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Stadium’s Kendall Burks will go down as one of the best soccer players to ever suit up for the Tigers. In his career Burks was a three-time Tacoma Weekly All-City selection and the 2018 3A Pierce County League Defensive Player of the Year. Burks will be taking his talents south to Cal State Bakersfield, an NCAA Div. I program in the Western Athletic Conference.

TACOMA LANDS ALL-STATE SOCCER PICKS, PLUS NEW LINCOLN COACH FOUND

The 2018 All-State boys’ soccer teams have been announced by the Washington State Soccer Coaches Association and the solid work put in by several Tacoma-area teams paid off with some big player accolades.

Wrapping up a stellar career on the pitch, Stadium’s Kendall Burks was named to the 3A first team. Two of the big surprises came with the 3A second-team selections. Two schools that aren’t usually at the forefront of soccer greatness put together outstanding seasons this spring. Raul Ramirez helped lead the Mt. Tahoma T-Birds to their first boys’ soccer appearance in the state tournament in school history. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s Angel Herrera led his group of Abes to the post-season. Both programs look to be on the rise.

Franklin Pierce scored big with four selections to the 2A team. Senior forward and 2A South Puget Sound League MVP, Gilbert De La Luz, was a first-team selection, along with outstanding senior goalkeeper Noah Carver. Junior defender Brandon Amezcua and sophomore defender Daniel Fuentas Aguillar were both named as 2A honorable mentions.

Charles Wright senior midfielder Billy Chissoe was named to the 1A first team, while senior forward teammate Michael Saffari was an honorable mention selection. Vashon junior Tommy Delargy was also an Honorable Mention.

Tacoma area selections to the 4A first team included Sumner junior forward Alex LeBarge, as well as junior defensive teammater Jared Butler. The two were joined by junior midfielder Mitchell Hunter, who was a second-team selection. Puyallup senior Ethan Carlson was an honorable mention at the forward position.

In other news, Lincoln High School didn’t have to look very far to find their new boys’ head basketball coach. Former Abe and University of Puget Sound Logger Ryan Rogers will take over the leadership of the state powerhouse Lincoln program. Rogers played for one season under former Abe head coach Aubrey Shelton, and was most recently an assistant varsity coach at Lincoln, as well as the head coach of the junior varsity. 

In a Twitter post, Shelton said “Very proud of and excited for Ryan Rogers being named the new head boys basketball coach at Lincoln!!! He is an Abe and a Logger who I had the privilege to coach his senior year, tough as nails, intelligent, and a true Abe, he is going to do great things!!!”

HAMILTON LOOKS TO REGAIN CAGESPORT HEAVYWEIGHT CROWN

Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton knows what it’s like to be CageSport heavyweight champion. 

He captured the title 5 1/2 years ago in dominating fashion and parlayed that victory into a UFC contract soon after. Hamilton would like nothing more than to duplicate both feats, starting with CageSport title reign number two. 

Hamilton, who fought 10 times in the UFC between 2014 and 2017, will face a familiar foe in Matt “The Attack” Kovacs in the main event of CageSport 52 at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma on Saturday, July 21.

The five-round main event will be for the vacant CageSport heavyweight championship – a title Kovacs has also held. 

“I’m coming home to get my belt,” Hamilton said. “I have spent the last four years in the UFC beating people up. I’m coming home to take what’s mine.” 

The title fight headlines a nine-bout card, which will also include a semi-main event between Dylan “Big Poppa” Potter and Anthony “The Joker” McDonald. The undercard will also feature undefeated Terrance McKinney and rising newcomer Lisa Spangler. 

Tickets are available through the EQC box office and all Ticketmaster outlets. Preliminary bouts start at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Hamilton, who has a record of 15-9 with eight of his victories coming by knockout, has some history with his championship bout opponent. In addition to both fighters being former CageSport heavyweight champions, the two have squared off against each other twice during their careers with Hamilton winning both times. 

“I’ve already knocked him out twice,” Hamilton said. “I’m going to knock him out again.”

Should that occur, Hamilton, who was never defeated for the belt, but instead forfeited the title after signing with the UFC, will become the first two-time heavyweight champion in CageSport’s 10-year existence.  

“It’s been such a great ride with Anthony. He was our CageSport champion. Dana White from the UFC signed him. He’s been fighting up there,” said promoter Brian Halquist, “But now we have him for one title shot. Anthony has been a great champion for us.”  

After going undefeated as an amateur, Hamilton made his professional MMA debut on Oct. 2, 2010 at CageSport 12, defeating Kyle Welch. He won his second fight on Feb. 19, 2011, at CageSport 13 by defeating highly regarded Jared Torgeson by decision. 

Hamilton opened his MMA career a perfect 6-0 with his sixth triumph coming on Dec. 10, 2011, when he scored a TKO victory over Kovacs. 

