Category Archives: Ryan Villopoto

Villopoto clinches third straight Supercross title

There has never been a doubt, and now there’s absolutely no debate: Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto ranks among THE very best AMA Supercross riders in the history of the sport.

Villopoto joined Bob Hannah, Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath as the only riders to win three straight 450cc class titles in a row when he won his ninth race of the season on Saturday night at Salt Lake City.

I caught a recent airing of the CBS special: “Ryan Villopoto: A Champion” and it not only gives you a lot of insight into the sport, but into his personal life, where he spent three years estranged from his Poulsbo family. If you get a chance to see it, I recommend it.

In the meantime, congrats to RV and his crew. He finishes the regular supercross season at Las Vegas on May 4, then it’s off to the motocross season, which he missed a year ago after blowing out a knee in his race in Seattle.

Villopoto chats

The Seattle TImes had a live chat with Poulsbo’s supercross superstar Ryan Villopto.

During the chat, Villopoto said he won’t retire at the end of the season. He’s signed a three-year contract with most of his sponsors and will race at least that long.

Villopto and the AMA Supercross tour is in Seattle for its annual stop this week. Race day is Saturday at CenturyLink Field. It’s really quite a show. If you haven’t experienced it, I recommend it.


Links: Villopoto, The Glove, The Chinese Golf Prodigy & More

The Seattle Supercross race takes place Saturday, April 20, at CenturyLink Field. Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto might have another series title clinched by then. He’s won five straight races and six of the last seven.

Seahawks broadcaster Warren Moon, during an interview in Minnesota, says wide receiver Percy Harvin could be the piece that elevates Seattle to the Super Bowl. 

Some Hall of Fame love for The Glove, Gary Payton.

Story is a little old, but just came across this piece on Todd Linden, the Central Kitsap grad who is still pursuing his dream with the Fresno Giants. Linden was interviewed last month during spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.

He’s 14 and he’s playing in the Masters? Chinese prodigy is golf’s latest Asian sensation.

More on Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old golfer from China.

Looking forward to seeing the movie “42” which opens Friday. The film is about Jackie Robinson, and how he changed society for the better.

Remember Tadd Fujikawa, the Hawaiian teen who played in the U.S. Open and the U.S. Public Links at Gold Mountain as a 15-year-old in 2006? Fujikawa later had a top finish at the SONY Open in Hawaii. He’s now 22 and trying to qualify for the PGA TOUR Canada.


A Q&A with Tiger Woods from the Masters.


I talked to Brady Steiger earlier in the week and the former South Kitsap baseball star, now playing at Lewis-Clark State, will be the subject of my Thursday column.


Linden re-writing record books at Triple-A Fresno and more links, updates on Kitsap athletes

Todd Linden said guys might “rag” on him for spending so much time in Triple-A baseball, but he’s OK with it after setting another franchise record with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League.

The Central Kitsap grad broke the triples record on Wednesday and now holds nine club records — including home runs, most hits and most games played. He’s hitting .282 for Fresno.

“Everything I’ve got is from the game of baseball,” he told the Fresno Bee, “and a lot of my best memories have come from playing in this uniform.”

Here’s the complete story.

Another Central Kitsap grad, Drew Vettleson, had a three-hit game, raising his average to .294 for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Class A team in the Midwest League. It’ll be interesting to see if the Rays promote him to the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the higher Class A Florida State League or Double-A Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League. Tampa Bay’s Triple-A team is the Durham (N.C.) Bulls.

Linden was the No. 41 overall pick in the 2002 MLB draft buy the San Francisco Giants, and was resigned by the Giants’ organization in the offseason. Vettleson was the No. 41 overall pick in 2010. The only local player drafted higher? Poulsbo’s Aaron Sele, who went to the Red Sox 23rd in the first round of the 1991 draft.

Aaron Cunningham, meanwhile, has designed for assignment by the Cleveland Indians and is waiting to see if anyone claims him. If the South Kitsap grad passes through waives he’ll be assigned to Triple-A Columbus.

