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Locally: Former Idaho, Coeur d’Alene High quarterback John Friesz named to inaugural Big Sky Hall of Fame class

UPDATED: Sat., Dec. 14, 2019

Former Idaho quarterback John Friesz has been named to the inaugural class of the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame. (SR)
Former Idaho quarterback John Friesz has been named to the inaugural class of the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame. (SR)
From local ,wire reports

John Friesz, who went from Coeur d’Alene High School to an All-America football career at the University of Idaho to the National Football League, has been named to the inaugural class of the Big Sky Conference Hall of Fame.

The late Jack Friel, former Washington State men’s basketball coach who was the first commissioner of the Big Sky in 1963, is also among the 14 individuals set for induction March 14 in Boise on the final day of the Big Sky basketball tournament.

A three-sport star at Coeur d’Alene, Friesz was a three-time All-American at Idaho, earning first-team honors as a junior and senior, and was one of the most prolific passers in NCAA history during his four-year career (1986-89).

He led the nation in passing yards as a junior and senior and still holds the NCAA Division I-AA record for consecutive 300-yard passing games with 10. He finished his career with 10,697 passing yards and his 305.6-yards-per-game average was third in I-AA history when his career ended.

Friesz became the first Big Sky player to win the Walter Payton Award as the national player of the year at the I-AA level in 1989 and was the first three-time Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year (1987, ’88 and ’89).

In ’89 he was also the Coaches’ Choice I-AA Player of the Year, Football Gazette National Offensive Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. In ’88, he was a Kodak and Sporting News first-team All-American, and a 1987 an AP All-America second-team choice.

Friesz was picked in the sixth round of the 1990 NFL draft by San Diego and had a 10-year career with the Chargers, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. He passed for 8,699 yards and 45 touchdowns in 52 games with a 72.3 rating.

His No. 17 was retired at Idaho in 2006, the year he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Friel, who died in 1995 at the age of 97, was the Big Sky commissioner from 1963-71. Spearheaded by Friel, the Big Sky’s formation was driven by basketball and basketball scheduling and he helped the conference earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament during a time not every conference received one.

Five of the original six charter members – Idaho, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State and Weber State – are in the Big Sky. Gonzaga, which was the sixth, left in 1979 to join the West Coast Conference.

Friel, who coached at WSU for 30 years and led the Cougars to an NCAA runner-up finish in 1941, was widely respected across the NCAA basketball landscape and is credited with developing the 1-and-1 free-throw rule.

He was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1978 when the school named its basketball court in his honor. Among his other many honors are spots in the state of Washington and Inland Northwest halls of fame and the Pac-12 Hall of Honor.

Six men’s and four women’s student-athletes and four coaches/administrators comprise the 2020 Big Sky Hall of Fame Class.

The others:

Jared Allen, Idaho State football, 1993-96; Shannon (Cate) Schweyen, Montana women’s basketball, 1988-92; Angela Chalmers, Northern Arizona women’s track & field, 1982-87; Dave Dickenson, Montana football, 1992-95;

Stacy Dragila, Idaho State women’s track & field, 1993-96; Milton “Dubby” Holt, Idaho State track & field/administrator, 1963-79; Damian Lillard, Weber State men’s basketball, 2008-12; Lopez Lomong, Northern Arizona men’s cross country/track & field, 2005-07;

Ron Mann, Northern Arizona cross country/track & field coach, 1980-04; Ellie Rudy, Montana State women’s track & field, 2004-08; Robin Selvig, Montana women’s basketball, 1978-2016; and Jan Stenerud, Montana State football, 1964-66/skiing, 1962-64.


Brothers Alex and Ben Holodnick rode older brother Alex’s hot hand to the championship of the Junior Bowlers Tour doubles tournament last Sunday at Lilac Lanes.

Alex followed a 929 four-game series in the first round of qualifying with a 977 in the match-play portion as he and Ben won four matches and climbed from fourth place into first for the five-team playoffs.

There they awaited a challenger, where Kyle Groves and Madison Hilden, the No. 3 qualifiers, joined them for the championship match. The Holodnicks prevailed 471-449.

