Miles Vance: A look back at West Linn's stellar spring
What a spring.
To be fair, I consider almost every sports season that I get to cover memorable, but the spring of 2019 certainly qualified.
Now, as we say goodbye to the talented graduating Class of 2019 at West Linn High School, let's take a moment to look back in time over the past three months and all the highlights the Lions created along the way.
In tennis, the West Linn boys team continued its spectacular winning streak in the ever-tough Three Rivers League this spring. The Lions — coached by Ward Lewis — rolled to an unbeaten 12-0 mark in the regular season (their fourth straight unbeaten year), then backed up their successful TRL run with another win at the Three Rivers League District Tournament.
For West Linn's senior team members — including Harry Winsper, Grant Grainger, Thomas Lesser and Riley Cook — that meant that they finished their West Linn careers with a perfect record in TRL dual matches. They also doubled their point total at the Class 6A state tournament from a year earlier and took sixth overall. Just amazing.
The West Linn girls tennis team stepped up, too, playing its way to third in the league's dual standings and then making their presence felt again at district, where the Lions placed second. Alyx Burkhartzmyer and Caroline Grainger, after finishing second at district, advanced to state, reached the 6A quarterfinals and helped West Linn place 10th as a team.
In track and field, the Lions broke out some of their best performances at the district and state meets, with senior John Wetzsteon winning the boys district title in the 3000 meters, while four other boys team members — Garrett Jackson in the 400, Kenney McElroy in the 800, and Adam Maxwell and Cody Pierce in the high jump — also qualified for state.
In girls competition, sophomore Makayla Long was almost unstoppable in the throws, qualifying for state in both the discus and javelin. Then, at the Class 6A state meet, she placed second and third in the discus and javelin, making West Linn the state's 18th-best team, that despite Long still being a relative novice in the javelin.
There was more excitement on the lacrosse field this spring, where the West Linn girls team stepped up to hand Lake Oswego its first league loss in four years and snap the Lakers' 50-game in-state winning streak. The Lions, led by Ragen Finklea, Riley Drullinger and Claire Matthiessen, then advanced all the way to the state quarterfinals before finally being eliminated by that same Lake Oswego team.
On the boys side of the lacrosse field, things were even better, where the Lions battled to second place in the regular season, then went even further in the playoffs. The Lions, led by first-team all-state picks Ross Scott and Grant Balsbough, knocked off their first three playoff opponents, won a berth in the Oregon High School Lacrosse Association state championship game and eventually placed second to Lake Oswego.
West Linn teams found success on the golf course, too, with the Lions girls going unbeaten in the regular season, winning the Three Rivers League district title and earning the league's automatic berth to the Class 6A state tournament. There, led by Olivia Venderby and Brady Turnquist, the Lions finished third to cap an incredibly successful season under first-year head coach John Grothe.
The West Linn boys golfers were no slouches either, playing their way to a second-place finish in the regular season, finishing second again at district, then taking second in the Special District 2 regional to earn a team berth to state. At state, led by Arthur Venderby and Jackson Forsyth, the Lions competed again, eventually placing 13th overall.
And finally, on the diamond, the West Linn baseball team made 2019 another season to remember, winning its third straight Three Rivers League championship despite beginning the year with a roster that included just three returning starters. The Lions — led by Jonathan Kelly, J.J. Hoover and Cormac Duffy — proved themselves in the postseason as well, battling into the state quarterfinals before finally being derailed by South Salem.
The West Linn softball team — led by Ali Campbell, Lexi Grein and Lexi Finke — experienced less success this year, but as always, challenged opponents with its team-wide hitting ability and overall competitiveness.
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