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SOSC honors top athletes, sports contributors

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If it was up to Dave Tostenson, he’d be an official of youth sports for years to come.

But he doesn’t have the final say.

Tostenson, who has worked games in the Rogue Valley for 28 years, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2016 and has recently hung up his whistle.

He received the Southern Oregon Sports Commission Offiical of the Year Award Thursday at the group’s annual banquet at the Santo Community Center.

Tostenson, who also recently retired from his position as development services teacher for children with special needs, was recognized along with others at the sixth annual event.

EJ Holland and Gabby Sandoval personified excellence in 2019, and the two were honored as the male and female athletes of the year.

Each emerged from stiff competition. Five finalists, who had impressive showings at the professional, college and high school levels, were selected in each division and celebrated during the full program.

Others honored by the commission were Greg Jones, Sports Advocate of the Year; Stephen Eisenhauer, Dan Bulkley Spirit of Competition Award recipient; and Cascade Christian senior Sophie Ferreira, who received the $2,500 KOBI/SOSC Know Your Role Scholarship.

The Mail Tribune’s top 10 sports stories of 2019 were featured, and keynote speaker Dave McGillivray shared stories about his 1978 run from Medford, Oregon, to Medford, Massachusetts, and about his position as race director of the Boston Marathon.

McGillivray, moved by his return to Medford for the first time in nearly 42 years and by the proceedings, opened his presentation by pledging $2,500 to the scholarship fund.

John Christensen, an official and member of the SOSC, presented the award to Tostenson, noting that when the latter wasn’t doing his real job, he was being a full-time official.

The diagnosis four years ago “didn’t slow him down from officiating three sports until this year,” said Christensen.

“He told me awhile back, with a smile on his face, that ‘I’m the best official you’ve got with Parkinson’s. I might be the only one you have with Parkinson’s, but I think I’m the best.’ That was David, always looking at the bright side of any challenge.”

“He did not wait for anyone to question his abilities. He went out until he couldnt’ go out anymore.”

An emotional Tostenson was thankful for the award.

“I’m probably gonna cry,” he said. “It’s mostly the Parkinson’s that makes me do that.”

Tostenson started officiating in football in 1992 at the urging of a friend. He then added softball and baseball to his skill set before taking on other sports through the City of Medford youth programs.

“Over those amount of years, it was about the officials and the camaraderie with the people I’ve met in officiating,” said Tostenson. “I love all the guys. There’s nothing like going out there with a fellow official and being able to do the best you can.”

The friends he made over those many years far outnumbered any enemies, he said.

“For me not to do it anymore will be drastic,” said Tostenson, “because it’s special.”

Other award winners thanked their families, coaches and teammates for seeing them through.

Holland, a senior distance runner at Ashland High, provided highlights from spring to fall, winning two state championships in track and field and another, his sixth as a prep, in cross country.

In each instance, he shattered state records, and later in the year placed sixth at nationals.

Holland broke Class 5A track and field records in the 1,500 meters, winning in 3 minutes, 51.92 seconds, and the 3,000 in 8:13.10, at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.

The performances led him to being chosen for the all-USA boys track and field team released by USA TODAY High School Sports.

In cross country in the fall, Holland shattered the state-meet record by 15 seconds with a time of 14:30 at Lane Community College. His victory helped Ashland to its first team title since 1993.

Other finalists for the male honor were Gabe Vidlak, Cascade Christian High wrestling; Dante Olson, University of Montana football; Seth Brown, Oakland A’s baseball; and Zach Beltz, Southern Oregon University track and field.

Sandoval, then a junior, led Southern Oregon University to its first national championship and was selected the National Fastpitch Coaches Association NAIA pitcher of the year.

She beat Oklahoma City 8-3 in the title game to complete a 36-4 season with a 1.10 ERA. The right-hander held Oklahoma City to seven hits and one earned run.

She was first-team All-American and upped her school career record for victories to 77 — with her senior season to go.

With her at the helm, SOU went 52-8.

Other female finalists were Taylor Ristvedt, SOU volleyball; Clara Honsinger, cyclocross; Jaida Ross, North Medford High track and field; and Kyleigh Lopez, North Medford wrestling.

Jones served 22 years as the Medford Parks and Recreation director, helping create a concept to develop 10 school sites for public and school use.

He also helped develop the soccer fields at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park in collaboration with the Rogue Valley Soccer Club. It was during his tenure that Medford purchased the land that would become U.S. Cellular Community Park.

Eisenhauer, 19, is a senior at North Medford High who has played school and club soccer many years despite having Down syndrome. He was greeted with robust applause, said his thank-yous, then left the stage with a triumphant fist pump.

Eisenhauer scored a goal in his lone varsity match last fall on Senior Night in a 4-0 victory over South Medford.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com.

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Dave Tostenson, gives a speech during the Southern Oregon Sports Commission banquet after he was awarded Youth Official of the Year .
Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Gabby Sandoval receives the female athlete of the year award during Southern Oregon Sports Commission banquet Thursday.