Sports

Monday, October 20, 2014

MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: What is happening with the Seahawks?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Get it together, Pete.
  • Get it together, Pete.
If you're reading this, I trust you have not run to your emergency bunker in the woods to escape the Seahawks Panic of 2014 — Like Ebola, But Worse. Maybe you haven't burned all your gear and pulled the sticker from your car and changed your baby's name from Percy to Russell. If that is you, congrats. You're a true Seahawks fan and know that the run of greatness had to have some bumps to follow.

But to the bunker dwellers, it does make sense after this weekend, which begun on Friday afternoon with Seattle trading away Percy Harvin, their highly paid wide receiver/kick returner/frequent injury sufferer.

This happened, reportedly, as the team was getting ready to head to the airport for the flight to St. Louis. Not the best way to start a road trip. And to make it a little worse, the Seahawks didn't really get much in return for that trade. This is, it turns out, because Harvin is an a-hole who punches teammates and refuses to play in football games, despite clamoring for playing time.

So the Hawks take the field in St. Louis yesterday and looked like the shock hadn't worn off for the entire first half. They couldn't move the ball, got tricked by an insane punt return and went into halftime down 21-6. Things were not looking good. But a very, very different Seahawks club came out in the second half, with Wilson and Lynch marching down the field, and the defense finally stepped up. Then, the Seahawks Panic of 2014 hit a fever pitch when St. Louis managed a fake punt that prevented what seemed like a likely Seahawks comeback. And then there was a ridiculous fumble that went inexplicably unreviewed and the game was over, and panic continued. Here's a great rundown of everything wrong with the team right now from Grantland's Bill Barnwell.

In a typical season, veteran Seahawks fans would be fine with a 3-3 record in late October. But this is not a typical season. The Seahawks travel to Carolina next week and here's hoping for a antidote to Seahawks Panic soon. If that doesn't come, I may build my own bunker.


IDAHO WINS!
For the first time since September 28, 2013 the Idaho Vandals won a football game. The homecoming win over equally awful New Mexico State ended a 13-game losing streak, the longest in all of the FBS.

The victory ensures that second-year head coach Paul Petrino will not go winless in the Vandals first season in the Sun Belt Conference, which has seen them lose games to squads like South Alabama and Georgia Southern. If history is any indicator, Idaho may not win another contest, seeing as how the team has just one victory in each of the two prior seasons. In 2011, they were better, winning two games!

ZAGS RANKED HIGH ENOUGH? OVERRATED? DOES IT MATTER?
On Thursday, the USA Today preseason coaches poll was released and it had Gonzaga's men squad in the 13 spot, above teams like Michigan (23) and last year's national champion UConn (15).

Last season, the Zags were ranked 14 going into a season that saw them win 29 games, including 15 WCC contests. In case you forgot, the Zags advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, where they were utterly destroyed by Arizona. Speaking of which, Gonzaga heads to Arizona on December 6 to play what is currently the No. 2-ranked team in the country.

So, does it matter where Gonzaga is ranked preseason? Judging from history, not really. Their deepest run into the NCAAs came when they entered the season unranked back in 1998-1999, and were at No. 22 going into the 2012-2013 campaign when they won a school record 32 games.

The Zags open their regular season against Sacramento State on Nov. 14 at home.

WOMEN'S MARCH MADNESS RETURNS TO SPOKANE
Continuing our reputation as Basketball City, USA (or something like that) the Spokane Arena again scored the privilege of hosting the NCAA tournament.

The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds of the NCAA Women's tournament will land in Spokane on March 28 and 30. This is the first time since 2001 that Spokane has hosted such a prominent round of the tournament.

Tickets go on sale Friday, Oct. 24 at ticketswest.com and at the Spokane Arena box office.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

On top of Lookout Pass: Snow!

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Our friends over at Lookout Pass sent us this image, taken this morning in the St. Regis Basin, of the first signs of snow. Not quite enough to ski yet, but it's time to get ready. Check out our first Snowlander issue this week in the Inlander and mark your calendars: Snowlander Expo is back this year Nov. 7-8.

