Record setters, dominating performers and state champions read like a who’s who of Spokane area high school sports stars.
They are this year’s nominees for Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters players, coaches and teams of the year.
The SWABs annually choose 10 junior male and female athletes and five each among male and female teams and coaching candidates.
In past years they have been recognized during an annual February luncheon, but the event has been terminated. Undeterred, here are this year’s finalists, with winners to be announced in a couple of weeks.
Junior Male Athlete
Andrew Gardner, Mead state championship track and cross country distance runner; Brandon Gfeller, Colfax state champion basketball catalyst and scoring leader; Derek Isaak, 27-point-per-game scorer on Almira/Coulee-Hartline’s State 1B champion; Timmy Mueller, Idaho soccer player of the year for state champion Post Falls; James Ost, Post Falls’ three-time wrestling state champion; Austin Pruitt, International Paralympic competitor from Central Valley; Austin Rehkow, cog in CV’s second-place state finish who kicked a 67-yard field goal; Jordan Rogers, three-time Mead state wrestling champion and national star; his sophomore brother, Chandler Rogers, two-time state champion and national award winner; and Brett Rypien, Shadle Park sophomore quarterback who set GSL passing record of 3,179 yards.
Junior Female Athlete
Sierra Bezdicek, Mt. Spokane GSL girls golfer of the year and State 3A champion; Taylor Ellingson, WSU-bound volleyball standout for 4A state runnerup Mead; Brooke Gallaway, GSL MVP basketball player for Central Valley’s State 4A runner-up; Kelcie Hedge, Post Falls midfielder named the Idaho Player of the Year in soccer; Katie Knight, North Central distance track champion and second-place cross country finisher; Kelsey Moos, star on Indians’ come-from-behind volleyball and 2B basketball champions; Tisha Phillips, Lewiston’s first Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year for basketball state champions; Riley Richardson, the leading scorer for Mt. Spokane’s State 3A second-place soccer team; Casey Stangle, Lake City pitcher who hurled the Timberwolves into the State 5A finals; and Jamie Weisner, dominant Clarkston athlete on State 2A basketball champions and javelin state track and field champion.
Junior Male Team
Five finalists for team of the year are Almira/Coulee Hartline basketball, 23-3 State 1B champions; Central Valley cross country, won first Bears boys state 4A championship; Lewiston Bengals wrestling, record-setting Idaho 5A wrestling champions; North Central cross country, seventh-time 3A cross country champs; and Post Falls soccer, 17-1-1 5A State champions.
Junior Female Team
Colton basketball, went 26-0 to win third straight State 1B title; Coeur d’Alene cross country, easily won its second straight 5A title; Mead gymnastics, state team champion, only the third to do so from Spokane and the first in 41 years; Reardan basketball, was perfect 27-0 in winning the 2B title; and Tekoa-Oakesdale volleyball, rolled to the State 1B crown.
Junior Male Coach
Matt Jorgensen guided Deer Park to its fifth straight State 2A wrestling championship; Jon Knight continues to add to NC cross country legend with seventh straight State 3A title; Gabe Lawson coached Post Falls to the 5A State soccer title; Kieran Mahoney built CV into first-time state cross country winner; and Greg Whitmore of Lind-Ritzville/ Sprague 12-0 2B football titlists.
Junior Female Coach
Larry Bieber coached Coeur d’Alene to a 5-2 upset softball victory over Lake City for 5A State championhip; Laurie Chadwick took Mead to the state gymnastics team title; Cathy Compton was coach of Coeur d’Alene’s two-time state champion cross country team; Brittney Kubik coached Reardan to its third straight State 2B volleyball title; and Clark Vining coached Colton to a perfect season and third straight State 1B basketball championship.