Make the McKenzie Connection!

February 18, 2021

Eagles Are Great, We’re Going To State!

To many of us in the McKenzie River Valley, this exclamation had become a frequent and somewhat anticipated rally cry following several of our high school sports seasons. Although our McKenzie High School Eagle teams have fallen on tougher times recently, even prior to the Co-Vid 19 outbreak and the Holiday Farm Fire, many are the memories of hard fought athletic battles and road trips all around the Great State of Oregon.

What became the norm, however, was not at all the case in the earlier years of our school. Indeed, since McKenzie High School opened its first doors for business in 1941, the Eagles have won five team State Championships. The first and only baseball State crown (A-2) was in the Spring of 1963, led by Dennis Baldridge, who went on to play for the University of Oregon and in the New York Yankees system.

In the Fall of 1969, McKenzie Head Coach Wade Thomas directed his team to an 11-0, perfect, undefeated finish in the B State Championships. That is still the Eagle’s lone Football Championship Title.

McKenzie brought home the blue State Championship Cross Country (A/B) Trophy in both the 1973 and 1975 seasons. And most recently, the 2012 Eagle Girls team, coached by Head Coach Darin Harbick, captured the Eagles first, and only, State Championship in Basketball.

McKenzie has also been home to a few individual State Champions. Dave Reese won the State 2A mile in 1960. Mike York captured the 1967 A-2 State Javelin Championship. Rich Totten won two State Championship titles, the only Eagle to hold that distinction in any sport, the 1974 2A Track and Field 880 yard Title and the 1975 2A Track and Field mile Title. Scott Spruill brought home the 1977 2A Track and Field 2 mile Championship Title and the lone Girls Track and Field Championship was won by Kristie Peterson (Ringler), the 1983 2A 800 meters Champion.

It wasn’t until twenty years ago, in fact, before Eagle teams making State playoff appearances started becoming something to hang your hat on. The ice was broken, somewhat surprisingly, by the 2001 Boys Basketball team, coached by rookie Head Coach Mike Wiley. That team, led by seniors David Fenley (2001 Trico League Player of the Year, First Team All Star), Jared Woods (Trico League Second Team All Star), Casey Cline (Trico League Honorable Mention All Star), Kyle Richardson (Trico League Honorable Mention All Star), Chad Andrews, and Ryan Spiro, finished the Trico League regular season in second place and then ran through the Trico League playoffs to capture the League’s Number One Seed to the 2001 Oregon State 2A Basketball Championships, held in Pendleton, Oregon.

Joining that historic group of senior players were juniors Chris Parazoo and Ashley Pearman, and freshmen Devin Banks, Garrett Cline, Jacob Egan, and Todd Richardson. Coach Wiley was assisted by Cliff Richardson.

The 2001 Boys Basketball team was the first time McKenzie had qualified for any State Basketball Championship playoffs! Coach Wiley’s team made the long trip to Pendleton that March, one of the last 8 2A teams in the State playing basketball. The Boys of McKenzie would not win either of their 2 Pendleton appearances, but the playoff bug had bitten and the Eagles would continue to soar in subsequent seasons.

This Spring marks the twentieth anniversary of that remarkable team’s accomplishments. This out-standing group of Eagle student-athletes would set a new bar for McKenzie athletics for many years to follow, a bar that would continue to be raised, putting the little school from the McKenzie River Valley, on the map and in the State record books.

Over the next few weeks, with March madness truly maddening now with current events, the 2001 Boys Basketball teams’ season will be shared and remembered for their on-court heroics.

Stay tuned.


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