LOOKOUT PASS SKI AREA PHOTO
  • Lookout Pass Ski Area photo

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Monday, October 13, 2014

MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: Seahawks swoon, Eagles soar and Spokane Indians make news

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Good morning Internet users! Welcome to a new weekly (or at least semi-weekly) addition to Bloglander. Monday Morning Placekicker will get you caught up with all the sports and sports-related happenings from the weekend so you can at least fake your way through a conversation with your sports-obsessed co-workers.

SEAHAWKS.COM
  • Seahawks.com

OUCH
I imagine the offices and homes of the hardcore Seahawks fans — the folks who hang the "12th Man" flags outside their doors every Sunday — are pretty damn quiet today. And I say "I imagine" because I'm new in town and don't share the natural affinity for the home-state team that it seems most folks in these parts hold. I'm no hater, just indifferent as a lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fans and recent transplant. Before you break out the pitchforks, though, rest easy that I was rooting for Seattle in the Super Bowl, as I do most weeks, because one thing we can all agree on is a hatred of the Broncos, right? Right!?! 

But I digress. We're here to soothe the surviving spectators of that ugly Seahawks loss on Sunday, to the dastardly so-called "America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys. It was shocking enough for Seattle to lose a home game at Century Link Field. And it was surprising to see star quarterback Russell Wilson throw an interception when he had a chance to salvage the game at the end. Most incredible, the final 30-23 score makes it seem like it was a close game, but if it wasn't for a few big plays, the Seahawks would have been at the wrong end of a blowout. Consider:

  • Dallas had 23 first downs, Seattle had nine
  • Dallas had 401 yards on the day, Seattle had 206
  • Dallas ran for 162 yards running the ball, Seattle had 80
  • Dallas controlled the ball for nearly 38 minutes, Seattle for barely 22
The silver lining for Seahawks fans is that it's only Week 6 of a looooong season, and this kind of shellacking can help a team — particularly a successful team, coming off a championship season — re-focus and fly right. I would hazard a guess that Marshawn Lynch will get more than 10 carries in most games from here on out, and Wilson will throw for more than 126 yards. 

So buck up, 'hawks fans. It was just one day. One U-G-L-Y day. But it will get better. 

BACK TO SCHOOL
At the college level here locally, the weekend was a mixed-bag. Washington State had to play another in an endless series of night games to open their season, and lost to the powerful Stanford squad Friday night in Palo Alto. Coug fans should go ahead and start celebrating this week as a win — the team actually has a bye and won't play again until Oct. 25 against Arizona — because after a couple of tough weeks, they need a reason to party positive. 

WSU ATHLETICS
  • WSU Athletics

Meanwhile, Eastern Washington's Eagles got their first taste of life without star quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who is missing a few games with broken bones in his foot, and they seem to be just fine. The Eagles pummeled Southern Utah on the road, and come home to Cheney this weekend for a game against Northern Colorado. And UW put a beat-down on Cal in Berkeley. 

MAJOR-LY WILD WEEKEND
Baseball takes a lot of heat for being "slow" and "boring" by those immune to the charms of the national pastime. This year's playoffs, though, have been a great argument to the contrary. (OK, the games might be slow — but certainly not boring). 

The American League Championship Series had an extra-innings win by the upstart Kansas City Royals on Friday night, followed immediately with them beating the Baltimore Orioles again Saturday afternoon in the last inning of the game in Baltimore. Watching the Royals scrap for hits, steal bases like it's the '80s, artificial turf era, and somehow win games against teams far more powerful is a great fall story

Over in the National League, it's a showdown of heavyweights with the San Francisco Giants, who took Game 1 on Saturday via a 3-0 shutout, and the St. Louis Cardinals, who won Sunday on a ninth-inning walk-off home run. The crowd, as they say, went wild: 


VOTE FOR THE SPOKANE INDIANS!
Speaking of baseball, the Spokane Indians' 11-inning no-hitter pitched by four different players is nominated for Minor League Baseball's Game of the Year. No-hitters are pretty rare. No-hitters pitched by more than one guy are even more so. An extra-inning no-hitter is virtually unheard of, so it stands to reason the game is getting some love. Fans are encouraged to hit the minor league baseball site to vote for the Indians' game

TONIGHT
Kansas City and Baltimore continue their series with a game starting tonight at 5 p.m. Pacific, and Monday Night Football features Seahawks' rivals the San Francisco 49ers up against division foe the St. Louis Rams. A Niners loss keeps the Seahawks squarely in second in their division, so there's actually a good reason for 'hawks fans to watch. 
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Monday, October 6, 2014

MONDAY MORNING PLACEKICKER: "Coug-ing it," college football explodes, and happy Blue Monday

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Breaking records is more fun when you win the game. Just ask this guy. - WSU ATHLETICS.
  • WSU Athletics.
  • Breaking records is more fun when you win the game. Just ask this guy.

