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Locally: Mead, CC Spokane volleyball star McKenna Russell signs letter of intent with EWU

May 17, 2020 Updated Mon., May 18, 2020 at 12:05 a.m.

Former Mead and Community Colleges of Spokane standout McKenna Russell, bottom left, has signed a letter a intent to play volleyball at Eastern Washington. (CCS athletics / Courtesy)
Former Mead and Community Colleges of Spokane standout McKenna Russell, bottom left, has signed a letter a intent to play volleyball at Eastern Washington. (CCS athletics / Courtesy)
From staff and wire reports

McKenna Russell, who accumulated all-conference honors at Mead High School and Community Colleges of Spokane, will continue a family tradition when she plays volleyball at Eastern Washington University.

The 6-foot middle blocker signed a letter of intent with the Eagles, for whom her mother, Shannon Russell, played as Shannon Horn in 1989. That hall of fame team won the Big Sky Conference championship and advanced to the school’s first NCAA Tournament.

McKenna was first-team All-East Region as a sophomore after being second-team as a freshman for two-time NWAC champion CCS that compiled a 76-2 record her two seasons. She was a three-time All-GSL honoree at Mead, capping it with first-team honors as a senior for the three-time State 4A-qualifying Panthers.

Eastern also picked up three freshmen signers, Katie Fleck, OH, Thousand Oaks, California; Casonndrah Polo, OH/DS, Fife, Washington, HS; and Seiaulelei Rapanot-Alefaio, MB/RS, Lakewood, Wash. (Lakes HS).

Letters of intent

Whitworth football: Freshmen: Chad Carlson, RB, Central Valley, ALL-GSL 4A offense first team as a senior; Tyler Dallas, OL, Mt. Spokane, All-GSL 3A offense first team as a senior; Eli Gondo, FB, Post Falls, All-IEL 5A as a senior; Connor Hutchings, OL, Sandpoint Christian School, 2-time All-IEL 4A; Alyjouah Rollins, WR, West Valley, GNL Offensive MVP, 2nd-team All-GNL defense as a senior, 2nd team All-GNL offense and defense as a junior, 2nd team defense as sophomore; Cameron Sheley, WR, CV, HM All-GSL 5A offense as a senior; Zach Zwanzig, OL, Northwest Christian, All-NE2B North first-team offense, second-team defense as a senior, All-NE2B first-team offense and defense as a junior.

Also: Tiliti Adams, DB, Makawao, Hawaii; Dylan Ashbeck, WR, Walla Walla (Wa-Hi); Jacob Brandvold, DB, Snohomish, Washington HS; Spencer Brown, WR, Seattle (Evergreen HS); Erik Burchill, DB, Poulsbo, Wash. (North Kitsap HS); Nicolas Caballero, WR, Boise (Timberline HS); Joe Cameron, OL, Caldwell, Idaho, HS; Davis Campbell, DB, Shoreline, Wash. (Kings HS); Caleb Campbell, LB, Meridian, Idaho (Rocky Mountain HS); Brody Connell, DB, Prineville, Oregon; Carter Cox, DB, Ephrata HS; Andrew DeLizio, WR, Electra, Texas; Jack Fields, LB, Bellingham, Wash., HS; Isaac Fields, TE, Pasadena, California.

Also: Jack Gibson, DE, Camas, Wash. HS; Kyle Gran, DB, Burien, Wash. (Highline HS); Isaiah Jones, RB, Camas, Wash. (Union HS); Anthony Kee, WR, Vancouver, Wash. (Heritage HS); Ben Krasnokutsky, DB, Olympia HS; Dillon Kuk, WR, Marysville, Wash. (Marysville Pilchuck HS); Conner Lee, DB, Goleta, Calif.; Zach Loveless, LB, Olympia (A.G. West Black Hills HS); Iava Lui Jr., OL, Federal Way, Wash. (Todd Beamer HS); Maxson Muffett, LB, La Center, Wash. HS; Davanta Murphy-McMillan, RB, Everett, Wash. (Cascade HS); Jarvis Natividad, WR, Honolulu, Hawaii; Trent Nomura, OL, Honolulu.

