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Wearing their Celtic Pride on their sleeves

Of the Keizertimes

Their first trip to a district swim meet was a double-humped rollercoaster.

First, they watched as the readerboard clicked off the placers, and ratcheted up the tension, for the girls ending in a win for the McNary girls and the eruption of the gathered crowd. Then it was the boys turn.

“It kept going, going, going and it came down to the top two with only us and West Salem left, then they announced West Salem in second place and the place busted into the loudest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Forest Feltner, a McNary senior recipient of the Celtic Pride Award, which honors students who participate in athletics all four years of their high school career. In addition to swimming, Felter competed in track and field, soccer, and cross country.

Feltner, a McNary 2011 valedictorian, is one of three athletes to receive the award that were present for the district win as freshman. Mason Grine and Carl Herriott were part of the team all four years as well and part of the core that led the team to a repeat performance as seniors.

“It was cool looking around at the same group of guys our senior year and saying to each other we were going to do it again,” Herriott said.

Grine was most proud of the way in which the team repeated the feat.

“We did it without winning a single race and that just goes to show how much of a team effort the whole thing was,” he said. “It was just fantastic to be around the same group of guys for it.”

Herriott competed in soccer, cross country and track and field in addition to swimming and Grine was  involved with cross country, swimming and track and field. Both Grine and Herriott are graduating valedictorians as well.

Only Keri Stein was honored with the award for the senior girls. She competed in volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field during her four years. She’ll continue her volleyball career next year at Chemeketa Community College.

“It’s going to be tough because I’m not as tall as some people, but I like defying the odds,” Stein said.

She credits participation in sports with sharpening her leadership skills.

“Without sports I wouldn’t really care about stuff like that, but it also kept me out of trouble and it kept my grades up,” Stein said.

Herriott echoed the sentiment.

“Sports were a real good motivator to not waste time and it taught me how to use it wisely,” he said.

Jared VanCleave, a Celtic Pride recipient and a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball, said being part of the Celtic team that captured the state title in baseball was one of his fondest memories, but that playing football was his passion.

“There’s nothing like high school football,” he said. “But all of the sports teach you a lot about life and persevering. You have to keep working hard and teamwork is a big thing that’s underrated.”

For Feltner, whose accomplishments are already considerable, it’s the one that got away that still frustrates him. He set the goal of breaking the school record of 59.06 in the breast stroke as a freshman and didn’t quite get there, but he was part of the medley relay team that set a new district record.

While each of them were part of teams that won district titles or better, Grine said the things that he’ll take away from sports had little to do with the fields, pools and courts.

“I met some of my best friends, got involved with some great activities, and high school wouldn’t have been the same without it,” he said.