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Locally: Former Idaho standout Mike Iupati offers substantial donation to school’s Fueling Center

Seattle Seahawks offensive guard Mike Iupati (70) during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz.  (Rick Scuteri)
Seattle Seahawks offensive guard Mike Iupati (70) during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri)
From staff reports

Snacking will take on a new meaning for University of Idaho student-athletes now that one of the school’s best-known athletes of the past decade is getting involved.

The school announced that football All-American Mike Iupati and his wife Ashley have provided a “generous contribution” to Vandal athletics to transform the Fueling Center inside the Kibbie Dome.

“I’ve been wanting to have a meaningful way to give back to my alma mater,” Iupati, a 2010 graduate, said. “When I was a student-athlete it would have been nice to have something like the Fueling Center in between classes and workouts.”

A portion of the gift will go toward the Ashley and Mike Iupati Athletic Nutrition Endowment that will generate funding for the Fueling Center in perpetuity. The earmarked dollars will be geared toward supporting the necessary funds to stock the shelves and coolers of the Fueling Center that will be used by student-athletes from every program.

“We’re incredibly thankful for Ashley and Mike’s contribution to our Fueling Center,” director of athletics Terry Gawlik said. “The space has provided an immediate impact for our current student-athletes. Thank you Ashley and Mike!”

The remainder of the gift will provide a major upgrade to the space, which opened in the fall of 2019. It will significantly improve the functionality of the space for years to come.

“Just over a year ago the Vandal Fueling Center opened its doors with a mission to provide Vandal student-athletes with nutritious pre/post activity snacks as well as providing educational presentations focusing on sport-specific nutrition,” said director of athletic training services Chris Walsh.

“Despite the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the Fueling Center has continued to thrive, receiving a tremendous amount of interest and support from across campus and the community. The Fueling Center has truly been a team effort from the start, as a collective involving athletics, movement sciences, the college of agriculture and life sciences and many others.

“As we enter the spring season ‘Go Zone’ we are looking forward to building upon the nutrition programs and services that provide an immediate and direct benefit to all Vandal student-athletes. This gift from the Iupati family proves how important this space can be,” Walsh added.

Iupati was a standout for the Vandals from 2006 through 2009. He earned consensus All-America honors as a senior while leading the Vandals to a 2009 Humanitarian Bowl win and was selected 17th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He has spent 11 seasons in the NFL, the last two with the Seattle Seahawks, and was named to the Pro Bowl four times.

For more information on the Fueling Center, and how you can get involved, please contact associate athletic director for development Mahmood Sheikh at msheikh@uidaho.edu.

High school scene

The North Idaho Christian School girls basketball team won the Mountain Christian League regular season and tournament championships for the third straight year.

In addition to winning the regular season title for the 10th time in 16 years, the Hayden Lake school won the league’s the team sportsmanship award.

Letters of intent

Carroll College football: Braeden York, DL, Mead; Jack Prka, QB, Coeur d’Alene HS.

Eastern Oregon football: Eti Ena Jr., DE, Cheney.

College of Idaho football: Jacob Brown, LB, Colfax; Patrick O’Dell, DT, Coeur d’Alene HS.

Montana Western football: Ryan Rieckmann, WR/K, Cheney.

Idaho men’s tennis: Alejandro Salvador Civera, Spain; Matteo Masala, Oliba, Italy.

Running

Bill Misner of Spokane, an author on nutrition and accomplished senior runner, reported he won five events in the men’s 80-84-year-old age group in the 2020 Worldwide Virtual Masters Challenge held between Aug. 14 and Oct. 18, 2020.

Misner said he won the 3,000-meter race walk, 5,000 race walk, 10,000 race walk, 1,500 track run and one-mile track run in the event sponsored by World Masters Rankings that attracted 1,500 athletes from 61 nations.

“The icing on the cake for me in addition to winning the five Worldwide Virtual Masters Events was receiving” All-America awards for the 5,000 race walk and mile and 1,500 runs on the track, Misner wrote. He explained All-America honors are awarded to athletes whose finish times rank in the top 5% of their age group.

Wrestling

Sal Silva is heading home. After two years wrestling at North Idaho College, capped by a third-place national finish at 149 pounds last year, Silva has signed a letter of intent with Arizona Christian University in Tucson, Ariz. Silva is from Phoenix.

“It’s really exciting for Sal to be able to continue his wrestling career near his family,” said NIC head wrestling coach Michael Sebaaly. “Arizona Christian is a new program, in its second year, and Sal will be able to give them leadership and make an impact on the mat right away.”

Miscellany

Gonzaga and Washington State each have two of the 15 finalists in the 86th edition of the Seattle Sports Commission’s Sports Star of the Year voting that recognizes the top sports achievements in Washington.

Gonzaga men’s basketball is in the sports story of the year competition with the Seattle Kraken hockey franchise, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders and Seattle Storm.

Gonzaga senior Jenn Wirth and WSU freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker, two area basketball standouts, are in the women’s finals with Alysha Clark, Seattle Storm; Morganne Flores, University of Washington softball; and McKenzi Williams, Seattle University basketball.

WSU baseball’s Kyle Manzardo from Lake City HS is a men’s finalist with Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners; Elijah Molden, UW football; Jordan Morris, Sounders; and K.J. Wright, Seahawks.

The winners, plus other awards, will be announced Feb. 27.

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