THE TORCH’S MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
This season freshman Elias Gedyon achieved a feat that has only been accomplished by five other runners in Lane’s history:
He won the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Cross Country Championship.
Due to his prowess on cross-country courses, Gedyon has been selected by the sports staff as the The Torch’s Male Athlete of the Year.
“I was so happy to cross the line at NWAACCs,” Gedyon said. “We were really trying to win as a team, and it just felt great to come across in first.”
Gedyon won the 8-kilometer race in a time of 25:08, finishing 12 seconds ahead of teammate and runner-up, sophomore Jacob Berkner.
“It was a really interesting race. Jacob just sort of took off in the beginning of the race and took a pack with him, and I just had to sit back and hope he could run them down,” Gedyon said. “Once they got tired, me and Jacob took off and were able to just run away from the pack.”
The strategy paid off for the Titans, as they finished the meet in second place as a team, just 10 points behind champion Community Colleges of Spokane.
After a season in which he had much to celebrate, Gedyon admits that individual success wasn’t his first priority.
“My favorite part of the season was honestly the team aspect — just hanging and getting to know my team and improve as a team was really cool,” Gedyon said.
During the spring track season for Lane, Gedyon still practiced and trained with the Titans. He was unable to compete at meets because he was redshirting, which meant he was unable to compete at the NWAACC Championships in Spokane, Wash.
“It was horrible to not be able to compete with (the Titans) at NWAACCs. It was heartbreaking, honestly,” Gedyon said. “I just did the best I could to drive up there and be part of it and just kind of try to immerse myself in the atmosphere.”
Although Gedyon has had a good amount of success in a short amount of time as a Titan, Lane wasn’t where he originally pictured himself when he committed to running in Eugene. After winning several state championships in both cross-country and track while attending Loyola High School in Los Angeles, Calif., he received scholarship offers from many prominent running schools, but he ultimately chose to sign with UO.
However, because of academic issues, Gedyon was not able to attend UO his freshman year and chose instead to run a season of both cross-country and track at Lane while earning his associate degree, leaving him with three full seasons of eligibility after he leaves the Titans.
Plans for next year are on hold as Gedyon does not know wether he will return to Lane or graduate to UO.
Tempted to attend school closer to home — University of Southern California offered him a full scholarship — Gedyon was attracted to Eugene for several reasons.
“I love it here in Eugene. It’s a different culture here than it was in Southern California. Everybody is just so laid-back and nice here,” Gedyon said.
The biggest factor in his decision, though, was the training environment of Eugene.
“The opportunity to run and train with professional athletes was just too much to pass up,” Gedyon said. “If I’m gonna reach the elite level that I want to get to and I know I’m capable of, Eugene is the place to be and my heart just kind of told me to go with Eugene.”
THE TORCH’S FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
To say that sophomore Megan Shields is a defensive-minded player would be an understatement.
This season, Shields broke every blocked shot record that Lane had, averaging 2.97 blocks per game and blocking 95 total shots.
Due to her athletic accomplishments on the court, Shields has been selected by the sports staff as the The Torch’s Female Athlete of the Year.
“I played volleyball in high school and was a middle blocker — I think that definitely helps my timing and my ability to reach the ball in the air. It really helped me develop some basic instincts,” Shields said.
Her defensive skills helped pay dividends for both Shields and the Titans this season.
Shields was named the NWAACC South Region Defensive Player of the year and was also first team all-NWAACC. Shields was not only a dominant defensive player, but also the Titans’ leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points per game to help the Titans win their first NWAACC Championship since 2009.
Despite her individual honors and achievements, Shields said winning the NWAACC Championship was her defining moment of the season.
“From last year to this year was a huge difference in the way we played at NWAACCs, and actually realizing that we did it was so overwhelmingly amazing for all of us,” Shields said.
In Lane’s 51-49 championship victory over the Clackamas Community College Cougars, Shields’ defensive capabilities helped limit the Cougars to just 49 points — almost 30 less than their season average. For the game, she pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked five shots.
The Titans finished the season 30-2, becoming just the third team in Lane’s history to win 30 games.
But Shields admits that there were still low points during the season.
“After we lost to Chemeketa I think we all kind of started to freak out a little bit. We weren’t used to losing at that point because we had started off our season with that huge winning streak,” Shields said. “It was a big wakeup call for us that people actually can beat us and we can’t just show up every game like we already have the game in the bag.”
In the Titans’ next game after the loss, Shields responded with what she believes to be her strongest game of the season against the Southwest Oregon Community College Lakers.
“I knew that was a really important game … SWOCC is a really tough environment to play in,” Shields said. “I knew I would have to do everything I could to help us, because they have a really good post, too, and I knew it would be a battle between us.”
Shields dominated every aspect of the game, scoring a career-high 31 points — the same amount as the entire Lakers team — along with 17 rebounds and eight blocks, to lead the Titans to a huge victory.
Shields ended her career at Lane as the Titans’ all-time leader in blocked shots, fourth on the all-time rebounding list and 11th in scoring.
However, after her senior year of high school, Shields didn’t intend to play college basketball for Lane, or any other team.
“I wasn’t really planning on playing basketball in college. I was just gonna be a regular college student, maybe just play club ball for fun,” Shields said. “But after I talked to the coaching staff and came down here for a visit, I knew I wasn’t ready to give basketball up yet, and I’m really glad that I didn’t.”
Next year, Shields will attend Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., on a full basketball scholarship.
“I’m really happy with the way the season ended and everything we did,” Shields said. “I know that if I hadn’t had these two seasons at Lane, I wouldn’t have the chance to go on and play at Humboldt next year.”