Sports Zone

Greener pastures? Millers, Colts will install turf football fields for 2024-25

The Springfield Board of Education approved money to convert the football fields at Springfield and Thurston high schools to artificial turf at its Feb. 12 meeting. Both schools requested the turf fields due to the deterioration of the grass fields during football season.

In the 2022 playoffs, Thurston beat West Albany 13-12 in a game at Thurston that head coach Justin Starck said were some of the worst field conditions he’d seen in his coaching career. The Colts played their 2022 quarterfinal game at Cottage Grove and their first-round game in 2023 at Willamette – both turf fields. Springfield also struggled with mud and rain in its first-round loss to Lebanon at Silke Field in 2023.

Springfield Public Schools is working with Beynon Sports to build the fields, with each field costing approximately $1.7 million. Work is expected to start in the spring with completion scheduled in time for the 2024-25 fall sports season. 

Thurston cheer squad adds to vast trophy case

■ The Thurston Colts cheerleading team added to its immense trophy case, coming in second place in the Class 6A/5A Coed Gameday Cheerleading State Championships the weekend of Feb. 9. The Colts were the co-defending champions after tying with Central in 2023.

“I thought it was really strong. I think that they brought a tremendous amount of energy and spirit to the floor,” Thurston cheer coach Robin Erickson said. “They did a really awesome job leading the crowd, which is at the heart of what that entire division is about.”

The second-place finish was Thurston’s 22nd top-three finish since 2001, a whopping 22 podium finishes in 24 years, including 10 of the program’s 11 state championships (1991). 

“I think there’s maybe a couple of factors at play. One, I think that we’re really lucky that we live in a community that is really supportive of each other. When you have community support, I think that brings out the best in your teams,” Erickson said of the program’s continued excellence. “And I think that the athletes themselves put pressure on themselves to maintain that tradition and to maintain the reputation that we have. I think that we are a program that isn’t afraid to put in the hard work, to finetune details and to really focus in on our goals for the year.”

Three Colts announce college football commitments

■ Three seniors from the Thurston Colts football team recently announced commitments to continue their football careers at the collegiate level. Tight end Luke Newell and wide receiver Walker Bonar – both 1st-team all-state this season – announced commitments to Southern Oregon University, an National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in Ashland.

Honorable mention all-state running back Ethan Burkhead also committed to an NAIA school – Simpson University in Redding, Calif. The 2024 season will be Simpson’s inaugural football season.

Gymnastics tournament coming March 1-3 to Keefer Center 

■ The 2024 Emerald Team Challenge is coming to the Bob Keefer Center for Sports and Recreation in Springfield. According to the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics – which hosts the event – the Emerald Team Challenge is one of the top gymnastics competitions in the western U.S.

According to its website, 39 gymnastics teams will compete during the three-day event. Two local teams will have participants as well – NAAG Eugene and Gymnastics Northwest Eugene. The full details can be found at:

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