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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Humble Hawkins Wins Standout Distance Runner Lobbied For Exclusion

REPLAY: 2-14-97 C2 Mead’s junior male team award at Wednesday’s Youth Sports Awards Luncheon was for cross country, not track and field as a photo caption indicated.

Over the years, many messages have been delivered to high school athletes at the Youth Sports Awards Luncheon.

A private message served but not heeded came from Isaac Hawkins two months ago.

At the time, the Ferris distance running star was hurting inside because he had run poorly in his final race of 1996. Wednesday afternoon at the Spokane Ag Trade Center he was amazed - but smiling - because the Inland Empire Sportswriters and Broadcasters honored him as the Junior Male Athlete of the Year.

“After finding out about my nomination I am puzzled that I should be considered with such great … athletes,” his e-mail message to The Spokesman-Review sports department read. “Considering I ran better last year I hope that this award goes to someone besides me. I should not be rewarded this (year). Last year it was given to the right man, Ian Waltz. Do it again and give it to he who did something incredible… . My performances last year were pretty good but I have a lot of work to do to get back up there.”

Two months ago, when he stumbled upon the e-mail address, he was still reeling from a stunning whipping in the Foot Locker national cross country meet. He had expected much more after a strong performance as a junior.

That weighed on his mind - and he wrote.

“At the time, I really believed it,” he said Wednesday. “If I won nationals, I’d say yeah, I was deserving. But I looked at the great athletes and I thought I didn’t perform to my potential. It was such a letdown, I cried.”

The athletes who did not win were, as usual, impressive. But apparently Hawkins forgot he won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races at the State AAA track meet last spring and defended his state cross country championship in November. Along the way he set course records almost everywhere he ran, breaking marks established by Spokane’s long line of superior distance stars

Hawkins crashed a parade of Mead representatives. The junior teams of the year were the Panthers girls State AAA championship basketball team and the boys cross country team that won its ninth straight State AAA championship.

The Junior Female Athlete of the Year was basketball player Stacy Clinesmith, the Greater Spokane League and state tournament MVP. And Junior Coach of the Year was Jeanne Helfer, who coached the Mead girls to the state basketball title.

The awards were presented between talks by National Football League superstar Walter Payton and two men who had been at the head table before, John Friesz and Carl Crider. Friesz represented the Coeur d’Alene football team 15 years ago and is currently the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback. Crider, currently on the Gonzaga basketball team, was a star on state championship football and basketball teams at Tekoa-Oakesdale four years ago.

Payton kept his audience interested with a powerful message - sacrifice. “If you want to accomplish something … you have to give up something … give up some television, give up hanging around with friends,” he said. “You’re not missing anything. The greatest feeling in the world is accomplishing your dreams.

“It frightens me. There’s so much potential out there, so much good out there, and some of it will go to waste.

“Kids, you’re responsible. Be accountable … it’s up to you. Hold tight to your dreams. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do. Anything you can visualize yourself doing, you can accomplish.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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