The women’s basketball teams at one of their first practices of the season. Regular season practice for all winter sports have begun. Photo by Stella Holt Dupey.

The fall sports season at Franklin was an exciting and highly anticipated return to familiar competition. The women’s and men’s cross country teams both finished fourth in the 6A state championship with two individual podium finishes, one for each team, and the men’s soccer team made it to the second round in the 6A soccer state championship. The women’s cross country team had their most successful season yet, with the highest state finish for a Franklin women’s team since 1982. Women’s soccer had an exciting season as well under a new head coach, Diana Diaz- Diurych, and additionally graduating 14 seniors. The volleyball team also graduated eight seniors, more than half of their team. Lastly, the football team finished fourth in the league, with a few exciting wins at the end of the season. 

As the weather cools down and the last fall sports competitions come to a close, winter sports athletes gear up for their season, and there is lots to be excited about. 

Hannah Doty (11) is especially excited to compete on the swim team this winter, as last year the swim team was not able to compete due to COVID-19. She’s also looking forward to seeing how the new swimmers add to the community, and personally hopes to work off her freshman year varsity times while recovering from previous injuries. 

“As a team, I really hope our varsity relays can have a solid flow, because most of us have been away from the water for so long.” She mentions how important teamwork will be, adding that it’s a huge key to forming a connected relay. 

In the 2019 swim season, the Lightning had one athlete qualify for state, and this season looks promising for even more athletes to make it to that level.

Franklin wrestling is also gearing up for the winter. Practices have begun, and anticipation is high for the upcoming season. Mipam Jampa (12), is excited for larger wrestling meets, as last year many were canceled due to COVID-19. However, the Lightning still had a highly successful season. “Last year’s season despite the troubles with [COVID-19] was great. Going into the City Championship Meet we had around 16-17 wrestlers (one of the smaller teams number wise) and had nearly all of them place on the podium in their respective weight classes with three city champions and coming in second as a team,” explains Jampa.

 Last year Jampa was City Champ in the 220 lb. category and hopes this year he can place at the state meet. He also has high expectations for his team as a whole. “A team goal is to beat Cleveland in team points. They have won the PIL (Portland Interscholastic League) every year for the last decade or so and have a large, experienced senior class and one of the best weight lineups in the last couple of years.” Despite all of this, Jampa still believes Franklin has a chance at victory. “FHS wrestling is ready to make a run for that title,” he concludes. 

The men’s basketball team is looking forward to an exciting season as well. Izea Paz (10), was on the team his freshman year and similarly to Jampa, his season was very successful even with COVID-19. His team of all freshmen lost only two games, alluding to a promising future for the program. He credits this success mostly to his team’s great chemistry and talent as a result of playing together for most of middle school. “The class of 2024 [at Franklin] has always been pretty good at basketball. The [middle school league] always had a bigger skill difference in our age group, but it was also pretty competitive.” Still, last year they dominated the league. “Even with COVID we still had a traditional basketball experience. The only difference was we didn’t have many fans.” Last year there was a limit on how many people could be in the gym, so fans were sparse. This year he hopes more people can come to games. 

While Paz has individual goals, he really wants his team to improve as a whole. “I’m looking forward to getting better not just as an individual, but also as a group. Everyone knows we want to win. I think we can all devote ourselves to be really good this year.” Winning the team title for the PIL is a challenging goal, but whatever happens, you can bet the men’s basketball team will be successful this year. 

Last spring, women’s basketball had somewhat of a frustrating season, and this year the team is determined to get organized and win more games. Charlotte Storrs (10) is a returning member of the varsity team this year and notes that although last season the team gained a tight bond, it was hard to organize and prepare for games because the season was so rushed due to COVID-19, which greatly hurt the team’s record overall. “We had a lot of frustrating ups and downs and all around had a hard time playing together because it was a very new set of girls. We played our hearts out and the scores didn’t always resemble the effort we put in,” says Storrs. Despite the difficult conditions and season, the team still won a handful of games, but sometimes struggled with a “Third Quarter Slump,” meaning that they would lose momentum nearing the end of the game, which cost them multiple close winnable games. However, Storrs is ready to change that this year. “I am excited to win more games. I think with the time we have to prepare and practice we can win many more.” Personally Storrs hopes to work on her confidence on the court (last year playing as a freshman on varsity against much bigger, older players was difficult mentally and physically), and overall is excited to get better at and play her favorite sport. For the team, she hopes they can leave the “Third Quarter Slump” in the past and finish games strong. “A team goal I have is to play hard through the whole game because in the past season we had a hard time finishing out the games.” 

With more preparation time and a general increase in grit and motivation as a whole team, the women’s basketball program is ready to have an amazing season. 

The cheerleading team had a successful fall season cheering on the football team, and as winter comes they have lots of new installments to their program. Anabelle Jukkala (11), is a member of the varsity winter cheer team and expressed her excitement about moving indoors and gaining team members. “We recently held basketball season tryouts and have now filled out our varsity roster and created a whole JV team, so now all of November and early December we’re having practices to teach all the new members our cheers and stomps as well as new stunts for basketball season!” The team went from 12 members in the fall to 21 in the current season. “I’m really looking forward to having a larger team again; it allows us to do more complex stunts and dances and just appear stronger overall,” she explains. Personally, she is most excited to cheer on her friends on the women’s varsity basketball team, but you can catch the cheerleaders at many women’s and men’s basketball home games, and they will even travel a few times to support the Lightning at away games.

Although the weather is worsening and the days are shorter, Franklin athletics are brighter than ever. A storm is coming, and the Franklin Lighting are ready to strike. 

Note: The author is a member of the women’s basketball program at Franklin High School.

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