Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Spokane athlete Julianna Pena's victory at UFC 200 brings her closer to a title match

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 12:55 PM

Spokane MMA figher Julianna Pena was victorious over her UFC 200 opponent Cat Zingano. - MMAJUNKIE.COM
  • Spokane MMA figher Julianna Pena was victorious over her UFC 200 opponent Cat Zingano.

Before going into this weekend's landmark UFC 200 event, Spokane-based mixed martial arts fighter Julianna Pena was considered the underdog in her matchup against No. 4-ranked women's bantamweight Cat Zingano.

Yet the "Venezuelan Vixen" was able to dominate her opponent throughout the three-round fight, the main event on the Fox Sports 1 preliminary card airing before Saturday night's pay-per-view. Pena took control through a series of takedowns and strikes, and by keeping Zingano neutralized on the mat through skilled grappling. By the end of the 15-minute match, all three judges scored the contest unanimously in favor of Pena, who remains undefeated (8-2 career; 4-0 UFC) in her UFC career. Sweetening the deal for Pena was a $32,000 fight win bonus to add to her contracted $32,000 paycheck for the event.

The future for the 26-year-old Spokanite is looking bright, despite a few major setbacks she's faced in the past few years. The first was a devastating knee injury sustained during practice back in early 2014 that almost ended her career. More recently, Pena faced assault charges after a late-night bar brawl in downtown Spokane last December.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Former WSU star Klay Thompson to play on the U.S. Olympic basketball team

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 4:59 PM

Klay then: a star for the WSU team during his time there.
  • Klay then: a star for the WSU team during his time there.

With the NBA finals concluding Sunday, now our collective attention mostly turns toward this summer's Olympics, beginning August 5 in Rio de Janeiro. (Meanwhile, here's a look at how things are shaping up at the Games' host site...)

Today it was announced that former WSU basketball star Klay Thompson, now a shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors, has committed to play on the USA men's Olympic basketball team. This decision comes on the heels of the Warriors' championship series loss just four days ago to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Klay today: still a star, but this time for the Warriors.
  • Klay today: still a star, but this time for the Warriors.

While ESPN is reporting that Cavs' MVP LeBron James won't be joining the team — he's been a member of the team for every summer games since 2000 — other players who have also committed to play for the US of A include Carmelo Anthony, who has three Olympic gold medals on his resume, along with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler and DeAndre Jordan, among others. The full 12-man team roster is to be announced sometime next week.

Having spent three seasons at WSU, from 2008-2011, before being selected by Golden State in the first round of the draft in 2011, this will be Thompson's Olympic debut. 

You can bet the whole of Coug Nation, including this alumni who watched Klay and company on the court for many a game, will be rooting for the U.S. team in full force.
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Voters on Reddit confirm what we already know — that WSU has the best logo

Posted By on Thu, May 12, 2016 at 3:30 PM

The Redditors have spoken.

Recently, on the massively popular online bulletin board/social news website's college football board, a bracket to determine the college with the best logo resulted in users naming Washington State University's as No. 1.

As any alumni or Cougar fan knows, this is true. Now with the powerful backing of Reddit users (there are 106,000+ subscribers on the college football board, /r/CFB), we can proclaim this affirmation loud and clear.

Created in 1936 by art student Randall Johnson, the crimson-colored WSU logo was a gift to the school after administration accepted the design. When the then Washington State College became a university, he changed the C to a U to become the logo we see today.

Below is what the voting bracket looked like. WSU was named winner with 56.3 percent of the final vote against Michigan State's spartan silhouette. Before that, WSU beat out San Diego State, Southern California, Cal, LSU, West Virginia, and Virginia.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Bloomsday results book out Tuesday; plus, plan for runners who didn't get a shirt

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2016 at 2:05 PM

There's a pretty good chance you, or at least someone you know, ran Bloomsday on Sunday. Nearly 50,000 people took to the streets of Spokane for the annual road race, pounding the pavement on a hot May 1. 

The official results book will be hitting the streets Tuesday, and you can check out an array of great photos from the day right here. And you should really read our oral history of the race if you haven't yet. 

The official count from race director Don Kardong was 46,566 registered runners, and it turns out some of them didn't get their official Bloomsday shirt after supplies ran out. So the race is making it right for all finishers, by asking them to email by 5 pm Friday and submitting the name, race number, postal address and phone number, as well as the shirt size, so they can send along a shirt to those affected. 

Here's a look at the cover of the results book, coming Tuesday: 

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Way to keep it tight, Spokane! Fitbit ranks us the third-fittest city

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 10:41 AM

Spokanites getting in their steps in 1979, well before Fitbit staring counting. - BLOOMSDAY
  • Bloomsday
  • Spokanites getting in their steps in 1979, well before Fitbit staring counting.

This will not come as a shock to anyone who lives in the Inland Northwest, but according to numbers taken from more than 10 million FitBit users in 2015, Spokane is the third-fittest city in the country.

That's right, we're looking good! 

