Federal Way Mirror Sports Briefs | Nov. 26

Federal Way 18-year-old J.R. Celski stands atop the podium last weekend after defending his U.S. Junior Short Track speedskating title in Bay City, Mich. Celski brought home five gold medals.  - Jerry Search/For the Mirror
Federal Way 18-year-old J.R. Celski stands atop the podium last weekend after defending his U.S. Junior Short Track speedskating title in Bay City, Mich. Celski brought home five gold medals.
— image credit: Jerry Search/For the Mirror

Federal Way’s J.R. Celski defended his United States Junior Short Track speedskating title Nov. 17 in Bay City, Mich., by winning four of the five distances. Celski finished with five gold medals and set a U.S. junior record in the 1,000-meter Time Trial event in a time of 1:25.608.

Celski will represent the United States in Quebec, Canada, at the Short Track Junior World Championships in January.

Celski, 18, is now living and training at the national level in Salt Lake City as a member of the U.S. Senior World Cup Team. After the first two world cup events, he is currently ranked fourth in the world in the 1,500 and 10th in the 1000.

The U.S. team is currently in Beijing for next weekend’s World Cup III event. He will then skate at the World Cup IV in Japan the following weekend.

• Freshmen Brittany Orr and Jenna Peterson are both starting for the Concordia University Cavaliers girls soccer team. Concordia (Portland) recently won the Cascade Collegiate Conference championship and beat St. Ambrose in the opening round of the the NAIA National Tournament Saturday, 5-1. The Cavaliers now advance into the second round, where they will play Berry from Georgia.

The Cavaliers are currently 20-0-1 on the season. Orr tallied a goal against St. Ambrose and has four goals and five assists on the season. Peterson has started 20 matches at defense and has one goal.

Orr is a 2008 graduate of Todd Beamer and Peterson is an ‘08 grad of Decatur.

• Beamer graduate McKinley Williams and the rest of her Western Washington University women’s cross country team placed 10th at last weekend’s 2008 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships in Slippery Rock, Penn. Williams, a sophomore, finished 149th overall.

• Senior defensive tackle Lance Witherspoon was selected as the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in last Saturday’s (Nov. 15) 28-13 victory over Northern Arizona.

The 2004 graduate of Decatur High School, had a pair of sacks on the same NAU possession in the fourth quarter, as well as forcing and recovering the key fumble that helped give Eastern the lead for good in the third quarter.

Northern Arizona finished with minus-2 yards rushing in the game. It was the fifth-straight game Eastern has held an opponent to less than 20 points — something that EWU has not done since becoming a member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in 1984.

Eastern took the lead for good at 14-13 in the third quarter after Witherspoon got into the backfield on an NAU rushing attempt and forced and recovered a fumble at the NAU 5-yard line. In the fourth quarter, with EWU clinging to a 21-13 lead, Witherspoon had sacks on back-to-back plays to force a third-and-long situation and subsequent Lumberjack punt.

He finished with six total tackles, including three for losses totaling 18 yards. Witherspoon, an honorable mention All-America selection in 2007, has 30 tackles this season with three sacks, 9 1/2 total tackles for loss, three passes broken up, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick. In his 41-game career (28 as a starter), he has 117 total tackles with 6 1/2 sacks, 29 total tackles for loss, seven passes broken up, two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick.

Eastern finished their season with a 6-5 record.

• Evergreen Lutheran High School finished second at the Class 2B/1B Girls Soccer State Championship to LaSalle of Yakima with a 1-0 shootout loss Saturday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.

Evergreen Lutheran is located in Des Moines and includes Federal Way players. LaSalle (18-1) was 1A runner-up the past three years, losing in a shootout last year and in overtime in 2005.

LaSalle converted on four of five penalty kicks during the shootout to edge Evergreen Lutheran (10-5-4).

Evergreen Lutheran goalkeeper Lindsay Sandwith, back from a season-ending knee injury last season, stopped three point-blank shots in the second half and overtime.

Grace Bender, Megan Valerio and Kailey Fuegmann connected on penalty kicks for Evergreen Lutheran in the shootout.

• Federal Way graduate Morris Anderson had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Western Washington University basketball team during a 71-64 win over the University of Mary (South Dakota) Saturday night. The win improved Western to 3-0 on the season. Anderson is averaging nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Vikings.

• Federal Way resident Danny Wenzel was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s All-Rookie Team last week and also named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s All-Freshman Team. Wenzel plays for the No. 1-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Wenzel, a freshman defender, has been a steady player all season as a centerback in the Wake Forest defense. Wenzel has helped the team to 11 shutouts on the season and was recently named to the ACC All-Freshmen team. Wenzel also contributed on the offensive end with a goal and three assists.

Wake Forest (18-1-1), which won the 2007 national championship, is currently the No. 1-ranked team in America and opens the NCAA Tournament yesterday against William and Mary.

