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Prep Notebook

Cougar alters Hidden Valley athletic agenda

The running trails etched in the wooded ridge above Hidden Valley High School are eerily silent these days.

A cougar and her cub are prowling on the Josephine County school's property, forcing the cross country team to abandon its training ground.

We spotted her last Thursday and Friday, principal Mark Andrews says. Unfortunately, it was too close to the school and we had to shut down the (athletic) fields near school as well.

Andrew's concern for the safety of more than 800 students resulted in a call to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

They had dogs on (the cougar), Andrews says. But it was hard to keep the scent because it was so hot.

The cats' habit of crossing property lines adds to the dilemma.

Once she goes off our property, fish and game needs permission from (neighboring) property owners to keep tracking, Andrews says.

ODFW district biologist John Thiebes says cougars are not trapped and transported as might a bear. Sooner or later, that means the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will have to kill the cougar and perhaps the cub.

There is no place to trap and transport, Thiebes says. Cougars are very territorial and the territory is full. We have no idea of an area where it wouldn't come into conflict with another cougar. Secondly, we don't want to transplant a cougar that is prone toward aggression to humans.

Thiebes says the cub could wind up at a certified zoo, if one wanted it.

Andrews hopes for quick closure, noting Hidden Valley has an invitational cross country meet Oct. 6.

Until the cat problems are resolved, Andrews says, we can't have it.

The cat's presence has caused inconvenience for Hidden Valley coach Bob Julian Jr. and duller workouts for his runners, who now stick mainly to roads during practice. But Julian has tried to keep his sense of humor.

I thought about having shirts made of a cougar with a runner on its tail, Julian says.

Despite the cougar troubles, Hidden Valley has made great strides under the second-year coach. A year ago, twins Emily and Alanna Steinert comprised the girls squad. Considering it takes five runners to score, the Mustangs weren't much of a factor in Skyline Conference meets.

That's changed.

With the Steinerts finishing seventh and ninth, Hidden Valley placed fourth in last Saturday's Timberline Bank Invitational in Yreka. The Mustangs were seven points behind two-time defending Class 3A state champion Rogue River and two points back of Ashland, where Bob Julian Sr. is entering his 28th season.

If we were scoring just the top four, we probably would've won, Bob Julian Jr. says. We still need work on that fifth spot.''

HARD AT WORK: Bob Julian Jr. isn't merely coaching, he's training harder than any of his charges.

He is taking a year's leave of absence from his teaching duties with an eye on the U.S. track and field championships next summer.

His best time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase is 8 minutes, 55 seconds; an 8:45 would qualify him. His brother Pete is ranked among the country's top 10,000-meter runners.

I don't pretend I can get to that level, Bob Julian Jr. says. My main impetus is to run at a national-class level. Since my wife is a teacher and can support us, I can take a year to train.

I want to try while I'm still young enough (30) and not wait until I'm too old and say I could've done it, but...

A REAL HOMECOMING: Hidden Valley's long-anticipated first on-campus varsity football game is on hold.

This Friday's non-conference game against Brookings and the Skyline opener against Henley have been switched to the Josephine County Fairgrounds.

As a result, Hidden Valley's Homecoming in the new 1,500-seat, $160,000 stadium, will be Oct. 16.

Basically, it's taken longer than we expected, says principal Mark Andrews. There has been a lot of volunteer help and we've had some unforeseen problems. We could've probably gotten it together this weekend. But it would've been too much and it wouldn't have looked right. We want it perfect when we open. This gives us four or five more weeks.

COACH NAMED: Robert Ison, a math and health teacher, has been named girls soccer coach at Hidden Valley. He succeeds Erik Pipher, who died in an auto accident Sept. 2.

YEAR TWO: The second edition of Noland's Oregon High School Preview -- 190 pages worth -- is on sale at local grocery stores.

The prep magazine features an interview with Ashland coach Jim Nagel, details on the state's 99 Class 4A football programs, a list of the top players and a top-10 list. Roseburg was No. — behind Marshfield and McNary, while Ashland was No. 8 on the Noland list.

Nearly 14,000 copies of the inaugural issue were distributed via booster clubs.

We're still in the black, says Scott Healy, a former Roseburg player and one of three co-publishers. We didn't make a ton of money, but we poured what we made back into the magazine. We're pleased, because a lot of companies start in the red.

He anticipates the second edition, which sells for $4.99, will earn roughly the same return.

(Greg Stiles is a Mail Tribune sports writer. He can be reached at 776-4483.)