On CHS boys tennis

CHS 3

It’s been almost a week since the CHS boys’ tennis team wrapped up their season. This year the Blackhawks (3-5 league, 5-6 overall), who had run the GNL for the last couple of years, finished third in the league standings. It might seem like a downer since the team didn’t get to add another league title to its resume, but considering the lack of experience – only one varsity returner among a team of former JV players and first-year athletes – they did well.

There were a couple of high points this season. In singles play, athletes like Eric Van Wig, Hunter Pohl, Aaron Fillmore and Dixon Gerber contributed to team wins. Several players also shined on doubles – including Logan Ray, Jesse Black and Saul Bautista, who will be graduating this year.

As a doubles team, Gerber and Fillmore picked up wins and finished third in the District 7 tournament.

While it’s a little bittersweet that my coverage of the boys tennis team is done this year, I’m looking forward to next season. The team potentially has a lot of returning players next year who are – to borrow a phrase from Cheney football head coach Bobby Byrd – “battle tested.”

Coach Jesse Erickson said he feels like his guys could win the league next year and he might be right.

Crunch Time: Joshua-Klitschko is a big time boxing bout done right

Note: This is my Crunch Time column I wrote for the May 4 issue of the Cheney Free Press.

Saturday, April 29 will go down as a “knockout” for boxing fans.

In one of the most anticipated heavyweight bouts in recent years, International Boxing Federation champion and British fighter Anthony Joshua successfully defended his title against former heavyweight titleholder Wladimir Klitschko after he stopped him in the 11th round of their fight.

In addition to keeping his title, Joshua claimed the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Organization heavyweight belts in the process. Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs), who is less than four years into his professional boxing career, became the first fighter in 13 years to finish Klitschko.

The fight between Joshua and Klitschko was heralded by boxing fans as one of the best bouts in years.

For me, the bout was like something out of a boxing movie. After the two traded punches for four rounds, Joshua came out fast and furious in the fifth and sent Klitschko to the canvas.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

Katie Taylor wins first pro title, ready for more gold

Note: This is a column I wrote for Champions.

Rising boxing star, Olympic gold medalist and Ireland’s pride and joy, Katie Taylor, took the first big step in her professional boxing career.

Less than one year after her inaugural professional fight, Taylor returned to Wembley Stadium April 29 to defeat WBC youth female super featherweight champion Nina Meinke for the WBA female Inter-Continental lightweight title in a 10-round affair – marking the first 10-round contest of Taylor’s career.

Fighting on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight title main event, Taylor dominated much of the fight with her aggressiveness and combinations. She stopped Meinke in the seventh round to capture her first professional boxing title for her already impressive trophy case.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.

Amanda Serrano Makes History and is Ready for Primetime

Note: This is a column I wrote for Champions

Amanda Serrano etched her names in the annals of boxing last night.

During the undercard of the Shawn Porter vs. Andre Berto showdown, Serrano – in front of a hometown crowd in Brooklyn – knocked out Dahiana Santana in the eighth-round to win the vacant WBO women’s bantamweight championship. The fight was broadcast on Showtime Extreme.

Serrano dominated the fight from the get-go, landing lefts and body shots. The ringside doctor almost stopped in the fourth and seventh rounds after Santana had swelling over both eyes.

In the eighth round, Serrano delivered some devastating shots in that forced the referee to stop the fight. According to CompuBox statistics, Serrano landed 152 of her 486 punches – compared to Santana, who connected with 60 out of her 293 shots.

With this latest addition to her impressive trophy case, Serrano has become the first woman fighter, as well as the first Puerto Rican competitor in the Sweet Science, to win championships in five weight classes. Besides bantamweight, “The Real Deal” has held belts in the junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight divisions. What’s impressive is while most fighters will move up in weight to win championships, Serrano has dropped down in weight for her world titles – lightweight to bantamweight.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

Jorina Baars makes successful Bellator kickboxing debut

Note: This is a piece I wrote for Champions.co

Kickboxing star Jorina Baars added another notch to her combat sports career during last night’s Bellator 177/Kickboxing 6 event in Budapest Hungary.

In her first foray in a Bellator ring – that’s still weird to say – Baars picked up a decision win against Italian fighter Irene Martens.

Baars landed some good hits throughout the contest, even knocking Martens down in the third frame. It was a good performance for Baars, who in a post-fight interview, said she looked forward to future fights in Bellator.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.

Katie Taylor on the track to stardom

Irish boxer Katie Taylor is less than six months into her professional fighting career – she’s already 4-0 with two finished on her record. Taylor is days removed from her win against Bulgarian Milena Koleva.

While Taylor has only four professional fights under her belt, it seems the roadmap to her first world championship has already been laid out.

In an interview with RTE, Taylor’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, said “three fights tops” before she fights for a title.

Taylor’s next fight is scheduled for April 29 on the undercard of the world heavyweight title clash between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium. She is also scheduled to compete in her fight in the United States in May or June, according to Hearn. He added that Taylor will have July off, then fight in September and return to the ring in November for her first title fight.

No opponents have been announced for any of Taylor’s upcoming fights.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.

West Plains sports teams are as exciting as GU if given a chance

Note: This is a Crunch Time column I wrote for the March 30 issue of the Cheney Free Press. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017 will go down in history for Gonzaga basketball fans as it was the day the Bulldogs earned their first trip to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament after they defeated Xavier.

While most of my friends were watching the game and cluttering social media with pictures and posts, celebrating the Bulldogs’ win, I was watching the Cheney High baseball team come back from a one-run deficit to defeat Lakeside, 3-2, then turnaround and beat Medical Lake, 5-4.

I get it. It’s March Madness and men’s college basketball is king, especially in a city like Spokane whose love for the Bulldogs knows no bounds.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been a Gonzaga fan. I graduated from Eastern Washington University and I root for the Eagles. I’m also a Spokane Falls Community College graduate and I try and keep up with Community Colleges of Spokane athletics — which, no offense to Swoop and Spike the Bulldog, has one of the coolest mascots in college athletics: Skitch the Sasquatch.

Before you get on my case about being a “Zag hater,” I do want to give props to head coach Mark Few and his team for making it to the Final Four for the first time in the program’s history.

Yet what’s been grinding my gears lately is how the fans treat Gonzaga like they are the only great sports team in the area.

GU has had a successful program — making the NCAA tournament for 19 consecutive years. However, the Bulldogs are not the only successful team in Spokane County. There are a lot of good programs at different levels in the area, especially on the West Plains.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.