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Champions Tour, LPGA top players visit Oregon this week

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Senior PGA players duel for major title
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The week after the drama of the PGA Championships, the golf world will focus on Oregon as both the PGA Champions Tour and LPGA Tour descend on the state.

Many of the world's biggest names from the Champions Tour will be at Crosswater Club at Sunriver for The Jeld-Wen Tradition, while the top women's players are at Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains for the Safeway Classic

The Jeld-Wen Tradition, one of the Champions Tour majors, will play out on NBC Saturday and Sunday.

The Safeway Classic is a 54-hole tournament.

Among the players scheduled to compete in The Jeld-Wen Tradition are Tom Watson, Corey Pavin, Nick Price and Bernhard Langer, who has won two-straight majors and is leading the Champions Tour points standings. Langer won the Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open this year.

Defending champion Mike Reid is among the top candidates as tournament favorites.

The Safeway Classic is headed by Cristie Kerr, who won the LPGA Championship, and Yani Tseng, who won both the Kraft Nabisco Championships and Women's British Open.

Milbrett heads 2020 Sports Hall of Fame Class

The soccer standout helped turn women's soccer into a pro sport
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Longtime US National Soccer Team standout Tiffeny Milbrett headed the 2020 Induction Class of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, Sept. 26, in a virtual ceremony.

The event, held at the Multnomah Athletic Club, changed its format due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 2020 class - the 40th for the Hall of Fame, includes baseball’s John Jaha, football player Rockne Freitas, multi-sport athlete Craig Hanneman, and Tom Jernstedt for special contributions.

Brian Grant received the Commitment to Community Award. 

Milbrett helped lead the University of Portland onto the national stage under coach coach Clive Charles, graduating in 1995 with 103 goals and 40 assists. She then played professionally in Japan, Sweden and three professional leagues within the US, starting with the WUSA in 2001. That league, the first women’s pro league in the United States, followed the US National Team’s win in the World Cup in 1999.

Jaha, a graduate of David Douglas High, went straight into professional baseball upon being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1984. He reached the Major Leagues in 1992 and played through 2001. He earned a spot on the American League All-Star Team in 1999 while a member of the Oakland Athletics, during a season in which he was voted the league’s Comeback Player of the Year. He hit 141 homers and drove in 490 runs during his career.

Hanneman played football at Oregon State and for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots for four seasons before a leg injury ended his career in 1975. He is thought to be the oldest person to have summited the tallest peaks on the seven continents.

Freitas, another OSU football alum, played 11 years in the NFL for Detroit and Tampa Bay, earning a Pro Bowl spot in 1972.

Jernstedt played football at the University of Oregon, but became known as the “Father of the Final Four” during a 38-year career with the NCAA. His efforts helped  turn the national basketball tournament into the annual spectacle it is - moving from 25 teams to 65 teams in that time.

 

 

Remembering Rick Sanders

Oregon wrestling great was international star, Olympian
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Rick Sanders put Portland and Oregon on the international wrestling map with national titles and a pair of Olympic silver medals before dying tragically at a young age.

Born in 1945, Sanders finished with a high school record of 80-1 and three state titles while at Lincoln High. He won at 98 pounds in 1961, 108 pounds in ‘62 and 115 pounds in ‘63.

After graduating from Lincoln, Sanders trained for the ’64 Olympics at a camp that included legend Dan Gable. Gable credits Sanders with teaching him specific moves that helped him finish his college career with just one loss.

After that intensive training, Sanders enrolled at Portland State and won national titles at the NAIA, NCAA Div. II and Div. I championship meets, earning the outstanding wrestler at each level.

Sanders qualified for both the 1968 and ’72 Olympic Games, and won silver in each. In between those Olympics, Sanders became the first American to win a title at the world championships, taking the 52kg title in 1969 just hours before American Fred Fozzard won at 82 kg. He won five U.S. freestyle titles, six international medals and is credited with having once beaten Gable 6-0 – the lone shutout Gable suffered in his career.

