Tri-Cities Fire brings a new coach and a new attitude in quest to get first league win

Meet the owner of Tri-Cities Fire arena football

Kinshasa Martin, owner of the Tri-Cities Fire, officially announces the new indoor football team that's part of the newly created American West Football Conference.
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Kinshasa Martin, owner of the Tri-Cities Fire, officially announces the new indoor football team that's part of the newly created American West Football Conference.

It might be easy to forget that the Tri-Cities has an indoor football team.

After all, the Tri-Cities Fire hasn’t had a home game in the Toyota Center since April 13. By the time the Fire hosts the Reno Express this Thursday (7 p.m. kickoff), it will have been 40 days between home games. A lot has happened in that time.

Namely, Fire owner Kinshasa Martin has fired head coach Warren Reynolds and promoted defensive coordinator Kevin Heard to head coach.

The Fire also had a scheduled road game at Idaho on May 11 that was postponed due to travel issues. When pressed on that, Martin said, “Let’s just say it was travel issues.” Regardless, the game did get rescheduled for June 19.

Former Tri-Cities Fever running back Keithon Fleming started this season as the Fire’s quarterback, then was unceremoniously cut after a few games. But he’s back now, this time at running back.

Thursday night’s game will honor our country’s servicemen and women, thanks to Titan Homes. People can go to the Toyota Center box office, use the words “Go USA,” and they get tickets for half price.

Meanwhile, Heard took over as head coach before last weekend’s road game at Reno. The Fire lost 41-7 in his first game.

“We’ve installed a new system,” said Martin. “So Kevin didn’t get much of a chance to install it. It’s a more simpler playbook. And the offense is more fast-paced, more geared to the arena football game. We’re just revamping the system.”

As for Warren Reynolds — whose brother Chris started this four-team American West Football Conference and coaches the Idaho franchise — Martin said, “Warren just wasn’t a good fit.”

In the end, this is Martin’s team. So it was his call. “It’s never personal,” Martin said. “It’s business.”

He’s been busy trying to get some linemen into town to help give the Fire quarterback some protection.

“Linemen are hard to find, especially at this level,” said Martin. “If they’re successful, a bigger league signs them. If you had a choice between the CFL or the NFL, you’d go with the NFL.”

Here are the AFWC standings: Idaho 6-0, Reno 4-3, Wenatchee Valley 2-4, Tri-Cities 0-5.

But Martin is hopeful things can be turned around. After all, the team still has seven games remaining.

“We have a new head coach and some new teammates,” Martin said. “I’m here to say the league is strong, and this team is strong.”

NWAC golf

Watts, Breanna
Breanna Watts, shown in this file photo as a student at Richland, was the medalist in the NWAC golf tournament as Columbia Basin College took home the team title. Courtesy of Richland High School

The Columbia Basin College women’s golf team won the NWAC title on Monday at The Home Course in DuPont.

The Hawks finished with 469 strokes for the two-day tournament, six strokes ahead of runner-up Southwestern Oregon. And CBC’s Breanna Watts (Richland) was the medalist, firing rounds of 77 and 75 for a 152 total. That was one stroke ahead of runner-up Shelby Baum of Spokane.

CBC had three other golfers place among the top 12: Lucy Mitchum (Highland) tied for eighth at 161, Grace Wilbur (Kamiakin) placed 11th at 164, and Ashley Fullmer (Kamiakin) was 12th at 165.

Walla Walla Community College’s Alex Bangs (Wahluke) finished tied for 13th with a 166. North Idaho took the men’s NWAC team title with a 569 score. The Cardinals’ Braxton Stewart was the medalist with rounds of 72 and 68 for 140. Spokane finished second as a team with 583 strokes.

NWAC softball

North Idaho went 5-0 to win the NWAC Championship this past weekend in Spokane to win its second consecutive NWAC title.

The Cardinals defeated Edmonds 9-1 in the championship game on Monday.

Columbia Basin College went 0-2 in the tournament. The Hawks lost 7-6 to Edmonds, as CBC’s Miranda Camacho (Richland) had three hits and scored three runs, and Sofia Sallas (West Seattle) had two hits, including a double, and three RBIs.

The Hawks were then eliminated on Saturday with a 7-2 loss to Big Bend. Marivel Macias (Kennewick) had a home run and two RBIs for the Hawks, while Samantha Cissne (Chiawana) added two hits. CBC finished with a 17-21.

Walla Walla Community College went 3-2. The Warriors opened the tournament on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Lower Columbia, as Abby Giles (Tremonton, Utah) scattered five hits and struck out seven in a complete-game win, while Kira Haskell (Twin Falls, Idaho) had two hits.

WWCC then beat Bellevue 11-6, as Rhyanne Oates (Pilot Rock, Ore.) had two hits (with a HR) and four RBIs, and Caitlin Crist (Twin Falls, Idaho) added three hits. North Idaho sent the Warriors into the losers bracket with a 4-0 verdict. Ashton Buffo (Springville, Utah) and Giles each had a hit for WWCC.

The Warriors bounced back with a 4-3 win over Centralia, as Giles went 8 innings, scattering 6 hits and fanning 5. Gabby Beckstrom (Spanish Fork, Utah) had three hits for WWCC.

Douglas then eliminated WWCC 8-4, as Brynnan Carpenter (Lewiston, Idaho) had three hits for the Warriors.

Walla Walla CC finishes with a 31-16 record.

NWAC baseball

Tri-City fans may want to cheer for Spokane as the NWAC Championship tournament begins Thursday in Longview. Spokane is managed by Richland High School graduate Bryan Winston. Three members of the team – Conner Banta (Kamiakin), Chase Grillo (Kamiakin) and Caden Kaelber (Chiawana) – are from the Tri-Cities. Kennewick High grad Andrew Townsend is a pitcher for Yakima Valley, which is also in the tournament.

Thursday’s schedule is as follows: Game 1, Edmonds vs. Spokane, 9:35 a.m.; Game 2, Tacoma vs. Linn-Benton, 12:35 p.m.; Game 3, Everett vs. Yakima Valley, 4:35 p.m.; Game 4, Lower Columbia vs. Mt. Hood, 7:35 p.m.

NWAC track

Kenn mile relay
Austin Albertin crosses the finish line for Kennewick in first place in this file photo. Now competing for Spokane Community College, Albertin was a winner in the 400 hurdles and ran on two second-place relay teams. Annie Fowler Tri-City Herald

Spokane Community College’s Austin Albertin (Kennewick) and Keanu Daos (Southridge) had big days at the NWAC Championships on Monday and Tuesday in Gresham, Ore. Albertin ran to victory in the men’s 400 hurdles with a time of 53.80 seconds. He also ran legs in the second-place 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. Meanwhile, Daos finished first in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:44.02.

Richland grad Anthony Stone, competing for Lane CC, won the men’s 1500 event with a time of 4:02.44.

Clark CC’s Dominic Lee (Chiawana) placed third in the men’s long jump (22-0.25) and fourth in the triple jump (47-2.25).

Lane’s Jesse Todd (Richland) got a third-place finish in the 10,000 meters in 33:31.53, and Lane teammate Ryle Hollick (Richland) was fifth in the 800 meters at 1:57.44. On the women’s side, Spokane CC’s Monica Kaylor (Kennewick) cleared 5-3 in the high jump to win that event.

Clackamas’ Mercedes Pesina (Pasco) placed third in the women’s javelin at 128-6.

Jeff Morrow is a former sports editor for the Herald.