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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Locally: Tyson McGuffin takes title at USA Pickleball National Championships

Tyson McGuffin got on a roll in the USA Pickleball National Championships and rode the momentum to his first major title.

The 24-year-old tennis and pickleball pro at the PEAK Tennis Center in Hayden won six consecutive matches without losing a game, twice knocking off his biggest nemesis, to win the 2017 men’s singles open division in Casa Grande, Arizona, last month.

“It was one of my best performances of the year,” said McGuffin, who has had some other pretty good outings with top-two finishes in each of the tournaments he’s entered in 2017.

In 2016, he was runner-up in men’s open singles in both the nationals and U.S. Open.

In order to claim the title, McGuffin had to twice get past the player who has caused him the most trouble, Ben Johns, of Naples, Florida.

After receiving first-round byes, they both ran off four consecutive victories to set up a collision in the winner’s bracket final. McGuffin prevailed 11-7, 11-4 to send Johns into the loser’s bracket and third-place match. Johns survived in three sets – his second three-set match of the tournament – to get another shot at McGuffin. McGuffin won that one for the title 11-7, 12-10.

“We’ve had some pretty good matches,” McGuffin said. “He’s been beating me about 70 percent of the time.”

McGuffin grew up in Chelan, Washington, and played tennis at Scottsdale, Arizona, and Spokane Falls community colleges before getting certified to teach tennis and pickleball. He spent the last five years at the Yakima Tennis Club before joining the PEAK staff earlier this year.

Thanks to his sponsor, Selkirk Sports, he travels extensively putting on camps and playing on the pickleball pro tour.

He said pickleball, which has elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis using a slightly modified tennis net with a paddle and plastic ball with holes, is a growing sport in the U.S. There were nearly 1,400 in the national championships in youth to senior divisions.

College scene

Brianna King, a Montana Western junior guard from North Central and Community Colleges of Spokane, set a Bulldogs single-game scoring record that helped propel her to Frontier Conference Player of the Week honors in women’s basketball.

King averaged 25 points a game in two Bulldogs victories, highlighted by the record 37 against seventh-ranked Eastern Oregon. For the week, she hit 18 of 38 shots, including 7 of 16 3-pointers, and 7 of 9 free throws while also averaging 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals.

    Madison Hovren has picked up where she left off last season with Army West Point women’s basketball. The junior from Central Valley had double-doubles in three Black Knights victories to earn Patriot League Player of the Week honors for the first time this season. She won six last season. Hovren, who has 21 career double-doubles and led the Patriot League in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore, scored 43 points and grabbed 39 rebounds as Army improved to 5-2. She leads the league in rebounding (11.6) and is seventh in scoring (17.1).

    Shelby Cloninger, an Alaska Anchorage senior forward from Kamiah, Idaho, and North Idaho College, was the Women’s Basketball Player of the Week in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference following a week in which she was named the most outstanding player of the women’s bracket in the Great Alaska Shootout. Cloninger averaged 16 points and seven rebounds in wins over two Division I opponents.

    Grace Douglas, a Whitworth junior from Lynnwood, Washington, who scored 32 points in the Pirates’ first two games, was the Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week in women’s basketball for the week ending Nov. 19.

    Jake Straughan, the former Colton High School standout and a three-year graduate from Idaho who is working on a master’s degree at Fresno Pacific, was named to the all-tournament team of the Ron Logsdon Classic basketball tournament after scoring 31 points as the Sunbirds split two games. Straughan leads 1-6 Fresno Pacific in scoring with a 15.6 average, which is 11th in the Division II PacWest Conference. The 6-foot-2 guard has hit 23 of 53 3-pointers, second most in the PacWest.

    Madi Farrell, a Northwest Nazarene middle blocker from Lake City, and Joellee Buckner, Western Washington’s opposite hitter from Colville, have collected national honors following outstanding senior volleyball seasons. Farrell earned her second first-team selection and third consecutive pick when the D2 Conference Commissioners Association All-West Region team was announced. She was second team in 2015. She was also named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-West Region first team for a third time. During the regular season, Farrell led the GNAC – and ranked fourth in Division II – with a .417 hitting percentage and was fourth in DII with 1.36 blocks per set. She had 25 matches with double-digit kills, including three with 20 or more. Buckner, among the GNAC leaders in several categories, including sixth in digs-per-set (4.87), received honorable mention on the AVCA All-West team.

    Marit Thorkildsen, a Gonzaga junior transfer from Washington State, received honorable mention on the West Coast Conference all-academic team in volleyball with a 3.75 GPA in sport management.

    Morgan Weaver, Washington State’s All-Pac-12 sophomore forward from University Place, Washington, has been invited to the final training camp of the year for the U-23 U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team in Orlando, Florida, that runs through Monday. She’s one of 22 collegians, three of them from the Pac-12, along with four players from the National Women’s Soccer League, invited to the camp. Weaver, named to the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Women’s All-West Region third team, had a team-best 17 points and seven goals. In two seasons with the Cougars, she has 15 goals, seven of them winners, and three assists.