Following the ’72 Games in Munich, Germany, he was killed in an auto accident in Yugoslavia at the age of 27.

Sanders was inducted to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, and into the Portland State Athletics Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 1997 – along with the ’67 national championship wrestling team.

He is a distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Class of 1987.

Oregon championships don't disappoint

New winners take over in two finals in amateur event
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - Bryce Wortman and Amanda Jacobs dominated a series of holes in their title matches to claim the men's and women's titles at the 111th Oregon Amateur Championships Saturday at Columbia-Edgewater Country Club.

It was the first title in the event for each player, while Lara Tennant won the senior women's title for the fourth straight year.

Wortman, from Creswell, won five consecutive holes during the second round of the 36-hole final to beat Ben Wanichek 8-and-7, ending a dominating performance for the match-play portion of the tournament. In his seven head-to-head matches, he played the 18th hole just once - during the final.

"My putting was really good this week," Wortman, who plays for San Jose State, said. "That was a huge difference in all my matches."

Wortman, who grew up in Central Point and won three state titles for Mazama High, was one of the 50 players invited to the tournament.

Wanichek, from Eugene, was one of 58 players who played their way into the championships, reaching the final inspite of being seeded 55th for the 64-player match-play portion of the six-day tournament.

Both Wortman and Wanichek played nine rounds during the event, including 36 holes Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Event organizers said 375 players registered for the tournament - believed to be a record for the event that normally attracts around 275 players. 

Jacobs, of Portland, won four of five holes in the first 18 and never trailed on the way to a 5-and-3 win over defending champion Ellie Slama of Salem. Jacobs, who has won the Pacific Northwest Amatuer title twice in the past three years, lost to Slama in the final two years ago, but avenged that result on the course she grew up playing on.

"This is my home course, so I think that had a big part in winning," Jacobs said. "It feels really good to win here."

The women's match-play bracket began with 32 players.

Tennant, of Portland, dominated the middle portion of the 18-hole final, to beat top-seed Ginny Burkey 4-and-3 in their final.

The Oregon Golf Association schedule continues with stroke-play championships and neighboring Riverside Country Club Sunday and Monday.

Protocals for the event included players having only one spectator allowed to view their matches until the final, which had a dozen spectators for both men's and women's finals. Participants and attendees at the event were not tested for COVID-19, and only required to wear masks while in the clubhouse.

 

 

 

Final pairings set at Oregon Amateur championships

Underdogs ready on men's side, while favorites are women's finalists
Staff Report

PORTLAND - Being seeded 55 out of 64 players has hardly been a handicap for Eugene's Ben Wanichek as he dominated two more matches on the way to the finals of the 111th Oregon Amatuer Championships at Columbia-Edgewater Country Club.

Wanichek won his quarterfinal and semifinal matches 3-and-2 Friday to earn a spot in the final against Ben Wortman of Creswell. Wortman, seeded 13th, won both of this matches handily as well on Friday.

Two-time defending champion Ellie Slama is vying for yet another crown. The Salem, Ore., native will battle with Portland’s Amanda Jacobs in the women’s final set for approximately 8 am. They will play a 36-hole match play final.

Slama is looking to become the first woman to win three consecutive titles since Amanda Nealy, who posted four consecutive wins from 1987 through 1990.

Slama opened the day with a 2&1 win over Alexa Udom, before matching up with top-seed Lexi Perry in the women’s semis. Late in the match Perry took holes No. 14 and 15 to go 1 up in the match, but Slama countered with a birdie on No. 16 to level the contest which she eventually ended in 19 holes.

Jacobs pulled an upset according to the seeding in her quarterfinal match, a 4&2 win over No. 2 seed Victoria Gailey. Jacobs then went on to win 1 up over Bend’s Montgomery Ferreira in the last semifinal, which came after the third-ranked Ferreira played 30 holes to decide her quarterfinal over No. 6 Mary Scott Wolfe

The top two seeds will battle in the 37th Senior Women’s match play bracket – No. 1 Ginny Burkey versus No. 2 Lara Tennant. 