Hamilton put on one of the most dominating CageSport championship performances on Dec. 1, 2012, when he knocked out Bill Wilder in just 38 seconds to capture the CageSport heavyweight championship at CageSport 22. One of his title defenses came on Aug. 24, 2013, when he successfully defended his belt against Kovacs, a former CageSport heavyweight titlist himself, at CageSport 26, winning by first-round KO. 

Not long after, the UFC came calling. Hamilton made his UFC debut less than a year later against Oleksiy Oliynyk at UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Stephens on June 28, 2014. Hamilton registered his first UFC victory two months later in Sacramento. after scoring a win over Ruan Potts by second-round TKO. 

Hamilton defeated Daniel Omielanczuk by decision on the undercard of UFC Fight Night: Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop 2 in Krakow, Poland on April 11, 2015 before beating Damian Grabowski on July 30, 2016 at UFC 201. In that bout, Hamilton won by first-round KO just 14 seconds into the contest – marking the second fastest knockout by a heavyweight in UFC history. 

His last UFC fight came on Nov. 19, 2017 when he lost a decision to Adam Wieczorek in Sydney, Australia at UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Tybura. 

A native of Kent and a graduate of Kentwood High School, Hamilton attended Highline College, where he earned NJCAA All-American honors in wrestling. 

He also attended Central Washington University and has a masters in business administration. 

CageSport 52 is brought to you by Brian Halquist Productions and CageSport MMA. For more information, please visit the CageSport MMA Facebook page and halquistproductions.com.

TACOMA’S GAVRONSKI TO FIGHT FOR NABF TITLE ON ESPN

Mike Gavronski is headed to “America’s Playground.”

Gavronski (24-2-1, 15 KOs) will take his biggest step towards a potential world title shot when he faces super middleweight contender Jesse Hart (24-1, 20 KOs) in the 10-round co-featured event during TopRank Boxing on ESPN, Aug. 19 in Atlantic City, N.J.

Headlining the card at the new Ocean Resort Casino will be a main event between heavyweight contenders Bryant Jennings (23-2, 13 KOs) and Alexander Dimitrenko (41-3, 26 KOs). Both fights will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET. The entire card will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

The bout between Gavronski, ranked No. 11 by the World Boxing Association, and Hart, who is ranked third in the world by the WBC and 10th by the IBF, will be for Hart’s North American Boxing Federation super middleweight championship.

“This is what you live for,” Gavronski said. “Hart is a tough guy who can do a lot of nice things. I just think I can do them a lot better. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I am willing to fight anybody. I love the challenge.”

Gavronski, a native of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, will bring a five-bout unbeaten streak into his showdown with Hart.

“This is a huge test for Mike, but it’s one we believe he’s ready for,” promoter Brian Halquist said. “The winner of this fight places himself in a great position to fight for a world title the next time out. That has been what Mike has worked his whole career towards, to have that opportunity to challenge for a world title and it’s now right there in front of him. This is why we promote. To give these a chance to fight at the world level and to win a title.”

The 32-year-old Gavronski is 4-0 with a no contest since losing to Dashon Johnson on Nov. 7, 2015. During his current streak, Gavronski has notched victories over the previously undefeated Jake Carr, former contender Brian Vera, Quinton Rankin and knockout specialist Thomas Awimbono.

“Gavronski is a good test. He’s durable, and I know this fight will be great for boxing and boxing fans,” said Hart, whose only career setback came last September when he lost a decision to undefeated Gilberto Ramirez in a bout for the WBO super middleweight title.

Hart has since won his last two fights, knocking out Awimbono in February and defeating Demond Nicholson by seventh-round TKO in a bout for the NABF super middleweight title in March.

Before during pro in 2010, Gavronski was a local amateur sensation. Training with the prestigious Tacoma Boxing Club, he was a three-time Tacoma Golden Gloves champion, winning the 165-pound title three consecutive years (2006-2008) and earning the prestigious Tacoma Golden Boy title, which is presented annually to the tournament’s most outstanding boxer, in 2008.

Tacoma Boxing Club, Gavronski’s first gym, has a history of producing world champions and gold medalists. Tacoma natives Ray Seales, Leo Randolph and Davey Armstrong all captured Olympic gold, while Randolph, Johnny Bumphus, Rocky Lockridge and Freddie Steele all captured world titles.

Gavronski made his pro debut on Jan. 9, 2010, defeating Darren Anzai by TKO at the Emerald Queen Casino. He has fought 12 times at the Tacoma venue, posting a remarkable record of 11-1-0 with six knockouts.

After opening his career with a record of 14-0-1, Gavronski faced future WBC Silver middleweight champion Tureano Johnson for the vacant WBC Continental Americas middleweight title on July 11, 2014. Johnson would win by decision.

Gavronski responded to the setback by winning his next six bouts, including a victory over highly regarded journeyman, Dashon Johnson.

For more information, please visit the Battle at the Boat Facebook page and halquistproductions.com.

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