Gonzaga University men’s basketball, former Zags All-American Corey Kispert, Washington State women’s basketball and Eastern Washington football All-American Eric Barriere are among 21 finalists in three categories for the Seattle Sports Commission’s 87th Sports Star of the Year Awards.
Winners, selected for their achievements during 2021, will be announced May 26 at the Westin Hotel in Seattle. Fan voting took place Jan. 18-23.
Gonzaga, which went 31-0 before losing to Baylor in the championship game of the NCAA Tournament, and the WSU women, who broke into the nation’s Top 25 for the first time in program history and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time, are among seven in the Sports Story of the Year category.
The other finalists are the Seattle Kraken, which made their long-awaited NHL debut; OL Reign star Quinn, who helped her native Canada beat Sweden in the women’s soccer finals at the Tokyo Olympics; the University of Washington’s Pac-12 champion women’s volleyball team that made it to the NCAA Final Four; the UW men’s soccer team that reached the championship game of the NCAA tournament for the first time; and Climate Pledge Arena’s dazzling debut.
Joining Kispert, a consensus first-team All-American, and Barriere, the Walter Payton Award winner as the top offensive player in the FCS, as finalists in the Men’s Sports Star of the Year category are: UW rowing, which swept to a 19th national championship; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders captain and an MLS All-Star Game starter; Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger for his strong comeback from injuries; Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks receiver who had a record-breaking season; and Dylan Teves, UW soccer, who scored back-to-back hat tricks in the NCAA Tournament.
Women’s Sports Star of the Year finalists are Gabbie Plain, UW softball All-America pitcher; Jess Fishlock, OL Reign midfielder, the NWSL Most Valuable Player; Ella May Powell, UW volleyball’s repeat Pac-12 Setter of the Year; Sophia Chiczuk, Seattle Pacific’s first first-team All-America soccer player; Nevin Harrison of Seattle, Olympic gold-medal canoeist; Katie Holloway, MVP of the USA’s gold-medal Paraympic volleyball team; and Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm’s first-team WNBA guard and USA Olympian.
A couple of veteran assistant coaches with ties to the Palouse are among the latest additions to new Idaho coach Jason Eck’s staff.
Stanley Franks Jr., a record-setting defensive back for the Vandals in 2006 who spent the last two seasons at Washington State as a defensive quality control coach, has been hired as Idaho’s cornerbacks coach.
David Lose, whose coaching itinerary includes six seasons at Washington State (2011-16) as a defensive assistant, joins the Vandals as defensive line coach. He spent the last four seasons as a defensive quality control analyst at his alma mater, Oregon State.
As a Vandal, Franks set the Idaho single-season interception record with nine in 2006, a mark that led the NCAA and helped earn him first-team All-WAC and Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-America. He played three seasons for the BC Lions of the CFL (2009-11) and one with the Spokane Shock (2009).
After coaching two seasons at Ferris HS (2010-11) and one as defensive coordinator for the Shock (2012), his resume includes stops at Idaho State (2013-17), the BC Lions (2017-18) and Cabrillo (California) Community College (2019) before arriving at WSU.
Lose, who played at Oregon State in the early 2000s and spent five seasons in the Arena Football League-2, was defensive line coach at Portland State (2017-18) before going to WSU. He also coached two seasons at Saint Paul’s College (2009-10) after starting his coaching journey at his alma mater, Luther Burbank HS in Sacramento (2006-08).
High school scene
Dave DeMers, whose name is synonymous with high school track and field in Sandpoint (the school’s track and field complex is named in his honor), was the recipient of the Idaho State Coaches Association 2021 Track and Field Distinguished Coach of the Year Award.
A 1978 Sandpoint graduate, DeMers focused his attention on track and field after a knee injury ended his football career at Boise State in 1979, and he set the school record in the javelin in his first year.
He stepped down as track coach at Sandpoint in 2015 after 27 years but continues as an assistant, focusing on the jumps and hurdles. He retired from the Lake Pend Oreille School District in 2018 after 34 years as a teacher, coach and athletic director. He also coached football and basketball and was the middle school A.D. for 26 years.
DeMers led Sandpoint to its only state championship, winning the 4A title in 2003, and this past spring, his latest protégé, Braden Kappen, won the State 4A boys long jump. The Bulldogs placed fourth, earning the school’s first state trophy since 2004.
Bear Hughes, a forward from Post Falls and fifth-round selection of the Washington Capitals in the 2020 NHL entry draft, has been named the 35th captain in Spokane Chiefs’ franchise history, filling a void left when Jack Finley was traded recently to Winnipeg.
To fill out their leadership group for the balance of the 2021-22 season, the Chiefs also named forward Blake Swetlikoff and defenseman Raegan Wiles full-time alternate captains and forwards Erik Atchison and Reed Jacobson and defenseman Graham Sward alternate captains on a part-time basis.
Taylor Christian of the Spokane Junior Rifle Club, a sophomore at the University of Memphis, won the 2022 women’s individual Washington State USA Junior Olympic Air Rifle Championship Dec. 11-12.
The Spokane Valley Tech graduate scored 583 out of a maximum 600, taking 10 shots in the standing position from 10 meters. Winning a gold medal earned the 19-year-old an automatic spot in the National Junior Olympics Championships in May in Hillsdale, Michigan.
Anna Pearsall, 19, an Eastern Washington University student, finished eighth in the 15-shooter women’s field with a 549.
SJRC had two top-four placers in the 23-shooter men’s competition. Ben Tafoya, 18, Spokane Falls CC, shot 555 to finish third and capture the bronze medal, and Garrett Pearsall, 17, Mt. Spokane HS, shot 548 for fourth.
The SJRC Gold team – Christian, Tafoya and Pearsall – earned the silver medal in the team competition, losing the gold in a tiebreaker.
Madeline Gotta, a former Gonzaga University team captain, three-time All-WCC selection and third-team United Soccer Coaches Academic All-American as a senior in 2019 (3.58 GPA), has rejoined the women’s program as director of operations, head coach Chris Watkins announced.
Gotta is eighth in program history with 37 points, her 13 goals 10th all-time and 11 assists sixth. She was All-WCC second team in 2017 and 2018 after being named to the All-Freshman Team and honorable mention All-WCC in 2016. Following graduation, she played professionally in Spain, Iceland and Sweden.
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