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Locally: Gonzaga’s Jill Townsend named a Senior CLASS nominee

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 13, 2021

Gonzaga guard Jill Townsend (32) is greeted by Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier as she comes off the court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga guard Jill Townsend (32) is greeted by Gonzaga head coach Lisa Fortier as she comes off the court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Staff and wire reports

Jill Townsend is officially a CLASS act.

The Gonzaga guard is one of 30 NCAA Division I senior women’s basketball players nationwide named a candidate for the 2020-21 Senior CLASS Award that recognizes notable achievements in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.

Townsend, the reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Year, entered the weekend leading the Zags in scoring (13.8 ppg) and minutes played (27.5 per game) and is top three in eight categories.

She has scored in double figures 12 times and has had three double-doubles.

The native of Okanogan, Washington, has also excelled in the classroom working toward her bachelor’s in biology, and has spent nearly 60 hours assisting the Spokane community.

The Senior CLASS Award, an acronym for Celebration Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists later this month.

Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert is one of the 30 male Senior CLASS candidates.

Basketball

Chanelle Molina, the only player in Washington State women’s basketball history with more than 1,000 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists during a career that ended in 2020, will try to win a spot in the WNBA after signing a training camp contract last week with the Indiana Fever.

Molina, who many felt was surprisingly not drafted by the WNBA because of her credentials at WSU, is playing professionally with the Norrköping Dolphins in Sweden. She will remain with her team through the end of the season before joining the Fever for the start of training camp in April. She is averaging 18.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists for the Dolphins.

She had 1,395 points, 444 rebounds and 429 assists at WSU.

Fever head coach Marianne Stanley is quoted as saying after the signing that Molina had “an excellent career at Washington State in the very challenging Pac-12 Conference. She is a skilled and versatile guard who will bring high energy and competitiveness to our training camp. She is having a great year (in Sweden) because of how she has continued to improve.”

College scene

Charlisse Leger-Walker of Washington State was named Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Freshman of the Week for the sixth time this season on Feb. 8 for her performance against UCLA and USC that included a pair of 20-point games.

It was the third time this season the guard scored 20 or more points in two consecutive games and the ninth time she’s scored 20 or more in a game, tying the school’s freshman record. Leger Walker averaged 26.0 points in the two games. She scored 28 in a 67-63 win over No. 5 UCLA and 26 in an 81-71 loss to USC.

Catelyn Linke, a senior from Pasco who helped lead Eastern Washington to its first victory over Portland State since 2015, and first back-to-back wins over the Pilots since 2008, was named Big Sky Conference Volleyball Defense Player of the Week on Feb. 9.

Linke averaged 4.10 digs per set and had a season-high 23 digs in the first match and 18 in the second. She’s had 53 career matches with 10 digs or more and seven this season and has a career-record 1,076 digs. She ranks second in the Big Sky with 4.43 digs per set.

• Area athletes collected two of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference weekly honors on Feb. 8.

Claire Dingus, a Saint Martin’s junior forward from University High School, was the Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for a second straight week after averaging 16 points and 4.5 rebounds as the Saints split two home games. Her effort included leading the defense as the Saints battled back from a 16-point deficit in a 55-54 win.

Dingus has top-three spots in a half-dozen GNAC stats: First in minutes played (34.0), rebounding (9.6) and offensive rebounding (4.6), second in defensive rebounding (5.9), scoring (15.0) and field-goal percentage (50.6%), and third in steals (1.7).

Tyler Shea, a Northwest Nazarene junior from Northwest Christian, was the Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week after he opened the abbreviated 2020-21 season with his second college victory, winning the College of Idaho Ice Chipper on Feb. 5 in Caldwell.

Shea, who led the Nighthawks to a second-place team finish, covered the 6K course in 19 minutes, 26.46 seconds in posting a 19-second victory over College of Idaho’s Logan Hunt.

• Hunt, a freshman from Athol (Timberlake), was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for his runner-up finish. Hunt timed 19:45.

Cierra Foster, an Oklahoma City senior from Post Falls, was named Sooner Athletic Conference Women’s Wrestler of the Week after winning her first career title, capturing the 155-pound championship in the Grand View Open on Feb. 6. Foster is ranked third nationally by NAIA at 143 pounds.

• Eastern Washington junior Carter Ledwith from Lewis and Clark won the men’s season-opening Idaho Orchards Cross Country Invitational Feb. 6 in Lewiston, clocking 25:07.2 for 8K. Idaho senior Malaina Thacker won the women’s 5K in 16:53.1, leading UI to the team title.

• A strong start to his collegiate career earned Idaho’s Jose Suryadinata the Big Sky Men’s Golfer of the Week on Feb. 10. The freshman from Indonesia, shot 69-68-68 on the par-72 course for an 11-under 205 to finish third at the Nick Watney Invitational in Fresno, California.

• Big Sky Women’s Golfer of the Week honors went to Idaho junior Vicky Tsai, who rebounded from a first-round 77 to finish 4-over 220 for 54 holes and tie for 13th at the Texas State Invitational in Kyle, Texas. She had one eagle and 11 birdies in UI’s season-opener.

• Right-handed pitcher Alek Jacob (North Central) and shortstop Ernie Yake, Gonzaga seniors who were named to the All-West Coast Conference baseball team in 2019 and turned down professional offers to play for the Bulldogs this season, have been named to the preseason All-WCC team.

Jacob, a preseason All-American in a 2020 season that was canceled, has a 15-9 career record with 12 saves, 211 strikeouts and a 2.71 ERA. Yake batted .338 in 2020.

The Zags, who also return 2019 All-WCC selections Guthrie Morrison (outfield) and Brett Harris (infield), were picked in the coaches’ preseason poll to finish second behind Pepperdine.

• The Gonzaga men’s cross country team was picked to finish third in the West Coast Conference coaches’ preseason poll that also selected Zags redshirt seniors Yacine Guermali and Peter Hogan and junior James Mwaura, who was fourth in the 2019 WCC Championships, on the All-WCC preseason team.

Five-time reigning WCC and 2019 national champion BYU was a unanimous choice for first.

Claire Manley, a Gonzaga senior who recorded her top 6K time of 20:22.3 in a six-place finish last season in the West Coast Conference Meet, has been named to the preseason All-WCC women’s cross country team by the league coaches. The Bulldogs were picked to finish third. Reigning champion BYU was tabbed to repeat.

Golf

Derek Bailey of Rathdrum shot 13-under-par 203 (65-70-68) to tie for 31st in the Outlaw Tour’s Ken McDonald Classic that wound up Saturday in Tempe, Arizona. That left him 12 strokes behind the winner.

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