Willie Bloomquist got his average up to .307 earlier this week, but the Diamondbacks infielder is at .299 going into the weekend. The South Kitsap grad is now back in more of utility role with the D’backs since shortstop Stephen Drew returned to the lineup and third baseman Ryan Roberts was traded. Willie’s seeing time at both spots, filling in for Drew and splitting time at third with Cody Ransom, who was just called up from Reno.

North Kitsap grad Jared Prince continues to struggle at Double-A Frisco of the Texas League. The right fielder is 4-for-36 in his last 10 games and is hitting .213 overall.

More Kitsapers

Chad Reed is making a run at signing Ryan Villopoto, the top supercoss rider in the world, to a new contract. Villopoto will be in the final year of his deal with Kawasaki and Reed wants the Poulsbo rider to be part of his Two Two Motorsports team. FYI: Villopoto recently threw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Angels game.

Congrats to ex-Bainbridge/Chimacum star Steven Gray, who has been invited to the Washington Wizards training camp.

PGA golfer Troy Kelly has the week off, but will be teeing it up in next week’s Reno-Tahoe Open, which uses a Stableford format. Kelly is ranked 167th in the world.


Villopoto and ESPYs, Willie B., Marvin & More

Quick hits on a Thursday night while chasing deadline with the daily miracle:

Villopoto up for an ESPY Award
I’ve been out of action for a week, and I just noticed that Poulsbo motocross champion Ryan Villopoto has been nominated for an ESPY in the Best Male Action Sports Athlete category.
The 2012 ESPY’s will be televised live Wednesday at 6 p.m. on ESPN From the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
Villopoto’s got some stiff competition. Snowboarder adn X Games superstar Shaun White is a six-time winner of the fan-voted awarded. The world’s best surfer Kelly Slater, and best all-around snowboarder Travis Rice, are the others.
Villopoto won the AMA World Supercross and AMA Motocross titles in 2011, in addition to the $1 million Monster Energy Cup, and led Team USA to victory at the Motocross of Nations. He defended his Supercross title in 2012 but a knee injury prevented him from defending his outdoor AMA title.
Click here to vote for Ryan. Voting ends Monday, July 9 at 11:59 p.m.

Good times for SK big leaguers

Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel was nominated for the MLB All-Star game. A tough-luck loser to the Mariners on Monday, Hammel didn’t win the fans’ vote, but being nominated for the honor had to be satisfying. The 29-year-old’s got a chance for a big contract if he can keep it up through the second half of the season. He finished third in the fan balloting. We sent Jeff Graham over to talk to Hammel on Monday. In case you missed it, here’s his story.

Willie Bloomquist, now seeing action at third base and shortstop for the Diamondbacks, raised his average to .301 after another multi-hit game on Wednesday (3-for-5 with a stolen base). This guy makes an argument that Willie is more deserving of a spot in the All Star game than Atlanta’s Rafael Furcal.

And Aaron Cunningham hit his first home run and collected a couple of pinch-hit singles in recent games for the Indians. Little-used until now, maybe it’ll translate into some more playing time. Cunningham, by the way, got the silent treatment from his teammates after hitting his home run.

Marvin heads to Utah

The deal won’t be official until July 11, but it looks like Marvin Gaye Williams will be playing for the Utah Jazz next season. It’s the best thing that could happen to the 6-foot-9 Bremertonian. Seven years in Atlanta was enough. It wasn’t Marvin’s fault that the Hawks passed on Deron Williams and Chris Paul, to take him with the No. 2 pick. That was always going to be over his head. Plus, he was never an option on a team that seemed to have too many Marvin-like players. Now Williams gets a second chance to prove that he can be a 15-point, 8-rebound kind of guy. He’s already proven to be unselfish and willing to do the dirty work on defense.

On tap

The Babe Ruth World Series for 13-year-olds is coming Aug. 15-22 — and the host team is the Kitsap County All Stars, not North Kitsap All Stars as somebody wrote last week.

Next week’s West Sound Senior Games. The event for the over-50somethings runs July 11-14.

And Little League’s Western Regional Big League tournament returns to Gene Lobe Fields at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, July 15-20.

