Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday Morning Place Kicker: Eags, Cougs rolling, Vandals maybe bowling?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Hope all you Seahawks fans took advantage of a bye-week Sunday for your NFL squad and did something worthwhile. I hit up Green Bluff for Halloween pumpkins and apple pie, and I'm ready to hunker down for the non-stop run to the playoffs commencing on Sunday when Seattle plays the suddenly dangerous Falcons. 

There was plenty of football over the weekend, though, thanks to our local college squads doing some serious work. Let's break it down. 

Gage Gubrud is EWU's ace new quarterback. - EWU ATHLETICS
  • EWU Athletics
  • Gage Gubrud is EWU's ace new quarterback.


Eastern Washington is one scary-good squad, putting up video-game numbers on offense on a weekly basis, so much so that the historic statistics senior wide receiever Cooper Kupp is racking up are sort of lost in the fact that everyone on the team is crushing it, from quarterback Gage Gubrud to wide receiver Shaq Hill. 

On Saturday, the Eags took out Northern Colorado 49-31, tallying the fifth-most yards for a game in program history (659) while Hill set a record for touchdown catches in a game (4). Kupp was held in check, but everyone else went off, and the game was a blowout after the last two matchups between EWU and UNC went down to the wire. 

The big story: The Eags are ranked No. 4 in the country, are clearly the class of the Big Sky Conference, and their game against Montana at the end of this month looms large. They have a bye this weekend. 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday Morning Place Kicker: Seahawks cruise, Eags are legit and an arrest-free WSU week!

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 10:15 AM

The Seahawks win, but the victory might cost them. Suddenly, Eastern Washington looks like the team to beat in the Big Sky. The Idaho Vandals won (!) a road game (!) in their last pre-conference showdown, and Washington State University went a week without any more player arrests (at least that we know about). 

Here's everything you need to know about talking sports around your work watercooler today. 
Russell Wilson was a little gimpy after injuring his knee Sunday. - SEAHAWKS.COM
  • Russell Wilson was a little gimpy after injuring his knee Sunday.


This is more like it. The Seahawks destroyed the 49ers in Seattle Sunday 38-17 and the score was closer than the game actually was. A couple receivers had 100-yard days, as did running back Christine Michael, and the defense manhandled a weak San Francisco squad. 

The big story: It's one Seahawks fans hope turns out to be nothing — a horsecollar tackle of quarterback Russell Wilson that looked seriously bad when it happened. Check it out: 

Wilson sat out most of the game after that, and will likely be able to play Sunday against the Jets. He'll probably be drinking a lot of that "miracle water" between now and then. 

Your go-to line when talking to Seahawks fans today: "The offense sure looked good! Hope Russell is good to go!"

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Morning Place Kicker: WSU demolishes Idaho, EWU magic & Seahawks no longer score TDs

Posted By on Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 11:40 AM

Hey there sports fans. Here's hoping everyone had a great weekend of football watching, but if you missed out, let's get you caught up.

On a blustery evening out in Cheney, things did not go well for then-8th-ranked EWU to start out. The Eagles were down 24-7 at halftime to 10th-ranked Northern Iowa in a game in which all-universe wide receiver Cooper Kupp sat out with an injured shoulder, and their starting quarterback Gage Gubrud had been benched.

But then Antoine Custer, a freshman, took back the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown and backup quarterback Reilly Hennessey led a number of miraculous drives that culminated in Eastern lining up for a field goal that would put them up by a point. Then this happened:
Boom. Eagles win 34-30. They are now ranked 4th in the FCS ranks.

There was a only one way things could get worse for Washington State's football program on Saturday, and that would be if they lost to historically terrible Idaho in the Battle of the Palouse.

The week leading up to the game included the following: 
• Head Coach Mike Leach calling his team a "junior college softball team"
• Leach indicting the everyone-gets-a-trophy culture that's apparently ruining humanity and, in turn, football
• Leach claiming that the Pullman Police Department was conspiring to arrest his football players
• Three more WSU players getting arrested for various physical altercations

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Nearly two months later, Pullman police make arrests in brawl involving WSU football players

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 5:48 PM

Mike Leach made headlines this week when he accused police of targeting his players when making arrests - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Mike Leach made headlines this week when he accused police of targeting his players when making arrests

Earlier this week, Washington State University head football coach Mike Leach accused the police and media of targeting his team following two arrests of his players. 