Good morning Internet users! Welcome to a new weekly or at least semi-weekly addition to Bloglander. Monday Morning Place Kicker will get you caught up with all the sports and sports-related happenings from the weekend so you can at least fake your way through a conversation with your sports-obsessed co-workers.

This is probably one of the best Mondays to launch this column because there's a lot of insanity to discuss in the sports world. And for once all of it happened during actual games! Let us start close to home...

COUG-ING IT
It doesn't bring me joy to use this term, but it's become the only way to explain some of the impossibly awful losses Washington State football has brought upon themselves in recent years. Urban dictionary has a couple of entries:

1. The uncanny ability of the Washington State University football to team to, despite all odds, lose football games at the last possible moment in a spectacular display of giving the football to the other team.
Couging it - the 2013 New Mexico Bowl
2. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Blowing a lead. Losing a game when you have already defined the win.

The Washington State Cougars were kicking ass until the fourth quarter when they fumbled three times instead of running out the clock. They sucked so bad they were Couging it.
The Cougs really, really Coug-ed it on Saturday night, though. They're going to have to update that definition.

If you didn't see it, or hear about it, WSU quarterback Connor Halliday broke the NCAA single-game passing record by chucking a dizzying 734 yards. If you put all those passes together, they'd go half-way to the moon several blocks from your house.

The dude was on fire, but so was Cal's Jared Goff, who tossed 527 yards and five touchdowns on his own. For this reason, the game took more than four hours to come to a head, when, down 60-59 (yes, that's a football score), the Cougars easily took the ball to the Cal goal line and, instead of using all their downs to try to punch it in for a touchdown, went for a field goal. A 19-yard-field goal. A chip shot. A lay up.

And the kicker missed, wide right.

Sitting in the near-midnight glow of my television, I actually said "Coug-ed it" aloud to the empty room, like so many others likely did across the region. The look on Halliday's face when that kick went wide was so brutal, no Mike Leach monologue on the future of technology could possibly fix it.

WSU heads to face the burliest band of smart kids ever assembled when they roll down to Stanford on Friday night.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Indian Canyon's Kathy Jensen named PGA "Teacher of the Year"

Posted By on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Kathy Jensen, golf pro at the City of Spokane's Indian Canyon Golf Course, was recently named the PGA National Teacher of the Year, marking a couple of firsts for the organization. Not only is Jensen the first woman to ever win the award from the historically slow-to-evolve golfers' group, she is also the first pro from the PGA's northwest region to be so honored.

PGA National Teacher of the Year Kathy Jensen. - CITY OF SPOKANE PARKS & RECREATION
  • City of Spokane Parks & Recreation
  • PGA National Teacher of the Year Kathy Jensen.

Not too shabby. And if you think the honor is no big deal, consider the fact that there are roughly 28,000 golf pros considered for the award each year, according to a release issued by City of Spokane Parks & Recreation.

Jensen's golf career is inextricably linked to the Northwest, making this award all the sweeter. She's no carpet-bagger with some clubs, she's a Northwesterner through and through. She first started playing as a 9-year-old on a little 9-hole course in Baker City, Ore., and eventually landed a scholarship to play at Oregon State University. Post-college, Jensen became a pro and bounced throughout the Spokane area, first as the Head Golf Professional at the Highlands Golf & Country Club in Post Falls, then as a pro at Deer Park Golf Club.

Currently, Jensen is the Director of Golf Instruction — as well the as the cofounder of the Jensen Lindeblad Impact Golf Academy — at Indian Canyon. When she's not teaching players how to best grip it and rip it, she's on the links herself playing in local Pro-Ams and tournaments.