The Lilac City comes in right behind Madison, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. And while you might be surprised that a place whose culinary scene is based on cheese (that'd be Madison), and another who's weather keeps people inside for months on end (hello, Twin Cities), are both so fit, Spokane makes sense thanks to the insanely active running community full of jogging clubs and events like this Sunday's Bloomsday. 

Speaking of which, have you read our oral history of Bloomsday yet? You really should. 

The data from Fitbit shows that Spokanites have an average resting heart rate of 69 beats per minute, takes 7,779 steps every day and is active an average of about 15 minutes per day. 

This should be a nice source for civic pride — hey, we're taking a lot of steps, people! — and Spokane came in ahead of neighbors like Portland (No. 5), Seattle (No. 9) and Boise (No. 20).
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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Spokane-based MMA athlete Julianna Pena lands next match for UFC 200

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 4:11 PM

Pena pictured at her Spokane training gym Sik-Jitsu in summer 2014. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Pena pictured at her Spokane training gym Sik-Jitsu in summer 2014.

After being charged with two counts of assault following a bar fight in December, Spokane-based Ultimate Fighting Championship star Julianna Pena is scheduled to get back into the Octagon this summer.

Pena has been on a hiatus for future UFC events while an investigation into those charges was underway. On Monday, the UFC released an official statement that those investigations are now complete. Pena was issued a stipulation order of continuance in the case by Spokane Municipal Court, which means that if she maintains good behavior over the next year the charges will be dismissed.

As such, Pena has been cleared by the mixed martial arts promotion to compete again, and her next match-up has already been scheduled for UFC 200. For that event, she'll face Cat Zingano, ranked No. 3 in the 135-lb. women's bantamweight division. Pena is currently ranked No. 5.

She moved up from the No. 6 spot after Holly Holm's November defeat of long-time champ Ronda Rousey, and has maintained her new rank after Holm's loss in early March to new champ Miesha Tate. With so many shakeups within the top of this division, if Pena is victorious against Zingano, it could lead to her getting a long-desired title shot.

The UFC 200 event scheduled for July 9 is a major milestone for the UFC. The card is stacked with major names, including Ireland's Conor McGregor and Tate's first title defense. Tate is going up against Brazil's Amanda Nunes, ranked No. 4.

According to police reports from the December 20 incident, Pena and her training partner Josh Gow tried to enter downtown bar Zola in the early morning after the bar had already closed for the night. Gow, who trains with Pena at Sik-Jitsu in Spokane — also the home gym for UFC athletes Mike Chiesa, Sam Sicilia and Elizabeth Phillips — had been bloodied in a separate incident and the two were trying to enter so he could clean up in the restroom. When the bouncers at Zola denied them entry, Pena allegedly kicked one of them in the groin.

Pena has been undefeated since returning to the UFC following her year-long recovery from a major knee injury sustained during training. She last fought and won a match against Jessica Eye in October 2015.
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Spokane Hoopfest's new poster for 2016 is real, and it's spectacular

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 10:13 AM

Given the sweet weather that seems to be indicating actual spring, it might be time to start working on your jump shots and killer crossovers if you plan on playing in Spokane Hoopfest this year. 

The annual 3-on-3  tourney that takes over downtown Spokane June 25-26 this year is now taking registrations, and you have less than 80 days until tip-off. Be sure to come up with a cool team name because being the "SpokaneBallers27" isn't that great. I know it's challenging when there are more than 7,000 teams entering names, but still — a little creativity goes a long way. 

Speaking of creativity, this week Hoopfest revealed its killer new poster, "Addicted to the Feeling of Winning," designed by the oh-so-talented Dan Baumer and featuring WSU hoops product, world champion and Golden St. Warrior Klay Thompson. Check it out: 

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Friday, March 25, 2016

All the Gonzaga Sweet 16 buzz you need to know

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 2:15 PM


First things first: Gonzaga plays Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament tonight at the United Center in Chicago at 6:40 pm on CBS. That tip time could be moved back if the game prior goes over, so keep that in mind.

Here are some other things to know. 

• Gonzaga played its best basketball of the season last weekend, despite getting a seemingly low 11 seed. Here's more on that. 

• Syracuse just barely made the tournament. But as a 10 seed, they got the benefit of playing Middle Tennessee State, who beat Michigan State. Syracuse then demolished MTSU.

• Last year, Syracuse sat out the NCAA tournament as punishment for a long habit of breaking NCAA rules. This year, legendary coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine games for that malfeasance. So, if you need some moral high ground going into this game, there's that.

• Syracuse plays a tough zone on defense and a lot of teams struggle with that. Gonzaga's Josh Perkins and Kyle Wiltjer are apparently not scared of said zone.

• People the world over are doing something called "The Few" to show support for the Zags. It's basically a handstand, which is what coach Mark Few has performed as a locker room celebration after a few big wins. Here's a lot of people who love to #DoTheFew.