Also: Jake O’Donnell, DT, Sammamish, Wash. (Eastlake HS); Dylan Owen, DE, Snohomish, Wash. (Glacier Peak HS); Jackson Preston, OLB, Camas HS; Caleb Reeve, WR, Nampa, Idaho, Christian HS; Peyton Sanchez, DB, Concrete, Wash. HS; Joseph Schmidt, WR, Arlington, Wash., Christian School; Alan Sepulveda, K, North Lakewood, Wash. (Lakewood HS); Noah Stifle, WR, Woodinville, Wash., HS: Tanner Sullins, DE, Kennewick, Wash. (Kamiakin HS); Sam Tefft, OL, Newcastle, Wash. (Bellevue Christian School); Nathaniel Vasiloff, OT, Goodyear, Arizona; Jude Veltkamp, DB, Lynden, Wash. (Lynden Christian HS): Tyler Woods, LB, Tumwater, Wash., HS.

Transfers: Tyler Epefanio, WR, Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls)/Eastern Washington, All-NEA first-team offense and kicker returner as a senior, will be a freshman in eligibility; Jayden Matthews, WR, Ocasta, Wash./Willamette University, will be a sophomore in eligibility; Roger Millimono, OL, Seattle/Valley Forge Military College, will be a freshman in eligibility; Dawson Ruhl, RB, Bend, Oregon/Linfield University, will be a junior in eligibility.

Gonzaga men’s cross country and track: Freshmen: Aidan Baughan, distances, Las Vegas, Nevada; Jeremiah Mackie, distances, Surrey, British Columbia.

Gonzaga women’s tennis: Transfers: Hannah Jones, South Ogden, Utah/Utah State, will be a senior; Adrianna Sonowska, Lodz, Poland/Northern Arizona, will be a sophomore.


For a third straight year, former Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves is a finalist for the 2020 Oregon Sports Awards’ Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year.

Graves, who just completed his sixth season at Oregon, was co-winner of the 2019 Gill award. His 2019-20 Ducks went 31-2 with a No. 2 national ranking in the Coronavirus-abbreviated season.

The other finalists are Mario Cristobal, football coach at Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Oregon; Arne Ferguson, football coach at Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Western Oregon; and Josh Rohlfing, volleyball coach at Southern Oregon, which went 31-5 and advanced to the Round of 16 in the NAIA national championships.

Graves was also among four finalists for the 2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year that was won by Dawn Staley of South Carolina.

Oregon Sports Awards winners will be announced from May 18 through May 29.

College scene

Washington State senior pitcher A.J. Brock was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 first team with a 3.62 GPA. The two-time Pac-12 All-Academic first-team selection, a computer science major, is eligible for Academic All-America honors.

Seniors Elodie Bridenne, a member of the women’s golf team, and Troy Gingerich, a member of the men’s track and field team, have been named the Washington State Academic Services Student- Athletes of the Month for May.

From Rennes Cedex, France, Bridenne graduated with honors and a 3.83 GPA. She is a three-time Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar and two time Pac-12 All-Academic honoree. On the course, she improved her scoring each of her four seasons.

A pole vaulter from Sparks, Nevada, Gingerich split his time as a student-athlete and cadet in the Army ROTC. He was named a Distinguished Military Graduate and earned magna cum laude with a 3.76 GPA with an eye on joining the Army’s Special Forces. He had two top-three finishes and a four in three indoor meets.

Four Idaho athletics programs, three at Eastern Washington and one at Washington State were recognized by the NCAA for outstanding academic achievement, posting Academic Progress Rate scores in the top 10 percent of their sport.

Both the Idaho men’s and women’s golf programs and both cross country programs gave the Vandals a Big Sky Conference-leading number of programs honored. It is the sixth consecutive year for women’s golf and the third straight for women’s cross country.

Eastern men’s cross country and women’s soccer and tennis were honored while WSU men’s golf was recognized for a second-straight year with a perfect four-year APR score of 1,000.

