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State champions will continue their athletic careers at Colorado Mesa, Linfield universities

The Woodburn High School athletic department has hosted larger collegiate signing celebrations in the past, but none have been more decorated than the pair of student-athletes who were recognized on June 2.

Seniors Yahaira Rodriguez and Cole Beyer were honored in front of friends and family at the Woodburn High School gymnasium, each of whom have inked their commitments to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. The pair graduated from Woodburn High School over the weekend, leaving behind a championship legacy in their wakes.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn senior Yahaira Rodriguez will continue her soccer career with the Linfield Wildcats after helping the Bulldogs win the girls soccer programs first state championship in 2019.YAHAIRA RODRIGUEZ

Rodriguez will join the Linfield Wildcats in McMinnville, who are coming off one of their best season in the past five years. The Wildcats went 7-1 in their truncated 2020 season that was held from January through April.

Although Linfield wasn't immediately in her radar, Rodriguez said she was drawn in by the school's athletic and academic culture.

"It wasn't until I had the coaches reach out to me and I visited the school when I really fell in love with the school," she said. "To see the environment and culture there both toward sports and academically and how they help you grow as a student, athlete and a person overall to be successful after you graduate."

The Wildcats have consistently produced competitive teams over the past decade, posting double-digit wins in six of their nine full seasons since 2011, and just one sub-.500 season. In that span, Linfield has gone 113-51-22.

Rodriguez will give the Wildcats a fast, effective weapon at the forward position, having garnered numerous awards over her career at Woodburn.

Throughout her four-year varsity career with the Bulldogs, Rodriguez tallied 33 goals and 17 assists, including 19 and eight, respectively, in the 2019 season in which Woodburn won the 4A state championship — the first state title for a girls athletic program in school history.

Rodriguez scored the lone goal in the Bulldogs' 1-0 over Marist, was named to the All-State First Team, was selected as the 2019 Fall Pamplin All-American Best Girls Soccer Player and made the 2020-All-America watch list.

"I couldn't write down all of her awards, because there has been too many," head coach Andrea Whiteman said. "Any I nominate her for she automatically wins."

Whiteman credited Rodriguez with helping to elevate the culture for the Woodburn girls soccer program, having joined the Bulldogs her freshman year in Whiteman's first year at the helm.

"I often refer to she and the other people in their grade as my babies – they were what really started this program," Whiteman said. "From the moment she came into the program, she was a role model for every other person in the program. She doesn't have to be loud, people just follow her."

Rodriguez graduates Woodburn with a 4.0 grade point average and was selected as Salutatorian of the Wellness, Business and Sports School.

She intends to double major at Linfield, focusing on International Business and Spanish.

"Yahaira signing with Linfield is a huge step for our program and for females in Woodburn, because it shows everybody else who comes into our program what they can do," Whiteman said.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn senior Cole Beyer will join the Colorado Mesa mens golf program in Grand Junction, just a few months after winning only the second individual state golf championship in Bulldog history.

COLE BEYER

Like Rodriguez, Beyer will leave Woodburn with a championship resume, joining the Colorado Mesa University men's golf program in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Having missed the 2020 spring season due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beyer found himself in a difficult position finding a collegiate program to play for. Beyer was coming off a fourth-place finish in the 4A state championships as a sophomore and was counting on his junior season to catapult him into recruiting limelight. Without a high school season, Beyer had to do much of the legwork on his own.

"It was tough to get my name out there," Beyer said. "I played a lot of summer tournaments, contacted at least a dozen coaches."

One of those coaches was Scott Sullivan of the Colorado Mesa Mavericks, a Division II program that competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Mavericks invited Beyer to tour the campus in November and see his swing in person.

"They really liked what they saw," Beyer said. "They sent me home, I didn't know if I got a spot or not. A week later, Sullivan called and offered me a spot on the team."

Following his commitment to the team, Beyer put together a prodigious senior season, culminating in a single-day score of 68 in the 4A state championship game en route to winning just the second state golf title in program history. His efforts also helped the Bulldogs earn the second-place trophy at the state tournament, a program-best placement trumping the fourth-place trophy the team earned in 2019, which was also a program-best at the time.

"At the end of the day, he's the most decorated golfer in our school history," head coach Neil Wilhelm said. "And maybe the best part, he's an amazing kid both on the athletic field, in the classroom and in the community."

Beyer joins a Mavericks program that is experiencing a renaissance under Sullivan, who joined the program three years ago. In his inaugural season, Sullivan helped guide Colorado Mesa to a third-place finish at the conference championships, advancing to the post season regional championship for the first time since 2012 where the Mavericks placed 11th.

This past May, Colorado Mesa again placed third at conference and improved on their 2019 performance with a 10th place finish. Much like his high school career, Beyer said he's looking forward to entering the program as a freshman under the tutelage of experienced players and working his way up the team a second time.

"I think it'll be fun to do that circle again and be a freshman again and let the seniors take me under my wing," Beyer said.

An environmental science major, Beyer was drawn to Colorado Mesa in part due to the geographic features of the region, which is situated near the border of Utah and surrounded by three different national conservation areas and within driving distance of two national parks in Utah.

"The region around Colorado Mesa is insanely cool," Beyer said. "We're right next to a national monument, it's like a big canyon area surrounded by rivers, snow resorts, mountains everything."


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