Unified Soccer returns with new faces, new coach, same joy

The only thing shining brighter than the sunshine on May 9 was the sterling play of Diego Torres, who made four goals for Quincy. And the only thing shining brighter than Diego were the smiles of his fellow players, both opponents and teammates, at Quincy High School stadium.

With a terrific game in sunny if windswept weather, the Quincy Unified Soccer program returned to life after a long hiatus, with the same enthusiasm of its pre-pandemic years, and with a few new faces.

The Jacks faced off against their counterparts from Ephrata, who were kind enough to lend a few players to the Jacks so that nobody’s legs would get too tired. Quincy won an entertaining match 4-3.

In Unified Soccer, able-bodied players (referred to in Unified-speak as partners, or helpers) play alongside students with disabilities. Games last 20 minutes per half, and the good times roll, just like the ball does.

Coaches encourage both sides, teammates and opponents delight in chasing the ball, and they play with an unbridled enthusiasm and vigor that turns even the most casual objective of spectators into an unabashed fan. The season has encountered some bumps, first-year head coach Martin Torres (Diego’s dad) said, so the chance to finally play a game, and play it at home, meant the world to these players, especially Laurisa Motzkus, for whom this game was the season opener, Battle of the Basin and Senior Day rolled into one.

New principals named at two elementary schools in QSD

Whitney Gregg, an educator and coach within the Quincy School District, was named the new principal at Ancient Lakes Elementary, and George Elementary principal Manuel Ramos was named the new head at Mountain View Elementary.

This was the first principalship for Gregg, who has also served as director of the district’s summer school, and as a longtime track coach, among other roles.

“The learning curve will be there, but I do have a lot of experience,” she said.

Asked what a building led by a Principal Gregg would look like, Gregg said, “Students are smiling, families are welcome, we have a lot of ownership of the school, and the students are celebrated for their strength.”

Gregg surrendered her spot as track coach once she became principal at ALES, putting an end to a 14-year coaching career. She started her Quincy tenure in 2007 as a kindergarten teacher.

Gregg replaced Colleen Frerks, who replaced the retiring Kathie Brown as principal of Quincy Innovation Academy.

Ramos, who serves as principal at George Elementary, was named the new principal at Mountain View.

Ramos said this was the right time to make a change, although he said leaving George was a hard decision.

“George is a great school,” Ramos said during an interview at the meet-and-greet the day before the school district picked its new principals for ALES and MVES. “But I’m at a stage where I need to think about the future. I have been in Quincy for many years and I feel like I need to be closer to home.” The lure and the challenge of leading a bigger school also was a factor in applying, he said.

“In the last few years I feel like I’ve gained enough experience, thanks in part to the pandemic, that I feel like I can take that next step and allow someone else to get in. We have a lot of great leaders in the district that need that opportunity,” he said.

Ramos started at QSD in 2007 as a paraeducator. He replaced Tiffany Viall, who will take over as Director of Teaching and Learning for the Chelan School District.

Medical Center welcomes upgrade to imaging systems

Quincy Valley Medical Center recently replaced important medical imaging equipment with a more advanced unit in keeping up with technology and take care of patients.

The hospital received a new computer tomography, or CT scan, machine, housed in a large trailer next to the QVMC Emergency Department.

Veronica Cruz, QVMC’s longtime radiology department manager, is one of several on the staff who operate the unit. She said there are several key differences between the previous CT scanner and the new one, such as the dual-power injector in the new unit versus the single power injector of the previous.

A patient lies horizontally while around the patient’s body X-ray units rotate inside the tall, vertical, circular module of the CT machine. The procedure produces a cross-section or vertical slice view of the body that is valuable for medical diagnosis.

The new unit “has better software that allows us to scan a little bit faster than the old one that we had. It also gives less radiation to the patient,” Cruz said.

The new unit is a GE BrightSpeed model that gives about one-third of the radiation to the patient, Cruz said. The new model’s software also makes the machine go faster than the previous unit, which was a GE LightSpeed model.

The new unit “is able to provide a better-quality image,” which is useful for diagnosing, she added.

Quincy Jacks baseball team earns first berth in 16 years

In a game with a nail-biting ending, Quincy endured one last late Cashmere rally to take the loser-out game by a score of 6-2 and earn the school’s first ticket to state in 16 years.

The Jacks made things way more interesting than they needed to be, with a couple of miscues in the seventh inning lengthening the workday of relief pitcher Collin Averill, and Cashmere loading the bases, before Averill nailed the second and third outs and the win for the Jacks.

“They took a couple years off my life,” head coach Seth Longwill said, who could be heard shouting “make a play!” as the team chased that elusive 21st out.

The Jacks celebrated the win, which marked an outstanding turnaround for the team: Four games against Cashmere, and four wins. The Bulldogs defeated Quincy last year by a combined score of 31-3 over the course of two games.

This time around, Cashmere stuck close and the Jacks could not pull away until the very end, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Bulldogs loaded the bases in the top of the seventh but could not bring any runs across.

For Quincy, Ben Medina pitched six-and-one-third innings, surrendering two runs on one hit, walking six and striking out nine. Averill got the last out in relief. Catcher Evander Stephens went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two runs batted in, including a big RBI single that put the score at 5-2. Stephens then would score from third on a wild pitch.

He also had a defensive highlight, throwing out a Cashmere baserunner at third base, when the game was still 3-2 for the Jacks.

Shortstop Andrew Townsend went 1-for-2 with a walk. Averill went 1-for-4 with two runs batted in. Gavin Longwill had a walk, Caden Cameron went 1-for-3, Ashton Barnes Keller had a walk, a stolen base and a run scored, while Caleb Coduti scored two runs.

The Jacks’ victory over the Bulldogs served as a good chaser to erase the bitter taste of losing the district championship to Chelan last Tuesday, in a game where the Goats’ ace pitcher, Braeden Boyd, threw a no-hitter, blanking Quincy in a 12-0 win over five innings.

The win against Cashmere also marked the return of Quincy to the first round of state in a long while.

Spence wins state title at track and field meet in Cheney

Quincy’s Jalen Spence won the state championship in the 300-meter hurdles at Eastern Washington University in the last weekend in May..

Spence was as good as his word. On the first day of state, during the state prelims, he lost to Daniel Watts of Freeman by one one-hundredth of a second, an ending so close that it required a photo finish and elicited oohs and aaahs when it played on the Roos Field big screen. After the race, Spence said, “He can have the prelims. I’ll take the finals.”

Done and done. Spence took the finals with a mark of 40.24 seconds, four one-hundredths of a second ahead of Watts, with both Spence’s and Watts’ marks becoming new personal records for both hurdlers.

“All the hard work has paid off, I’m still riding high on that,” Spence said two days after the final race.

“When we started, we started staggered, so the guy who beat me in the prelims was in front of me. The plan was to stay on his tail, save my energy, but when the race starts, the guy on the other side took off and I wasn’t gonna let him pass me. It was close, but a win is a win,” Spence said. “I knew it was gonna come down to the end, and I came (out) on top.”.

The state title crowned a great weekend of achievements for the Jacks and for Spence, who also took second place in the 110-meter hurdles in the State Championship Meet at Cheney’s Roos Field, home of the EWU Eagles.

“Going into state I was ranked second in that event. Would have loved to come in first, but he was the better hurdler that day. He deserves it, so congrats to him. I finished where I was supposed to be.”