Being named PGA National Teacher of the Year is hardly Jensen's first noteworthy accomplishment on the course, although it was a wee bit predictable after she was one of three finalists for the award in 2013. She's been highly ranked for years by the PGA's Northwest region, Golf Digest and the Golf Range Association of America


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A dynasty in the dirt at Avista Stadium

Posted By on Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Indians.jpg

Before the 2013 season, the Spokane Indians pumped $3.5 million into the aging Avista Stadium in an effort to improve the fan experience at the ball park. 

While the upgrades to concession stands, walkways and ticket windows were obvious to fans, along with the swanky new team store and picnic area included in the overhaul, the team didn't neglect the field where the players do their thing, either, maintaining the quality turf between the lines. On Monday, the Northwest League recognized Avista Stadium as the NWL Field of the Year for the 10th consecutive season, and for the 16th time in the last 18. 

Yes, Indians groundskeeper David Yearout finds himself tending a serious hardball dynasty in Spokane, albeit one more concerned with weeds and rodents than balls and strikes. 

The award is voted on by the managers and coaches of the A-ball league, in recognition of the team that maintains the best playing surface and maintains the highest-quality field through the NWL season.

And if you think the playing surface is a minor detail, even in the minor leagues, consider the sad tale of NFL rookie Jadeveon Clowney, injured in his first pro game this weekend thanks to his own team's shoddy sod. 

Yearout praised the members of the Indians' grounds crew for working hard "to keep the field in pristine condition for our players, coaches and the fans." 

Perhaps most remarkably, the field is the same one first created when Avista Stadium was built in 1958, meaning generation after generation of Spokane hardball fans have watched a game on the same dirt and grass. That's a testament to Yearout and his predecessors' love of the game, and their chosen trade. 

Having won the NWL Field of the Year designation, Yearout is now a candidate for Minor League Baseball's Sports Turf Manager of the Year, slated to be announced at baseball's annual winter meetings. 


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Saturday, August 23, 2014

PHOTOS: EWU Football Wins Their Season Opener Against Sam Houston State

Posted By on Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 6:54 PM

The Sam Houston State Bearkats had beaten the Eastern Washington University Eagles in their last two meetings. The Eagles were hoping to change the outcome this time, in a nationally televised game on ESPN at Roos Field. The first half of the first college football game of the season was a back and forth affair with both teams going into halftime tied at 21. But, four touchdowns in the second half gave the Eagles a 56-35 win in front of a sold out crowd of 10,310.

23 year old Eastern Washington University senior Kimberly Duren, left, plays catch with her 20 year old sister Brianna, a junior, before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 23 year old Eastern Washington University senior Kimberly Duren, left, plays catch with her 20 year old sister Brianna, a junior, before the game.

Eastern Washington University graduate student Brandon Kenworthy, center, cooks sausages as his wife Gabrielle, right,, also a graduate student, and John DeFord look on, before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington University graduate student Brandon Kenworthy, center, cooks sausages as his wife Gabrielle, right,, also a graduate student, and John DeFord look on, before the game.

15 month old Madison Maupin, center, walks in the parking lot with her father Jeramie, right, before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 15 month old Madison Maupin, center, walks in the parking lot with her father Jeramie, right, before the game.

Eastern Washington fans cheer before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington fans cheer before the game.

A member of West Plains Skydiving approaches Roos Field before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • A member of West Plains Skydiving approaches Roos Field before the game.

Eastern Washington mascot Swoop runs by fans before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington mascot Swoop runs by fans before the game.

Eastern Washington cheerleaders run in front of fans before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington cheerleaders run in front of fans before the game.

Eastern Washington players run out during introductions before the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington players run out during introductions before the game.

Eastern Washington fans cheer during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington fans cheer during the first half.

Sam Houston State wide receiver Yedidiah Louis, left, is brought down by Eastern Washington defensive back Jake Hoffman (17) during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Sam Houston State wide receiver Yedidiah Louis, left, is brought down by Eastern Washington defensive back Jake Hoffman (17) during the first half.

Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left, is chased down by Sam Houston State safety Michael Wade (2) during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left, is chased down by Sam Houston State safety Michael Wade (2) during the first half.

Eastern Washington players run onto the field during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington players run onto the field during the first half.

Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, top, is brought down by Sam Houston State safety Michael Wade (2) after a punt return during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, top, is brought down by Sam Houston State safety Michael Wade (2) after a punt return during the first half.

Sam Houston State running back Keshawn Hill, center, runs the ball during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Sam Houston State running back Keshawn Hill, center, runs the ball during the first half.

Eastern Washington cheerleaders perform during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington cheerleaders perform during the first half.

Eastern Washington running back Quincy Forte (22) runs the ball against Sam Houston State cornerback Tevin Creeks (17) during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington running back Quincy Forte (22) runs the ball against Sam Houston State cornerback Tevin Creeks (17) during the first half.

Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin speaks with his team during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin speaks with his team during the first half.

Eastern Washington running back Jalen Moore (28) runs in for a touchdown during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington running back Jalen Moore (28) runs in for a touchdown during the first half.

Eastern Washington linebacker Jordan Talley (20), left, and long snapper Cory Alcantar, right, bring down Sam Houston State cornerback Trenier Orr during the first half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington linebacker Jordan Talley (20), left, and long snapper Cory Alcantar, right, bring down Sam Houston State cornerback Trenier Orr during the first half.

Eastern Washington wide receiver Blair Bomber (23) and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (11) celebrate after Bomber catches a touchdown during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington wide receiver Blair Bomber (23) and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (11) celebrate after Bomber catches a touchdown during the second half.

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) looks for a receiver during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) looks for a receiver during the second half.

Eastern Washington defensive lineman Samson Ebukam, right, brings down Sam Houston State quarterback Jared Johnson during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington defensive lineman Samson Ebukam, right, brings down Sam Houston State quarterback Jared Johnson during the second half.

Eastern Washington tight end Zach Wimberly (9) celebrates after running in for a touchdown during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington tight end Zach Wimberly (9) celebrates after running in for a touchdown during the second half.

Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) runs against Sam Houston State defensive lineman Gary Lorance (66) and defensive end P.J. Hall during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) runs against Sam Houston State defensive lineman Gary Lorance (66) and defensive end P.J. Hall during the second half.

Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp catches a pass for a touchdown against Sam Houston State safety Desmond Fite (21) during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp catches a pass for a touchdown against Sam Houston State safety Desmond Fite (21) during the second half.

Eastern Washington offensive linesman Jake Rodgers, second from the left, lifts wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left, after Kupp receives a pass for a touchdown during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington offensive linesman Jake Rodgers, second from the left, lifts wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left, after Kupp receives a pass for a touchdown during the second half.

Fans watch during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Fans watch during the second half.

An Eastern Washington fan cheers during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • An Eastern Washington fan cheers during the second half.

Eastern Washington running back Jalen Moore, right, runs the ball against Sam Houston State cornerback Mikell Everette during the second half. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington running back Jalen Moore, right, runs the ball against Sam Houston State cornerback Mikell Everette during the second half.

Eastern Washington players celebrate after the game. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Eastern Washington players celebrate after the game.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Watch Spokane UFC fighter Elizabeth Phillips' next match-up tomorrow

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Elizabeth Phillips spars with Sik-Jitsu teammate Ron Nance during a recent training session. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Elizabeth Phillips spars with Sik-Jitsu teammate Ron Nance during a recent training session.

This week's culture section includes a profile on two of mixed martial arts' up-and-coming female athletes who live and train here in the Lilac City — Elizabeth Phillips and Julianna Pena.

Both women are quickly rising in this male-dominated sport, having signed contracts within the past year to fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, the biggest organizer of MMA events and employer of professional fighters. Both train at Sik-Jitsu in northeast Spokane, a mixed martial arts gym whose owner and sole coach, Rick Little, also trains local UFC fighters Mike Chiesa and Sam Sicilia

In the wee hours of tomorrow morning, Sat, Aug. 23, while most of us are still sound asleep, Phillips will step into the octagon for her second UFC matchup during UFC Fight Night 48 in Macao, China. The pay-per-view event is live-streaming online, so local fans can wake up around 3:30 am to watch Phillips battle it out with her opponent, Russian fighter Milana Dudieva. According to pre-fight odds, Dudieva is favored to win. For fans who feel that's too early to see a brutal fight, the event can also be streamed later via ufc.tv

Meanwhile, tonight at 7 pm, at the Tulalip Resort & Casino north of Seattle, several of Sik-Jitsu's other fighters are heading into the cage. With Phillips and Little in China, they're being supported and coached by teammates Pena, Chiesa and Sicilia. Tonight's event is organized by Excite Fight, an MMA promotion venture owned by Little.

