Gonna head south — way south — for some sunny weather and
I don’t think I’ll find a sports bar in Adelaide, Australia,
where I can watch the Alamo Bowl, but you never know.
My gut says the Huskies and Baylor Bears will lock up in a
pinball war: points and yards will be coming that fast in what
could be the most entertaining shootout in recent memory: The
final: Baylor 56, Washington 43.
My gut also says that Prince Fielder won’t be holding any press
conferences soon in Seattle. If the price and number of years comes
down, maybe the M’s have a shot. If the Seattle can get him for
$100 over five or six years, then maybe it’ll happen. But with
agent Scott Boras calling the shots, it’s hard to imagine that will
My gut says I should have lost some weight before heading Down
Under. But the Aussies on the west coast are experiencing one of
the hottest summers on record, so maybe I’ll melt some pounds off
Before I head home to put some cookies out for St. Nick, here’s
some dates to remember:
Tuesday, Dec. 27: the East-West Alumni
basketball games, 6 p.m., Bremerton HS. Great event if you’re a
Jan. 14: The Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame
banquet, sponsored by the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, will be held
at the Baymont Inn and Suites. Tickets ($30) are available at Team
Sports (at its new location in Riddell Square, east Bremerton;
Hi-Joy Bowl in Port Orchard and the Baymont).
Jan. 25: The 77th annual Seattle Sports Star of
the year awards banquet at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle.
Bremerton swimmer Nathan Adrian and hydoplane driver Dave Villwock,
a Port Orchard native, are nominated in their categories. You can
vote online. Go
here to vote, buy tickets etc.
I’ll leave you with a list of some of the year’s top local
stories. If I missed something, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for our year-end story next
Happy holidays and best wishes to everyone.
Ryan Villopoto: RV had one greatest seasons
ever for a motocross/supercross rider. After badly breaking his leg
in 2010, Villopoto won 6 of 17 in the AMA Supercross season to nail
down that championship then rode off with 10 more victories in 24
starts to claim the outdoor Motocross trophy. He helped USA win
motocross of champions., You know he’s big stuff when he gets a
shoe (Vans) named after him.
Kitsap Pumas: The Pumas won a national
championship in third year of operation, and pushed the Sounders to
the brink in a U.S. Open Cup playoff game at Starfire. It didn’t
come without some turmoil. Executive director Ben Pecora resigns at
the end of the season and owner Robin Waite doesn’t bring back
coach Peter Fewing. Pumas assistant and OC head coach James Ritchie
is named head coach for the coming year. Rumor has it the Pumas are
already guaranteed a spot in the U.S. Open Cup because of a change
in format, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.
Nathan Adrian: The Bremerton swimmer —
America’s best hope for a gold medal in the 50- and 100-meter
freestyle events at the 2012 London Olympics — continued to collect
NCAA, national and international titles. The academic All-American
from Cal has established himself as one of the elite swimmers in
the world. I’ve got a hunch he’s going to be at the top of the list
a year from now.
Willie Blooomquist: The Port Orchard native had
his best MLB season, starting for Diamondbacks at the game’s most
important defensive position — shortstop — in the heat of a pennant
race. He batted leadoff, played well in postseason and was rewarded
with a 2-year, $3.6 million deal (turned down $4.6M from Giants). A
nice feel-good story for a nice, hard-nosed guy who finally proved
that he’s a lot more valuable than a lot of people have given him
credit for over the years.
Troy Kelly: A year after hip replacement
surgery, he nailed down a PGA Tour card after finishing 11th on the
Nationwide Tour. He won over $200,000 and now has a second chance
to make a name for himself on golf’s biggest stage. He’s hired a
personal trainer, dropped 15 pounds and those who know him say he’s
mentally and physically in the best spot he’s ever been.
Erynne Lee: PNGA and Washington State Female
Golfer of the Year played in the U.S. Women’s Open for a second
time, got back to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Women’s Amateur,
won a state high school title, a state women’s amateur title and is
now a freshman at No. 1-ranked UCLA. Year ended on a sad note as
her mom, Debbie Lee, died in mid-November after suffering a heart
attack and stroke while in South Korea.
The U.S. Junior Amateur: The folks at
Gold Mountain did another masterful job of putting on a national
golf tournament on the Olympic Course. From the opening dinner on
the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, which featured Johnny Miller, to the
championship match, won by Dallas’ Jordan Spieth, it was a
magnificent week. It’s possible an NCAA Championship could be in
Gold Mountain’s future plans.
The Year of the Wrestler: The top high school
story was about Kitsap wrestlers, who won 8 titles and had 13
wrestlers in the finals at Mat Classic. Pretty remarkable stuff for
a bunch of the hardest working and toughest athletes around.
Kingston: The next-best high school story
revolved around the Kingston Bucs, who went from doormat to a
third-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament under the
direction of first-year coach Blake Conley.
Kitsap Bears: The Bears, a collection of guys
who are passionate about football, rolled out for weekly practices
and dominated the local northwest semi-pro scene. The Bears
reached the North American Football League title game. Three months
later, owner Don Purser announced that the team will take the 2012
OC soccer: Men’s team comes out of nowhere and
makes a spirited run to the NWAACC finals before coming up short in
the title game. You had to be there to really appreciate what this
Drew Vettleson: Central Kitsap star, the 42nd
overall pick in the 2010 baseball draft, got his professional
career off to a solid start, earning MVP honors for his
rookie-league team at Princeton (W.Va). You get the feeling it was
just the start of big things for the likeable right-fielder who
gained famed at a young age for his ability to pitch with either
arm. The Tampa Rays player was rated the sixth-best major league
prospect in the Appalachian League. Vettleson hit .282 for
the Rays with seven home runs, 13 doubles, four triples
and 20 stolen bases in 61 games.
Steven Gray: One of West Sound’s all-time best
players capped a great four-year basketball career at Gonzaga,
enjoying some of his best games against big-time NCAA competition.
The All-West Coast Conference guard, a free spirit who grew up in
Chimacum and Bainbridge, is playing professionally with a first
division club in Latvia.
BlueJackets: Matt Acker, the only coach in
BlueJackets’ history and a really good guy and good coach, resigns
to spend more time with his family. The college summer team
struggles to put fans in the seats, but you’ve got to give the
local ownership group props for hanging tough. They said they’re in
it for the long haul, and they haven’t waivered, even when it meant
digging into their own pockets for more money. Olympic College head
coach Ryan Parker, a three-year assistant to Acker, is the new
coach and he immediately goes out and signs local products Andy
Smith (North Kitsap/Bellevue CC/Liberty University, Va.), Tyler
Baumgartner (Central Kitsap/Bellevue CC and he’s signed with Oregon
for next year), and Daniel Jewitt (North Kitsap/Truman State, Mo.)
to play for the Jackets. That’s a good start toward putting butts
in the seats.
BMX King: Port Orchard’s Josh Klatman, a
19-year-old student at Olympic College, ends the year as the No.
1-ranked amateur rider in his age group for the second straight
year. BMX is an Olympic sport and if Klatman wanted to pursue a
berth, he’d have a chance to make the team. He’s that good.
Dave Villwock: How could I forget the Port
Orchard unlimited hydroplane driver, the all-time winningest in the
sport’s history? Super Dave, one of the most intelligent athletes
I’ve come to know, keeps motoring along, breaking records and
proving that he just might be the best to ever pilot one of those