"Unless we are supposed to believe that these football players fought themselves, then there are numerous other guilty parties. That is clearly the case. If any of these allegations are true, I have not read anyone else's name in the newspaper," Leach said, calling it a "double standard" to only focus on football players, "then drag their name through the newspaper with a bunch of irresponsible comments." 

Today, Pullman police announced that they'd be recommending charges against four people involved in a brawl at a party in July; two of those people are football players. Lineman Robert Barber and defensive end Toso Fehoko were arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault, a felony, and then released today. Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said the police were recommending charges of disorderly conduct for two other people involved; Dylan Rollins and Pedro Diaz. 

But it wasn't the police, nor the football team, who first handed down discipline following this fight. It was WSU's Office of Student Conduct earlier this week, making the decision to expel Barber. The Spokesman-Review has reported that Barber will continue to practice while he appeals the expulsion. 

Jenkins says police interviewed more than 60 witnesses before making the arrests. More than 20 of those were football players, though not all were at the party during the altercation. 

We wrote about this brawl, and how victims wanted the players held accountable, weeks after it happened. Alex Rodriguez, who suffered a broken jaw during the fight, said that the fight started when he tried to kick everyone out — between 80 and 100 people — after a group of football players kept lighting fireworks. Rodriguez says he saw his roommate, Jackson Raney, get knocked down by a man with a sleeve tattoo, red shorts and a black sleeveless shirt. That was captured on cellphone video used by police in their investigation.

Raney briefly went unconscious and awoke with EMTs standing over him. Police say Barber was the one who hit him. Diaz saw this as well, and told the Inlander in August that he fought back as people were "throwing fists everywhere." Police say Diaz and Rollins provoked the fight. 

Meanwhile, Rodriguez was punched in the head by Fehoko, police say, knocking Rodriguez to the ground. Rodriguez was then hit by "unknown subjects" while on the ground, according to police. Rodriguez had to have wires in his jaw for weeks, and will have metal plates keeping it together for the rest of his life. 

In August, Leach said the whole situation was "overblown," that the stories coming out were "ridiculously inaccurate reflections of the events that night," and asserted that "nobody does a better job of addressing, taking care of players and using team discipline than our staff."

Leach accused police of targeting football players earlier this week following the arrests of linebacker Logan Tago, on suspicion of robbery and assault, and safety Shalom Luani, who was arrested on suspicion of felony assault.

It set off a national debate: Do Pullman police target football players?

Many who closely followed WSU football say it's been an issue for years. TV reporters who have covered the team say coaches have previously complained about it off the record, and that Leach is just the first to go public.

A KXLY reporter claimed that "people in Eastern Washington who have been here a long time or went to WSU are not really disagreeing with what he said." She posed the question to local sports personality Dennis Patchin, who said "there's a feeling on that campus that the police are looking for things that are involving college students at Washington State University." A KIRO TV reporter in Seattle said "no one close to WSU football program will deny the overbearing, sometimes unfair, nature of Pullman Police on team." The controversy has made headlines in USA Today, FOX Sports, and others. It's been a talking point on ESPN and ESPN's Outside The Lines program. 

Athletic Director Bill Moos, WSU President Kirk Schulz and Pullman Police Chief Jenkins met yesterday to discuss the tension. Driving the controversy is a statistic that 31 football players had been arrested in the last five years, the most of any college football program.

At the bottom of a story yesterday, the Seattle Times said a website called "breaks down the facts behind WSU's 31 arrests in the last five years." The Seattle Times wrote that the number looks worse than it really is.

The post on began by stating that of the arrests, "nearly 50 percent (14 of 31) were for broken tail lights, snow balls and the like" — a statement that is, at best, misleading. In fact, nobody was arrested for a broken tail light, according to our review of the arrests. A broken tail light may have been why a player was pulled over before being handed charges of DUI, MIP, or giving false information, which are all actual charges police arrested players on.

