By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– The four senior baseball players sitting awaiting to sign their Letter of Intents Tuesday afternoon in the gym at Central High School have seen a lot.
Three head coaches in three years, the third being current Head Coach Tom Roberts last season when they were Juniors, they’ve stuck with it.
Now Connor Laeng (Umpqua CC), Kaleb Kantola (Chemeketa CC), Ruben Cedillo (Linn-Benton CC) and Emiliano Alacron (Linn-Benton CC) were sitting in the gym Mid-Willamette Conference Champions and signing their LOI’s to their respective schools.
“It’s awesome, we knew we could do it and see it happen…winning league for the first time in a long time, it’s awesome. Can’t wait for the playoffs,” starts Laeng. “It just shows how much we work very hard over our lives to get to where we want to go. We still want to go somewhere else for two years, it’s going to be great playing against them next year.”
It’s the first conference title for the Panthers in baseball since their move up to 5A during the 2014-2015 school year. Central host South Albany Wednesday before closing out the season Friday in Albany.
Sopha Henke, who’s five-foot-three High Jump is tied for first All-Time in School History and her 35-foot-7-inch Triple Jump two years ago is the School All-Time Mark, signed to compete in Track and Field at Pacific University.
In Football, Moses Mierau signed with Linfield College while Hunter Chase is playing football at the College of the Siskiyous.
In Girls Basketball, Elizabeth Chavez is taking her talents to Linn-Benton as well while Annika Riddell has signed with Southern Oregon University.
The Raiders have reached the NAIA National Tournament from 2015-2018 under now-Portland State Head Coach Lynn Kennedy and current Head Coach Alex Carlson, reaching the NAIA National Title game versus Marian University in 2016.
“I met the coaches and everything that they are saying and what their goal is for their program isn’t just about basketball, it’s about community and all the girls getting along and just playing really well together,” said Riddell. “I think I can learn a lot from the coaches and I’m excited for what I can be coached on and growing as a player and as a person.”