BIG OPENING WEEKEND FOR SOUNDERS U23 ARRIVES
The Sounders U23 2017 PDL season kicks off this Friday May 19, at Bonney Lake high school versus the Portland Timbers U23 team at 7:30 p.m. With a quick turnaround, the young guns in green will face the defending NW Division and Western Conference Champion, Calgary Foothills, on Sunday, May 21, at Sunset Stadium in Sumner at 2 p.m. Opening this weekend against perennial powers will be a test for the new look Sounders U23.
The Portland Timbers U23 team boasts a great history in both winning games and developing players. Formed in 2008, the Timbers U23 team rattled off 16 straight wins in 2010 to claim the PDL National Championship under then head coach, Jim Rilatt. From that point, the Timbers U23 have helped place players throughout the professional leagues in the United States with Jake Gleason starting as the current Timbers first goalkeeper, and Fatai Alashe, Erik Hurtado, Mark Sherrod, and Erik Miller all plying their trade in Major League Soccer.
With a move to Salem, Oregon in a new affiliate structure, the team will be coached by Aaron Lewis in 2017. The Corban College head coach has a history with this team working for the club from 2010-2013. Local standouts Rey Ortiz and Benji Michel from the 2017 WCC Champion Portland Pilots will suit up along with players coming in from Lewis’ network across the country. The top rivalry in Major League Soccer never disappoints at the U23 level and the 2017 addition appears ready for another eventful series.
Calgary Foothills took the PDL by storm in 2016 winning the PDL NW Division title as they edged the Sounders U23 in the final game of the regular season. Calgary then dispatched the Sounders U23 team in the PDL playoffs on their way to the 2016 Western Conference championship and a place in the PDL national final game. The Michigan Bucks won the final leaving Calgary with a determination to get back to that game in 2017. Head coach Tommy Wheeldon has brought back Dominic Russo, Kyle Jones, and Dylan Powley for familiarity and he has revamped a roster to again compete in the tough PDL NW Division.
The PDL NW Division has won the PDL Western Conference championship for seven years running and shows zero signs of slowing down. Calgary opened the 2017 PDL campaign with two definitive wins over newcomer TSS Rovers to start the year at 2-0.
The Sounders U23 will open the 2017 season with many new faces having had seven former Sounders U23 players selected in the 2017 MLS Super Draft. As with each season, the Sounders U23 work to move players on to the higher levels of the game. Joining the 2017 edition are Will Bagrou, Conner Antley, and Airrion Blackstock from Mercer University along with returners in Sounders FC home growns Paul Christensen, Chase Hanson, and Matt Reinikka. The roster is littered with new faces and these players will look to work in the hardened NW Division as they chase the dream of professional soccer. The Sounders U23 will look to get back to winning hardware in 2017.
Sounders U23 tickets and more information can be found at www.soundersu23.com.
GAVRONSKI READY FOR NEXT BIG STEP AT BATTLE AT THE BOAT 111
Few fighters have enjoyed more success at Battle at the Boat during the series’ 20 years than Mike Gavronski. The Tacoma native will look to continue his winning ways at the nation’s longest running tribal casino boxing series when he faces Quinton Rankin in the main event of Battle at the Boat 111 at the Emerald Queen Casino on Saturday, June 3.
Gavronski will fight for the first time in the light heavyweight division. He brings an impressive record of 22-2-1 with 14 knockouts into the 10-round contest.
“Everything has been going great with Mike leading up to this fight,” said Gavronski’s trainer Sam Ditusa. “He’s down in San Antonio training right now. He went down there his last two fights and trains for five weeks. Each time turned out really well. It just basically gets him away from home and allows him to focus completely on boxing.”
It’s hard to argue with Ditusa’s assessment as Gavronski looked razor sharp in his last two bouts.
Gavronski defeated Thomas Awimbono (25-4-1) in his last bout on Nov. 19, 2016, a win that came on the heels of his triumph over previously undefeated Australian champion Jake Carr on Sept. 10 2016. The victories improved Gavronski’s all-time record at the Emerald Queen Casino to 9-1.
“Those two fights were easily the best of Mike’s career,” promoter Brian Halquist said. “He looked like a completely different fighter against Carr and Awimbono. He was quicker and more accurate. He really put on a show and we expect the same type of performance from him on June 3 as he is right on the verge of being ranked among the top 20 in the world.”
Fighting out of Charlotte, Rankin is 12-3-2 with 9 KOs. Rankin is 8-1-2 over his last 11 bouts with his only setback coming against undefeated Medzhid Bektemirov (18-0) on June 13, 2016. Rankin is coming off a draw against undefeated Todd Unthank May (10-0) on March 11.