The post is correct, however, in stating that it appears none of the arrests — including several for felony assault — resulted in a felony conviction. 

Jenkins, in a press conference Friday, says that since the arrival of Leach in 2012, he has "seen improvment in athlete behavior in the community." 

"I applaud them for the work they have done," Jenkins says. 

Moos says he does not think police were targeting football players. 

"We expect them to behave in a manner representative of the uniform they wear," Moos says. 

The athletic department's policy is that any student athlete charged with a felony cannot represent WSU in competition until it's been resolved in court. So far, none of the four players arrested in recent weeks have been charged by prosecutors. Moos said all players should be considered innocent until proven guilty. As for whether they'll play in the game against the University of Idaho on Saturday, Moos says he'll leave that to Leach. 

"We're talking about a couple people out of a pretty large population of student athletes," Moos says. "We've got fabulous coaches who are disciplinarians, and I think we have good character for the most part." 
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Tour of Gymnastics Champs kicks off in Spokane, and the Olympic men's team steals the show

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 11:36 AM

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, seen center left in blue, was naturally a crowd favorite.
  • Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, seen center left in blue, was naturally a crowd favorite.

After tumbling their way to greatness last month in Rio, Team USA's gymnastics legends headed to Spokane last night to kick off the two-month Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions at the Spokane Arena.

The mostly full Arena audience, which largely consisted of moms and their young gymnast daughters, were treated to appearances by gold medal-winning team members and fan favorites Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Gabby Douglas. The team's uneven bars specialist and silver medalist Madison Kocian was not present last night, and as the tour continues for 35 more stops across the U.S., the performance roster is expected to change from city to city.

Joining the 2016 women's team members were all five athletes on the men's Olympic team, along with twin sisters on the U.S.'s rhythmic gymnastics team, Jennifer and Monica Rokhman, the acrobatic gymnastics duo of Tiffani Williams and Axel Osbourne, and world championship medalists on the men's and women's sides. 2016 Olympic trampoline gymnasts Nicole Ahsinger and Logan Dooley were also in the cast of performers, as were past Olympic gold medalists Jordan Wieber, Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.

While the audience was undoubtedly ecstatic to see live performances by women's team favorites Biles, Raisman, Douglas and Hernandez — evident by the ear-splitting roar when they appeared on the arena floor — the perhaps unexpected stars of the night were the dozen or so male gymnasts, including the five-man Olympic team.
The five-member men's Olympic team gave some of the show's most entertaining performances.
  • The five-member men's Olympic team gave some of the show's most entertaining performances.

In the show's first half, both Biles and Hernandez donned their red, white and blue team leotards to each perform solo their crowd-pleasing floor exercise routines, albeit with vastly toned down or non-existent tumbling passes. The choice to not have these world class athletes perform the high-flying flips and twists that made their skills-packed routines medal winning for Team USA may have been disappointing to the audience, but was understandable as these women will be touring the country for the next two months, performing nearly every other night in a sport that is often physically unforgiving. Let's also not forget the fact that they spent the better part of the past year or more pushing their bodies to the limit in preparation for the Rio Games. 

Fans were also treated to some abbreviated routines and acrobatic skills on the balance beam by the trio of Biles, Douglas and Raisman, and all the women gymnasts in the show displayed their strength and prowess on the uneven bars.

The male gymnasts proved that not only can they defy gravity with their acrobatic skills — they can also dance.
  • The male gymnasts proved that not only can they defy gravity with their acrobatic skills — they can also dance.

Yet the crowd pleasers of the show turned out to be the upbeat and fun-themed performances of the men's team, who showed off their high-flying feats on the high bar during multiple intervals, and also tumbled, flipped and danced quite ably across the floor to various bass-heavy tracks, "Uptown Funk" being one. Throughout its two-hour run, all the lightheartedness of the exhibition style show — and the most impressive acrobatic skills — came from these incredibly fit and handsome 20-something men, much to the benefit of the predominantly female audience. During one segment, the men even invited some of the moms in the crowd out onto the floor to dance with them.

