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Jody Tatone (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

MISSION — Pat O’Donnell and Byron Patton rode side by side in their golf cart back to the clubhouse at Wildhorse Golf Course full of smiles. The pair joked that the cart was really the magic behind their excellent opening rounds at the Senior Oregon Open Invitational.

O’Donnell and Patton, both of Portland, turned Wildhorse into their home course Tuesday, putting up the two best scores of the day. Patton shot a 5-under-par 67 round, but even he was left looking up the leaderboard at his pairing partner and O’Donnell’s 65.

The two are golfing buddies even outside of tournament life, playing rounds at Broadmoor Golf Course in northeast Portland. Their golf days together span 20 years and two professional careers, settling now into a perfect give-and-take groove.

“He’s easy to play with,” Patton said.

“I put up with him,” O’Donnell interrupted. “He’s my date when I’m away from the wife.”


 
 
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John Propheter shoots for the pin. (Staff photo by EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

UMATILLA — Zac Adams dropped the final putt of his round into the cup at Big River Golf Course in Umatilla before strolling back to the clubhouse. His 18-hole score of 82 led the early flight of the boys group at the Northeast Oregon Junior Golf Association Tournament on Monday, but he’d have to wait while the rest of the field trickled in to know his placing for sure.

But Adams, 15, wasn’t feeling solicitous or anxious in any way after one of his best scores of the year. Monday’s was just a summer tournament, one to be played for fun and for practice. The Hermiston boy packaged his own score up in the back of his mind, instead galavanting around the course and catching up with other golfers.

“My friends and I just drove around in the golf cart trying to see how everybody else was doing,” said Adams of the downtime spent with Hermiston High teammates Keegan Crafton and Paden LaCoursiere.


 
 
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Alberto Vasquez and Stefan Macy battle for the ball. (Photos by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HERMISTON — Nathan Rice rubbed his goalkeeping gloves together and surveyed the soccer field before him. At forward, he saw a native of the Czech Republic. A Brazilian patrolled the midfield. One of his defenders was from Indonesia.

Rice, a 17-year-old early grad from Hermiston who’s heading to Oregon Institute of Technology in the fall, certainly seemed the outlier.

“It’s crazy. Every now and then they’re not even speaking the same language,” Rice said. “They’re just out there shouting, hoping somebody hears them. It’s definitely fun and a lot different than high school ball.”



 
 
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Jacob Rickman celebrates a race victory. (Photo via Sara Rickman)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PENDLETON — Jacob Rickman had started swimming with the Pendleton Swim Association when his family moved to town when he was 5 years old but his athletic prowess pulled him from the pool. The early morning practice slots began to feel like a pain and football and baseball emerged as better options.

His skill was inarguable on the gridiron for the Bucks during his record-breaking sophomore year, but since then, fate redirected the 17-year-old to his original calling. A year and change removed from the sports shift, Rickman is back in the spotlight — this time as a swimmer — as one of nine PSA members heading to the regional Inland Empire Swim Championships in Spokane, Wash. this week.


 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — After a week in which each day came packaged with its own rendition of stormy weather — the rains, the winds and thunder — the skies over downtown Hermiston on Saturday were noticeably empty.

No clouds. No lightning. Just one shining orb.

 
 
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — Any type of player, from collegiate star down to playground dribbler, can find a home at the “Takin’ it to the Streets” basketball tournament in Hermiston this weekend. The 3-on-3 style games will close off four blocks of Main Street in downtown for the seventh year of play.

This year’s field, which is open to athletes from third grade on up to adult, moved into record territory with 215 teams signed up — 30 more than last year and still above the usual 200.

 
 
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Pitcher Riley Kelm (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — The storm clouds loomed ever closer as Pendleton and Murrayhill Little Leaguers warmed up for their semifinal game of the state tournament at Hermiston’s Field of Dreams Little League Complex on Tuesday. The black, opaque masses above shrouded the field in late evening darkness despite the afternoon start time.

Though thunder grumbled on all sides and the occasional stab of lightning broke out in the distance, the storm skirted Hermiston save for a light sprinkle of rain. Murrayhill filled the lull with its bats and pitching arms, though, creating its own claps of thunder.

Murrayhill downed Pendleton 4-1 to advance to the championship game of the 10/11-year-old state bracket. A combination of three pitchers for Murrayhill held Pendleton to two hits and four of the team’s six hits went for extra bases.


 
 
Couldn't get a feel for the Scottish athletic events going on at the Caledonian Games in Athena over the weekend? Lucky for you there's some video footage from the East Oregonian to help you out. Take a look below or see the story here.

 
 
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Phil Sansotta competes in the sheaf toss. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

ATHENA — Weston-McEwen head football coach Kenzie Hansell warmed up for competition next to the high school in Athena on Saturday like he has for years with his football team in the fall. He trudged across the grass just a few hundred feet from where his team takes its home snaps and where the TigerScots baseball players field grounders in the spring.

Hansell chalked up his hands, studied the projectile before him and felt about for the best grip, the one that would help him throw farthest. The object’s shape felt oblong and irregular, a far cry from the footballs he tossed to his players like second nature. What he held in his hands this time, then pressed against his cheek in a shot-putting motion, was a rock weighing in at 23.8 pounds.

The Braemar Stone toss opened up the Athena Caledonian Games’ athletic events as a dozen men and women — suited in their best Scottish garb — tossed, lifted and flipped in the six competitions of the tradition Highland Games. The Caledonian Games, a celebration of all things Scotland in Eastern Oregon, brings together thousands of countrymen or curious passersby each year. The events, always accompanied by bagpipes and dancing, have dominated the tiny town for a weekend each year since 1899.


 
 
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Tom Melton accepts in induction. (Photo by AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

PENDLETON — During a tumultuous summer filled with change and uncertainty in Pendleton High School athletics, Friday night was about something different. For one night, Pendleton’s recently filled football coaching vacancy left the lips of the Buckaroo faithful. The healthy workload ahead of the new athletic director could wait for discussion until Saturday.

Friday’s gathering at the Pendleton Convention Center was a time capsule to a different era with one word at its core.

“It’s tradition,” Tom Melton explained. “Being in the Round-Up, those gold helmets. Hopefully those gold helmets will still mean something when I’m dead and gone.”