In the last couple of weeks, West Valley High School coach Steve Kent has witnessed a different side of football. He has rubbed shoulders with professional football’s elite and watched grown men fawn over a young high school recruit.
It was, he said, a humbling experience “for a coach of a 2-7 team.”
Kent was invited into the home of Eagle linebacker Ty Gregorak when Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel and two of his assistants came calling, bringing with them the Butkus Award given to the country’s top linebacker, Buffalo Matt Russell.
“They came in waving it, telling Ty, ‘I thought we’d show you what it looked like,’ 48 hours after it was awarded,” said Kent.
He sat at dinner while Neuheisel gave a nonstop, two-hour sales pitch on the benefits of his program and why they wanted Gregorak.
The weekend of Dec. 8, Kent, his wife and son were guests of San Francisco 49er Tim Hanshaw, who played high school football at WV, for the 49ers-Carolina Panthers game.
They stayed in the same hotel as the team and mingled with players.
Hanshaw has suited up this year for only one game and was cut and re-signed by San Francisco a couple times. It afforded him tryouts by Philadelphia and Green Bay, said Kent.
“(Owner) Ed DeBartolo had a Christmas party for the players’ kids with individually wrapped presents,” said Kent. “It’s a first-class organization.”
On game day he used Hanshaw’s pass to park in the team lot along side a “little yellow car,” that turned out to be Jerry Rice’s new $250,000 Lamborghini.
At the same time, Gregorak was in the Bay Area visiting Stanford, and Kent got to watch some of the process.
“It was great for my kid (Craig),” he said. And another world for the Spokane Valley high school football coach.
Titan wrestlers beaten
The last two years University and Gonzaga Prep wrestling matches have been decided by a total of 12 points.
Last year it was the Titans who prevailed in a contest that more closely resembled a chess match. This year it was the Bullpups’ turn, winning 34-28.
Even the opening coin flip, which determines which team must first commit its wrestler to either an odd or even numbered match, came into play both years.
Coaches then have the option of moving a wrestler up or down in classification depending upon opponents. Last year it worked in U-Hi’s favor, this year in Gonzaga’s.
Overall the Titans won six times, getting pins from 115-pounder Jared Osborn in the opener for an early lead and by freshman 101-pounder Magellan Laurich in the next-to-last match.
Andy Roberts, forced up a weight by strategy, won a major decision. But Bullpup sophomore Sean Malone denied him a pin.
That gritty effort earned Malone a sportsmanship medal given out by University during its home athletic contests.
Regional veteran Ed Stretch at 141 pounds and Jesse Larson at 168 won impressively.
But the Bullpups pulled off upsets at 158, 178 and 275 pounds for the win.
“I knew we were in trouble this week,” said Titan coach Don Owen. “We had a lot of kids sick and Josh Vande Vanter has such a bad back, he can’t do anything.”
Vande Vanter, moved up a weight, lost to Prep sophomore Kyle Gleason in the pivotal 158-pound contest.
Sam Butler, battling illness, ran out of gas and was upset by Donald Weiber at 178 despite leading early.
Titan gymnasts receive scare
Untouchable for the past four years, University High’s gymnasts got a reality check Thursday night.
The Titans (9-0) won over second-place Ferris (8-1) by a mere .2 point and won only one individual event, the vault, where Kalie Cossette led a three-gymnast sweep.
Greater Spokane League teams take a break until Jan. 9 when the league’s top four teams, U-Hi, Ferris, CV and North Central lock up again at CV.
Central Valley improved to 7-2 by beating Mead and NC. Like U-Hi, the Bears won only one individual event, Marissa Deehr’s beam victory.
Runners invade San Diego
A horde of Spokane-area runners took part in the Footlocker Western Regional Cross Country meet in Fresno, Calif., on Dec. 7.
Among them were a dozen U-Hi girls, led by Taraka Campbell and Kelly Kearsley who finished among the top third of 174 girls who ran in the elite race.
Other participants were Kristi Larson, Kendra Jaten, Betsy Walter, Kelsie Bly, Kaely MacDonald, Robyn Cross, Melissa Hawkins, Devon VanDyne, Jaime Miller and Michelle Cesal.
In other categories, West Valley’s Jessica Riehle was 20th in the senior girls race, Jessica Ferguson ran in the sophomore race.
Among seeded runners were East Valley’s AnnMarie Adams, seventh among all Spokane finishers, and Gonzaga Prep’s Jill Larson.
In the seeded boys race, Titan Seth Mott finished 90th and James Berry was 97th. Jeff Rees also placed.
West Valley’s Sean McLachlan placed 10th in his sophomore race.
Eagles Clayton Holmes and Eric Gorton also competed.
Other Titan runners were Mark Davis, Kris Martin, John and Mike Barbero, Stephen Boyd, Mike Hawkins, Mike Visintainer, Matt Henshaw, Dan Chavez and T.J. Sulzle.
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