B Section B S PORTS Wednesday, March 18, 2015 South Lane County Sports and Recreation Contact Sports, 942-3325 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Lions on deck for Sky-Em three-peat Girls will need a full-team effort to defend their title; boys will have potential to climb up the podium BY MATT HOLLANDER The Cottage Grove Sentinel It would be a tall order for the 2015 Cot- tage Grove girls’ track and fi eld team to top last year’s seventh-place fi nish at the state meet. Seniors Ahsha Mootz, Sylivia Dean and Destiny Dawson accounted for 21 of the Lions' 28 points, and it remains to be seen if any big guns will emerge to replace their fi repower. However, a third consecutive Sky-Em championship is not out of the question. And that is what coach Ricky Knutson has tried to sell his team during the opening weeks of the season. “The  District Championship was not won by an individual. Nineteen girls scored to defeat Sisters, 157-145,” he post- fi le photo Cottage Grove sophomore Hudson Weybright placed fourth at the state meet in the 800 meters. Girls golf begins anew with Temple ed on the team’s social media page in early March. Despite the team’s losses — especially Mootz, who won both short dashes and was a member on the fi rst and second-place re- lay teams — Knutson expects the team to be neck-and-neck with the Outlaws at the dis- trict meet, which will be held May 14 and 16 at Junction City. “I don’t want to ever minimize what Ahsha meant to this program, both on and off the track, but it’s not like she scored 40 points. Losing her was rough, but I wanted the girls to realize that it wasn’t just her who won the championship,” he said. While last year’s squad was able to over- come the loss of 2013 graduates Kristine Dunn and Tricia Ingraham with comparable star power, this year’s team will likely need to fi nd contributions in unexpected places. “We’re going to have to squeeze out points wherever we can, and so we will spend a good part of the season fi guring out where to put people in extra events. It may be a while before we know what we have,” said Knutson. Cottage Grove does, however, have sev- eral known entities. The Lions expect to have a formidable middle-distance crew with returning state qualifi ers Breanna Wright (1500, 3000, 4x400), Hudson Weybright (800) and Chelsey Bottorff (4x400). Hannah Albrecht placed fourth in the 100 and 200 at districts and was a member of the fi fth-place state 4x100 relay team. Seniors Conner Borigo and Courtney Hammell will anchor a small but potent group of throwers. And sopho- more Celeste Pelham returns after top-fi ve fi nishes at districts in both hurdle events. Freshman Chelsea Armstrong, Sydney Boxberger and Halle Petersen could also be key factors in the Lions' bid for a three-peat at the conference meet. Having fi nished third at last year’s district meet, expectations for the boys aren’t quite as high — especially since league champion Elmira returns many key contributors. Please see Track and field, Page 2B Tomato, Tomahto: Cottage Grove takes same- old approach into new conference alignment Wrestling coach answers the call Lions return four from last year's championship team BY MATT HOLLANDER The Cottage Grove Sentinel BY MATT HOLLANDER The Cottage Grove Sentinel K yle Temple was in the homestretch of the Li- ons’ wrestling season when his wife, Lesli, called him about the recently posted position for the girls’ golf coach. She suggested that he look into it. Although Lesli was immi- nently expecting their third child — who arrived on the eve of the state wrestling tournament — Temple saw an opportunity to reinvest in the community he became a part of last summer. “I feel that it’s important to be involved in the community where you live and work,” he said. “And even though I’ve been the wrestling coach here, I welcomed the chance to coach a group of young athletes I wouldn’t normally get to work with.” As this team is short on both experience and numbers, there fi gure to be lots of opportunities for coach and athletes to work together. Sophomores Eliza- beth Poe and Alexia Alonzo are fi rst-year players; sophomores Carly Sand and Kalea Borrelli each have one season under their belts, and senior MacK- enzie Husko has played all four years. Temple played golf in high schoo, and continued to play as a “less stressful” activity to wres- tling, but he has never coached the sport. The opportunity came about when former coach Linda Levings announced that she would not be able to return to the team due to heath issues. Upon accepting the position he spent some time reviewing, Please see Girlss Golf, Page 2B A fi le photo Cottage Grove senior Johnny Conrad shot a career-best 77 over the fi nal 18 holes of the 2014 Sky-Em district championship to lead the Lions to a come-from-behind victory over Sweet Home. Athletes of the Week Cottage Grove's sev- enth grade girls' bas- ketball team won four games en route to the championship of this past weekend's Or- egon Amateur Basket- ball tournament. They defeated teams from Sheldon and Amity on Saturday, and they beat West Salem and Thurston in Sunday's semifi nal and champi- onship games, respec- tively. "The girls showed a lot of heart and hustle limiting Thurston’s of- fense and getting some easy baskets in transi- tion," said team par- ent Tracy Ollivant of the title game, which Cottage Grove won 47-30. fter back-to-back Sky- Em League champion- ship seasons, it’s fair to say that the Lions are well equipped to handle the occasional blind ap- proach — at least on the golf course. This year, Cottage Grove will be tested with a different type of unknown. The OSAA has blended the traditional leagues into four special districts, and in addition to the district champi- onship tournament, which will be held May 11 and 12 at Toka- tee Golf Club, fi ve regular-sea- son meets will determine which teams qualify for the state tour- nament. Coach Kent Russo said that he doesn’t know much about the new competition, which in- cludes North Marion, Cascade, Newport, Stayton and Sutherlin — which joined the Sky-Em for all sports prior to the 2014-15 school year. Instead, he said, the team chooses to focus on things within its control. “We really think about enjoy- ing ourselves,” said the ninth- year head coach. “We don’t get caught up in the competition part. Sure we want to win, but we really focus on having fun. Golf is a good game, and it’s a hard game. But even when it’s frustrating, it’s still really enjoy- able.” It’s hard to question that ap- proach given recent results. The Lions experienced a breakthrough two years ago in defeating perennial Sky-Em power Sisters and came from Please see Boys Golf, Page 2B Equestrian team rides to top-fi ve fi nshes T courtesy photo Back row (from left): Megan Schatz, Ema Gardner, Kaila Ollivant, Reilly Kelty, Madison Giffen. Front row (from left): Tori Weston, Nicki Derrick, Kate Bachelder. Not pictured: Chloe Malmstedt; coaches Greg Ollivant and Jeff Derrick. he Cottage Grove equestrian team performed well in its second South Valley District meet of the season, held March 6-8 at the Oregon Horse Cen- ter. Several athletes turned in top-fi ve fi nishes in their respective events and remained in contention for berths to the state meet — which are determined based on cu- mulative point totals from three district meets. The bi-rangle teams of Ashley Goertzen and Shania Schueller, and Justin Hill and Ty Schueller moved up in the league standings to third and fourth, respectively. Goertzen also took fourth (out of 68 riders) in the barrels, third in pole pending and fourth in fi gure eight, out of 65 riders. In her individual competitions, Shania Schueller took second in both barrels and steer daubing. Other Lions who placed in steer daubing included Ty Schuel- ler (second) and Ellie Harold (fi fth). Hill fi nished fourth in both pole bending and indi- vidual fl ags. Sara Witty placed third in the latter event. Despite an injury to senior Tia Barkley, the drill team moved up from fourth to third in the league standings. Harold, the team’s alternate, had just one week to learn the six-minute routine. Team advisor Shannon Simons also commended the efforts of new riders Shaelynn Huffman and Breanna Massey. The fi nal South Valley district meet will be held at the Oregon Horse Center over the fi rst weekend of April. courtesy photo Cottage Grove's Ty Schueller competed in the barrels at the South Valley district meet, which was held over the fi rst weekend of March at the Oregon Horse Center.