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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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High school sports seem to have a never-ending supply of great stories

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There is that old saying about winners and spoils and, like a lot of old sayings, it’s survived because it’s true. Read on.

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• Clichés are clichés because they ring true most of the time. People wouldn’t use them if they didn’t fit, right? So, when it comes to winners, they are spoiled – with publicity at least. High school athletes are getting set for state tournaments in sports like basketball, wrestling and gymnastics. The winter trio. Which means, of course, we get to learn a lot more about the good teams and individuals. I’m not complaining mind you. It’s always fun to read about high school athletes. They have some of the greatest stories. And, for most of them, even the ones featured in the newspaper and on television, this is it for their competitive athletic experience. Which is why when I was a prep writer here and years ago in Southern California, I sought out kids with backstories that weren’t all that usual. It’s a proud tradition folks like Merle Derrick, his son Chris, Dave Trimmer, Mike Vlahovich and, these days, Greg Lee, have continued for years in the Spokane area. There have been many others as well and the stories have been always worth digesting, even if some of the subjects were hard to deal with. Not all prep stories are happy ones. Heck, not all sports stories are. But when something untoward happens to a young person, it’s that much harder to take. Greg’s recent story about Eli Emerson had a happy ending, but there was a chance it wouldn’t have had. I remember a bunch of years back when Dave did a series on ACL injuries and female high school basketball players. It is still a problem – females tear their ACL’s at a higher rate than males – and every time I see a girls basketball player wearing a couple of knee braces, my heart goes out to them. I know, behind the scenes, there is a story of hard work, sweat and pain just to get back on the court. Which makes the uplifting stories even more special. Often times Greg finds those stories on the wrestling mat. He has a couple today. One would seem to hearken back to the bad old days when high school wrestlers starved themselves to make weight. It’s about Lewis and Clark’s Noah Buckley (pictured), who had to drop 65 pounds to be able to wrestle in this his senior season. But as someone who lost that much in about the same time period – I took a bit longer but I am also in my late 50s and it wasn’t a good idea for me to exercise as aggressively as Buckley was able to – I can tell you it’s possible to eat right, exercise and drop pounds without endangering yourself. In fact, in the long run, it’s really good for you, as my doctor adamantly pointed out. You just have to give up some things and, most importantly, be willing to eat foods you never wanted to touch before (in my case that would be fruits and vegetables). But Buckley was motivated. He wanted to follow a quest one more time. He has never won state. This is last chance. He, and hundreds of other wrestlers, will be in Tacoma this weekend battling on the mat and trying to grab the brass ring. Whether he wins or loses is not as important as the fact he set a goal and reached it. That’s the way it is with all high school athletes. And the main reason their stories are always so darn interesting.

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• WSU: The Cougars are back on the Beasley court tonight, hosting Stanford, and to celebrate Jacob Thorpe has his weekend preview as well as a feature on WSU’s two seniors: Junior Longrus and Brett Boese. Jacob also has a morning post with links today. ... Arizona is back on top of the Pac-12 standings and played like it last night, routing Arizona State in Tucson. ... USC was down 15 in the second half at home to Colorado and rallied to win. ... Here is a basketball power ranking for the conference. ... WSU’s running back situation is about as good as it’s ever been.

• Gonzaga: Pacific is in town tonight – my guess there are a lot of people who want to say hi to Tiger interim coach Mike Burns – and Jim Meehan has his weekend preview. Saint Mary’s is up on Saturday. ... Speaking of Saint Mary’s, one of its better players is coming home to Portland tonight. ... BYU and USD meet twice this week. Great scheduling.

• EWU: When Austin McBroom transferred from St. Louis to Eastern for his senior year, not even Jim Hayford knew he would put up the scoring number he has. Jim Allen has a feature on the point guard as well as a weekend preview.

• Idaho: The Vandals’ opponents are the same as Eastern’s, of course, Portland State and Sacramento State, both on the road. Sean Kramer has a weekend preview.

• CCS: Jim Allen has another interesting feature on the “old” man of CCS basketball, Levi Taylor (pictured).

• Preps: Greg has his usual state wrestling tournament overview as well as a feature on a Deer Park wrestler and the one on Buckley. ... State gymnastics is also this week. ... Here are all the Washington boys and girls basketball playoff games this weekend.

• Seahawks: The Hawks are going to let Marshawn Lynch keep all his bonus money.

• Mariners: The starting rotation seems to be the position of the day.

• Sounders: It’s all but official. Obafemi Martins has said on social media he’s headed to China. ... The Sounders new uniforms – I refuse to write “kits” – are pretty odd looking to me. But what do I know? I’m old. ... Seattle picked up a win in a scrimmage.

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• Once again, a quick heads up for the weekend. I have some commitments early Saturday morning so I won’t be putting together a blog post that day. Until later ...




Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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