• Tornado football coaching search continues

  • North Medford's approach to finding a new head football coach has been slow and steady, with administrators still mulling over applications received as recent as last week.

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  • North Medford's approach to finding a new head football coach has been slow and steady, with administrators still mulling over applications received as recent as last week.
    In all, North Medford Athletic Director Tim Sam said Monday that about 35 applications have been submitted, including about six last week.
    "We're still screening through applications and getting to the point where we'll start interviewing," said Sam.
    Sam said there have been preliminary discussions with about a dozen candidates, and a handful of others have already been weeded out due to a lack of experience.
    North Medford lost out on one of its prime hopefuls last week when Steve Turner, a former Black Tornado assistant coach, opted to move from Mountain View High in Bend to Cascade High in Turner, where he began his coaching career. Turner, who was the Class 5A coach of the year after leading Mountain View to the state title, has been on North Medford's short list during its last two coaching searches.
    Sam said the selection committee has no timetable on the hiring process, aiming to show due diligence after the process didn't lead to the best results a year ago with the hiring of Nate Becksted, who resigned the position last fall with two weeks to go in the regular season.
    "We understand that folks would like to have it done as quickly as possible but at the same time we know folks would like to have this search be as thorough as possible," said Sam. "If we're going to err on the side of anything, if it's possible we're going to err on the side of our thoroughness."
    Candidates from Oregon and California and as far away as the East Coast have expressed interest in the job, according to Sam. He said the desire is to bring in a coach with former head coaching experience to guide a North Medford team that hasn't had a winning season since 2005 and is coming off a 1-9 campaign.
    "The next step will be having formal sit-down interviews and seeing where we are there and if we're ready at that point to name a coach or go another round of interviews," said Sam. "There is no timetable. We'll wait and see how long it takes; we're working every day on it."
    Sam said there are no favorite candidates at this moment and that he believes a list of finalists likely will be finalized by the end of the month. When North Medford went through this same process a year ago, Becksted was named head coach on Feb. 17.
    Returning committee members include North Medford principal Ron Beick, assistant principal Linda Bradshaw-White and Sam. New to the group are school board member Jeff Thomas, freshman football and varsity wrestling coach Nolan Harris, interim football head coach Tom Powell and the district's human resource director Todd Bloomquist.
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    AN IN-SEASON coaching change wasn't what anyone expected during the swim season at South Medford High, but the Panthers appear to be making the best of the situation.
    When first-year head coach Daryl Armstead resigned the day before the Rogue Valley Invitational on Jan. 6, South's swim team was left in flux until Vickie Reierson, who dubbed herself a proverbial swim mom, stepped up to take the reins.
    "One of the problems is we just don't have a lot of swim coaches in the community and candidates," said Reierson, whose daughter Sarah is a standout senior on the team and initially was hesitant to take the interim position when asked by South Medford AD Dennis Murphy.
    "It's not easy to take over midseason, it really isn't, but now that I'm into it we've got a really good groove going and the kids are great," said Reierson, who also works for a private editorial group that edits business, law and government textbooks and manuscripts. "They're eager to learn and hungry for help and want to do well and that's what it's all about for me, working with the kids and watching them get better and faster and get more confident."
    Reierson said she has also enjoyed a tremendous amount of help from her local coaching peers. Crater's Mike Heckert and North Medford's Robert Dilansa have been particularly helpful as she's learned to stage swim meets at the Rogue Valley Family YMCA and weed through all the paperwork the position entails in getting her team signed up for competition.
    "Doing practice and being around the kids and helping with workouts, that wasn't too bad and actually enjoyable," said Reierson, "but getting the meets organized and being on top of all that and getting 32 kids in all their events correctly, it's just a matrix you have to figure out and the kind of paperwork people don't even realize. But I'd have to say the sportsmanship among the coaches has been very heartening and extremely helpful."
    Reierson has been heavily involved with the Superior Stingrays swim program's booster board for the past seven years and helped put together local meets but nothing to the extent she's had to for the Panthers. Having so many contacts in the swimming community has also been a blessing, according to Reierson, and made the transition to coaching that much easier. The only prior coaching experience she had was more than 15 years ago, and that was in volleyball.
    Reierson said she's taking things day to day and has no desire to even think about whether she'd be interested in continuing in the same role next year.
    "I can't really say for sure what's down the road but I'm definitely enjoying this and glad I have the opportunity to finish out the season with the kids," she said.
    The Panthers' next big meet comes Feb. 2 and 4 when they take part in the Southwest Conference district meet at Thurston High in Springfield. The girls team is led by Sarah Reierson, Kaylee Cooper, Jenna Cooper and Janelle Legacion, who all have realistic chances to advance to the state meet, while the boys team has been paced by Jeremiah Clark and Ed Haynes.
    Sarah Reierson is the defending state champion in the 200-yard individual medley, securing Medford's first state title in swimming since Sue Ross won the 50 and 100 freestyles for Medford High in 1980.
    Reierson was second in the 200 IM as a sophomore and won the crown last year in 2 minutes, 7.03 seconds.
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    ST. MARY'S SENIOR Sarah Bennion has been selected as a finalist for the Johnny Carpenter Prep Athlete of the Year Award, with the winners to be announced Feb. 12 at the 2011 Oregon Sports Awards show on the Nike World Campus in Beaverton.
    Bennion was a finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman Award after being named Oregon's winner. She's competed on the Crusaders' track and cross country teams that have won state titles and has been a starter in soccer for St. Mary's, which was state runner-up in 2010.
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
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