Kaleb Ramelow and Blake English finished third, Griffin Rees and Calvin Ruffner were fourth and Skyler Ackerman and Cameron Comer were fifth.

Alex Holodnick had high average for the day, a 241, and Groves’ 280 game led the boys. Ackerman and Hilden shared high honors for the girls with 238s.

College scene

Jenni Rosselli-Hull, who guided Community Colleges of Spokane to a second straight Northwest Athletic Conference championship and 36-2 record, has been named the American Volleyball Coaches Association 2019 USMC/AVCA Two-Year College National Coach of the Year.

In her 13th season as head coach at her alma mater, Rosselli-Hull has succeeded in coaching as she did as a player. As a sophomore in 1996, she was the AVCA Two-Year College Player of the Year.

Rosselli-Hull, who also is the AVCA Two-Year College West Region Coach of the Year after sharing that honor in 2018, saw the Sasquatch win their first 20 matches before a couple of losses to North Idaho in league play left them at 14-2 and in second place in the East Region.

They righted the ship, however, and finished winning 14 of their last 15 matches for an NWAC-leading .947 winning percentage to cap a 76-2 two-year run.

CCS was first in the NWAC in kills per set (13.06), assists per set (11.74) and blocks per set (2.78) and had two AVCA All-Americans, sophomore sisters from Mead, setter Lindsey Russell (first team) and middle blocker McKenna Russell (second).

Lexi Mikkelsen, the Carroll College sophomore outside hitter from Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) who led the Saints in kills (296) and kills per set (2.74), was named honorable mention on the 2019 NAIA American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America team. She was also named to the NAIA All-Northwest Region team.

• Washington State’s Magda Jehlářová continued to add to her accolades, being named the AVCA Pacific North Region Freshman of the Year and she was the only freshman on the Pacific North Region first team.

Earlier named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, the middle blocker from Prerov, Czech Republic, ended her year with 180 total blocks, finishing fourth in the nation, and was seventh in the nation in blocks per set with 1.46. She led the Pac-12 in those categories during the regular season.

• Two former East Valley teammates playing their freshman college seasons nearly 2,500 miles apart wound up collecting similar honors from the United Soccer Coaches.

Chloe Gellhaus, a midfielder who led Seattle Pacific with eight goals and three assists and was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, was named to the 2019 USC NCAA Division II All-West Region first team.

Taryn Baxter, a defender at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, named to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division first team, was on the USC Division II All-Atlantic Region second team. She had two goals, one a winner, and three assists for the Lakers.

Gellhaus’ junior teammate, Claire Neder, a midfielder from Mead, was named to the USC All-West Region third team after she had six goals, a team-leading four winners, and three assists.

Joey Biel, the Monmouth College senior dual-threat kicker from Northwest Christian, was named to the All-West Region third team as a punter.

Biel, who also handled place-kicking duties for the Scots, averaged 40.42 yards on 58 punts with six of more than 50 yards, a long of 64 and 16 landing inside the 20-yard line. He wrapped up his Monmouth career averaging a program-record 40.3 yards on 151 punts.

Mackenzie Duarte became the third Washington State women’s swimmer to post a qualifying time for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials with her performance in the U.S. Open last weekend in Atlanta.

The junior finished third in the 200-meter breaststroke C finals, 19th overall, with an Olympic Cut time of 2 minutes, 32.83 seconds that will send her to Omaha, Nebraska, for the Trials this summer.

Two other Cougars who also competed in Atlanta had qualified earlier. Junior Taylor McCoy, who had a 19th-place finish when she was third in the 200 backstroke C final, is qualified in that event, and sophomore Lauren Burckel in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events.

• After posting the 10th-highest scoring total in Eastern Washington history last Sunday, Eagles junior guard Jacob Davison was named the Big Sky Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.

Davison capped a week in which he averaged 25.5 points with 39 points, scoring 18 of the Eagles’ last 45 in a 98-82 come-from-behind win over former Big Sky member North Dakota. His 17 field goals are the second most in program history. He added six rebounds, five assists and five steals in 38 minutes of action.

