When he was 10, Pat Dix would walk from the family home near 43rd and Hatch and climb down the hill toward the Palouse highway, down by where The Creek at Qualchan golf course now sits, called Bridlewood.
He’d burn daylight hours at the horse stables and riding arena, helping tend to the horses and exercise them while capitalizing on the opportunity to learn to ride and play polo.
By the time he was 14, he’d grasped the art of swinging a long-handled wooden mallet from astride a racing, 1,000-pound horse and driving a small, hard ball toward a goal while fending off opposing riders, and was saddling up with adults.
“I loved it,” recalled Dix, who would go on to become one of the best, and most respected, polo players in the country, earning him induction with the Class of 2020 into the national Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.
Dix will have the added honor of receiving the Iglehart Award for his “outstanding lifetime contributions to the sport.” It’s named for a Chilean-born international polo magnate who helped found the hall of fame.
In more than 60 years of service to polo, he served as USPA executive vice-president, Pacific Northwest Circuit Governor, National Rules Committee chairman and various positions in the Pacific Northwest. He also was instrumental in leading the effort to establish a new Pacific Northwest circuit.
“It’s a great honor,” said the 76-year-old former executive of the family-owned Dix Corp. construction company. “It’s not something you ever think will happen.
“I’m excited,” he added, looking forward to the awards ceremony Feb. 14 at the Museum of Polo in West Palm Beach, Florida. He described the event “as kind of like the Oscars” for its glitz and glamor.
While he became proficient at polo, it wasn’t the only sport he pursued. He qualified for ski racing’s junior nationals, but a knee injury kept him from going. He was also pretty good at football at Lewis and Clark High School, and was named the center on the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s 1960 all-city team as a senior. In fact, he thought he’d like to pursue it in college.
“I was going to go to Stanford to play football and walk on,” Dix said.
Then a friend, knowing his passion for polo, suggested he go to Cornell, where he could play the sport he loved. The friend knew the coach and had Dix make a phone call. “The coach said, ‘Come on up, we could use you,’ ” Dix said. “Two, three weeks later I was on the plane.”
He helped The Big Red win National Intercollegiate Championships in 1962 and ’63 and was the leading scorer on the ’63 team his sophomore year. After that year, he returned to the Northwest and enrolled at Washington State, where he started a polo team that went to the national championships and lost by a goal.
After earning a degree in civil engineering in 1966, he continued playing locally and nationally, achieving a five-goal rating and notching more notable achievements. He was a runner-up for the 1986 U.S. Open Polo Championship, and his many high-goal tournament titles included the America’s Cup National 16 Goal and National 12 Goal Inter-Circuit.
He especially remembers the National 12 Goal in Midland, Texas, in 1970.
“I came home (from a polo trip) and my dad wanted to go to Midland,” Dix said of his late father, Peter, an outstanding polo player in his own right. “It was a big national tournament. It was quite an adventure for (a team from) Spokane.”
So Dad, Pat, brother Pete and Bill George, another local polo standout, hooked up a trailer with 21 polo ponies and headed south.
“We won the thing,” Pat said. “No one knew us.”
That performance helped earn Pat selection as the 1970 Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Inland Empire Sportswriters and Broadcasters. In 1986, he was recognized with polo’s Hugo Dalmar National Sportsmanship Award. In 2004, he was inducted into the Cornell University Polo Hall of Fame.
Now he’ll forever be enshrined in the national polo hall of fame, quite the conclusion to a journey that started 66 years ago on a dirt arena in south Spokane known as “the poor man’s polo club.”
Eli Storer got hot during the match play portion of qualifying during the Junior Bowlers Tour stop at Cheney Bowl last Sunday and rode the momentum to his first JBT win.
Storer, who averaged 183 for the day, won three of four matches in the second section of qualifying to claim the No. 1 spot going into the five-player roll-offs, nudging first-round leader Madison Hilden into second.
But in the end it was Hilden who got a shot at the title. Storer prevailed 190-177.
Brendan Haight finished third, Kaleb Ramelow was fourth and Michael Bushyeager fifth. All three also went 3-1 in match play. Hilden bested Storer 235-234 for high game of the day and also averaged 183.
The next JBT will be Nov. 10 at Players & Spectators.
Spencer Blackburn, a sixth-year senior center on the Eastern Washington football team, has been selected to the 2019 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Class and is one of 12 finalists nationally for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy.
The award annually recognizes an individual considered the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic and athletic success and leadership qualities. The winner will be announced Dec. 10 at the 62nd NFF awards dinner in New York City.
Each of the 12 finalists will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and. The winner will receive an extra $7,000.
“It’s a huge honor, and it’s a testament to not just being a player on the field but being a student in the classroom as well,” Blackburn said. “I wouldn’t be able to earn an honor like this if it wasn’t for the coaching staff and the people around me. It’s cliché to say that, but it’s a group which actually truly says school comes first.”
The 2014 graduate of Meridian High School in Bellingham has a streak of 45 consecutive starts since taking over at center in the fourth game of the 2016 season. A team captain in 2018 and 2019, he earned second-team All-Big Sky Conference each of the last three seasons and was an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-American a year ago.
Blackburn has a 3.69 GPA and has completed his economics major, but he won’t graduate until he finishes his second major in accounting. He was named a year ago to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 8 team and has earned three Big Sky all-academic honors.
• Joey Biel, a Monmouth College senior from Northwest Christian, picked up a couple of honors for his performance in the Scots’ 27-14 Midwest Conference football win over Cornell last weekend that included recovering his own onside kick.
After giving the Illinois school a 10-7 lead with a 28-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, Biel delivered an onside kick that he recovered at the Monmouth 46-yard line. The rest of his five kickoffs averaged 56.2 yards, and his six punts averaged 44. He added another field goal from 26 yards and three extra points for a nine-point game.
