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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 48° Partly Cloudy

A Grip on Sports: If heat is a prerequisite for football improvement, than WSU should be taking great strides

FILE – Former Washington State lineman Riley Sorensen (58) works out with teammates during practice on Aug. 6, 2016, at Sacajawea Junior High School in Lewiston, Idaho. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – Former Washington State lineman Riley Sorensen (58) works out with teammates during practice on Aug. 6, 2016, at Sacajawea Junior High School in Lewiston, Idaho. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Load the family truckster. Pack the bags. Make sure you grab the sunscreen and lots and lots of water. We are headed south for a couple days.


• One of the things I really used to hate as the S-R’s beat writer for Washington State was when someone would parachute into the middle of Cougar football practice for a day or two and fancy themselves an expert. It seemed to devalue the hours and hours I spent standing on the sidelines watching and, hopefully, learning.

So we won’t do it. Oh, we’re parachuting in all right. The next two afternoons, we are going to be in Lewiston watching the Cougars. We are going to talk with a few new folks, re-connect with others. Sweat a lot. But when it’s all done, there is no chance I’m going to puff up and tell you I’m the final authority on what’s up with WSU this year.

What is that old saying? A little knowledge is a bad thing? It can be. But a little knowledge is better than none. First-hand knowledge, I mean. That we will try to share here and in our stories on The Athletic’s website. It’s appropriate. An expert? That title, however, will still belong to someone else.

• Speaking of road trips, Arizona State makes one each football season to a camp in the mountains north of Phoenix. Legendary coach Frank Kush started it in 1960 and the tradition of spending a week or so preparing for the season high above the Valley heat has continued, off-and-on, since then.

This morning, as I was reading this Jeff Metcalfe piece on Camp Tontozona in the Arizona Republic, I had a flashback. All the way back to 1976. And it had to do with running a timed mile.

The UC Irvine baseball team didn’t head to the mountains for preseason conditioning. Didn’t need to when you had the beach. And it wasn’t a week. It was one day. D-Day as it was called.

See, the baseball coaches sent you home for Christmas break with one admonition: get in better shape on your own. You better be, because the first day back was also the first day of practice – and there would be no need for baseballs.

All we did was run. On the UCI intramural field. On the beaches near Laguna. Through hills behind campus. And then, just as you thought your legs would fall off, on the track for a timed mile. You had to make it in a certain time or … actually, I don’t remember. I guess there would be more running.

I only participated in this lung-busting exercise once, my sophomore year. The year before I had been cut at the end of fall and wasn’t brought back to the team until the star catcher signed with the Angels in late January, so I missed all the fun.

But once was enough. I made the needed mile time – I think it might have been, like, 12 hours or something – but just barely. At least I wasn’t last.

After the running, the coaches flooded a section of the intramural field and we practiced sliding in shorts and bare feet. That part was incredibly fun, working on hook slides and slide-by slides, pop-ups and head-firsts in cool water on a warm day. And that I remember. The slogs up the sand dunes over and over? Those I’ve tried to forget.


Gonzaga: Johnathan Williams will not be in the NBA this season. The former GU post has signed with a team in Israel. That nugget comes from Jim Meehan’s notebook. … Look closely at this Deseret News photo from the USA Basketball training camp. Notice anyone familiar?

WSU: The media expert on all things Cougar football right now? That would be Theo Lawson, who spends more time mining information than Yosemite Sam. Theo has a practice report from yesterday even though the players were unavailable for interviews due to an after-practice pool party. … Theo also passes along the news point guard Ahmed Ali has left the basketball team again, this time, I’m guessing, for good. … Larry Weir takes an early look at the conference basketball race in the latest Press Box pod. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Washington is still trying to figure out who will be its starting quarterback. … Same with Oregon State. The Beavers have bigger problems though. … Oregon doesn’t have the quarterback question, but there are position battles. … Colorado is looking for more competition. … Utah has a great corner on one side and a battle on the other. … USC’s running back situation is predicated on the health of one star. … A more experienced defensive lineman is mentoring others at UCLA. … There are deep connections between two Arizona players. … It's time for the NCAA to make changes.

EWU: The Eagles opened practice yesterday and Ryan Collingwood was there. He has a story, sure, and it contains a quote from coach Aaron Best in which Best uses preseason, season and postseason all in one sentence. That’s a rare trifecta.

Youth sports: The Coeur d’Alene Little League opened the Northwest Regional with a 5-2 victory over Washington. The Idaho representatives are trying to make it back-to-back trips to Williamsport.

Mariners: The M’s were off yesterday but that didn’t stop Ryan Divish. He spoke to Kyle Seager, the subject of our column on Sunday. Seager has been hitting better lately. … The Mariners do a lot more platooning than most American League clubs.

Seahawks: Bobby Wagner wasn’t at practice yesterday. He was out after a medical procedure. … He’s not huge, but Poona Ford is expected to have a huge impact, at least early, on the Hawk defensive line. … The Seahawks have already practiced nine times.


• It is expected to be more than 100 degrees in Lewiston today and tomorrow. That’s all I got. It’s going to be warm. Until later …

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