With help from coaches, fans, media and local sports historians, Scorebook Live has put together its lists of the best athletes — male and female — to emerge from every county in the state of Washington. We looked back as far as the turn of the 20th century, and we examined the totality of each athletes’ career, not only what they did in high school.
As comprehensive as our lists are, we also want to hear your opinions. We have included polls where you can vote for the best male and female athletes by county. You can also leave your comments below or hit us up on Twitter @sblivewa.
From Briann January to Launi Meili, Spokane County has produced several world-class female athletes. Take a look at Scorebook Live’s list of the top female athletes to ever come out of Spokane County and cast your vote in the poll.
(The list is in alphabetical order.)
BEST FEMALE ATHLETES IN SPOKANE COUNTY HISTORY
High School: University (class of 2007)
Notable Stats: The former all-state guard holds two individual records at tradition-rich Tennessee – most 3-point attempts in a season (239) and most 3-pointers made in a career (305), from 2007-11.
If you wanted to see who the next Kate Starbird was in the state of Washington – you had to go to Spokane in the mid-2000s to see her play at University.
Like Starbird, Bjorklund was a big scoring off guard (6-0), and was the No. 2 ranked player in the class of 2007, according to ESPN.com. Not only was she the Gatorade state player of the year, she was also selected a WBCA All-American. Months after graduating, she was part of the U.S. squad that captured the FIBA U-19 world championship in Slovakia.
And it got even better over the next few months. She was the 10th freshman in Tennessee history to start her first game, and was part of the school’s last NCAA Division I title (which was legendary coach Pat Summitt’s final one of eight titles).
Injuries derailed a WNBA career (she was drafted by Chicago in 2011), but she has made a comeback and is playing overseas in France.
High School: Lewis and Clark (class of 2005)
Sports: Basketball, track and field
Notable Stats: For more than a decade, January held career assists record at Arizona State (538 assists) – until it was broken last winter by guard Reili Richardson.
It’s no wonder that a black belt in karate became the best defensive basketball player in Spokane County history (and maybe ever in the entire state).
The Tigers’ all-state point guard led the school to the state semifinals as a senior – then won a WIAA state girls high jump title a few months later.
Her career blossomed in college, becoming one of ASU’s all-time greats. She was selected a two-time Pac-10 defensive player of the year, led the Sun Devils to 104 wins and four consecutive NCAA Division I tournament berths and left with a handful of individual school records.
Indiana drafted her No. 6 overall in the 2009 WNBA Draft, and she won a league championship (2012) and made the All-Star team (2014) with the Fever. She is now with her third WNBA team – Connecticut.
(Briann January feature photo by Lorie Shaull)
High School: Cheney (class of 1981)
Sport: Rifle shooting
Notable Stats: Meili captured 16 gold, silver or bronze medals over her career in both smallbore rifle shooting and air rifle shooting – including the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
When it comes to knowing how to shoot a rifle with elite success, Meili has always been on the mark.
She vaulted from a being a local-club standout in Cheney to making the U.S. national team for more than a decade, capturing five World Cup individual titles, a pair of Olympic Festival titles – and a world team championship.
But Meili’s career highlight came in 1992 when she not only became the first American to win a gold medal in smallbore rifle shooting, she set three Olympic records.
Between her stints in 1988 (Seoul) and 1992 (Barcelona), she is still the only U.S. woman to participate in both smallbore and air rifle shooting events in back-to-back Olympics.
After serving as a U.S. national team assistant coach (1997-2000), Meili has been the coach of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s rifle program since 2007.
ANNETTE (HAND) PETERS
High School: Central Valley (class of 1983)
Sports: Track and field
Notable Stats: Peters won more USA Track national titles in distance running (1,500 meters, 3,000 meters twice) than she did WIAA state individual titles at Central Valley (1,600 title in 4A as a senior).
Peters was one of the all-time Washington high school greats in distance running, leading her school to the 4A cross country crown, and capturing that 1,600 title in 1983 (4:48.2).
But her career really took off once she went to college, setting running records at Montana and Oregon.
She was a four-time All-American with the Ducks, winning the women’s 5,000 title in 1988. Her fifth-place finish in the NCAA Division I cross country championships paced Oregon to the team title in 1987. Her all-time best of 15:34.55 in the 5,000, set in 1988, still ranks No. 3 in school history.
Peters went on to run in the 1990 Goodwill Games and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Amanda (Furrer) Banta, Mead (rifle shooting) – 2012 U.S. Olympics participant qualified for first big international competition at age 16.
Jen Barcus, Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls (volleyball, basketball) – Two-time Gatorade state volleyball player of year was starter at WSU, Iowa.
Allison Beatty, Mead (track and field, soccer, basketball) – Won 3A titles in all three sports before becoming All-American javelin athlete at Stanford.
Stacy Clinesmith, Mead (basketball) – WNBA veteran (and ex-3A state player of year) might, inch for inch, be toughest player to come out of city.
Jaimie Lee, Ferris (volleyball) – Former two-time Big East player of the year at Notre Dame was original member of U.S. ‘Dream Team’ (1997-98).
Emily (Westerberg) Love, Central Valley (basketball) – Left as GSL’s all-time leading scorer; was ASU’s first three-time Pac-10 first teamer.
Becca Noble, Rogers of Spokane (track and field) – Ex-NCAA 800-meter champion at Oregon dominated high school ranks with unmatched range.
Mary Lou (Petty) Skok, Lewis and Clark (swimming) – Set national records in the 1930s before placing fourth in the 400 free at 1936 Oympics.