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Locally: Spokane area graduates Libby Michael, Mercedes Cullen pick up GNAC Conference player of the week awards

Sept. 12, 2022 Updated Mon., Sept. 12, 2022 at 6:51 p.m.

Deer Park High School graduate Libby Michael, center, was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the week for her performance at the Puget Sound Invitational while running for Seattle Pacific.  (Courtesy Seattle Pacific Athletics)
Deer Park High School graduate Libby Michael, center, was named Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the week for her performance at the Puget Sound Invitational while running for Seattle Pacific. (Courtesy Seattle Pacific Athletics)
From staff and news services

Two former Spokane area high school athletes at Seattle Pacific earned Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the week awards on Sept. 6 for the third week of the fall season.

Libby Michael, a sophomore from Nine Mile Falls and a Deer Park High School graduate, was the women’s cross country recipient after winning the first official collegiate cross country meet of her career, the Puget Sound Invitational on Sept. 3. She ran 5,000 meters in 18 minutes, 57 seconds in leading the Falcons to victory with a perfect score of 15 points.

Between injuries and pandemic shutdowns, Michael had run just one event in her first three years, an unofficial meet in February 2021.

“To see her get a win was so great, because she has been through a lot,” said SPU associate head coach/distance coach Chris Reed. “We saw a lot of her talent and abilities last spring (in track), but cross country has always been that really elusive thing for her. I’m so happy for her. She deserves it, 100 percent. And I love the way she raced today.”

Mercedes Cullen, the Falcons’ freshman goalkeeper from Mead, earned women’s soccer defensive honors after posting 1-0 shutouts in her first two collegiate games. She had two saves on seven shots against San Francisco State and six saves on 13 shots against Chico State.

“Mercedes has stepped in and played well beyond her years,” said head coach Arby Busey. “She’s shown great maturity and leadership qualities on the field.”

Carter Gordon, a Lewis-Clark State sophomore from Lake City, was the top non-NCAA Division I runner in the NW Clash on Sept. 1 in Cheney, finishing 13th in the field of 71 over the 6K distance in 19:15.9, and was named Cascade Collegiate Conference men’s cross country runner of the week.

• Fifth-year senior Laura Jansen, who led Washington State in kills in three straight matches, was named most valuable player of the Cougar Challenge volleyball tournament last week. She had 14 kills in WSU’s 3-1 win over Cal State Bakersfield in the championship match. Cougars sophomore Katy Ryan (Lakeland of Rathdrum) also was named to the all-tournament team.

• Former Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura of Arizona was named Pac-12 football’s Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career after throwing for 299 yards and four touchdowns on 29 of 35 passes in the Wildcats’ 38-20 win at San Diego State on Sept. 3. The sophomore is 6-0 in his career when passing for three of more TDs in a game.

De Laura completed 23 of 45 passes for 220 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in a 39-17 loss to Mississippi State in Week 2 on Saturday.

• North Idaho is second in the first NWAC volleyball coaches’ poll of 2022 and the Cardinals are tied for sixth in the first women’s soccer coaches’ poll. Community Colleges of Spokane is fourth in the women’s soccer coaches poll but is not among 14 schools ranked or receiving votes in volleyball.


Whitworth launched Pirate FanFest Tailgates last Saturday against Eastern Oregon for its home opener and will continue the parties Saturday mornings ahead of the remainder of its 2022 home football games (Sept. 17, Oct. 8 and 29, Nov. 12).

Beginning at 10 a.m., the Loop Road outside the Pine Bowl will be closed, inflatable bouncy houses, obstacle courses and fan-favorite yard games will be set up, music will play and food will be served, the school announced.

The events are open to the community and are free. Fans were reminded that Whitworth is a “dry” campus, so consumption of alcohol is not permitted during tailgating or games.

• The NCAA announced the Division I FCS Championship game will move to a Sunday in 2023, airing live on ABC on Jan. 8 at 11 a.m. PT, in Frisco, Texas. The FCS playoffs involve the Big Sky Conference, which includes Eastern Washington and Idaho.


The Idaho Panhandle had a major presence at the top of the leaderboard of the Pacific Northwest Section PGA Senior Championship that wound up Friday at Astoria, Oregon.

Jeff Gove from The Idaho Club in Sandpoint posted a three-shot victory with a 6-under-par 138 (67-71) for 36 holes, and Billy Bomar from Bomar Putting Company of Post Falls tied for second at 141 (72-69) with 2021 winner Bob Rannow of Ocean Dunes (Oregon) Golf Links.

Gove’s 67 in the first round was the low round of the tournament and Bomar’s 69 was low in the second round. Gove, Bomar and Rannow are among five from the PNW who qualified for the 2022 Senior PGA Professional Championship Oct. 13-16 at Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.


Cameron Parr, a 16-year-old winger from La Salle, Manitoba, the Spokane Chiefs’ fifth-round selection (97th overall) in the 2021 Western Hockey League prospects draft, has signed a standard WHL player agreement, the team announced.

Parr had 11 goals and 26 assists in the Manitoba U18 league last season and made a strong impression on the Chiefs’ staff at the recent training camp in the arena with his “skating, skill and competitiveness,” general manager Matt Bardsley said. Parr was on Team Tokarski that won the Chiefs Cup in the Red-White championship game that capped training camp.


Sixteen individuals will be honored at the Spokane Metro Softball Hall of Fame induction Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. at the Eagles Lodge, 6416 N. Lidgerwood, at 5 p.m., with 15 in the Class of 2022 and one receiving the SMS distinguished service award.

Tickets are available by contacting hall of fame board member Don Love at 509 467-5328.

The inductees: Jackie Williams, women’s slow pitch player and coach; Renee Stewart, women’s modified pitch, coed slow pitch, coach, administrator; Bryan Adams, men’s modified pitch and CoSP; Buzz Adams, men’s fast pitch, men’s major modified pitch; Al Carlson, MSP, CoSP; Cam Preston, MSP, men’s major fastpitch, coach, umpire.

Duane Bordwell, MFP, CoSP; Jeff Jordan, MFP, MMFP, CoSP, coach; Larry Dixon, MSP, MMFP, CoSP; Jack Ensminger, MSP, MMFP; Ron Newcomb, MSP, CoSP; Gary Torgerson, MMFP; John Porter, MMFP; Dean Wilcox, MSP, MMFP; and Gary Perkins, MSP, MMFP, coach.

Chuck Stewart, retired former 16-year Spokane Amateur Softball Association umpire in chief, will receive the Denny Waltermire Distinguished Service Award “for his lifelong commitment to umpiring and to softball in general in Spokane,” said Love.


Ben Tafoya picked up a second and a third to lead the showing by Spokane Junior Rifle Club members at the Montana State Outdoor Prone and 3-Position Championships Aug. 6-7.

The 19-year-old Spokane Community College student shot the best score in the prone event, 1,593 out of a possible 1,600, but had to settle for the silver medal because he is not a Montana resident. He earned bronze in 3-position, shooting 1,059 out 1,200. Contestants used small bore (0.22) rifles with iron sights. Scopes were not allowed.

Sean Kegley, 17, who is home schooled, was SJRC’s second-highest finisher in both events, placing fourth in prone (1,579) and seventh in 3-position (1,008). SJRC had eight of the 13 entries in prone and seven of 12 in 3-position.

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