Blackhawks go 2-1 in Great Northern play

SPTS baseball 1//

The Cheney High baseball team came off a busy week of Great Northern League play that included a 6-2 road loss to West Valley, March 29 and wins over Pullman, 7-6, April 1 and East Valley, 10-5, April 2.

In the West Valley game, Cheney took an early lead after scoring one run in the first inning. West Valley tied the game at 1-1 after they scored a run in the bottom of the first, then took the lead after they scored one run in the third inning, then added one run in the fifth and three more in the sixth. The Blackhawks capped their scoring with one run in the seventh inning.

Chance Gleave’s two hits and Riley Jones’ double were among the Blackhawks’ offensive highlights. Trey Martin and Harrison King added one hit each.

In the Pullman game, the Greyhounds took a 4-0 lead after the third inning. The Blackhawks got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning with two runs, and then added two in the fourth inning and one more in the fifth to take the lead. After the Greyhounds pulled ahead, 6-5, in the seventh inning King hit a fielders choice to bring in the tying run for Cheney. Logan Pratt hit an RBI to bring in the winning run and clinch the win for the Blackhawks.

Pratt had three hits for the day while King, Jones and Gleave each had two. Cade VanWormer had a double.

The Blackhawks continued their momentum in the East Valley game. Down 1-0, the Blackhawks scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning including VanWormer’s RBI that brought in Gleave. They upped the lead with three more runs in the fourth inning. The Knights added one run in the second inning and three more in the seventh.

Witt, Gleave, VanWormer, Martin and Jones had two hits while Ty Graham and Jones added one.

On the mound, Graham (1-2) picked up his first win in the East Valley game and took a loss at West Valley. Cameron Wiseman (2-1) earned a win in the Pullman game after he took over in the sixth inning.

Cheney (3-2 GNL, 5-4 overall) is in second-place in the league standings. They traveled to Clarkston to play the Bantams (3-1, 4-1) in a GNL game, April 5. After a week off, they’ll travel to Pullman April 12 to face the Greyhounds in a league doubleheader.

The Bantams came into the Cheney game with league wins over Pullman (5-4) and West Valley (13-5).

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Cheney girls’ tennis tops NC, Deer Park

Tennis 9//

After a sweep of Greater Spokane League’s North Central, 7-0, March 30 and a win over Northeast A League’s Deer Park, 6-1, March 31, the Cheney High girls’ tennis team is finding their stride.

All of Cheney’s singles players won their matches. Bridget Calvert, No. 1 singles, defeated North Central’s Hana Nelson (6-1, 6-1) and Deer Park’s Katie Francis (3-6, 6-3, 6-3).

Emily Howard, who returned to action at the No. 2 spot, shut out her NC opponent – name not available – (6-0, 6-0), then defeated the Stags’ Stephanie Helgin (6-0, 6-2).

Alannah Lewis, who moved to No. 3, kept her winning streak alive with wins over NC’s Abby Colestock (6-0, 6-1) and Deer Park’s Wendy Rothermel (6-1, 6-0). Caitlyn Strong, No. 4, had wins over NC’s Julie Socha (6-1, 6-0) and Deer Park’s Eden Daniels (6-0, 6-2).

In doubles action, Sadie Knutson and Shayla Payne, No. 1, captured their first two wins of the season over the Indians’ Nadina Mikalievie and Zoe Zywink (6-3, 6-1) and the Stags’ Natasha Root and Hadley Dotts (6-1, 7-6).

No. 2’s Zeb Potter, who moved from singles to doubles, and Taylor Gould, earned their first win as a team after they shut out NC’s Nytech Durtan and Chase Johnson (6-0, 6-0).

Amparo Conteras and Danica Gary, No. 3, went 2-0 after wins over the Indians’ Alexes Vince and Caitlyn Michaeli (6-3, 6-2) and the Stags’ Natalie Irish and Kyra DeLeon (6-2, 6-2).

After Spring Break, Cheney, 5-1, enters Great Northern League play April 12 with a home match against East Valley.

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Crunch Time: Goodbye Diva, hello Superstars

Blue ring

Note: This is my Crunch Time column that was published in this week’s issue of the Cheney Free Press.