Chiesa and Sicilia are also in preparations for upcoming UFC fights on Sept. 5, and Sept. 20, respectively.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

PHOTOS: 14th Annual Moto X

Posted By on Sat, Aug 9, 2014 at 9:47 AM

The 14th annual Moto X arena motocross, held at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds, featured many local professional and amateur riders, drawing from as far away as Alberta, Canada and California. Riders as young as 5 raced 50 cc bikes while older teenagers and grown ups rode bikes 250 cc and bigger. The Metal Militia performed freestyle tricks while Spotlight Cheer entertained spectators with their acrobatics.

45c cc pro riders Greg Crater (153), from Renton, Wash., Collin Jurin (476), from Monroe, Wash., and Jake Anstett (474) from Port Angeles, Wash., take a jump in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 45c cc pro riders Greg Crater (153), from Renton, Wash., Collin Jurin (476), from Monroe, Wash., and Jake Anstett (474) from Port Angeles, Wash., take a jump in a Moto 1 race.

Beginner 250 cc riderMichael Reid, right, and his father Wayne, both from St. Maries, Idaho, walk the course before the 14th Annual Moto X. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Beginner 250 cc riderMichael Reid, right, and his father Wayne, both from St. Maries, Idaho, walk the course before the 14th Annual Moto X.

12 year old Mayson Whittaker places a sponsor cover on a hay bale before the 14th Annual Moto X. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 12 year old Mayson Whittaker places a sponsor cover on a hay bale before the 14th Annual Moto X.

250 cc pro rider Jake Anstett, from Port Angeles, Wash., does last minute tuning on his KTM before the 14th Annual Moto X. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 250 cc pro rider Jake Anstett, from Port Angeles, Wash., does last minute tuning on his KTM before the 14th Annual Moto X.

Lagrange, Calif. 250 cc pro rider Brian Alquist, left, waits to enter the track before a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Lagrange, Calif. 250 cc pro rider Brian Alquist, left, waits to enter the track before a Moto 1 race.

Sultan, Wash. 250 cc pro rider Ryan Abrigo stretches before a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Sultan, Wash. 250 cc pro rider Ryan Abrigo stretches before a Moto 1 race.

Metal Mulisha freestyle rider Jimmy Hill performs. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Metal Mulisha freestyle rider Jimmy Hill performs.

Metal Mulisha freestyle rider Drake McElroy performs. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Metal Mulisha freestyle rider Drake McElroy performs.

250 cc pro riders start a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 250 cc pro riders start a Moto 1 race.

250 cc pro riders Jake Anstett (474), from Port Angeles, Wash., and Brian Alquist (234), from Lagrange, Calif., take a turn in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 250 cc pro riders Jake Anstett (474), from Port Angeles, Wash., and Brian Alquist (234), from Lagrange, Calif., take a turn in a Moto 1 race.

250 cc pro rider Chris Howell (222), from Spokane Valley, Wash., edges out a win against Cole Siebler (7), from Emmett, Idaho in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 250 cc pro rider Chris Howell (222), from Spokane Valley, Wash., edges out a win against Cole Siebler (7), from Emmett, Idaho in a Moto 1 race.

7 year old 50 cc amateur rider Wyatt Storey (821), from Cataldo, Idaho takes a jump in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 7 year old 50 cc amateur rider Wyatt Storey (821), from Cataldo, Idaho takes a jump in a Moto 1 race.

17 year old 250 cc beginner amateur rider Drew Russell (840), from Rathdrum, Idaho, takes a jump in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 17 year old 250 cc beginner amateur rider Drew Russell (840), from Rathdrum, Idaho, takes a jump in a Moto 1 race.

Women's amateur rider Angelique Wetherelt (13), from Post Falls, Idaho, takes a turn in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Women's amateur rider Angelique Wetherelt (13), from Post Falls, Idaho, takes a turn in a Moto 1 race.