Other noteworthy moments of the Tour of Gymnastics Champions included the carefully balanced acro skills of the male-female duo Tiffani Williams and Axel Osbourne. Much like one might see during a Cirque du Soleil show, Osbourne tossed and balanced his tiny and insanely flexible partner Williams high above the floor with stunning precision and grace. While acrobatic gymnastics is not currently an Olympic sport, the duo won the pairs silver medal during the 2016 World Championships.

Even if we didn't get to see Biles perform her signature tumbling move "the Biles" on the Spokane Arena's floor, it was obvious that just about everyone who attended last night's tour kick off were beyond star-struck. By night's end, the inspired mindset of hundreds of local gymnasts — feeling renewed motivation to work toward their own high-achieving gymnastics dreams — was palpable.
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Monday, September 12, 2016

Monday Morning Place Kicker: How to talk to your football-obsessed friends and coworkers

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 10:17 AM

Doug Baldwin makes the winning catch for the Seahawks on Sunday. - SEAHAWKS.COMM
  • Seahawks.comm
  • Doug Baldwin makes the winning catch for the Seahawks on Sunday.

With fall comes that morning chill, those beautiful colors changing in the trees, Halloween decorations at the grocery stores and coworkers spending every Monday morning going over the weekend's football activities and how they affected their favorite teams. 

That's where we come in with Monday Morning Place Kicker, our weekly analysis of the weekend sports stuff to help you relate to (or at least converse with) your sports-obsessed boss/cubicle-mate/bus driver. 

Let's do it. 


Well, the home team of the entire Inland Northwest kicked off their NFL season with an ugly game against a surprisingly feisty Miami Dolphins. The Seahawks won the game 12-10 thanks to a last-minute drive and touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to wide receiver Doug Baldwin. 

The big story lines: The Seahawks defense remains awesome, their offense will need some time before it starts clicking, and just how bad off is Wilson's ankle after he hurt it while being sacked by human boulder Ndamukong Suh. The Seahawks travel to LA next week to play the Rams, a crappy team that has inexplicable success against the Seahawks. 

Your go-to line for talking to Seahawks fanatics: "Hey, a win is a win, am I right?"

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Spokane's "Iron Nun" Sister Madonna Buder featured in new Nike commercial

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 4:25 PM

Spokane's Sister Madonna Buder could outlast most of us when it comes to running. In swimming, and biking, too. The 86-year-old Catholic nun has competed in 45 Ironman Triathlons, breaking the world record for the oldest person ever to finish the grueling race, which she obtained four years ago at age 82. 

Now, Buder is the subject of a feel-good commercial by Nike called "Unlimited Youth," which debuted recently during coverage of the Rio Olympics. Check it out below.

The video's narrator (actor Oscar Isaac, recent star of The Force Awakens and Ex Machina) introduces Sister Buder and her athletic endeavors with admiration — though his entire narration is rather awkwardly presented in a tongue-in-cheek tone — as clips of the outstanding triathlete play across screen.

Cutting to a scene of Buder in an Ironman swim cap and wet suit, Isaac says, "Wait, what — Ironman? Oh no, no, no, no, no sister, this is a bad idea, sister. A real bad idea — somebody stop her!"

"Relax, she's the Iron Nun!" a guy in the crowd of racers says.

"But she won't make it, this is an Ironman!" Isaac's voiceover proclaims.

"The first 45 didn't kill me," Buder yells over her shoulder to anyone else ignorant enough to doubt her.

"You've done 45 of these? Okay. Do your think sister, do you your thing."

She's pretty amazing, right? 

Sister Buder is a member of the non-canonical Sisters for Christian Community. She last competed in an Ironman race back in 2015 (though she didn't finish), and continues to stay active with her intense exercise routine.

Nike also produced a behind-the-scenes video that gives more insight into what keeps this amazing woman and athlete going strong, defying expectations for her age demographic.

"The only failure is not to try. Your effort in itself is a success," she says.