Calculated annually, APR measures the academic achievement for all Division I teams. The most recent multiyear APR includes data from 2015-16 through 2018-19.

Gonzaga men’s soccer, which will add nine newcomers this fall, earned a top-40 recruiting class ranking from heading into the 2020 season. The website listed GU at No. 38.

Head coach Paul Meehan and his staff are adding five freshmen and four transfers, three of whom have international experience.


Circling Raven Golf Club, in an attempt to fill a void for high school players who had their spring season wiped out by the Coronavirus pandemic, has scheduled a “high school championship” tournament for May 26.

Pro David VonBrethorst noted the event won’t be sanctioned by either Idaho or Washington state associations, but it will give area prep golfers a chance to get in a competitive round.

Play will begin with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. in either an individual stroke play championship or a two-person team best ball tournament. There will be prizes for individual champions and the top three teams. Cost is $40 and includes lunch.

For more information and to sign up visit

Lyle Perry Jr. from Wilbur scored a hole-in-one on May 7 at the Bend Golf and Country Club in Wilbur on the 163-yard 15th hole, using a 6-iron.


Spokane’s Keanu Yamamoto, one of a franchise-record 33 former Chiefs attending college during the fall and winter semesters on a WHL scholarship, completed his third year of hockey at McGill University in Montreal, Ontario, as one of the Redmen’s leading scorers.

The Mead graduate had 10 goals and 20 assists for 30 points in 36 games in the Coronavirus-abbreviated season. The forward was fourth on the team in both goals and assists and tied for second in points. In three seasons, he has 38 goals, 61 assists and 99 points in 116 games.

Yamamoto is one of 22 former Chiefs on WHL scholarships who have continued their hockey careers at the collegiate level.

Under the program administered by the league and funded by member clubs, for every season a player plays in the WHL they receive a full-year scholarship, including tuition, textbooks and compulsory fees. More than 400 former WHL players availed themselves of the program this academic year.

Other former Chiefs and the schools they attend (* indicates playing collegiately):

University of Alberta: *Matt Berlin, Zach Fischer, *Dalton Hamaliuk, *Curtis Miske, *Luc Smith. University of British Columbia: Tanner Wishnowski. University of Calgary: *Luke Harrison, *Jordan Henderson, *Jayden Sittler. University of Lethbridge: *Jeff Rayman. University of Manitoba: Cedric Chenier, Lasse Petersen.

Mount Royal University (Calgary, Alberta): *Connor Chartier, *Tyson Helgesen, *Mitchell Lipon. University of Regina: *Tyler King. University of Saskatchewan: *Jeff Faith, *Evan Fiala, *Declan Hobbs, *Wyatt Johnson, Nolan Reid, Wyatt Sloboshan. Carleton University (Ottawa, Ontario): *Rykr Cole, *Matt Sozanski.

University of Prince Edward Island: *Riley Whittingham. University of Waterloo: *Markson Bechtold. University of Western Ontario-King’s University College: *Kolten Olynek. University of Windsor: Marcus Messier. York University (Toronto): *Alex Mowbray. Red Deer (Alberta) College: Dawson Weatherill. Saskatoon Polytechnic: Jacob Cardiff. Western Illinois University: Jake Toporowski.

• Linemates Luke Toporowski, Eli Zummack and Leif Mattson are featured on the current edition of the Spokane Chiefs’ “Teammate Trivia” on the team website,

• WHL 2019-20 postseason award recipients through Friday:

Dylan Guenther, forward, Edmonton Oil Kings, Rookie of the Year; Seth Jarvis, forward, Portland Winterhawks, Most Sportsmanlike Player; Riley Fiddler-Schultz, forward, Calgary Hitmen, Humanitarian of the Year for a second straight year; Dylan Garand, goalie, Kamloops Blazers, Scholastic Player of the Year; Kamloops Blazers, Scholastic Team of the Year.

The final three awards – goalie of the year, defensive player of the year and player of the year – will be announced this week. Spokane’s Ty Smith (defensive) and Adam Beckman (player) are among the finalists.

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