Mount Si grad gets rewarded for hard work on college football field, along with some diamond cuts and NCAA news impacting local athletes on a Thursday

Good Thursday morning. Busy news morning for you with a lot of things that happened yesterday of note to recap for you now.

We start with some huge football news for one Valley college athlete. According to KJR Radio’s Dave Mahler, who reported this last night, the University of Washington has announced that tight end Jack Westover, who is listed as a sophomore this fall for the Huskies football team, has been placed on scholarship, so essentially a promotion of sorts for Westover, who joined the program as a walk-on following his graduation from Mount Si High School in 2018. Much was made last season of all the hard work he put in behind the scenes, hard work that resulted in him seeing playing time in every single one of the UW games in 2019. Westover finished last season with just three catches total in those 13 games for nine yards, but he contributed in many other ways as well, with one of those catches proving to be memorable not just for Westover, but for all Valley college football fans.

It happened a little over a year ago, October 12 of 2019 to be exact, and the Huskies were playing the University of Arizona down in Tucson. With the UW down 17-13 at halftime, Westover caught a three-yard pass from then-Husky (and now current pro) QB Jacob Eason for a touchdown, his first as a collegian and first for a Mount Si grad in a Husky uniform in over 10 years, helping to spark a strong second-half push by the UW which led to a 51-27 romp over the host Arizona squad under the lights in southern Arizona.

Westover since then has clearly continued to put in the hard work, not letting the pandemic and the resulting shutdowns and other restrictions get in his way, and now appears to have been handsomely rewarded for his efforts, also sending a strong message to the current Mount Si players – and those also at the lower Valley’s high school, Cedarcrest – about the importance of putting in the hard work and the good results that could come from that at the next level.

The UW’s pandemic-shortened 2020 season will open at the beginning of next month, and while Westover is not expected to land a starting tight end spot, it can be expected he’ll continue to provide the same amount of contribution to the efforts as he did last season, and if that’s the case, more memories may be in store for local fans this fall. Good stuff.

Other news on a Thursday…..

Softball: Battle of Mount Si players in club twinbill
Mount Si High School softball players Jaclyn Huntzinger and Vera Harrison competed against one another last night, as their local club teams squared off in a twinbill up in Everett. Huntzinger’s Elite Diamonds 16U took on Harrison’s KB 18U team in the pair up at Phil Johnson Park, the venue which hosted the 2019 Wes-King 4A district tournament and would likely have hosted it this spring were it not for the season’s cancellation due to COVID-19.

In the opener, the Redmond-based Diamonds rolled to a 12-2 win with the help of Huntzinger, who doubled as part of a 2-2 effort scoring a run. Teammate Leslie Hines, from Eastlake, homered twice and drove in six, yes, six runs to power the Diamonds, and former Cedarcrest player Payton Pluschke, now with Redmond, also did damage for the victors, going 3-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. As for Harrison, she had a hit to pace KB.

The bats stayed hot in the nightcap for the Diamonds, as they blasted KB 14-2 to sweep the twinbill. Huntzinger doubled again as part of another 2-2 performance, this time scoring two runs and driving in a third. Pluschke, too, had two hits and drove in a run for the Diamonds. Harrison doubled and scored a run to lead KB.

Fall action will continue for both teams, so we’ll keep you posted on how things go with the two teams.

Baseball: Valleyite in action on the college diamond
The NAIA’s Bellevue University Bruins, from Nebraska, moved to 3-0 on their fall schedule last night as they won a pitcher’s duel with Midland University, an in-state rival. Bellevue beat Midland 2-0 behind the strong pitching of Corey Jackson, who fired a three-hitter over seven innings, striking out seven. Senior Cody Banks, he of Duvall and a 2016 Cedarcrest HS grad, played in the game for BU and went 0-3 with a walk. Banks is back this fall after his initial senior campaign this spring, along with the 2020 spring Bruin season, was canceled due to the pandemic and he was able to retain his year of eligibility.

The Bruins will meet Midland again next Thursday to continue their fall action.

Colleges: NCAA grants winter sports athletes extra year of eligibility
The National Collegiate Athletic Association yesterday announced its Division I council had voted to grant winter sports athletes, largely in basketball, gymnastics and wrestling, an additional year of eligibility, following previous decisions earlier this year that did the same for fall and spring sports athletes due to cancellations and reductions of seasons due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions.

“The pandemic will continue to impact winter sport seasons in ways we can’t predict. Council members opted to provide for winter sport student-athletes the same flexibility given spring and fall sports previously,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at the University of Pennsylvania, in a statement released by the NCAA. “The actions (yesterday) ensure the continuation of local decision-making in the best interest of each institution and its student-athletes.”

The decision will directly impact three men’s basketball freshmen from the Valley – Tyler Patterson, at Montana State University, Jabe Mullins, at St. Mary’s College of California, and Hayden Curtiss, at the University of Portland in Oregon. All three are 2020 Mount Si High School graduates. These three will join other local college athletes, such as Banks mentioned above, who received extra years of eligibility as a result of season cancellations and other changes caused by the pandemic.

The Division I college men’s basketball season is set to start near the end of November, but it is still unclear at this time if conferences or individual universities will be able to start their seasons on time or will have to find alternative means for playing the games, such as setting up so-called “bubble” environments in order to complete the seasons.

We will continue to monitor this for you as well.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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