By From staff and news services
Track and field and cross country were in the spotlight when Eastern Washington and Idaho named their Big Sky Conference Scholar-Athlete Award recipients for the 2020-21 school year.
Eastern selected Parker Bowden of Spokane, the Big Sky men’s 100-meter hurdles champion this spring, and Morgan Fossen, an NCAA Division I second-team All-American in the women’s pole vault.
For Idaho, five-time Big Sky champion Zack Short and Malaina Thacker, whose senior year included winning medals in the Big Sky indoor and outdoor track championships and competing in the NCAA West Region Cross Country Championships, were honored.
The award annually goes to one senior male and one senior female at each school, honoring “the best of the best,” for their athletic and academic achievements.
Bowden, a Central Valley High School graduate who competed at Community Colleges of Spokane for two years before joining the Eagles, graduated with a master’s degree in business administration with a 3.94 GPA.
He won Eastern’s first Big Sky title in the high hurdles, clocking a meet-record and personal-best 13.58 seconds, and was named the Top Male Performer of the 2021 Big Sky Championships. That earned him a spot in the NCAA West Preliminary Round and also an invitation to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Fossen, from Medford, Oregon, who spent two years at Lane Community College, earned her degree in communicative sciences and disorders with a 3.85 GPA. Fossen competed in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the pole vault, where she cleared a personal-best 13 feet, 9¼ inches to finish 10th and earn second-team All-America honors. She had cleared 12-9 to finish second at the Big Sky Championships and an earlier 13-8½ got her to the West Preliminary meet, where she went 13-8¼.
Short, from Lebanon, Ore., is working on his master’s degree in educational leadership with a 4.0 GPA after posting a 3.66 as an undergraduate.
In his final meet as a Vandal, Short earned first-team All-America in the shot put, placing sixth at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships with a throw of 64 feet, 8 inches. During his career, he was a two-time All-American, earning second-team honors in the 2019 indoor season. Along with his five titles, he is the Big Sky outdoor and indoor shot put record-holder.
Thacker, from Puyallup, Washington, who competed in track and cross country, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in exercise science.
She wrapped up her career at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships’ first round, clocking a personal-best 10 minutes, 10.04 seconds in the steeplechase. She had two podium finishes as a Vandal, earning silver in the steeple at the 2021 Big Sky Outdoor Championships, and a bronze in the mile at the 2020 Indoor finals. She was a two-time West Region cross country participant.
Lizzy Klinker, an All-Big Sky All-Conference third-team selection in 2020 as a senior at Idaho, has signed her first professional contract to play for Falcons Bad Homburger TG of the Bundesliga in the second-highest women’s league in Germany.
The 5-10 guard from Fairfield, Montana, played two seasons for the Vandals (2018-20), averaging 11.2 ppg and 6.9 rpg. She averaged career-highs of 12.8 points and 7.8 rebounds as a senior and led the Vandals with 32 steals.
Tsimafei Kauharenia, a 17-year-old defenseman from Minsk, Belarus, the Spokane Chiefs’ first-round selection (17th overall) in the 2021 CHL Import Draft, has signed a Western Hockey League standard player agreement.
Kauharenia, who was previously listed as Tomofei Kovgorenya, is a 6-3, 203-pound, right-handed shot who had seven goals and nine assists in 26 games with the Minsk Bison of Belarus’ developmental league. And despite his age, he also played in 17 games for the Dynamo Molodechno in the top Belarus professional league.
Gonzaga is adding defender Loic Baures, who is transferring after two years at Yavapai (Arizona) College, where he had five goals and 16 assists in two seasons, Zags coach Aaron Lewis announced.
Baures, who will join the Zags for the 2021 season, earned second-team all-conference recognition as a sophomore and also was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.
• Matt Kagan, who led one of the biggest turnarounds in NCAA history as head coach at Oregon State the last two seasons, has been hired by Washington State as an assistant soccer coach, Cougars head coach Todd Shulenberger announced.
In 2019, his first season at OSU, the Beavers won 11 matches, a nine-win improvement from the year before and the most by an OSU team in nearly a decade. The Beavers’ biggest improvement was on offense, where they went from scoring six goals in 2018 to 31 in 2019.
In his coaching career, including two years as associate head coach at Mississippi State before taking the Oregon State job, Kagan has been a part of nine teams that have qualified for the NCAA Tournament. At WSU, he replaces Jon Harvey, who left the program in June.
Daniela “Dani” Nasser, a 2019 Oregon graduate who has been a volunteer assistant coach at Notre Dame the last two seasons, has been hired as assistant women’s coach at Gonzaga.
In Nasser’s final season at Notre Dame in 2021, the Fighting Irish had a top-15 national singles ranking and two doubles teams ranked in the top 15 that reached the NCAA Tournament.
At Oregon, Nassar played No. 1 singles and compiled a 63-41 record; the victories tied for eighth in program history.
UW Hall of Fame
Five men whose stance against racial inequity in 1969 changed the course of future student-athletes’ experiences at the University of Washington have been selected with seven individuals to form the Class of 2021 for the Husky Hall of Fame.
Called “1969 – The Five Who Dared,” Black football players Gregg Alex, Ralph Bayard, Harvy Blanks and Lamar Mills, and Black assistant coach Carver Gayton, will be inducted with Jon Brockman (2005-09), men’s basketball; Claire Carter (2001-04), women’s tennis; Eric Drew (1996-99), men’s tennis; Jake Locker (2007-2010), football; Kristen Rivera (2002-05), softball; Marques Tuiasosopo (1997-2000), football; and Craig Waibel (1994-98), soccer, a former Lewis and Clark HS standout.
The hall of fame release reads in part, “amid the social turbulence of the late 1960s, and knowing the consequences they could face – and did – they used their voice and their platform as student-athletes to protest racial injustice.”
When they refused to pledge personal loyalty to head coach Jim Owens, they were suspended. Later that week, as the team was leaving for a road game at UCLA, remaining Black members of the team travel party got off the buses as a show of solidarity. Gayton, a former UW letterman and first Black coach in program history, resigned to show solidarity with the players.
Three of the four were reinstated before the final game of the season, the Apple Cup. Blanks, who became the de facto spokesman for the four players, was not.
The UW Tyee Club posted on its website, “despite all the adversity they faced, all five … went on to distinguished careers outside of football.”
Sherman Neal II, a lawyer and former Marine who was a Division I football player and coach, most recently as a volunteer assistant at Murray State (2019-20), has been hired by Washington State University as its new strategic initiative coordinator.
The position was made possible by men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith through his support of the McLendon Minority Leadership Initiative as coaches around the country have pledged to promote social justice and fight racism on their campuses.
All 12 Pac-12 head coaches signed on for a four-year commitment, pledging funding and support that will go to establish athletics administration educational experiences for minority candidates on each campus to help them start their careers through practical experience and opportunities.
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