• Pete Gross who served as the play-by-play “Voice of the Seahawks” for 17 seasons: from the Seahawks inaugural 1976 season through 1992, will be inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame this Sunday as the Washington Redskins meet the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field in Seattle. A brief on-field ceremony will take place on the field at 12:45pm.

Over his 17 seasons, Gross called all but the five games he missed in 1992 while battling cancer, and his career included eight playoff games and the 1983 AFC Championship game. He was inducted into the Seahawks Ring of Honor in 1992.

He will be joined by quarterback Jim Zorn who led the then-expansion Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, for their first seven-and-a-half seasons. Zorn was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year by the NFLPA following the team’s inaugural season and was also the Seahawks’ team MVP, throwing for 12 touchdowns and rushing for 4 more.

In the NFL, Zorn threw for 21,115 yards and 111 touchdowns, completing 53% of his passes. He also ran for another 17 touchdowns. In 1991 he became just the second Seahawk to be inducted into the team’s “Ring of Honor”, right behind his favorite passing target, Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent.

Zorn moved up to the pro coaching ranks in 1997–98 as an offensive assistant for the Seahawks and returned to the Seahawks in 2001 as their quarterbacks coach, and retained that position through the 2007 season prior to accepting the head coaching job with the Washington Redskins for the current season.

Members are recognized for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions that have brought national acclaim to themselves and the State of Washington and are made by a statewide panel of sportswriters and sports historians. With the 2008 class, membership in the shrine will increase to 159. The Hall of Fame is located in the Shanaman Sports Museum at the Tacoma Dome and was established in 1960. For a complete list of inductees, visit .

• Sounders FC introduced Sweden’s Freddie Ljungberg as its designated player today at Qwest Field.

Ljungberg, 31, signed a multiyear contract that will, according to sources with knowledge of the deal, pay the internationally-known midfielder around $2.5 million a year in base salary.

As Sounders FC’s designated player under Major League Soccer salary guidelines, only a portion of Ljungberg’s salary will count against the club’s salary cap next season. Ljungberg joins Sebastien Le Toux, Sanna Nyassi and Kasey Keller on the roster.

Seattle majority owner Joe Roth was the first to talk to Ljungberg about signing with Sounders FC. Roth convinced Ljungberg to visit Seattle, and Ljungberg said it reminded him of his hometown in Sweden. The two talked about the rising quality of play in MLS, and Ljungberg decided that now was the right time to make the jump to MLS.

Ljungberg played in the English Premier League — one season for West Ham United and nine before that with Arsenal. He reached an agreement with West Ham to terminate his contract earlier this year.

“I figured if I’m going to take MLS seriously and want to make it a really good league and develop it, I should come now and not in three years’ time,” Ljungberg said. “It took me three months to come to a decision of what I wanted to do, but the guys here have helped me in my decision by showing me around the city and what they want to do with the team.”

Seattle Sounders FC will hold open tryouts for the team in Tukwila, Spokane and Yakima next month, the club announced Thursday.

The tryouts will have a twist. They’ll be taped for a reality-based TV show that will air on KING-TV, KONG-TV and Northwest Cable News in late January.

A minimum of three finalists from each city will take part in a one-hour tryout in Seattle that will be televised Feb. 1 after Super Bowl XLII on KING.

Viewers from each city will vote to narrow the list to three players, and judges will choose the winner. The one who emerges will be awarded a spot on the 2009 Sounders FC roster.

Those interested in trying out must be at least 18. The first set of tests is speed and fitness, followed by skills tests and mini-games. The first tryout is Nov. 9 at Spokane’s Plants Ferry Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The second is at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila on Nov. 15, same time, and the third is Nov. 22 at Chesterley Park in Yakima, same time.

Advance registration at is required.

Other Major League Soccer teams, Chivas USA and FC Dallas, have held open tryouts for TV. The clubs were featured in “Sueno MLS” on Spanish-language Univision in 2007 and earlier this year.

Midfielder Jorge Flores was chosen from more than 2,000 participants in 2007 and is now on Chivas USA’s 28-man roster.

• Apple Physical Therapy will honor one boy and one girl student athlete for both the Fall and Winter sport seasons with a $1,000 Athlete of the Quarter Scholarship.

Eligible student athletes must be high school seniors enrolled in a Western Washington high school, participating in a varsity sport and be in good-standing academically. The scholarship criteria include athlete performance, community service/involvement and other compelling personal circumstances.

Nomination forms are available to download at Apple Physical Therapy’s Web site,, and can be turned in to any Apple Physical Therapy clinic location or other participating private practice location. A complete list of locations is on Apple Physical Therapy’s Web site. Nomination forms are due December 1 for fall, 2008 and March 1 for Winter, 2009 applications.

Scholarship winners will be announced at the conclusion of the Fall, 2008 and Winter, 2009 seasons on the High School GameTime television program on King 5 and Kong 6/16.

Apple Physical Therapy is also the official athletic training partner for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and oversees young athletes at the state football, basketball and softball tournaments each year.

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