That earned him his first conference Special Teams Player of the Week award for 2019 and selection to the D3football.com Team of the Week for special teams.
• Let by the selection of sixth-year coach Chad Bodnar as Big Sky Conference Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year, the Eagles made a haul that included two special awards, three first-team selections, two on the second and an honorable mention.
Bodnar got the Eagles turned around after a 3-5-1 start in nonconference matches. They put together an unbeaten streak of seven matches, four of them shutouts, and went 6-2-1 in the Big Sky to finish third and qualify a sixth straight year for the conference tournament.
EWU junior defender Taylor Matheny was among four players who shared the Defensive Player of the Year award and freshman midfielder Madison Kem, who started all 18 matches and was second on the team with more than 1,600 minutes, was the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year.
They were also first-team All-Big Sky selections along with junior midfielder/forward Sariah Keister, the Eagles’ leading scorer. Sophomore defender Mya Elder-Hammond and junior forward McKaley Goffard were on the second team. Senior forward Brooke Dunbar was honorable mention.
• Idaho landed Taylor Brust, a junior who moved from midfield to the back line during the season to solidify a defense hit hard by injuries, was on the All-Big Sky women’s soccer first team. Junior midfielder Hadley Sberga, a second-team choice as a sophomore, was named honorable mention.
• Gonzaga sophomore forward Demitrius Kigeya was named the West Coast Conference Men’s Soccer Player of the Week after helping lead the Bulldogs’ 2-1 road win over No. 18 San Diego.
Kigeya scored the winning goal in the 67th minute, 90 seconds after the Toreros tied the score at 1. It was GU’s first win over a ranked opponent in three years.
• Kelsey Turnbow, a Santa Clara junior who played her first two high school seasons at Central Valley before moving to Scottsdale, Arizona, was named the WCC Women’s Soccer Player of the Week after scoring two goals in a pair of road wins, including 1-0 at Gonzaga.
• A couple of former area high school players who are sophomore volleyball teammates at Carroll College have picked up weekly honors after the Saints’ three-set sweep handed No. 16 Rocky Mountain its first conference loss of the season.
Ali Williams of Coeur d’Alene HS was the Frontier Conference and NAIA National Setter of the Week after she averaged 10 assists and three digs per set. Lexi Mikkelsen, a middle hitter from Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls, was the Frontier Attacker of the Week after she averaged 5.33 kills per set with a .387 attack percentage.
• Community Colleges of Spokane sophomore sisters Lindsey and McKenna Russell from Mead received weekly volleyball honors from the NWAC last week for their performances the previous week.
Lindsey was the NWAC Volleyball Athlete of the Week for the second time this season and the East Region Setter of the Week while McKenna was the East Offensive Player of the Week. In two three-set sweep matches, Lindsey averaged 13.17 assists and 4.33 digs per set and added four blocks and two aces.
• Madison Lee, a Central Washington sophomore from Mead with a 4.0 GPA, is one of four area players named to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Academic Volleyball Team.
Western Washington senior Joslyn Bopray from Lewis and Clark made the team for a third straight year; and first-time honors went to sophomores Emily Zink of Concordia (Gonzaga Prep) and Annika Briggs of Saint Martin’s (Ferris).
• John Dressel, a Colorado senior from Mt. Spokane, who ran with the lead pack the whole way and led briefly midway through the 8K race, finished eighth in the Pac-12 Conference men’s cross country championships Friday in Monmouth, Oregon. He timed 23 minutes, 19.7 seconds.
Colorado had the winner and three in the top eight and won the men’s title.
• Northwest University senior Riley Sine from Central Valley received his third Cascade Collegiate Conference men’s cross country runner of the week honor of the season following a second-place finish out of 135 runners at the Warrior Invitational in Rocklin, California. He covered the 8K course in a PR 24:29.
• Claire Dingus, a Saint Martin’s guard/forward from University HS, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year last season, was a unanimous selection to the 2019-20 GNAC women’s basketball preseason all-conference team. She averaged 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds.
• Two players who started their collegiate careers at area colleges were named to the 2019-20 GNAC men’s basketball preseason all-conference team.
Tyler Brimhall, an Alaska Anchorage senior guard/forward who played his first two seasons at North Idaho College, was named to the 2019-20 GNAC men’s basketball preseason all-conference team. He was a unanimous choice after he ranked in the top 10 in the conference in scoring (fourth, 18.7) and rebounding (seventh, 6.5).
• Washington State senior Melisa Ates captured singles and doubles championships last Sunday at the 2019 Redbird Invite tennis tournament in Normal, Illinois. She defeated sophomore teammate Yang Lee in a super tiebreaker for the Flight 1 singles title and teamed with freshman Carla Quadflieg for a 6-0 doubles win.
• Joseph Glenn, an Idaho sophomore from Post Falls, was named the Big Sky Conference Men’s Golf Player of the Week after he shot three straight sub-par rounds (70, 70, 71) to finish at 5-under 211 and tie for 11th at the Hoakalei Collegiate Invitational in Oahu, Hawaii.
• The defending champion Whitworth men have been selected by the coaches as the preseason favorite to repeat as Northwest Conference swimming champion while the Pirates women were selected second behind Whitman.
The Pirates men are led by co-NWC Swimmer of the Year Byron Rossmiller, while 2018-19 All-American Jamie Siegler is back for the women.
Spokane Chiefs captain Ty Smith has been named captain of Team WHL for the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, which will wind up the six-game series at two WHL sites in Saskatchewan, Nov. 13 at Saskatoon and Nov. 14 at Prince Albert.
The 19-year-old from Lloydminster, Alberta, captained Canada to a silver medal at the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games and the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He was also Canada’s captain at the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championship and played for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
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