I know I’ve written this before but I just want to get it out of the way. Yes, I know professional wrestling — or sports entertainment as it’s known in some circles — is scripted. But rather than getting into the argument of “fake vs. real,” I wanted to touch on some of the recent developments in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) from this past week, specifically relating to their women’s division.

Hey, if ESPN can do live updates from WrestleMania last Sunday’s (April 3) and devote weekly segments to WWE’s “Raw” — not to mention Shaquille O’Neal’s appearance in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal — then maybe it’s not so bad to have professional wrestling pop up in the local sports column.

One of the matches at WrestleMania was a three-way bout — called a triple threat match — between Charlotte (real name Ashley Fliehr), Sasha Banks (Mercedes Kaestner-Varnado) and Becky Lynch (Rebecca Quin) for the newly established WWE Women’s Championship. This was promoted as one WrestleMania’s bigger matches and treated with the same respect as the main event bouts featuring the WWE’s male performers.

All three women made grand entrances on their way to the ring. They were given enough time to put on a great performance and tell a good story. To put it simple, these three women stole the show and were one of the few bright spots in what many considered a lackluster WrestleMania.

The event also marked the last time WWE would use the term “Diva” for how they referred to the women performers on their roster. While this may not seem like a big deal to some folks, if you’ve been watching wrestling — specifically the WWE — for as long as I have, it’s quite a shift the company is making, and a positive one at that.

For the last six years women on the WWE’s roster were presented as “Divas” instead of “wrestlers” or “superstars” and were essentially marketed for their looks over their in-ring abilities.

There was the Divas division — complete with a championship belt that was shaped like a butterfly and most “Divas” who did wrestle were as talented as the men, but their matches would only get 4-5 minutes — if they were lucky — and they weren’t able to put on the quality of performances like the men. At one time WWE had a “women’s championship” but their matches played second fiddle to the men.

The triple threat match between Charlotte, Banks and Lynch, which was on the upper half of the card, was 16 minutes and 5 seconds long. It is the longest match involving women — that includes championship bouts, battle royals and mixed-tag team matches — held at a WrestleMania in its 32 years.

But this movement wasn’t something that happened overnight. The change in how WWE portrayed women’s wrestling didn’t start with their main roster but with their developmental brand, NXT. To put it simple, if WWE is a major league baseball team than NXT is their AAA.

While the WWE’s Divas were wrestling short matches on the main roster, the women in NXT were given as much time as the men to put on quality matches and were billed on the same level as the men. In the last 18 months, NXT has featured a plethora of matches where the women shined, many of them featuring the three aforementioned athletes. A two-match series between Banks and Bayley (Pamela Rose Martinez) was the talk of the wrestling world this past summer. Their first match in August won numerous “Match of the Year” awards while their last match in October was a 30-minute Iron Man match.

Wrestling fans and women on WWE’s main shows were beginning to take notice and demanded change going as far as to ask the WWE to “give Divas a chance.”

During the summer, the WWE brought in Charlotte, Banks and Lynch as a part of their “Divas Revolution” storyline and the three were main players. After learning to adapt to WWE’s style, Charlotte became the Divas champion and worked with Lynch and Banks on the way to Wrestlemania.

There were a lot of things about Wrestlemania that people griped about, but I think promoting the women in the same light the men is a good sign for the future, not just in for women in WWE, but for women’s wrestling as a whole.

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UFC 200 gets Nate Diaz v. Conor McGregor, Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo rematches

Just some thoughts I had on the recently announced rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz

Well fight fans the UFC announced that the rematch between Nate Diaz and UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor in a welterweight match. The two squared off at UFC 196 where Diaz submitted the Irish champion in the second round.

This makes sense from a business standpoint. It helped generate the best pay per view revenue for the UFC. That said, I still feel like this is too soon. Everyone knows the UFC gives McGregor special treatment and this is a chance for him to avenge the worst loss in his career.

I’m not so much against the match, I just wish it wasn’t the main event. You’ve got an interim featherweight title match between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar which should have top billing.

But I’m not running the UFC so it’s not my call.