Also, don't forget that this weekend, on Aug. 21, Coeur d'Alene is hosting its Ironman race, kicking off early Sunday morning. While Buder isn't participating this year, there are plenty of amazing endurance athletes who could use the support as they push themselves to complete the 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

A farewell note from our sports writer, Howie Stalwick

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 12:47 PM


Editor's note: Howie Stalwick has been a contributor to the
Inlander and a long list of other media outlets nationwide. This month he announced his retirement from the sports writing world. Since 2002, Stalwick has been a freelancer so he could have more family time and watch all of his eldest daughter’s college softball games. He previously worked on the sports staffs of such daily newspapers as the Coeur d’Alene Press, The Spokesman-Review and The Oregonian. Howie and his wife Jennifer, who he calls "The World’s Most Understanding Spouse," wish to thank their remarkable children, Shanna and Cheyanne, for putting up with, as he says, "their dad’s weird job."

Forty years ago, my Aunt Martie listened politely as I spoke excitedly about my budding career as a sports writer. When I finally paused to take a breath, she asked the only question that seemed relevant to her.

“Do you,” my dearly departed aunt wanted to know, “think you’ll ever be able to work in real journalism?” I guess we’ll never know. After 44 years as a sports writer, it’s a little late for me to become a real journalist, so I am retiring. It’s nothing personal, Mr. and Ms. Reader. I still love ya. I’ll love you until I collapse lips-first on the keyboard of my (somewhat) trusty laptop.

That said, reality has slapped me in the face: I’m an old man taking up a young person’s job, so it’s time for us to part ways. Simply put, I need to stop typing about people who sweat for a living. Or for a scholarship. Or just for the fun of it.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Team USA's women gymnasts won gold in Rio; see them in Spokane next month

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 3:11 PM

Simone, Gabby, Laurie, Madison and Aly celebrate their team gold win in Rio. - NBCOLYMPICS.COM
  • Simone, Gabby, Laurie, Madison and Aly celebrate their team gold win in Rio.

The Final Five have fulfilled their destiny, living up to everyone's lofty but entirely realistic expectations of becoming team gold medalists in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Tuesday, while most of us were busy at work, the unstoppable quintet of Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian displayed impeccable performances, finishing more than eight points ahead of the silver medalists from Russia. (Click this link to watch routine recaps for the team if you missed any of the action.) 

NBC commentators expressed ceaseless amazement during the competition, event after event, in which the five women continued to outperform themselves compared to their qualification routines just two days earlier. (Check out this sweet feature from the New York Times to see how they pulled it all off.)

With the team gold locked in, next up this Thursday (streaming live starting at noon Pacific Time, with a tape delay airing during NBC's prime-time Olympic coverage) the Greatest Gymnast of All Time, Simone Biles, along with her teammate and now two-time Olympic team gold medalist, Aly Raisman, will vie for spots on the podium in the women's individual all-around competition. (Only two team members per country can compete for the all-around event, which means that even though she placed third overall, 2012 all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas won't be able to defend her title).

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Monday, August 8, 2016

EWU Top 20 in two preseason polls as fall football practice set to start

Posted By on Mon, Aug 8, 2016 at 3:36 PM

Cooper Kupp appears to be NFL-bound - EWU ATHLETICS
  • EWU Athletics
  • Cooper Kupp appears to be NFL-bound

Last year didn't exactly go as most Eagles football fans had hoped, as Eastern Washington's first post-Vernon Adams season was a scuffle. The team ended the season with a 6-5 record, and missed the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for just the second time in seven years. 

It looks like the writers and coaches from the Eagles' peer schools expect the team to be right back in the thick of the playoff race this year, as the STATS poll and coaches' poll released Monday both have the Eags in the Top 20 among FCS squads. 

In the STATS preseason poll, the Eagles land at No. 14, while in the coaches preseason Top 25 poll, coach Beau Baldwin's squad comes in at No. 17. Both polls will be updated weekly once the season starts in September. 

The Eagles' 2016 opponents are all over the polls, too, indicating a challenging schedule ahead when the season kicks off Sept. 3. North Dakota State is ranked No. 1 and Northern Iowa is ranked No. 5 in both polls, and both teams are on Eastern's non-conference schedule. Within the Big Sky, conference peers Montana, Northern Arizona and Portland State are all ranked in both polls as well. 

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