Burkey, from Eugene, registered a pair of wins Friday, 3&2 over Wendy Sheasgreen and 1 up over Katy Wright. Tennant, the event’s three-time defending champion from Portland, made quick work of Mary Jacobs (7&6) and Tandi Thomas (5&4) en route to her fourth title match in as many years.


 

 

 

Class of 1963 still rates as state's best

Four of the state champion wrestlers went on to international glory
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

There are few years - in any state - when a group of high school wrestling champions go on to future greatness at the national and international level more than Oregon saw in 1963.

This year marks the 57th anniversary of a group that included two future World Champions, and three future Olympians - one of whom played in the NFL for a season.

And, the year also included the first cultural exchange team from the state to go abroad - to Japan for a monthlong tour.

Rick Sanders, then a senior at Lincoln, Henk Schenk, then a senior at Silverton, Fred Fozzard, a junior at Marshall, and Jess Lewis, a sophomore at Cascade all won titles in 1963.

All would go on to national and then international success on the mat, and on the football field with Lewis’ career at Oregon State and into the NFL.

 

Badminton works way into metro mentality

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Portland Badminton Club looks at a second facility
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

In less than two years, competitive badminton has taken hold in the Portland metro area that the lone professional club is looking to expand.

Ralph Cervantes, who opened the Portland Badminton Club in 2009, recently said he’s looking at opportunities for a second club.

“We’ve had great response at our club at all levels,” Cervantes said. “We’re actually starting to outgrow our current facility and that makes it somewhat necessary to look for a second site.

“Badminton is a growth sport in Portland.”

The Portland Badminton Club is located in Hillsboro, close to the Intel campus, where most of the players work. But, enough players, especially those in younger competitive age-groups, have become members, that Cervantes has begun to investigate a second club.

Badminton, which is an Olympic sport, has organized clubs at several in-state colleges and universities. The PBC has sponsored several tournaments that have attracted regional competitors.

For more information on the Portland Badminton Club, visit www.portlandbadmintonclub.com.

 

 

Timbers, Thorns made some memories in 2019

Portland got an entertainment overload even without a title
By Cliff Pfenning

In early May, Brian Fernandez arrived at Portland International Airport and was greeted by an anonymous person, who stood next to him, lit up with a big smile and had someone take a photo of them together. 

Fernandez, a 24-year-old Argentinian, had just been signed by the Portland Timbers from his team in Mexico’s Liga MX, wore a long-sleeve shirt, faded jeans, and hat and had a guarded look on his face as if to say, “who are you? And are with the team?” 

Then more people showed up for photos, and then more. As the photos progressed, Fernandez seemed to figure out these were fans and he just landed in a hotspot of soccer fandom - and his face lit up, too. Soon, Fernandez started showing up on social media with a beaming smile when anyone noticed him and asked for a selfie. And, why not? Portland loved him and he performed.

Fernandez had one of the all-time great introductions to a new team starting slightly more than a week later. Having arrived on May 6 after the team paid an estimated $10 million for his rights, he scored his first goal May 15 after being inserted late in the match at Houston. Then, he scored again - twice - in the next match, and again in the next match. Fernandez scored in this first five Major League Soccer matches, something that had not been done since the league began in 1996, and added scores in two US Open Cup matches giving him nine goals in his first seven appearances in a Timbers kit.

Portland vaulted from being just a team to a contender for another trip to a league final, something it did just last year. But, then all the optimism came crashing down. Fernandez stopped scoring in every game and ended the season in substance-abuse rehab. Emotional sideline outbursts lit up social media, as did rumors of contract negotiations. And, of course, there was the Iron Front, which led the Timbers Army into a national discussion of civil liberties. That was the Timbers.

The Thorns, the women’s side of the franchise, were equally dramatic starting with the Women’s World Cup. The team had four players on the winning US side, which vaulted into nation attention for its success and dispute with USA Soccer over equal pay with the much-less successful men’s team. 