The Kitsap Pavilion will be the site of a Reign Forrest Championship MMA card on July 21. Bristol Marunde  is promoting the card.

Random thoughts

Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s not much of a buzz about the coming football season for the Washington Huskies? Seems like the Dawgs are now playing second fiddle to the Seahawks in the region.

Congrats to Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian on winning the 100 free at the U.S. Olympic trials. I’m sure he’s disappointed about not qualifying in the 50, but counting the relays, he’s still got a chance to win three medals in London. That, I think, would ease any pain he might be feeling about being KO’d in the 50.

Nobody ever asked my opinion about Seattle’s offensive woes, but after being laid up for a week or so and able to watch more Mariners’ baseball than I’ve watched in a long time, I’ve got a theory on the M’s hitting woes: Maybe it’s because of their youth, but as a group, Seattle’s hitters are not very selective when it comes to the pitches they flail at. Good hitters swing at strikes. I’ve never seen so many guys swing at bad pitches at the Major League level.

And while we’re on the subject of Mariners’ hitters, who’s tired of watching Ichiro bail out of the box and hit those weak pop flies to the opposite field?

I really like the blue-collar approach of Kyle Johnson, Matt Friesen and most of the Kitsap Pumas. They’re not afraid to stick their nose in their and makes things happen.

That’s all I got. Deadline’s looming.




Poulsbo’s Villopoto hottest thing going on two wheels

Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto is the Michael Jordan of his sport.

Villopoto, like Jordan, even has shoes named after him (by Vans).

Like Jordan, he’s capable of the spectacular, but he usually makes it look easy.

Because of the sustained success he’s achieved over the last two years, Villopoto’s become the biggest thing in Supercross (stadium) and motorcross (outdoor)  racing since Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael.

BJ Smith of talked to Villopoto recently and the Kawaski rider reiterated that he’s likely not going to hang around just to break records. A year ago before the race at CenturyLink in Seattle, he told me the same thing. He said people have no idea about the physical pounding your body takes in his sport. I compared it to what an NFL running back goes through.

I asked about his career goals and RV2 said he’s not out to break records or go down in history as the greatest ever or anything like that.

“It’s just to race and try to have as much fun as I can,” he said. “And also make a career out of it to where when I’m done, when I retire at 26 or 27 or whenever I decide to, I won’t have to work anymore.”

Villopoto’s 23 now, and he’s probably already achieved that goal of not having to work anymore. He’s won eight of the first 13 Supercross races (23 of 61 overall in his four years on the 450cc bikes), clinching the title for a second straight year with four races left. Nobody’s ever clinched that early. Villopoto’s already practicing and making plans to defend his outdoor moorcross title.

I don’t know if there’s been a more dominating professional athlete from Kitsap County than Ryan Villopoto. He’s got homes in Florida and California but most of his family remains in Kitsap County. Villopoto still slips in and out of the area without a lot of fanfare.

Villopoto races in New Orleans this week, returns to Seattle for the April 21 race, and closes the Supercross season with races at Salt Lake City (April 28) and Las Vegas (May 5).

Villopoto enjoyed a million dollar payday in Vegas last October when he won the first Monster Energy Cup, winning all three races handily over a hybrid Supercross/motocross course.


If you’re a John Grisham fan, his latest novel — Calico Joe — is about baseball. It’ll be released next month.

Joe Posnanski writes about the No. 18, the holy grail when it comes to golf. That’s how many major championships Jack Nicklaus won.

Outside of Chone Figgins’ two-game revival,  the biggest story of the young baseball season to date? For me, it’s the Arizona Diamondbacks, taking off where they left off a year ago. The D-backs made five errors and were six runs behind, but still managed to come back to beat the Giants 7-6 on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep. They beat two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum on Friday, pounded talented lefty Madison Bumgarner on Saturday and got to Matt Cain for five earned runs in six innings on Sunday. The Giants are favored to win the NL West, but they’ve now lost eight straight to Arizona.

