Athletes of the Winter Break

January 9, 2013 

Boys: Austen Silvers, Sr., Chiawana

Silvers didn’t have a lot of chances to relax over the break, but when he finally got to sit down and use the PlayStation Portable he received for Christmas, he had earned his down time.

The wrestler was coming off third-place finishes at 182 pounds at the Best of the West tournament in Pasco and the Pacific Coast Championship in Vancouver.

The highlight of Silvers’ break, however, might have been toppling Braves standout Sisto Santana Pina, the defending Class 3A state wrestling champion at 170 pounds, in four overtimes last Thursday.

“I trusted in all my training and morning practices and the offseason,” Silvers said. “If it was to go to sudden death and overtime, I knew everything I’d done would have made me win the match.”

Silvers, who last year finished seventh at 170 at Mat Classic, is determined to be the final wrestler standing come state time. His father, Kelly, was a two-time state placer at Pasco in the 1980s, and Silvers wants to add a title to the family lore.

“It’s really nice to place high at those tournaments to see where you’re at,” Silvers said. “But once winter break’s over, it starts a whole new season.”


Favorite food: My grandma’s cookies

Any famous relatives?: My brother Jordan Downing (former Chiawana multisport athlete who now is on the Eastern Washington football team)

Most like to meet (living or dead): Georges St-Pierre

Sports highlight: At regionals last year, beating the state runner-up from the year before (Moses Lake’s Jonathan Perales) in his own gym and making him stay home

Favorite class: Precalculus

Prematch ritual: I listen to Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore.

Must-have on the road: My Beats headphones and my PSP

Favorite movie: Anchorman

Favorite TV show: Duck Dynasty

Career plans: Business

Advice from coaches: No matter what opponents have done before, you can always win. Don’t ever count yourself out.

Million dollars: Donate some to a charity for cancer (his brother, Cooper Larson, died of a rare brain stem cancer at age 4 in 2008). I’d make sure I have enough to give to my grandparents and parents.

Girls: Monique Willingham, Jr., Sunnyside

Willingham isn’t the most talkative person on the Sunnyside girls basketball team, but her game speaks volumes.

The 5-foot-11 Willingham has produced more double-doubles than an In-N-Out burger joint.

Her most recent one came Saturday night, when she finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds in a 62-37 CBBN victory over Davis. The night before, she had 12 points and 18 rebounds as the Grizzlies defeated Eastmont 61-57.

“I get more outgoing when I’m playing,” Willingham said.

Added her coach, Rick Puente: “She’s not much of a vocal person on the court per se. She just wants her presence to be known through her production on the court.”

Willingham said her goal this season has been to “do my best and to work hard and get the boards.” She was especially motivated to return from a broken foot that ended her sophomore season early.

“We always knew she had the potential to put up some big numbers, both in scoring and rebounds,” Puente said. “She’s a big presence inside.”


Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant

Most like to meet (living or dead): Michael Jordan

Any famous relatives?: Former Seattle Storm player Le’coe Willingham is her cousin.

Sports highlight: My freshman year, I hit a game-winning shot.

Favorite class: Biology

Pregame ritual: Shoot free throws

Favorite movie: Like Mike

Last book read (not for school): Harry Potter

Career plans: Go to Gonzaga

Favorite court: Sunnyside

Best advice from current coach: “Try your best and go all in all the time.” — Puente

With $100 in a mall, where do you go?: Champs Sports

Favorite restaurant: Red Robin

Dream vacation: Las Vegas

Favorite place: Arizona

Million dollars: Donate it to a charity

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