The Cardinal Times

Firsts and dynasties

A list of Lincoln’s historic sports teams who broke barriers and crushed records

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Lincoln has gained notoriety over the past century for excelling in both sports and academics. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the great sports dynasties that the last 150 years have had to offer.

 

Dance

There have been many defining moments in women’s sports. When Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, when the women’s Olympic marathon was first introduced, and when Sarah Thomas became the first female referee in the NFL were some of these moments. Perhaps the greatest moment in Lincoln women’s sports history, however, wasn’t one moment- it was a whole decade.

The Lincoln dance team of the 2000s was one of the greatest dynasties in Oregon sports history. The dominance of Sara Anderson’s teams from 2002-2010 was a thing of beauty, resulting in eight 4A (the highest classification at that time) state championships in a span of nine years. This is the second most titles of any Oregon sports team across any classification– ever– in that time frame.

Anderson, the team’s coach for the entirety of the dynasty, spoke about not letting the pressure of success weigh on her athletes.

“Team unity and trust were some of the most important components to a successful team,” said Anderson. “The pressure was intense but ‘winning’ was never the sole focus and that helped keep things in perspective.”

In the years that Lincoln won, Tigard placed second six times and was the only team that beat Lincoln in 2007.

“The rivalry with Tigard was great,” Anderson continued. “It helped motivate dancers from both teams. It was healthy, respectful and added a wonderful intensity.”

The increase of girls sports came with the introduction of Title IX in the 1970s, but it took years for girls’ programs to develop into the full-blown programs that are seen today.

“I think that our ‘dynasty’ has helped other sports teams [at Lincoln] actually recognize us as a sport and support us,” said current Lincoln dance coach Keeley Driscoll, who danced for the team through all four years of high school.

While Lincoln has not won state since 2010, they placed second in 2019, indicating an upward trend towards their past success.

“[Dance] has taught me humility. I think being a part of other people’s processes and journeys and making a positive difference in who they are as a person has, in turn, helped me see a difference in my life and learn so many positive life lessons,” said Driscoll. “It has really taught me to live in the moment.”

 

Boys’ Lacrosse

In 150 years, any school is bound to develop some great sports programs that win a championship. Sometimes, a school gets lucky and has a team win back-to-back championships- or even three in a row. But on rare occasions, an unforgettable dynasty is formed. That very thing happened over a decade ago for Lincoln, in the form of the boys’ lacrosse team.

In five years (2008-2012), the lacrosse team won four state championships. During this time,  nine players made the US All-American team and 17 players took home All-State honors.

Lincoln lacrosse coach Will Harris (the 2011 Oregon Coach of the Year) spoke about what was needed for a dynasty to thrive- and admitted that a lot of it has to do with luck.

“Players have to stay healthy, stay on the right side of the line. You have to play your best ball at the right time and sometimes the ball just has to bounce your way,” said Harris. “We also stayed humble and hungry.”

The most successful player during the championship run was Peter Baum, a two-time All-American who amassed national prestige in college.

“I was very fortunate to have… a great coaching staff [who] showed me how to play at a higher level and challenged me to never be satisfied with my game,” said Baum, who was the 2012 Division I Player of the Year at Colgate University and the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Lacrosse draft. “It’s much easier to face the pressure and expectations when you have a group of teammates standing beside you.”

Both the coaches and players agree that the team enriched their lives and careers. Baum articulated that “playing for Lincoln… was a great privilege and something [he’ll] always remember.” Harris agreed.

Being a part of something, building something, contributing to something – these things drive me,” said Harris. “Building the Lincoln lacrosse program and the hundreds of kids it has served is something I’m very proud of.”

Girls’ Swimming

While girls’ sports at Lincoln existed as early as the 19th century, they were not allowed to compete with other schools until years later in the 20th century. For years, the girls’ sports at Lincoln struggled for recognition. However, 24 years before Title IX was introduced in high schools, the Lincoln girls’ swim team was making headlines.

After winning the PIL championships on Mar 11 at the Multnomah Athletic Club, the 1948 Lincoln girls’ swim team still had something to prove.

En route to the inaugural OSAA girls’ swimming championship, Lincoln dominated the rest of the PIL field, winning definitively with a score of 82 points (to Jefferson’s 56 and Grant’s 48 points, for second and third place respectively).

Lincoln had three first, four second, and two third-place individual finishes, and another win in the 150-yd medley relay as Lincoln’s Nancy McCourt finished only inches ahead of Grant

But the Cardinals weren’t done yet.

The state meet was held two weeks later at the Buckman Pool in Portland. Grant was leading Lincoln 23-22 going into the last event of the day, the 160-yd relay. Lincoln finished second place in the race, good for six points over Grant’s third-place finish, propelling the Cardinals over the Generals for the overall title.

“The well-proportioned Lincoln team,” according to the Oregonian’s Mar 28, 1948 issue, edged out Grant in dramatic fashion, winning by one point (28-27) to claim the overall title.

Lincoln’s coach, Jack Cody, was known at the time in Portland as “Mr. Swim.” He had a prestigious coaching career at the MAC, with 3 national championships and 15 Olympic swimmers to his name. He was the first coach of Norman Ross, a three-time Olympic gold medal swimmer, and thirteen-time world record setter. His group of swimmers and divers won 42 individual national AAU swimming championships and 16 individual championships from 1939-49. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals’ victory in the first-ever girls’ state championship was impressive, statistically. But there were larger implications for their win; it was not only the first girls’ swimming championship- it was the first state championship. Period.

The memories of the 1948 swim team have yet to be erased.

Boys’ Basketball

Lincoln has been known historically as a PIL and state powerhouse in athletics. The school has won countless state titles. Many of these championships have not endured through the memories of Lincoln legends, and some have been forgotten completely. But their first one- the very first one, for any school in Oregon- has survived.

The OSAA was created 100 years ago in 1919, and the first state championship competition was the inaugural basketball tournament, which was won by Lincoln.

Lincoln (who had won the Portland City Championship the year before) went 14-0, playing three fewer games than their opponent in the championship game (Salem, who was 12-5). Lincoln handled Salem soundly, winning by a score of 27-13.

The Cardinals’ coach at the time was George Dewey. Along with leading the team to an eventual victory in 1919, Dewey helped four of his players to state honors- Dave Wright and Irv Cole were both on the Oregon state first-team, while Bill Beck and Meyer Dubinski earned second-team honors.

Since Lincoln’s perfect first season, 32 other Oregon boys’ basketball teams have gone undefeated, and there have been 321 OSAA boys’ state basketball champions across all classifications (including two more Lincoln teams in the 1950s).

But there’s something special about the first one, as the OSAA recognized during the 2019 OSAA basketball championship game. A commemorative trophy was presented to Lincoln recognizing the historic efforts of the first state champions.

While their records may have been broken, and the players long-graduated, it proves to the state of Oregon that the team has stood the test of time.

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