The Mid-Columbia Athletes of the Week for January 5, 2012.
Mark McKeown, Senior, Chiawana
A year ago, the Riverhawks wrestling team came home from the Pac Coast Championships with a 12th place finish, and McKeown went 1-2 and didn’t get a sniff at placing.
What a difference a season makes.
McKeown continued his strong senior campaign with a second-place finish at the prestigious tournament in Vancouver, sparking Chiawana to a fourth-place team showing.
“Five-and-one vs. 1-2 ...” McKeown said. “It’s definitely nice to see the improvement from all the work I’ve put in.”
His only loss in the 126-pound bracket was 7-3 to Churchill’s Housten Ezell, ranked No. 2 in Oregon 5A wrestling.
“He went to four camps this summer, wrestled every freestyle practice this spring, went to every tournament,” Chiawana coach Jack Anderson said. “He was a three-year JV guy, and he was determined to do some great things.”
Great things like place top three at state, and help the Riverhawks to a team trophy along the way.
“Last year, I would have been ecstatic going to state,” he said. “This year, I’m a senior, it’s my last chance, and I’m not settling for less than a top-three finish.”
Favorite food: Anything that I can’t have in wrestling season
Favorite nonsport activity: Spending time with family
Favorite athlete: Max Askren, national champion Missouri wrestler
Most like to meet (living or dead): Abraham Lincoln
Favorite class: Physics or computer-aided design
Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption
Favorite TV show: Hawaii Five-0
Last book read: Inside Delta Force
Best song on your iPod: Till I Collapse by Eminem
Career plans: Engineering or education
Dream vacation: Hawaii or European tour
Favorite place: San Diego
Million dollars: Invest
Britney Pringle, Junior, Richland
Returning point guards tend to find themselves cast in the leadership role, but that went double for Pringle.
She went from being a sophomore cog in a senior-dominated team to the floor general responsible not just for getting her teammates going, but picking up her own scoring as well.
“I’ve never been depended on for scoring, so that was the biggest adjustment this year,” said Pringle, who worked extensively in the offseason on her shooting and one-on-one skills.
It’s working so far. She has added a consistent scoring touch to a team that starts two sophomores and a freshman and has more youth coming off the bench.
Pringle is coming off a terrific holiday run in which she averaged 18.3 points as Richland won three of four games — the only loss against top-ranked Central Valley.
“She’s doing a really good job for us,” Bombers coach Cindy McCoy said. “She’s really taken charge of being a very vocal leader, and a leader by example on the floor.
“You want your best player to be your hardest worker — that’s the best team leadership you can have, and she very much exemplifies that.”
Favorite food: Spaghetti
Favorite nonsport activity: Reading
Favorite athlete: Leilani Mitchell
Most like to meet: Michael Jordan
Favorite class: AP Chemistry
Pregame ritual: Gum
Must-have on the road: Necklace — gift from a good friend
Favorite movie: Just Friends
Favorite TV show: Friends
Last book read: A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
Best song on your iPod: The Motto by Drake
Career plans: Something in science
Favorite court: UW’s Alaska Airlines Arena
Dream vacation: Tour of Europe
Favorite place: New York City
Million dollars: Save for college and a red GT Mustang
Coaches nominations: Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and must be received by noon Sunday.