“The opponent pool is really dwindling for Mike,” Ditusa said. “He’s going up a weight class. It’s just getting harder to find opponents for him. He’s fought some very tough fighters and I think Rankin falls right into that category.”
Tickets are available through the EQC box office and all Ticketmaster Outlets. Preliminary bouts will start at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Battle at the Boat 111 will feature the VIP experience with 3rd Row Seats being discounted to $75 per ticket. All fans seated in the VIP section (rows 1-3) will have an exclusive access point and a dedicated server to help create a true VIP experience.
Battle at the Boat 111 is brought to you by Brian Halquist Productions. For more information, please visit www.halquistproductions.com and the Battle at the Boat Facebook page.
Battle at the Boat 111 Card
10 Round Main Event – 173 pounds
Mike Gavronski (22-2-1, 14 KOs) vs. Quinton Rankin (12-3-2, 9 KOs)
5 Round Semi-Main Events
170 pounds: Tommy Turner (4-7-0, 3 KOs) vs. Issac Tadeo (8-0-0, 4 KOs)
147 pounds: Andres Reyes (6-2-1, KO) vs. Will Hughes (5-5-0, 3 KOs)
4 Round Undercard Bouts
177 pounds: Richard Vansiclen (3-0-0, 2 KOs) vs. Justin Milani (1-4-0)
140 pounds: Andre Keys (3-1-0, KO) vs. Ricardo Maldonado (7-6-1, 1 KO)
140 pounds: Niko McFarland (0-3-0) vs. Shae Green (debut)
TACOMA ATHLETIC COMMISSION HONORS TWO LOGGERS
The Tacoma Athletic Commission (TAC) recently honored Hans Fortune '17 and Alexis Noren '17 during its recent awards banquet. TAC recognized the most outstanding collegiate student-athletes in Tacoma for the 2016-17 academic year. Pierce College, Tacoma Community College, and Pacific Lutheran were also recognized.
Fortune, a four-year student-athlete for the football team – received Puget Sound's Ben Cheney Award for Most Outstanding Male Student-Athlete (2016-17). He broke several Puget Sound football records as a junior last year, and he surpassed his own school records as a senior this year. In the fall of 2016, he was twice named the Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Week, and he earned Second Team All-Conference by season's end.
Fortune is Puget Sound's all-time leader in passing yards (6,852), passing touchdowns (58), and total offense (2,833). Fortune was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American following the 2015 season, and he finished his Puget Sound career with the top GPA among graduating male student-athletes.
Noren is a four-year letter winner for the women's basketball team, and she earned Puget Sound's Alice Bond Award for Most Outstanding Female Student-Athlete (2016-17). Noren made her way into Puget Sound all-time record books, ranking top-10 in career assists (336, 3rd), rebounds (588, 9th), field-goal percentage (.493, t-2nd), and games played (112, t-4th). She also eclipsed 1,000 career points this year. Noren was named to the All-NWC First Team, and earned a D3hoops.com All-West Region honor.
During her Logger career, Noren played in 11 postseason games, including four NCAA Tournament games. Following a perfect 16-0 NWC season (2016-17) for Puget Sound's first outright regular-season conference title, Noren helped lead the Loggers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
PLU’S OVERLAND AND HATLEN EARN ALL-REGION HONORS
Pacific Lutheran University softball student-athletes Anna Overland and Kathryn Hatlen were among the 45 individuals selected to the NCAA Division III All-West Region Softball Team as selected by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Overland earned a spot on the Second Team while Hatlen landed Third Team accolades.
Overland earns Second Team honors at shortstop after starting all 39 games for the Lutes this spring. The Gig Harbor, Washington native and First Team All-Northwest Conference selection led the team with a .619 slugging percentage and 52 runs scored. Overland additionally boasted a .388 batting average with 43 RBIs, 13 doubles, six home runs, while earning six stolen bases.
Hatlen lands a spot on the Third Team as an at-large selection. The Woodinville, Washington native and First Team All-NWC pick started all 39 games for the Lutes, owning a .388 batting average and a .439 on-base percentage. Hatlen drove in 25 RBIs, collected 12 extra base hits, while leading the team with 314 putouts in the field.
All-Region players are nominated and selected by NFCA member coaches in each of the eight Division III regions. Each region had a First, Second, and Third Team with each region honoring 45 total student-athletes.
PLU (23-16, 16-12 NWC) finished third in the NWC regular season standings before advancing to the championship game of the NWC Tournament, falling 3-2 to host Whitworth University in the final game of the double elimination tournament.