Megan Billeter made an impressive return to competitive golf for the Western Washington Vikings on Sept. 13.
The redshirt junior from Mt. Spokane, who sat out the pandemic-shortened spring season to preserve her eligibility, put together a school-record, 4-under-par 68 in the first round of the Saint Martin’s Invitational, igniting the Vikings to the team championship in the season opener.
“Megan was on cruise control today,” coach Luke Bennett said of her first round of the fall that included six birdies, 10 pars and two bogeys. “It was an easy-looking 68. She took advantage of her length by recording a birdie on all the par 5s and she rolled the ball really well on the greens.
“It is so great to see her play with confidence.”
The two-time second-team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection added a 2-over-par 74 the next day to finish at 2-under 142 and a second-place individual finish. The 68 broke the school record of 69 held by six players and her 36-hole total trails only a 141 set in 2005. Billeter had a field-best nine birdies and played the par 5 holes at 4-under.
By redshirting in the spring and taking advantage of the extra season granted because of the COVID pandemic, Billeter will have two years of eligibility remaining and will be able to play for the Vikings while pursuing her master’s degree.
“Megan’s play was huge for us,” Bennett said of the Vikings’ co-captain. “She played so solid both days, it was awesome to see and have her back in the lineup, as a player and leader.”
Linton Acliese III, a 6-foot-6 forward originally from Richmond, California, is the 11th newcomer to join the Eastern Washington University men’s program, first-year Eagles coach David Riley announced.
Acliese, who graduated from high school in Manvel, Texas, in 2016, played two seasons at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., where he was the first player in school history to receive back-to-back division MVP honors and first-team all-state for the two-time league champions.
He transferred to San Francisco State University, where he played in 2019-20 after taking a medical redshirt in 2018-19. Acliese started 27 of 28 games and averaged 17.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and just over one steal per game.
He was first-team all-league and finished in the top six in five categories: scoring (second), rebounding (fourth), field goal percentage (sixth, 47.8%) and free throw percentage (fifth, 80.2%). He was 11th in blocked shots (12).
Three athletes with area ties received Cascade Collegiate Conference player of the week honors for the period of Sept. 6-12.
Kahea Figueira, a College of Idaho freshman from Mt. Spokane, was the women’s cross country runner of the week after she opened her collegiate career by winning the Central Washington Invite and leading the Yotes to the team title. She covered 4,000m in 15 minutes, 33 seconds.
Logan Hunt, a C of I sophomore from Athol, Idaho (Timberlake HS), received the CCC men’s cross country honor after also winning at Central Washington. He ran 6,000m in 19:27 for his second career victory and fourth career top-three finish. He won by 13 seconds.
Kyle Sanchez, an Oregon Tech junior from Post Falls who anchored the Owls’ defense in two shutout wins, was the CCC men’s soccer recipient. He had several clearances as the defense allowed just two shots on goal in 180 minutes.
• Defending champion Gonzaga shared top honors with Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference women’s golf coaches’ preseason poll and landed three players on the preseason all-conference team.
Senior Quynn Duong, who was fourth in last season’s league championships; junior Cassie Kim, who tied for second in leading GU to its first WCC title; and sophomore Mary Scott Wolfe, who placed 10th, were named to the All-WCC preseason first team.
The Zags opened the 2021-22 season with a 12-stroke victory in the nonconference Hobble Creek Fall Classic last week in Springville, Utah. Freshman Chaewon Baek led the way, tying for second in her collegiate debut with a 1-over 214 for 54 holes. Kim had a career-low 4-under 67 in the third round and finished at 3-over 216.
• Gonzaga was selected to finish last in the West Coast Conference men’s golf coaches’ preseason poll in which defending NCAA Division I and WCC champion Pepperdine was an overwhelming favorite to retain its league title for a fourth straight year.
• The Gonzaga men are ranked No. 27 in the first United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National cross country poll, a spot they held in the final preseason poll, and are ranked fifth in the first West Region poll of the regular season.
Washington is 13th in the national poll and third in the West, where Washington State is seventh and Idaho is 15th.
In the first women’s polls, Washington is 11th nationally and second in the West. Gonzaga retains ninth in the West, which it had in the preseason, while WSU slipped five spots to 10th, from fifth in the preseason, and Idaho dropped to 13th from12th in the preseason.
The Spokane Chiefs acquired two draft picks from the Medicine Hat Tigers, a fourth-rounder in 2022 and an eighth-rounder in 2023, in exchange for 18-year-old forward Owen MacNeil in a trade last week.
The center from Calgary, Alberta, was a second-round pick by the Chiefs in 2018. In 67 games over two seasons, MacNeil scored three goals and added eight assists for the Chiefs with 23 penalty minutes. The move trims the Chiefs’ preseason roster to 15 forwards.
• Byron Bonora, who has been the Chiefs’ bantam scout since the 2014-15 season, has left the team to join Hockey Canada as head scout of its Under-17 program.
Shelby McKay, the Washington State University assistant athletic director of student-athlete development, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Jostens Commitment Award by the Women Leaders in College Sports.
“I would like to thank WSU athletics, Women Leaders in College Sports, and those who nominated me for this award,” said McKay. “Serving student-athletes is my why, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve student-athletes at Washington State University.”
McKay joined the WSU athletic department in January 2020. In her position, she oversees a three-person staff and directs all student-athlete development programming.
“Words can’t properly describe the impact that Shelby has made on WSU athletics in such a short time,” WSU deputy athletic director/COO Bryan Blair said. “Her unwavering commitment to our student-athletes, coupled with her intellect and work ethic, make her an invaluable leader.”
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