That said, I do like that Aldo and Edgar are squaring off to see and there’s a title on the line. I know some people don’t like the idea of interim titles. Personally I think they’re great in the right situation, specifically if a fighter cannot defend their belt due to injury or they don’t want to. Critics could say the UFC is throwing a bone at Aldo and Edgar who are no doubt displeased at not getting a crack at McGregor – right away. UFC president Dana White said the winner of that fight faces McGregor to unify the titles.

I was also a fan of the first Edgar and Aldo fight so this could be a good one.

The rest of the card looks pretty solid, I’ll probably have more thoughts on those bouts in the weeks to come.

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Fight Theater: Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez

Demetrious Johnson defended his belt for the third time when he beat Joseph Benavidez in 2013. Johnson still holds his flyweight title and defends it again at UFC 197 when he takes on Henry Cejudo.

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Cheney boys, girls golf teams begin GNL play

Golf Bag

Golf Bag

The Cheney High boys and girls golf teams began Great Northern League competition last week. The boys took second place with 468 points in the GNL tournament, March 22, at Clarkston. The girls finished third with 57 points, one stroke behind East Valley at the March 24 league tournament.

Team scores in the girls’ tournament were calculated via the modified Stableford Scoring system where the highest total of points wins instead of the lowest. The girls’ tournament was only nine holes due to weather conditions. According to girls’ head coach Gerald Morton, the GNL thought nine holes was enough to take scores and not have to reschedule the tournament.

On the boys’ side, Tyler Koohns took home top individual honors, shooting a 78. Other top finishers for Cheney include Elijah Palmer hitting an 86.

The boys team also competed in the Wenatchee Invite at the Three Lakes Golf Course, March 25. Koohns finished eighth overall after he shot an 84. Other top finishers for Cheney included Ian Hill with 108, Logan Klauss with 109 and Carter Rowe with 121.

“Ian Hill shot a personal best,” boys’ head coach Jeff Pike said. “The weather is getting better and we’re getting more time in at practice.”

As a team Cheney finished seventh out of eight teams in 1A/2A schools with a team score of 422.

On the girls’ side, Cheyanne Marchand finished third overall with a 25. Head coach Gerald Morton said Marchand was not happy with her overall scoring, but he felt she was “shooting lights out” during the tournament.

“I literally watched her chip 18 inches from the hole, keeping it low and purposely running it to the hole to keep the wind out of play,” Morton said. “The ball came to a stop for an easy putt, as a gust of wind grabbed it and pushed it all the way off the green.”

Morton added that when Marchand “loses confidence” in a shot, she will work on it “over and over” during practice.

Other top finishers for the Cheney girls include Kelsey Smith and Hannah Lemelin both shooting an 11, Katarina Ljbisic hitting a 7 and Evie Rowe with 3.

“I could not have been more pleased with the way the girls played,” Morton said. “The freshmen stepped up to score enough points for us. We were edged out by one point by EV but I feel confident that when we are at full strength and with the work effort of some of my freshmen we will take over the No. 2 spot.”

Before the GNL match, Marchand took second in the Shriver Cup, March 24, shooting an 80, one point behind tournament champion Mt. Spokane’s Cailin Spencer (79).

Both teams will have spring break off. The boys will compete in the Deer Park Invite, April 11. The girls will compete in the Palouse Ridge Invite, April 12.

“We don’t have any league tournaments for a while so we’ll be getting more practice in.”

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Sasha Banks’ Wrestlemania diary

Wrestlemania is coming up fight fans and one of the many things I’m excited about is the triple threat Divas title match between Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. I’ve been vocal about my love for Banks, who is my favorite wrestler – man or woman – and seeing her get this great opportunity to have her first Wrestlemania moments – along with Lynch and Charlotte – is great.

WWE started posting videos of Banks’ “Wrestlemania Diary.” Above is her workout video. There are more below.

Sasha Banks channels another “Boss” with Edge & Christian
Edge, Christian and a fully costumed Sasha Banks take some time to chat with the cameras as they film an upcoming episode of “The Edge & Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness” for WWE Network.

Sasha Banks packs for “The Road”
The Boss cannot contain her excitement for WrestleMania, both at home and at the airport, as she prepares to touch down in Texas for WrestleMania week.

A letter from 10-year-old Sasha Banks

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