Cougar Notebook: National attention and more

SPORTING NEWS magazine has come up with a list of the best sports rivalries in all 50 states. Naturally, the Apple Cup ranked No. 1 in Washington. The Cougars and Huskies have been smashing helmets -- and bare noggins before that -- on the gridiron for more than a century. That makes it one of the oldest rivalries selected by Sporting News.

The Apple Cup remains one of the best, despite the fact that last year's contest matched teams that came into the game with a combined 1-21 record.

"Last year, it's not one of my favorite things to talk about," said Husky quarterback Jake Locker, who missed the game with a broken thumb. "We all want the Apple Cup to be a big game."

What? The 2008 Apple Cup wasn't a big game? Try telling that to Cougar defensive end Kevin Kooyman.

"Holding the trophy last year is the greatest feeling I've had in football," Kooyman told Sporting News. "When we get this thing turned around, we're going to point to that win as the turning point."

COUGAR FANS MIGHT might want to gas up the car and head to Oregon for two prime-time events this weekend.

The Cougar baseball team takes on Oregon State in WSU's most important baseball series in recent memory. Games are set for Friday through Sunday in Corvallis.

Both teams are fighting for berths in the NCAA regionals. A 2-1 weekend might assure the Cougars a trip to regionals for the first time since 1990.

Meanwhile, the Pac-10 Track and Field Championships take place Saturday and Sunday in Eugene. Intermediate hurdler Jeshua Anderson, the reigning Pac-10 and NCAA champion, has the fastest college time in the nation (49.44 seconds).

Pac-10 track is tremendous, and you haven't really seen a track meet until you've watched one at fabulously funky Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. The atmosphere is like none other in North America when it comes to track and field.

For the really ambitious traveler/Cougar fanatic, keep heading south to the Pac-10 Rowing Championships on Saturday and Sunday in Rancho Cordova, Calif. WSU's varsity eight is ranked 15th. Wish the Cougar women luck. Lord knows they deserve your support, because few athletes approach the dedication it takes to row at an elite level. That is especially true at Wazzu, where rowers rise in the wee hours for ch-ch-chilly morning workouts on the Snake River.

COUGAR BASEBALL COACH Donnie Marbut, a strong candidate for Pac-10 Coach of the Year, moved up to third in all-time baseball coaching wins at WSU last weekend.

Marbut won his 141st game Tuesday. After five years on the job, he's a mere two or three decades away from catching the two legends ahead of him on the wins list: Bobo Brayton (1,162 in 33 seasons) and Buck Bailey (603 in 32 seasons).

Few head coaches are quicker to publicly praise their assistant coaches than Marbut. He routinely brags up hitting coach-recruiting coordinator Travis Jewett and pitching coach Gregg Swenson and also gives props to volunteer assistant Gabe Boruff.

THE NEW YORK TIMES and the San Jose Mercury News are already making college football predictions. Both have the Cougars tabbed to finish last in the Pac-10.

The Times ranks WSU 114th out of 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Sounds like motivation for summer workouts.

Elsewhere in the newspaper world, Mike Vlahovich of The Spokesman-Review wrote a great article the other day on WSU distance running legend Rick Riley. Riley burst onto the national stage some 40 years ago as a Spokane high schooler and then as a Cougar. Along the way he set records and defeated the likes of Steve Prefontaine and Gerry Lindgren. Olympic dreams were shattered by injury, but he was a remarkable talent who helped ignite the running craze that has gripped Spokane for so long. For the full, fascinating story CLICK HERE.

EXTRA, EXTRA: Cougar first baseman-catcher Alex Burg, a .355 hitter, says he hopes to return from his knee injury no later than the Washington series on May 22-24 in Pullman. Burg leads the Cougars with seven home runs, a .653 slugging percentage and a .477 on-base percentage ... Ken Bone, who will make a base salary of $650,000 this season, will be the lowest paid basketball coach in the Pac-10. But it's hard to feel too bad for him when you consider the size of his raise going from Portland State to WSU. He was making $125,000 a year with the Vikings.

SPACE IS STILL AVAILABLE for both the May 29 golf tourney and dinner at the King County Cougar Golf Classic co-sponsored by It's at the Golf Club at Newcastle and will feature such notables as Ken Bone, Paul Wulff, Jim Sterk, Jason Gesser, Robbie Tobeck and many others. Registration/lunch/ driving and putting ranges open at 11 am. Shotgun start at 1 pm. Social hour/Dinner/Auction at 6:30. To sign up for golf or just dinner, contact Todd Thrasher at (206) 448-1335 or

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