This video should get you pumped up — as well as well-informed — for tonight's game:

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How much will it cost to follow Gonzaga to the Sweet 16 in Chicago?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 1:36 PM

Chicago's favorite hoopster is memorialized outside the United Center.
  • Chicago's favorite hoopster is memorialized outside the United Center.

You might have heard some word about Gonzaga's men's basketball team making it to the Sweet 16, and while that's exciting from a sports perspective, it's daunting for anyone hoping to travel with the team to its next game or two. 

The first two rounds were in Denver, a considerably easy travel effort from Spokane. Friday, the Zags play in Chicago against Syracuse, and if they win, they have another game on Sunday. 

Let's break down what a fan can expect to pay if they decided today to head to the Windy City and root for Wiltjer, Sabonis and the boys: 

The folks at Priceline and TiqIQ did a breakdown of ticket prices for each of the four regions of the tournament; the prices are based on the average prices found on the "secondary market," things like StubHub and Craig's List.

The Zags are in the Midwest Region and playing at Chicago's United Center, where the current average price for all three games happening Friday and Sunday is $659. The cheapest available is $232. If you just want to go on Friday, that ticket to see Gonzaga vs. Syracuse and Virginia vs. Iowa St. averages $420, and a ticket just for the regional final on Sunday averages $276. 

We fully expect Gonzaga to win on Friday and play on Sunday, so let's (pretend to) buy that all-session average ticket. 

Tickets grand total: $659

I did a quick Expedia search for flights from Spokane to Chicago, and looked for the best deal that gets a fan to the game before Friday's 6:40 pm Pacific tip-off. And I'm going to assume the Zags play on Sunday, meaning the earliest one might fly home to the Inland Northwest would be a Sunday red-eye or early Monday flight. 

The cheapest flights Friday get to Chicago too late to make the game, so if you want to leave Friday morning and still see the game, you need to get up early. There's a 5 am American Airlines flight that gets you to Chicago at 2 pm Friday for $638, and a Delta Airlines flight at 6 am that gets you to Chicago a little after 3pm for $690. Southwest Airlines comes through with a 5:35 am flight out of Spokane arriving in Chicago at 2:30 pm for "only" $558, so we'll take that one. 

Tickets grand total: $558

I used Priceline to search for hotels, planning on checking in on Friday and leaving Chicago on Monday. Obviously a city the size of Chicago has a ton of hotels, and depending on how far you want to travel to the arena, you can find a wide price range. 

Walking to the game is a great option, though, and the Crowne Plaza Metro hotel is just 1.5 miles away and $134 a night. So, we'll stay there Friday until Monday, and it will cost us $402, plus hotel taxes, which in Chicago is an absurd 16.4 percent. 

Hotel grand total: $469

So, in order to go watch Gonzaga play Syracuse on Friday and then (hopefully) take on the UVa/ISU winner on Sunday, flying as cheaply as possible, staying in an average hotel and buying an average-priced ticket, you're looking at a grand total of: 


And you haven't even eaten a single Italian Beef sandwich or Lou Malnati deep-dish pizza, or sipped your first Old Style. 
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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday in Spokane: Hawaii and St. Joe's can't quite pull it off

Posted By on Sun, Mar 20, 2016 at 11:16 PM


The momentum of perhaps the best opening weekend in the history of the NCAA Tournament felt like it was going to continue on into the Spokane Arena on Sunday night. Two made-for-TV underdogs with a lot of grit and hustle — Hawaii and St. Joseph's — came in hoping to maintain the weekend's narrative.

But it wasn't to be. The strong survived on Sunday. 

In the opener, Maryland got out-hustled across the board in the opening minutes. The Terrapins' offense finally got their 10th point of the game on a Diamond Stone dunk...with 9:34 left in the first half. For their part, Hawaii was finding some breaks where they could and shutting down Maryland, including standout guard Melo Trimble.

Hawaii's Michael Thomas' 19 points led the Rainbow Warriors, who were represented incredibly well by a couple thousand rowdy fans, many of whom were waving palm branches, not because it was Palm Sunday (which it was), but because that's what Hawaii fans do. The rest of the Spokane Arena, never shy to embrace an underdog, backed the Rainbow Warriors, too.

Hawaii never got closer than 10 points down the stretch, despite only trailing by one at halftime. The final: 73-60, Maryland.

The nightcap was what most of the place, decked out in the iconic green and gold of Eugene, Oregon, came to see. It also had the makings of one more upset to cap off the weekend. St. Joseph's was coming off that bonkers ending against Cincinnati on Friday night and had the speed to compete with the Ducks of Oregon.

And it felt like it was going to happen. DeAndre Bembry, an All-Hair Team, Spokane Division member, had 16 points and a dozen rebounds, keeping the Hawks in position to make a run. And holy shit did they make a run. St. Joe's was up by seven points with 5:33 to play. It looked like Spokane was going to be the first gravesite of a one-seed.

As you already know, it didn't happen. St. Joe's had a couple awful, awful possessions and Oregon was able to hold on.

But damn, it was some good basketball here in Spokane this weekend.
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