He had 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals in 29 minutes in a 90-80 loss to 22nd-ranked Washington earlier in the week and hit 57% percent (21 of 37) shots from the floor during the week to earn the second weekly Big Sky award of his career.

• Community Colleges of Spokane sophomore guard/forward Garrett White from North Idaho Christian in Coeur d’Alene was the NWAC Men’s Basketball Athlete of the Week for the week that ended Dec. 4.

In Spokane’s first five games of the season, he averaged a league-high 27.6 points per game to go with 9.0 rebounds per game (14th). In three games in the Red Devil Classic, he shot 62% from the field (33 of 53) and was named MVP of the tournament the Sasquatch won. He highlighted the weekend with a 38-point, 11-rebound performance against Everett.

Ryan Ricks, a Northwest University junior guard from Northwest Christian, was named Cascade Collegiate Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week after he averaged 19.5 points in Eagles victories over NAIA Division II top-ranked Oregon Tech and No. 17 Southern Oregon. He had 28 points and the winning three-point play against Southern Oregon.

• Five Gonzaga Bulldogs were named to the 2019 West Coast Conference All-Academic team in volleyball.

Juniors Chapin Gray (3.83 GPA), and Julia Talarico (3.28) were named to the first team. It’s the second honor for Gray, who earned honorable mention in 2018.

Honorable mention went to seniors Jenna Kuehn (3.64) and Payton Mack (3.44) and junior Sarah Penner (3.42). It’s the third straight HM for Kuehn, the second straight for Penner and the second for Mack in her career.


The 22nd Spokane Golf and Travel Show will be Feb. 22-23 in the Spokane Convention Center.

Check out for show hours, ticket prices and further details.


The Spokane Chiefs signed 2003-born defenseman Chase Friedt-Mohr, their fifth-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, to a WHL standard player agreement, and he was to join them as an affiliated player for two road games this weekend.

Playing for the Prince Albert Mintos in the Saskatchewan midget league, Friedt-Mohr has seven goals and 18 assists in 26 games this season. He is the Mintos’ team captain.

Letters of intent

Memphis rifle team – Taylor Christian, Spokane Valley Tech, top shooter on the Spokane Junior Rifle Club team that won 2019 Civilian Marksmanship Program 3-Position National Championship in July.


Kylie Delaney of the Spokane Junior Rifle Club won the gold medal at the 2019 Washington State Indoor International Rifle Championships.

Delaney, 17, who attends Three Springs HS in Cheney, won the state championship in a field of 31 by shooting 1,139 out of a possible 1,200. The 3-position competition was shot at the Spokane Rifle Club and in Olympia with scores combined to determine placings.

Teammate Zach Pearsall, 18, Mt. Spokane, shot 1,120 to place fourth and Christian, 17, of Spokane Valley Tech, was seventh shooting 1,096.


Retired volleyball referee Roger Jamison became the eighth inductee into the Spokane Area Volleyball Referees Association Hall of Fame at its recent awards banquet.

From 1989-2008 Jamison excelled at the high school, college and club levels. He officiated many state high school and regional college championship tournaments, as well as numerous national USA Volleyball championships. He served several positions on SAVRA’s board of directors, and was a valued mentor to upcoming officials.

SAVRA’s annual award winners: Officials of the year Jason Gonwick, Ben Goodwin and Alan Hirayama; contributor of the year Shawna Sheehan; most improved Mindy Muglia; partner of the year Debbie Spray; first-year official Kenny Davis; second-year official Tyler Martindale; third-year official Melissa Woods; line judge Martindale.

• Five members of the SAVRA officiated at college championship tournaments in 2019.

Barb Twohig and Juli Jones worked the NWAC championships; Linda Kildew, Frontier Conference and NAIA championships; and Margie Ray and Goodwin, NCAA Division I championships.

• SAVRA board members for 2020 are Goodwin, president; Brent Radford, vice president; Gonwick, secretary; Phil Robinson, treasurer; Alex Collins, Jones and Sheehan, members at large.

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