program played its second year in 3A and made back-to-back state playoff appearances for the first time since 1985-1986. Madras football will be at the 4A level again next season.
Culver football saw the return of coach Shea Little, who led the Bulldogs to a state playoff game. This was the first time since 2014 the football team made the state playoffs. Little was also the coach of the 2014 team.
The Madras track program had four district champions in 2019 and the Culver Bulldogs had two district champions and a champion relay team. Olivia Symons (long jump), Erik Boynton (pole vault), Allen Jackson (high jump), and Leo Guttierez (400) all became Tri-Valley District Champions for Madras. Cesar Orozco (long jump), Kash Michael (high jump) and the 4x100-meter relay team of Zennon Rebel, Jordan VanAlstyne, Caden Engel, and Orozco placed first at the 2A SD5 District Championships for Culver.
Most read online sports stories
The most read Pioneer sports stories online during 2019:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury cut by Yankees
2. The 2019 MHS hall of fame class of Joe Piedmont, Keller Christiansen, Tosha (Wilson) Mendenhall, Charles Nathan, Spud Smith, and Bob Nelson
3. Lynden Harry and her great basketball season at the College of the Siskiyous, leading California community colleges in assists.
4. The local Madras trap shooting team qualifying for championships in Nebraska
5. Foreign exchange student Tom Kallenback and his adventure joining the football team and scoring a touchdown for Madras even though he had never watched a football game before.
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