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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Our favorite local sports stories of 2017

UPDATED: Sun., Dec. 31, 2017

Gonzaga coach Mark Few (left) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams chat during a television interview at the 2017 Final Four. (DAVID J. PHILLIP / AP)
Gonzaga coach Mark Few (left) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams chat during a television interview at the 2017 Final Four. (DAVID J. PHILLIP / AP)

In 2017 our sports writers got to cover everything from an NCAA National Championship game to small-town high school football. Here are links to each of our writers favorite stories from the past year as well as some of their thoughts:

Jim Allen (EWU beat writer)

EWU wins at Montana: What a game, as Eastern comes back from three scores down for a thrilling win over the Griz. Definitely one of my favorite games to cover:

Cooper Kupp lands in L.A.: After covering him for five years, it was a thrill to see him make it to the big time:

Boxing in Spokane: Rick Welliver offers the ultimate in tough love, and he doesn’t pull any punches – verbal or otherwise. And he’s making a difference in young people’s lives:

Rogers H.S. soccer immigrants: The world’s game is bringing people from all over the world together at Rogers, and it’s a beautiful thing to see:

Aaron Best named football coach at EWU: After almost two decades as an assistant, Best finally earned his dream job – all the more fulfilling with his family at his side for the introduction:

Vince Grippi (morning columnist)

Theo Lawson (WSU beat writer)

Inevitable friendship: One of those small-world, can’t-believe-its-true stories that emerged from WSU’s 14-day stay in Lewiston during fall camp. In a post-practice interview, Kirkland Parker casually brought up the bond between he and Hunter Dale – the other WSU nickel competing for a starting role. The two were long-lost cousins (via marriage). It’s both upsetting and fascinating to hear first-person accounts of Hurricane Katrine and Dale and Parker, native Louisianans, both had one.

The architect, his pupil, and his son: Hal Mumme never gets tired of chatting about the offense he invented. For nearly 50 minutes, Mumme and I talked Air Raid – the roots, the wrinkles and how WSU coach Mike Leach popularized the offense that hundreds of high school and college football teams have adopted. Easily one of the top phone interviews I conducted all season.

The year of the … running back?: Spending 30 minutes inside the meeting room of running backs Jim Mastro was an enlightening experience that gave me a good feel for the chemistry between WSU’s four tailbacks – Jamal Morrow, Gerard Wicks, Keith Harrington and James Williams. How the group recovers from losing two of those players figures to be one of the prevailing storylines for 2018.

Greg Lee (Former S-R Preps Editor)

Colfax volleyball coach Sue Doering retiring: This was my last feature before I left the S-R. So it was special for many reasons. Sue is an incredible lady, coach and mentor. She’s the last of a dying breed of women coaching women’s sports. And for her to go out coaching a 14th state title team made my fall.

Then and Now with Ian Waltz: It was so cool to catch up with Ian. I was there when he flung the discus past the 200-foot barrier at the Idaho State meet. He was such a class act. He and his wife are giving back to their respective athletic disciplines in Boise and there will be future standout athletes they will mentor.

Jakobe Ford feature: Jakobe has had to overcome much in his life so far – some issues admittedly of his own making. But in my 32 years I’ve never covered an athlete so gifted in track and field.

Dave Nichols (S-R Preps Editor)

On Albi Stadium: I liked the Albi column – my first real opinion piece for the paper – not only for the story itself, but for the reaction. There were tons of shares and comments on Facebook and Twitter about the article, the stadium, the proposal and prospects for a new downtown stadium and GSL football – just a ton of passion about the whole thing. It’s a story that will have legs for a while around here too so it’ll be fascinating to watch the developments.

Newport football and community intertwined: The story of the community of Newport rallying around its football team making its first trip to a state semifinal in the wake of the tragedy of student-athlete Dylan Warner’s passing in an auto accident last spring was touching. This is the first time I’ve covered high school sports and this story really drove home that these smaller communities really are centered around the school and what’s going on there.

Whitney Ogden (Gonzaga basketball, Spokane Indians, features)

Stockton Malone Shorts: This was one of my favorite stories I told during March Madness, even if it wasn’t directly about the Zags. It took forever for me to track down this family, and when I finally did, they had a great story to tell. This was a fun article to write. I always enjoy the light-hearted stories like this, and it was a great way to connect the Salt Lake City area back to Spokane.

Once rivals, now teammates: Another interesting story to tell. I love baseball, so of course one of my favorite articles had to come from my coverage of the Spokane Indians. It was awesome to discover the connection between these three players and learn about their childhood and how they ended up together playing on the same farm team in Spokane.

Bloomsday organizer Sylvia Quinn: These ladies had a great story to tell and were an inspiration to me. I hope they were for our readers as well. It was interesting learning about a piece of Spokane’s history from someone who had some first-hand knowledge of the start of Bloomsday.

Jacob Thorpe (Former WSU beat writer)

Kent and his point guards: Ernie Kent has had a storied career of coaching point guards. It was fun to explore his past and reach out to some of his best court generals, all while taking a closer look at his guys he thinks could be next.

American Samoa and the Cougs: The Washington State football team has had great success recruiting football players from American Samoa. Those players make a long journey to Pullman and rarely, if ever, get to return home while they’re in college. It was rewarding to learn and write about one young man who is overcoming his homesickness and finding a new community in Pullman.

One night in Tunica: If you’d asked 22-year-old me what was one thing I would love to do as a sportswriter at the Spokesman-Review, I probably would have said, “cover a Final Four and listen to Roy Williams spin a good yarn.” Well, mission accomplished.

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