Practice has officially started for HRVHS fall sports, and for the Girls Water Polo team, they enter this year with all eyes on them as defending Mt. Hood Conference and 5A State champions. These titles were the first for this program and they’ve got what it takes this year to go back to back.
The team will enter this season just three players down from last year’s title team as Oona Johnsen, Sarah Gottschalk, and Sloan Hall were all seniors last season. The rest of the team, including the entire starting lineup from last year, remains completely intact and is back to defend their 2016 titles.
Also having Head Coach Kellie Dunn, who won coach of the year honors last season and back with many of the girls who were there for the 2016 season, could make for even a tougher team for opponents to face. “Our team is ready and excited to defend our state championship title from last year. We have a really strong group of returning players, along with a very talented and experienced freshman class,” said Dunn.
The expectations for this team will be higher than previous years, but having a majority of a title team back for another go at it and young players ready to step up, this is a team already equipped for a post-season run.
Although the boys water polo team failed to advance to the double-elimination round in the state championships for the first time since 2013, they still had a great season and only lost two senior players, Liam Longland and Bryce Donald, which gives this team high hopes for the upcoming year as they bring back a majority of their team as well.
Last year the boys team was young and that was one of the main reasons for their exit in the state playoffs as they faced an older, bigger and more experienced Ashland team. Having this experience and a full off-season to grow, however, will serve as a great benefit for this team in future competition.
Losing honorable mention goalie Longland is a tough position to replace, but bringing back first team field player JJ Mears and second team players Chad Klaas and Cole Rothman provides this year’s team with one of the best scorers in the state. If you don’t believe me, let’s recall when Mears scored 12 goals against David Douglas last season in their 19-12 win. With him back on the attack, and Klaas, Rothman, and all the other young talent on this roster, this team has a legitimate shot at not just a conference title, but state as well.
Another fall sport that saw a lot of success last season was boys and girls cross country. For the first time in school history, the cross country team jointly won the Columbia River Conference — the boys winning it for the second year in a row under Head Coach Brandon Bertram. This accomplishment for the team was followed up by a fourth-place finish for both the boys and girls in the state meet.
The boys team received four first team honors last season, two of them were seniors Jesse Wiley and Jacob Bromham, and Elkin Parker isn’t running this year, but Connor Truax is back and Finn Peterson looks to put his name in first place honors as these two headline the returning runners for the upcoming season.
Before last year, the girls cross country team hadn’t brought home a team trophy in eight years, but their fourth place finish re-wrote the history books and a few more lines in that book may need to be changed after this season as three of the five girls who were honored with first team last season are back. Those girls are Lottie Bromham, Evelyn Nunez, and Celia Acosta.
At the end of the season, Bertram hopes that both teams are “back on that podium.” With summer coming to an end competition starts as early as next week for fall sports as the cross country team travels to Wilsonville Aug. 25.