Forget March Madness.
The crazy, mad dash of the spring high school athletic season is upon us.
A two-month sprint for most sports — state golf and tennis championships are just eight weeks away — spring preps in Central Oregon are always entertaining and for the most part usually extremely competitive at the state level. Expect this year to be no different.
In girls golf, Summit looks to cement its status as one of the most dominant programs the Oregon School Activities Association has seen since the organization began sponsoring girls golf championships in 1971. The Storm are heavy favorites to win their fifth straight Class 5A state title this season, a streak no other girls golf program in the state has ever achieved. Sophomore Madison Odiorne leads the way for Summit after winning the 5A individual crown last May as a freshman. The rich appear to have gotten richer in the offseason, as freshman Sarah Heinly shot a 1-over-par 73 last week at her first high school tourney, tying Odiorne for medalist honors.
The area's track teams should provide several interesting storylines as well. The Summit boys and girls, as well as La Pine's boys team, are all coming off state championship seasons. Storm senior Michael Wilson, the current 5A title holder in the 400 and 300-meter hurdles, is looking to repeat in both of those races. His teammate Eric Alldritt, who is back for his senior year, won the 3,000 at state a year ago and took second in the 1,500. Mountain View senior Mitch Modin, a future decathlete at the University of Oregon, is also worth keeping an eye on. Four days after playing in the 5A state basketball tournament, Modin put up victories in the 200, 400, shot put and javelin at the Cougars' first meet of the season.
Summit's girls squad, which has won the past six 5A state meets, could be in for their most competitive season since beating Hermiston 65-58 at the 2010 state championships. The Storm graduated four distance runners who moved on to Pac-12 Conference track and field programs.
On the baseball field, Summit and Bend are both coming off stellar 2012 seasons. The Storm took second in state last year in Class 5A, while the Lava Bears advanced to the semifinal round of the postseason. Senior infielders Duke DeGaetano and Jonah Koski are both back for Bend after earning all-league first-team honors last spring. And Redmond, which has experienced so much success in boys sports this school year after competing at the 6A level for the previous six years, could make a run in the 5A playoffs with a large senior class.
Like its track teams, Summit's boys and girls tennis squads both enter 2013 as defending state champions. Both programs are again solid this season. The Storm boys will be learning to live without two-time individual state champion Paxton Deuel, who now plays for the University of Portland. But sophomore Chandler Oliveira, who took third at state in 2012, should be more than ready to step into Deuel's shoes. The Summit girls could be even better this year, as 2012 state singles runner-up Lindsey Brodeck and state quarterfinalist Haley Younger are just juniors.
And those are just the favorites heading into the season. The Summit, Bend and Redmond boys golf teams could all make pushes for the 5A podium. Redmond's softball program, which has won more than 20 games in each of the past two seasons, is always dangerous, as is Sisters' baseball squad, which under the guidance of Steve Hodges always seems to find its way into the postseason.
So pay attention. The spring prep season is fast and furious but always a thrill for fans of Central Oregon athletics.
Athlete of the week: Madras senior Jamie Moe led the White Buffaloes to a 9-4 softball victory over Summit on Wednesday by striking out 12 batters while scattering 11 hits. Moe also went four for four at the plate with a double, a home run and four RBIs.
Contest of the week: In its first golf tournament of the season, the Summit girls posted a team score of 325 at the Crooked River Invitational on Wednesday. Reigning Class 5A state champion Madison Odiorne recorded a 1-over-par 73, as did her teammate Sarah Heinly. The Storm are favored to win their fifth consecutive 5A state title this season.
Bend at Madras baseball, 4:30 p.m.: Both squads are hoping for deep postseason runs this year, the Lava Bears in Class 5A and the White Buffaloes in Class 4A.
Crook County at Madras softball doubleheader, 11 a.m.: Two of the area's top 4A teams face off in two nonleague games. Cowgirl pitcher Miranda Smith already has a no-hitter under her belt this season, while White Buffalo hurler Jamie Moe was an all-Tri-Valley Conference first-team selection a year ago.