JFK, St. Paul repeat as OSAA Cup winners
Winning the OSAA Cup has become old hat — practically a tradition — for the student-athletes at John F. Kennedy High School.
However, for the St. Paul Buckaroos, the honor is still relatively novel.
The Trojans and Bucks each finished atop the standings for the annual award recognizing the top overall schools in each classification as determined by academics, activities and athletics.
After the conclusion of the winter athletic season, Kennedy and St. Paul each led the 2A and 1A standings, respectively. With spring activities canceled, the two high schools became the de facto winners following the end of the 2019-20 school year.
"That's really saying something," St. Paul Athletic Director Tony Smith after the Buckaroos clinched their second consecutive honor. St. Paul has long been an athletic powerhouse at the 1A level, but in the past several years, the Buckaroos have raised the level of their expectations even further with sustained success across both boys and girls athletic programs.
"To have the combination — we've had really good girls teams at times, and we've had really good boys teams at times," Smith said. "That's the great separator when you see this kind of success.
The St. Paul girls volleyball and basketball teams each reached the championship game at the 1A level this year, with the volleyball program winning its second consecutive state title in November.
Several weeks after, the football team played for its own state title, falling to Jordan Valley to finish runner up for the second consecutive year. But as good as the athletic program at SPHS has been, Smith acknowledges that the real success has been in the classroom.
The Buckaroos have been regulars in the Academic All-State awards, given to athletic programs that score a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher. Every St. Paul team in the 2019-20 school year has earned above a 3.0 — an impressive feat considering how often the student-athletes are missing classroom time. Attending games throughout the regular season, along with deep postseason runs that sometimes take students hundreds of miles away from the Willamette Valley, all put a strain on classroom time.
Smith credits both the commitment of the student-athletes at St. Paul, as well as the faculty that works to make sure their charges continue to excel academically when outside of the classroom.
"You have to talk about our teachers too at our school, because you've got kids leaving early a lot of times," Smith said. " Our teachers do such a great job with the kids too, making sure they're taken care of academically.
"Not just the sports, but I would gather the majority of those kids are in FBLA, FFA — there's just a ton of involvement. They continue to excel academically at that."
On the other side of I-5 in Mount Angel, the Trojans have become regulars at the top of the OSAA Cup standings. This is the fifth consecutive year Kennedy has won the 2A cup — the only public school in the state of Oregon to win the award that many times.
Like St. Paul, JFK has seen regular success at both the academic and athletic levels. The Kennedy girls programs are coming off consecutive state championships in volleyball and basketball this year. At the same time, the boys teams made a run to the state title game in November, followed by a state basketball playoff run in February.
Every Kennedy athletic and activity program has made the Academic All-State team, with its girls swimming team leading the way this past winter season with a 3.84 GPA. During the spring season, the Trojans baseball and softball teams each finished second in the state in GPA in a combined 2A/1A classification, with the softball team scoring a 3.72, followed by the boys at 3.61.
The OSAA Cup trophy is given out at the beginning of the fall term. For more information on the award and the point system, visit the OSAA website (osaa.org/awards/osaa-cup).
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