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History (finally) repeats at North

The Black Tornado of old is now at one with the present.

The historic Medford High Black Tornado (and Tigers as they were known before that) was virtually shunned by administrators and some coaches when Medford became North and South in 1986.

Even though the Oregon School Activities Association and — for the most part — the media saw North Medford as the heir to all previous Medford High performances, the past was swept beneath the bleachers.

It was tantamount to whacking off Oregon's grandest old-growth athletic tree at the roots.

One coach, with no sense of history, conveniently tossed out his program's records.

Fortunately, there were enough scattered seeds to regrow the tradition. As a result, the North Medford gym walls now tell a story, not just of a time when the town got too big for one public high school, but one as old as the growing community.

Now, all 51 state titles — three of them since the 1986 split — are acknowledged along with scores of Southern Oregon Conference championships on the gym wall.

There's a lot of tradition with the Black Tornado, says former softball coach Larry Binney. We wanted to tie the accomplishments of the past to what has been done of late. Since athletics began here, the Black Tornado has been a power.

Volleyball coach Ron Beick, who didn't arrive in Medford until the 1990s, sees the value of highlighting the tradition.

When kids come in for assemblies they can look at the wall and take some pride in what the Black Tornado has been and what it will be, Beick says. It's both a tribute to the past and a motivator for the future.

Two more SOC championships — girls soccer and volleyball — have been added this fall and the football team goes after its 50th district crown Friday night against Ashland at Spiegelberg Stadium.

The girls were pointing to the wall (after beating Roseburg last week) and wanted to know how soon 2000 would be added to the volleyball list, Beick said.

Two of Beick's leadership class students — — Savannah Spencer and Rochelle Evans — did much of the research, combing through annuals, trophies and other artifacts, to dig up past records. Beick ran through boxes of microfilm at the library and scanned the Internet for past state champions.

Lists were passed out and double-checked to avoid omissions.

People just didn't keep good records a long time ago, says Binney.

Once the research was done, the labor began.

Binney estimates that it took 200 man hours to prepare the big board as well as the district lists. Each sport donated $100 from its club account for materials. Curt Gould, Ernie Adams, Dan Crippen, Tim Sam, Brent Barry and Mike and Cathy Kay all pitched in.

Next up on the docket?

We've been talking, says Binney, about a coaches hall of fame.


Rumrey earned his 200th football coaching victory when the Tornado escaped with a 12-9 win over Grants Pass.

It tells me I've been around a long time, says Rumrey, who began coaching at Sweet Home back in 1974 before coming to North in 1988.

I was looking at the all-time winning list this summer and there's not many on the list that are still active, Rumrey says. A lot of guys that were coaching when I started are not around any more.

The active coaches Rumrey trails in wins are all-time Oregon leader Dewey Sullivan of Dayton, who is closing in on 300; Marshfield's Kent Wigle (255), Roseburg's Thurman Bell (236) and McNary's Tom Smythe (201).

Rumrey says his early coaching goals were in a different direction than where he ended up.

I wanted to be coaching at Notre Dame when I first started out, I can definitely remember that, Rumrey recalls. When you?re a young guy, there's no limitations. I missed out on that one a little bit.

He says he didn't give much thought to milestones until an assistant coach made a pretty big deal about his 100th win.

My wife and I were talking the other day, and I mentioned a couple guys that were around (years ago) who were probably nearing retirement when I was in the middle of coaching, Rumrey says. I wondered how come they didn't get 200.

While it's true that playoff expansion that began in the mid-1970s gave winning programs more games, it doesn't guarantee success or a lot of wins.

I don't think I thought I had a prayer to get to 200 when I started, Rumrey says. I feel pretty fortunate to be part of this profession. I've had so much enjoyment to be involved with it. I appreciate that I've had the opportunity.

I've had some real good assistant coaches. That was true at Sweet Home and true here.


teams have topped their classifications in the fall Dairy Farmers of Oregon Academic All-State program.

North Medford girls soccer (3.80), St. Mary's boys cross country (3.71) and South Medford volleyball (3.78) led their classifications. Another 13 teams in Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties were among the top 10.

Sweet Home's girls cross country squad combined for a perfect 4.0 GPA. The Huskies are only the third team to post a 4.0 GPA. Crescent Valley's girls cross country team and Tillamook's boys golf team both achieved the feat in 1998-99.

North Medford's girls soccer team shares top-billing with Forest Grove, while Klamath Union was fourth (3.75). In boys soccer, South Medford (3.51) was sixth and Klamath Union (3.45) ninth among 4A schools and St. Mary's was 10th (3.41) among 2A teams.

Henley (3.69) was fourth among 3A volleyball teams and Illinois Valley (3.62) was sixth. Lost River (3.72) was fifth among 2A schools and Hosanna (3.83) was third in the 1A ranks.

St. Mary's football team, which ceased operation earlier this month because it had too few players, was the only area football team on the list with a 3.07 GPA.

St. Mary's (3.76) was third among 2A girls cross country teams , Klamath Union (3.91) fifth among 4A schools and Henley (3.75) eighth among 3A squads.

Klamath Union's (3.80) boys cross country team was No. 2

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4483, or e-mail gstiles@mailtribune.com