Portland led the National Women’s Soccer League for much of the season and seemed headed for another trip to a final and third league title when suddenly it stopped scoring, and closed out its season with a half-hearted loss in the first round of the playoffs.

Both the Timbers and Thorns lost their first playoff match and had their seasons close out this past weekend. As the playoffs head toward crowning league champions, Portland fans will only be able to follow from afar. And yet, it was not a boring year. 

The 2019 season might have been the most memorable, at least in terms of story-telling, since the franchise initially arrived in 1975 and led fans to claim the monicker of “Soccer City, USA.” In fact, that 1975 team was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in September.

If the goal of a sports team is entertainment, the 2019 season for the Timbers and Thorns might be the most entertaining for any team that’s not going to win a league title. Fernandez arrived, Diego Chara finally played in a league All-Star Game, Diego Valeri reached the 70-70 mark and Steve Clark played stellar in goal in a season that started with 12-straight road matches. And the Thorns had the thrill of the World Cup and an early-season rise to the top of the league in spite of all those road matches only to slide in a historic level.

And, there was the Iron Front.

It all started March 2 in Denver, where so much snow landed on the field the second half had to be stopped to dig out the lines so everyone could see where the field ended. The match started at 18 degrees - the coldest in league history. Portland led 3-2 and had a man advantage in extra time, but the Rapids scored to force a 3-3 draw leading Timbers fans to snap their fingers and think what could have been with just a little more defense. 

The Denver result was a huge missed opportunity because the team lost its next five matches and was at the bottom of the league with just one point after six weeks.

The switch to Clark in goal seemed to start a turnaround. Portland won its next three matches as rumors of the Fernandez deal swirled across the land. Then he landed and the franchise really took off and the team rose to as high as No. 5 in some weekly power rankings. And then they started playing at home after the $85 million expansion of Providence Park finally finished up. Fans in the Timbers Army began arriving at the stadium half a day ahead of matches to be allowed in an extra 30 minutes early, continuing the city’s love affair with the franchise. All those home matches, though - 17 of the remaining 22, led to a thought of the players becoming complacent. The Army wasn’t complacent.

With politics sweeping the nation ahead of the 2020 Election, the league’s ban on political signage hit the Army due to its support of a symbol from 1930s Germany. The Iron Front, three arrows pointing downward diagonally, represented a group that opposed facist Nazis until 1933. The symbol, being waved on flags across the North end of the stadium, drew the league’s ire, especially after politicians in Washington starting deeming anti-facists as terrorists because of the violence that often erupted when they showed up to events organized by White Nationalists.  

With the team, somewhat incredibly, banning fans from matches, all manners of protests were tossed about on social media, from just not showing up, to walking out, to not purchasing concessions. Eventually, it turned into a silent protest for the first 33 minutes of the Aug. 23 match with rival Seattle, which included Seattle fans. Being televised by FOX, the stadium had never been as quiet. 

A month later, the league relented and eased its policy on fan support to allow for the Iron Front.

The protest received national attention, but it also received on-field attention as the team lost 2-1 and social media lit up because owner Merritt Paulson apparently cussed the fans out - linking the protest to the loss. 

The Timbers were potentially headed for as high as second place in the Western Conference, but a late-season collapse halted that dream. Portland finished the season with one win and three draws in its last six matches - just six points of a possible 18, and missed second place by just seven points, falling all the way to six instead.

A 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake ended the season, Oct. 19.

Still, Chara, perhaps the team’s most revered player, played in his first All-Star Game in his ninth season in the league.

Valeri, the league’s MVP just two seasons ago, reached the level of 70 goals and 70 assists, becoming only the ninth player in league history to accomplish that feat. 

And, Clark, who started the season as the back-up to Jeff Attinella, had two entries on the online Save of the Year ballot - the lone keeper to have two entries.