Monday morning links and notes: Cunningham, Villopoto, Hammel, rodeo & more

South Kitsap grad Aaron Cunningham will start the season as the fourth outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, who finalized their 25-man roster on Sunday.

Congratulations to Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto, who took all of the drama out of the AMA Supercross season when he wrapped up his second straight title with a win at Houston on Saturday. Here’s a post-race interview. He’s won eighth of 13 races and has not finished lower than fifth this year. He still has four races left, including an April 21 stop at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Jason Hammel’s latest spring outing was a strong one as the Baltimore Orioles starter limited the Yankees to one run over 5.1 innings. Hammel has all but locked up a spot in Baltimore’s rotation.

Former Mariner Jamie Moyer, the ageless one, will begin the season as the Colorado Rockies’ No. 2 starter. Jack Quinn was 49 years, 74 days in 1932 when he won a game for Brooklyn; on opening day, Moyer will be 49 years, 139 days. Colorado will start Moyer against the Mariners, who will start Felix Hernandez, in a spring training game on Monday (ROOT, 1 p.m.)

Heard it through the grapevine:

Jason Ellison, the former South Kitsap star who played in the majors with the Giants, Mariners, Reds and Rangers, is the northwest scout for the Los Angeles Angels.

The Kitsap Stampede is considering moving the Xtreme Bulls event from Sunday to Wednesday night with the Sunday date at Thunderbird Stadium going back to the Demolition Derby. The rodeo performances would be Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Makes sense to me. The Xtreme Bulls would be a good kickoff to the week and put a lot of fannies in the stands on a night that traditionally doesn’t pack ’em in.

Prediction: Kentucky 81, Kansas 70. Kentucky will be one of the few teams that really lives up to the hype. They’ve been tagged as the team to beat from the get-go and they won’t disappoint.

A real solid week for Troy Kelly at the Houston Open: 71-71-72-71—285 and a tie for 47th. Next for the CK grad: RBC Heritage starting April 12 at Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C.

How do you spell F-O-C-U-S?  I.K. Kim missed a 1-footer —yes, 1-footer — to win the LPGA’s first major of the season — the Kraft Nabisco Championship.




Marvin still going hard for his college degree

Some Kitsap-centric linkage to check out on a Saturday morning:

Bremerton’s Marvin Williams is still on a mission to get his college degree in African-American Studies from North Carolina. He was only a Tar Heel for one year, but he returns to Chapel Hill every offseason to take a few more classes. He said his parents never pushed him to go back. He’s doing it for himself and for his college coach, Roy Williams, who gave him the opportunity to play in Chapel Hill.

According to this story, he even spends time working on his school assignments during the NBA season.

“If I was to be able to inspire kids to either play basketball or get an education I would take the education,” he said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished a few things in my life, I’ve made it to the NBA. But once I get my degree I feel like that will be my greatest accomplishment.”

FYI: You can catch Marvin and Hawks on TV Saturday when they play at Portland (CSN, 7 p.m.). Wonder if Marvin will still be in the league when Seattle gets a new franchise?

RV is still the guy to beat on the Supercross circuit. Poulsbo’s Ryan Villopoto is coming off a monster season in which he swept everything, and he’s back on top after six races heading into Saturday’s race at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. SPEED is televising it live at 5:30 p.m.

Kasey Dunn, the former North Kitsap/Idaho star and former Seahawks assistant had the pleasure of coaching Justin Blackmon at Oklahoma State this year. He’s considered the top wide receiver available in the draft. Dunn offers some insight into what makes Blackmon so good in this story.

Erynne Lee, the UCLA freshman from Central Kitsap, led the top-ranked Bruins women’s golf team to a second-place finish at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational  earlier this month. She was third overall. And Lee led the Bruins again the following week as UCLA won the Regional Challenge. She was third overall again in that tournament.

Happy holidays, happy New Year, see you in a couple weeks

Gonna head south — way south — for some sunny weather and relaxation.

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 happen.

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 in Perth.

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 Bremerton alum.

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 Look for our year-end story next weekend.

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 season off.

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 team accomplished.

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 flying machines.