  • Montana junior Taryn Miller from Central Valley, the Big Sky Conference Defensive MVP, was named to the 2017 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I All-West Region women’s third team. With Miller anchoring the defense, the Grizzlies led the Big Sky with just 0.76 goals allowed per game (32nd out of 332 NCAA Division I teams), and conference opponents averaged just 9.9 shots per game. By comparison, Montana averaged 19.3 shots in conference games.
  • Two former Greater Spokane League athletes, Kathryn Bischoff, a Whitworth senior from Ferris, and Ben Thompson, a senior at University of Redlands from Lewis and Clark, were named to United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III All-West Region teams. Bischoff, a midfielder who had five goals, two of them winners, and one assist, was named to the women’s third team. Thompson, a defender who scored two goals for the Bulldogs, including one winner, was named to the men’s second team.
  • Maegan O’Neill, a Washington State junior from Ferris, earned honorable mention on the Pac-12 all-academic team in women’s soccer for a second consecutive year with a 3.02 GPA as a management major.

  • Seniors M’Kenna Hayes, a defender on the women’s soccer team, and Nic Sblendorio, a wide receiver on the football team, have been named the Eastern Washington Scholar-Athletes for November. Hayes, who has a 3.72 GPA in exercise science with pre-physical therapy, played all 180 minutes in the Eagles’ two Big Sky Conference playoff games that produced a second straight league championship and spot in the NCAA Tournament. EWU fell 2-1 in double overtime to USC. Sblendorio, set to graduate at the end of fall quarter with a degree in business management, has a 3.28 GPA. He had 14 receptions for 336 yards and two touchdowns in three games during November. In the Eagles’ season-ending game, he had nine receptions for 273 yards, just two yards short of the school single-game record.
  • Montana sophomore Jerry Louie-McGee from Lake City was named All-Big Sky Conference football honorable mention as both a wide receiver and kick return specialist for a second consecutive season.

Letters of intent

Washington State women’s golf – Kenedee Peters, Ephrata, Washington, two-time State 2A champion.

Eastern Washington women’s golf – Megan Gaskill, Reno, Nevada; Jaelin Ishikawa, Maui, Hawai’i.

WSU women’s swimming – Payton Bokowy, Sandpoint, three-time Idaho State champion in 50 and 100 free, Scholastic All-American; Sophia Balmaceda, Fremont, California; Emily Barrier, Fort Collins, Colorado; Keiana Fountaine, Tracy, California; Paige Gardner, Walla Walla; Hailey Hyde, Bend, Oregon; Olivia Tungate, Oak Harbor, Washington.


Thirty-seven area football, soccer and volleyball officials were selected for state high school championship tournaments in Washington and Idaho this fall. The volleyball officials worked state tournaments. Those in football and soccer are working semifinal and final playoffs.

The officials by sport, their assigning association and championship game assignments where available:

Volleyball: Spokane Area Volleyball Referees Association – Rusty Wellman, 4A (ch); Keith Ward, 2A; Mike Pounds, 1A (ch); Dale Goodwin, 1B (ch); Ben Goodwin, 1B. Colville Valley VB Officials Association – Denise Smith, 2B (ch). Inland Empire Board of Officials – Jim Nielsen, Pullman, 1B/2B. North Idaho Officials Association – David White, 1A D1/1A D2; Charles Cahill, 5A & 3A; Kelley Kostelecky, 3A & 4A (ch); Mike Terry, 2A & 5A; Rayna Longstreet, 2A & 5A (ch).

Soccer: Inland Empire Soccer Referees Association – Seth Caba, 3A/4A; Luke Staben, 3A/4A. Idaho District 1 – Marcos Maldonado, Mark Patton, Brian Stobie and Derek Kohles, all 3A championship.

Football: Inland Empire Football Officials Association – Tim Peterson, 4A (ch); Steve Felker, 2A (ch); Tyler Zyph, 1B (ch); Dan Stewart, 4A; Ron Schafer, 2B; Dan Meyer, 2A; Mark Schafer, 1B; Mike Buratto, 1A; Jared Frank, 1B. Colville Valley – Bruce LaLonde, 1B. Southeast Washington Football Officials Association – Jeff Elbracht, 2B (ch); Nick Prante, 1A; Greg Morrison, 2B. Idaho District 1 – Bill Clark, 5A & 1A D1 (ch); Matt Fleener, 5A & 1A D1 (ch); Jesse Lenz, 5A; Paul Manzardo, 5A & 1A D1 (ch); Neal Pedersen, 5A & 1A D1 (ch); Casey Irgens, 1A D1 (ch).

Track and field

Spokane has been selected to host the 2018 USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championships July 26-29 at Eastern Washington University’s Roos Field in Cheney.

There are no qualifying standards, but competitors must meet the minimum age of 30. Nearly 1,000 are expected to compete in track events, race walking and men’s and women’s outdoor pentathlons.

Registration opens in March through the USATF website for those interested in competing. Those interested in volunteering can email the Spokane Sports Commission at for more information.

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