The original Timbers, the 1975 squad of 17 primarily British players that reached the NASL final in its inaugural season, received a spot in the Hall, Sept. 24. The five members on hand for the ceremony at the Multnomah Athletic Club, noted the season was highly memorable for the fan support - two playoff crowds topped 30,000 fans, and the length of the season - 10 weeks by their memories. The regular season actually lasted 14 weeks, May 2 through August 9 for a 22-match schedule. To save money, the team’s East Coast road swing lasted nine days: four matches in nine days, including matches in Hartford, Conn., and Boston on consecutive days (played before crowds of 2,582 and 1,518, respectively).

The Thorns set an attendance record for their 2019 campaign, closing with an average of 20,098 fans per game - better than more than half of MLS teams. The World Cup buzz might have had something to do with that as four of the team’s starters: Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnet and Adrianna Franch, helping the US win the Cup, closing with a 2-0 win over The Netherlands, July 7. 

The Thorns had five other players in the tournament as well, including team captain Christine Sinclair.

Portland opened the season with its bevy of international players and scored eight goals in its first three matches before the World Cup called for talent at the start of May. The Thorns had three wins, a pair of draws and just one loss in the six road matches it played before opening at home, June 2, with a 3-0 win over Chicago. With 11 of its remaining 17 matches at home, the team was on fire.

When the US starters returned for a July 24 home match with Houston, magic erupted in a 5-0 victory before 22,329 fans. The Thorns closed out August with a 3-0 home win over Chicago and had 10 wins, six draws and only three losses for the season. Then, the goals ended. 

Over the remaining six weeks, the Thorns scored just one goal and managed to rack up only four points in the standings from a potential 15. Meanwhile, North Carolina, the defending league champion, won eight of its final nine matches, a stretch that included a 6-0 win over Portland, and finished first in the league standings for the third consecutive year.

With a 1-0 loss at Chicago, Sunday, the season came to a halt, leading into much-needed discussion of the future of the women’s game. In the NWSL, that includes league sponsors (Budweiser became the official beer sponsor), media rights and expansion franchises, one of which is due for Louisville, Ky., in 2021. And, the US women’s team salaries.

Put altogether, FC Portland had a truly memorable year, without winning a title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon Sports HOF inducts next class

Ashton Eaton heads list of in-state greats

Ashton Eaton, the 2012 and 2016 Gold Medalist in the decathlon, and his wife Brianne, Theisen-Eaton, headed the list of inductees to the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony conducted at the Multnomah Athletic Club, Sept. 19.

National championship teams from Oregon State and the University of Portland, long-time football coach Thurman Bell and adaptive sports legene Aaron Paulson were also inducted.

The inductees were:

Ashton Eaton, two-time Olympic Decathlon gold medalist and five-time World Champion

Brianne Theisen-Eaton, Olympic Heptathlon medalist and World Champion

Thurman Bell, Roseburg High School football coach (second in all-time wins)

2002 University of Portland Women’s Soccer Team, NCAA champions 

Aaron Paulson, Adaptive sports paralympic swimming gold medalist

2006-2007 Oregon State University Mens Baseball Team, College World Series champions.

This year’s ceremony also featured a special tribute to Harry Glickman, a 1986 Hall of Fame inductee and acknowledged “father” of professional sports in Oregon. Early on, Glickman was responsible for bringing a number of NFL pre-season exhibition games to Portland’s then Multnomah Stadium. In 1960, he founded the Portland Buckaroos, WHL hockey club. In 1970, he won the expansion franchise for the Portland Trailblazers professional basketball team, and served as the team’s president from 1987-1994.

Each year the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame helps preserve Oregon’s rich sports heritage through its recognition of outstanding Oregon athletes and special contributors to sport.

In addition, Oregon Sports Hall of Fame college scholarships of $3,000 each, made possible by contributions from the MacTarnahan Family Trust, awarded to six student-athletes to be used for continuing their education at Oregon colleges and universities.

This years list included:

Hunter Knox – Harrisburg high school

Aaron Alexander – Molalla high school

Cody Stahl – Dayton high school

Fayth Dunn – Neah-Kah-Nie high school

Katelyn Lester – McNary high school

Tia Lohman – Beaverton high school.

 

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