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Locally: West Valley graduate Annika Esvelt earns two All-America awards at NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships

May 30, 2022 Updated Mon., May 30, 2022 at 5:18 p.m.

West Valley grad Annika Esvelt took a fourth place and a 10th in distance running at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships.  (Courtesy Seattle Pacific Athletics)
West Valley grad Annika Esvelt took a fourth place and a 10th in distance running at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships. (Courtesy Seattle Pacific Athletics)
From staff and news services

Seattle Pacific sophomore Annika Esvelt of West Valley High School earned two All-America awards at the 2022 NCAA Division II Track & Field Championships in Allendale, Michigan, last week.

Esvelt was awarded a first-team honor for a fourth-place finish in the women’s 10,000, clocking 33 minutes, 51.65 seconds, and made the All-America second team by placing 10th in the 5,000 (16:40.70).

Western Washington freshman Ila Davis from Lewis and Clark HS placed 13th in qualifying for the women’s steeplechase and missed by less than 3 seconds earning one of the 12 qualifying spots for the finals.

• Washington State advanced six athletes out of the NCAA West Preliminaries in Fayetteville, Arkansas, last week to the NCAA Division I Track & Field Championships June 8-11 in Eugene, Oregon, and Gonzaga and Idaho are sending one each.

The Cougars’ delegation includes three men – senior Jacob Englar (pole vault) and grad students Mitch Jacobson (high jump) and Colton Johnsen (steeplechase) – and three women – freshmen Micaela De Mello (110 hurdles) and Valentina Barrios Bornacelli (javelin) and junior Aislinn Overby (high jump).

Jacobson had the Cougars’ best finish, third overall. Johnsen, who won the second heat in the steeplechase, wound up earning the ninth of 12 qualifying spots, and Englar advanced with a ninth-place finish. Bornacelli finished 11th and De Mello and Overby both were 12th to grab the final qualifying spots in their events.

Gonzaga junior James Mwaura, who ran in the 5,000 and 10,000 at the 2021 nationals, qualified for the men’s 10,000 this year with a 12th-place finish in a semifinal in Fayetteville.

Idaho sophomore Lorenz Herrmann used a school-record 1 minute, 46.90 seconds run to finish fourth in a men’s 800 semifinal and move on.

None of the five Eastern Washington Eagles in the West Preliminaries advanced.

• Whitworth sophomore Lauryn Rawls from Garfield used a personal-record throw of 146 feet, 1 inch to claim fourth place in the women’s discus at the NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships in Geneva, Ohio, and earn first-team All-America honors. She was seeded 11th.

Pirates junior Amelia Hewson broke her own school record in the women’s 100 hurdles final, but finished a nonscoring ninth and just missed All-America recognition.

• Eastern Oregon junior TJ Davis from Sandpoint finished second in the men’s decathlon at the NAIA Track & Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and earned his second first-team All-America honor of the school year. The transfer from Community Colleges of Spokane won the pentathlon at the NAIA Indoor Championships.

Davis won the 110 hurdles in the decathlon, was second in the pole vault and the event-finishing 1,500 on the second day after posting top-five finishes in all five events the first day – second 400, third 100, tie for third high jump and fourth in the long jump and shot put.

College scene

Michaela Bayerlova‘s run at the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Singles Championship came to an end Thursday as the Washington State senior lost 6-1, 7-6 to Paola Exposito Diaz-Delgado of Virginia Commonwealth in the quarterfinals at Champaign, Illinois.

It ended a stretch that saw Bayerlova advance further than any previous Cougars by winning three matches to begin the tournament. The first set was all Diaz-Delgado, but the second was back and forth. In the tie breaker, Bayerlova capitalized on four-straight Diaz-Delgado unforced errors to take a 6-4 lead, but was unable to close it out from there.

It also ended arguably the finest tennis season, and career, in program history. Bayerlova finished 2022 with a 20-3 record, which included nine wins over ranked players. Her only losses came to ranked players.

She was named 2022 Pac-12 Conference Singles Player of the Year, the first in school history; 2022 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year; and earned her third All-Pac-12 first-team selection.

Kristof Panke, of Davenport, a freshman at Lewis-Clark State and a men’s co-golfer of the year in the Cascade Collegiate Conference, was named to the 2022 NAIA Men’s Golf Coaches’ Association All-America third team.

Panke, in the top 50 after the first round of the NAIA Nationals May 17-20 in Silvis, Illinois, missed the cut after his second-round 76 took him to a +6 148. He was ranked 41st in NAIA scoring average by Golfstat at 73.17 strokes per round prior to nationals.

• Gonzaga junior outfielder Dylan Johnson was player of the week and sophomore right-hander William Kempner was pitcher of the week as the Bulldogs swept the final West Coast Conference weekly baseball honors on May 23 after clinching the regular-season title at San Diego.

Johnson hit .625 in the three-game series with a team-high five hits, three walks and was hit by a pitch that turned out to produce the winning run in Friday’s series’ opener. Kempner pitched five innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts and two walks in the finale as he lowered his ERA to 0.98 in 272/3 innings, the third lowest in program history.

• Washington State junior designated hitter Jacob McKeon was named to the All-Pac-12 baseball team while redshirt junior reliever Caden Kaelber and senior third baseman Jack Smith received honorable mention.

McKeon earned his first career award after finishing the regular season 10th in the conference in hitting (.348), seventh in on-base percentage (.446) and ninth in slugging percentage (.584). He had team highs in extra base-hits (23), home runs (7), slugging percentage, on-base percentage and walks, and was second on the team in hits (56), doubles (15) and RBIs (32).

Kaelber’s first career honor came after he tied for fourth in the league with seven saves while posting a 1-1 record and 3.64 ERA in 42 innings in 28 appearances. Smith earned his first All-Pac-12 honor after tying for sixth in the conference in hitting (.358) and had team-highs in hits (69), doubles (17) and RBIs (36).

• Led by freshman medalist James Swan, the North Idaho men won a fourth straight Northwest Athletic Conference golf championship last week at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima by 14 strokes over Bellevue with CC Spokane another stroke back in third.

Swan shot 3-over 147 (73-74) to win the individual title . Sophomore Zach Martin of Spokane (150) placed fourth and NIC freshman James Baldauf (151) was in a five-way tie for fifth.

Spokane finished second in the women’s tournament, 12 strokes back of champion Bellevue, with NIC third. Cardinals’ freshman Bella Gopwani (160) tied for second behind Bellevue champion Sarah Lawrence (150). CCS teammates Alyssa Amann (161), a sophomore from West Valley, and freshman Courtney Stratton (167) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

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