Columns & Blogs

Pacific honors Kennewick grad Johnson

Frank Johnson was a state wrestling champion in 1984 for Kennewick High, winning his 122-pound title by an 11-1 decision.

Johnson went on to become a national wrestling champion in college, winning the 1990 NAIA title at 134 pounds at the University of Pacific in Forest Grove, Ore.

Johnson was honored earlier this month when he was inducted into the Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame.

He was a two-time NAIA District II champion, and earned NAIA All-American honors in 1989 after placing fourth at 134 pounds.

In two years at Pacific, Johnson was 63-9-2. He also coached the school's wrestling team from 1997-2002 and is credited with getting the women's wrestling program up and running.

Johnson now coaches at Forest Grove High School in Oregon.

Mattair back in baseball

Southridge High grad Travis Mattair, you might remember, stepped away from professional baseball last year to give college basketball a shot.

He walked on at Boise State University, where Richland High graduate Leon Rice had been named the new men's basketball coach. When Rice had been an assistant at Gonzaga, he had shown interest in Mattair. But the youngster decided to turn pro in baseball and was drafted by the Phillies.

Rice gave Mattair a shot, but he also told him he probably wouldn't get much playing time as a 21-year-old freshman. So Mattair decided to go back to baseball, and he's back with the Phillies organization.

How many miles is this race?

OK, it's one thing to run a marathon. But running almost four of them at one time?

That's crazy.

But Brandon Lott wants people to do it, and they'll get the chance when the Badger Mountain Challenge takes place March 25 and 26.

Lott is an ultra-marathoner -- those people who run 100 miles at a time -- and he's putting on the first one to run in our area. Runners have their choice to run in the more standard 15K, or they can do a 50K or the ultimate 100-mile event.

"I've already got 100 participants (for all three races)," Lott said last week. "We'll start the 100-mile race Friday morning. It should take them 32 hours to finish the race."

Thirty-two hours? What about sleep?

The other two races start Saturday morning.

The proceeds of the event will go to benefit the Friends of Badger Mountain.

For more information go online to

Roller Derby madness

The Atomic City Roller Girls have been in existence for a few years in flat track roller derby. Now comes word there is a second team based out of the Tri-Cities called the High Desert Darlins.

They started last year and will get this season kicked off with a match at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Rollerink at 922 Main Street in Hermiston. The Darlins will play against the Fort Lewis Brigade.

The team is looking to get Washington Fast Track Roller Derby Association apprenticeship and is still looking for interested skaters.

Contact Julie Lynch at 509-783-8200 for more information.

Meanwhile, the Atomic City Roller Girls get their season going next month with a scrimmage March 5 at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

They also have five home matches scheduled for the Toyota Arena this year and a tournament set for the fairgrounds in August.

'Rise' to be shown Thursday

If you get a chance, check out the one-time showing of Rise at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Regal Cinemas. The movie commemorates the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed the entire U.S. figure skating team that was headed to the world championships.

NOTES: Kiona-Benton grad Katharine Lotze is off to a great start in indoor track. Competing for Central Washington University, Lotze won the women's triple jump at the Bronco Open at Boise State University on Feb. 5. She had a leap of 37 feet, 5 3/4 inches. ... Southridge grad Thomas Henderson is at Gonzaga University playing infield for the Bulldogs. He was also assigned this week to play summer ball for the Wenatchee Apple Sox in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League. Richland High grad Sean Winston was named an Apple Sox assistant coach last fall. ... The Walla Walla Sweets have added four Tri-City guys to their roster for the summer. Southridge grad Andrew Mendenhall (now at Oregon) and Richland grad Brett Jacobs (at WSU) are scheduled to play in the outfield, while Richland grad Eric Yardley (at Seattle U) and Kamiakin grad Kody Young (at CBC) will be on the pitching staff. The season begins June 3. ... The Moses Lake Pirates have been placed on inactive status for this season in the WCCBL. ... Here's a date to keep in mind: May 24. That's when WSU is set to play host to rival Washington in a nonconference baseball game at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.