Sprague's coaches knew that this season they had to build a larger roster to compete with schools such as Beaverton, which fields a squad of as many as 70 players.
The Olympians brought 46 players to the Oregon state championships and competed strongly, finishing second overall behind Beaverton.
The Beavers' boys and girls teams totaled 4,528 points, with Sprague finishing second at 4,021 and Salem Academy seventh at 1,458.
The Olympians girls and boys both finished second to Beaverton. It was the highest boys state finish for Sprague since the Olympians won the title in 1997. Sprague's girls were seeking their third consecutive state title.
"Beaverton had 60-70 kids," said Sprague head coach Ryan Edmiston. "We had to bump up our roster just to compete with them."
"Kids are the best recruiters," said assistant coach Don Kerzel, who singled out player Saurabh Mahajam, who brought in eight prospective players.
"Kids that have had success with it tell other kids," Kerzel said.
Sprague wouldn't mind having the same success this year that they did last season. After finishing second to Beaverton at the 2009 state tournament, the Olympians broke through at nationals, winning their second consecutive title.
"I think we are set up pretty good for nationals," Edmiston said. "We were just a tad above 500 points behind (Beaverton). In racquetball, that's not a whole lot different."
Also helping the Olympians at nationals, which are Feb. 24-28 in Portland and Beaverton, will be looser rules on participation.
Players can compete in three events at nationals; the maximum is two at the state meet.
Eight Sprague players took home first-place trophies at the state meet:
-Junior Josh Heater and senior Ethan Nicholas won the No. 2 boys doubles bracket.
-Seniors Austin Baker and Alex Black won the No. 3 boys doubles bracket.
-Freshman Jamie Stell and sophomore Kelsie Provancha won the No. 3 mixed doubles bracket.
-Heater captured the singles title for No. 5 players.
-Junior Tonya Ulloa won the girls singles bracket for No. 2 players.
-Freshman Stephanie Herschbach captured the No. 4 girls singles bracket.
Fifteen of Sprague's 16 girls players won medals, and eight of them were first-year players.
"For the team in general, everyone surpassed what we thought we would do," Edmiston said, "especially having so many first-year girls."
Kerzel and Edmiston also expressed appreciation for the generosity of Courthouse Athletic Club, which provided practice facilities as often as four days per week.
Assisting Kerzel and Edmiston were coaches Bill Edmiston, Dan Goettsch and Stacey Witenberger.
Salem Academy's Kyle Lebow took third in the bracket for No. 1 singles players to help the Crusaders to their seventh-place finish, up three spots from last season.
article by: By James Day • Statesman Journal