250 cc junior amateur rider Derek Donoian (8), from Rathdrum, Idaho, and 15 year old 250 cc intermediate amateur rider Riley Anderson (24), from Kila, Mont., take a jump in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 250 cc junior amateur rider Derek Donoian (8), from Rathdrum, Idaho, and 15 year old 250 cc intermediate amateur rider Riley Anderson (24), from Kila, Mont., take a jump in a Moto 1 race.

9 year old Ethan Dana, left, and his father Brett watch a race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 9 year old Ethan Dana, left, and his father Brett watch a race.

450 cc pro riders take the first turn in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 450 cc pro riders take the first turn in a Moto 1 race.

450 cc pro rider Ryan Abrigo (402), from Sultan, Wash., takes a jump in a Moto 1 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 450 cc pro rider Ryan Abrigo (402), from Sultan, Wash., takes a jump in a Moto 1 race.

Ashley Wiedenhoff, right, watches Metal Mulisha freestyle rider Jimmy Hill perform. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Ashley Wiedenhoff, right, watches Metal Mulisha freestyle rider Jimmy Hill perform.

450 cc pro rider Noah McConahy, left, from Spokane, Wash., and 450 cc intermediate amateur rider Sebastion Lave, from Post Falls, Idaho, watch a Moto 2 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 450 cc pro rider Noah McConahy, left, from Spokane, Wash., and 450 cc intermediate amateur rider Sebastion Lave, from Post Falls, Idaho, watch a Moto 2 race.

450 cc pro riders Noah McConahy (131), from Spokane, Wash., and Collin Jurin (476), from Monroe, Wash., take a turn in a Moto 2 race. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 450 cc pro riders Noah McConahy (131), from Spokane, Wash., and Collin Jurin (476), from Monroe, Wash., take a turn in a Moto 2 race.

10 year old 70 cc little girl amateur rider Olivia Dixon, left, holds her 2nd place trophy as her father James loads her bike onto their truck after the 14th Annual Moto X. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • 10 year old 70 cc little girl amateur rider Olivia Dixon, left, holds her 2nd place trophy as her father James loads her bike onto their truck after the 14th Annual Moto X.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

SPORTS: Gonzaga dodgeball squad heads to the World Championships

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Dodge, duck, dip, dive, dodge.

This weekend, a Spokane dodgeball team comprised of seven seniors from Gonzaga University is showing off its skills at a competition reminiscent of Ben Stiller’s air time on Channel 8: The Ocho. Yes, there is an actual Dodgeball World Championship. And this team already knows what it feels like.

They're returning to the tournament, hosted in downtown Las Vegas, after an early departure from last year’s competition. In their second year, team member Sean Brennan says they hope to come home with a medal.

Have they been hurling wrenches at each other? Not quite. But the preparation for this competition stems back several years.

Early in 2012, Brennan stumbled upon a flier for the regional tournament hosted in Spokane. Fresh off a win in Gonzaga's intramural dodge ball league, Brennan and his teammates decided to enroll. That Oz Fitness dodge ball tournament offered up a grand prize of $1,000 cash, or round-trip airfare for seven players to the Dodgeball World Championship.

A lighthearted activity becomes much more serious when you dangle an all-expenses-paid trip to Vegas in front of a group of college students. 

After earning fifth place that first year, the team returned with determination in 2013 and swept the courts, finishing undefeated and earning the prize that took them to Vegas last August. 

This year, they've stepped it up even further by forming an official Dodgeball Club at Gonzaga, and selected players for a tournament team that won the Oz Fitness tournament once again.

The 2014 squad at the Oz Fitness Dodgeball Tournament in Spokane. - RACHEL HOGAN
  • Rachel Hogan
  • The 2014 squad at the Oz Fitness Dodgeball Tournament in Spokane.

The World Championship allows open registration to any team from around the globe. The team will compete in multiple divisions, beginning with foam balls and advancing to the rubber ball league that Brennan refers to as 'the granddaddy' of the game. Gonzaga's co-ed team begins on Friday and plays through Saturday afternoon. They're set to encounter teams from Canada, Japan and Australia, in addition to squads from across the states.

"These teams are good, but hopefully we can do our best to compete," Brennan says.

These dodgers have packed their kneepads, prepped their game strategy and are ready to create a true underdog story of their own.

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