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Mead split produced two powers

Mt. Spokane and Mead play back-to-back games at Albi Stadium Friday bidding for State 3A and 4A football berths as part of a neighborly milestone.

Six teams with state designs from one district (Mead) finished first or second in three fall sports – football, volleyball and soccer. It brought to fruition a dream, nay, the goal when Mt. Spokane was opened 13 years ago.

“I remember some elderly guy at Mead saying my feeling was the rest of the Greater Spokane League was going to be playing for third and fourth place,” Mead activities director Dick Cullen said.

That “elderly guy” was Cullen, musing about the notion that when Mead split in 1997, its then-dominating ways would end.

Mead’s Panthers have dominated the GSL All-Sports trophy. Mt. Spokane joined the party in a big way this fall. The Wildcats are league football champions, shared the girls soccer title and finished second to Mead in volleyball.

John Miller, now an executive director for the WIAA and formerly the Mead, then Mt. Spokane, activities coordinator, was party to the district-wide blueprint for achievement.

“I really think there is a lot of community in the district and they have placed an emphasis on extracurricular programs,” Miller said. “I know they are fierce rivals when they play each other. But I know the two boosters clubs have a joint fundraiser together, and girls soccer after the regular season did a quasi-scrimmage. They had a joint presentation of trophies for winning league.”

There may have been gnashing of teeth at Mead when one school split into two. But the hope 13 years ago was to give twice as many kids the opportunity to play and achieve.

“They’re all still playing,” Miller marveled. “If there were still one school, only half that many would have been asked to step up to that level.”

Volleyball qualifiers

4A: The field is stout when teams from the GSL and Columbia Basin Big Nine vie for state this weekend. The two-day double-elimination tourney at Rogers (Friday), and Mead (both days) and Mt. Spokane (Saturday) sends four teams to state. Five of the eight qualifiers placed among the top 12 during last month’s Crossover Classic in Spokane. Mead won the event..

Mead, ranked No. 1 in state, plays Eisenhower, No. 4 seed from the CBBN, at home at 7 p.m. Friday. That’s followed by GSL No. 3 University vs. CBBN No. 2 Southridge. At Rogers, GSL No. 2 Lewis and Clark plays CBBN No. 3 Kamiakin at 8:30, following CBBN No. 1 Richland vs. CBBN No. 5 Wenatchee.

3A: Saturday’s tournament at Hanford for two state berths begins with loser-out 11 a.m. games. Shadle Park plays Sunnyside, and the winner faces Mt. Spokane at 1 p.m. East Valley and North Central meet for a shot at CBBN champion West Valley-Yakima. Four of six regional entrants placed among the top 16 at Crossover. Mt. Spokane finished third, losing to Mead 27-25, 25-19 in the semifinals. East Valley tied LC, and WV-Yakima and NC shared 15th.

2A: The District 7 tournament begins tonight at Great Northern League champion Pullman and second-place West Valley. Riverside plays Cheney at 5 in a loser-out match, with the winner facing Pullman at 7. Clarkston plays Colville at 5 p.m., and the winner meets WV. The tourney concludes Saturday at East Valley, beginning at 1, and qualifies three to state.