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LOCAL ROUNDUP: Holland climbs to No. 1 nationally

Ashland High senior-to-be distance runner E.J. Holland has moved to the top of the U.S. rankings for the boys 1,500 meters following a personal-record performance last weekend at the Portland Track Festival.

Holland, coming off Class 5A state championships in the 3,000 and 1,500, lowered his best to 3 minutes, 46.59 seconds Sunday while running unattached in the high-performance race, in which he placed 21st against college-aged and older runners.

The Oregon Project’s Craig Engels won in 3:35.32, just missing the 2020 Olympic qualifying standard 3:35.00.

Holland’s 1,500 time ranks first on athletic.net for all U.S. high school runners where the website is used. Eric Van der els of Peabody in Massachusetts is No. 2 with a time of 3:47.07.

Two weeks ago, Holland set meet records at state in the 3,000 of 8:13.10 and the 1,500 of 3:51.92.

His previous PR in the 1,500 was 3:50.42, set this spring at the Midwestern League championships.

College Softball

RAIDERS HONORED: After taking Southern Oregon University to the top of the NAIA in 2019, head coach Jessica Pistole and company have been named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s NAIA national coaching staff of the year.

Pistole’s staff included fifth-year assistant Duane Pardue, third-year assistant Cheyenne Bricker, second-year assistant Mike Mayben and first-year assistant Harlee Donovan. Bricker and Donovan previously played for the Raiders, too.

In setting a program wins record for the third consecutive season, the staff guided the Raiders to a 52-8 record and their first national title, along with Cascade Conference regular-season and tournament championships. In the final NAIA Top 25 poll, they garnered their first-ever No. 1 ranking.

SOU went 15-23 the season before Pistole took over and has gone 219-82 in the five seasons since, including a 149-38 mark over the last three years.

The program’s precipitous rise has included three consecutive NAIA World Series appearances (the first in team history), three CCC regular-season titles and three CCC tournament titles.

The Raiders have also earned NAIA scholar-team plaudits every season under Pistole.

A product of Loomis, Calif., Pistole was also named the CCC coach of the year for the third time this season.

Andy Atkinson / Ashland TidingsAshland's EJ Holland leads the race in front of Crater's Jantz Tostenson winning the 1,500-meter run Saturday at Mt Hood Community College.