Here is a local version of the ESPY Awards, recognizing feats from July 1 of last year to June 30 of this year. Feel free to point out as many snubs as you want.
There might not be much Seattle representation at the ESPY Awards Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been plenty to celebrate around Puget Sound.
From record-setting stretches, to out-of-nowhere upsets, to mind-boggling comebacks, our area teams and athletes have been a long way from boring the past 12 months.
So with that in mind, here is a local version of the ESPYs, recognizing feats from July 1 of last year to June 30 of this year. Feel free to point out as many snubs as you want.
Best male athlete: Russell Wilson
This one isn’t close. The Seahawks quarterback led the NFL in passer rating (110.1) as he dismantled opponents from inside and outside the pocket. His performance from Nov. 22 through Dec. 20, during which he threw 19 touchdowns and no interceptions, might be the finest five-game stretch in league history. There are still some who wonder if Wilson is an elite QB, but there is no debating whether he had an elite year.
Best female athlete: Kelsey Plum
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This one is a little closer. Kim Little tallied 10 goals and an NWSL-leading seven assists to help lead the Reign to the league final. But Plum posted 25.9 points per game — good for fourth in the nation — for a Huskies women’s basketball team that reached its first Final Four. The soon-to-be-senior is 976 points shy of becoming the all-time Division I women’s basketball scoring leader. She had 960 last season.
Best moment: Mariners’ comeback win over Padres
On June 2, Seattle entered the top of the sixth inning trailing San Diego 12-2. By the middle of the seventh, the M’s led 14-12.
Highlighted by seven consecutive two-out singles in the top of the seventh, the Mariners’ 16-13 victory was the highest-scoring game ever played at Petco Park.
Best upset: Washington State’s 45-38 win at Oregon
Taking the Cougars’ successful 2015 into account, not to mention the absence of Ducks QB Vernon Adams, this result makes more sense in retrospect. At the time, however, the double-overtime win on October 10 felt like Cockroach beats Shoe. Remember that, one month earlier Wazzu had lost to Portland State, and the week after that had to rally to beat Rutgers. If there was a turning point for this infamously tenuous program, it came that night in Eugene.
Best play: UW’s Ying Luo holing out in the NCAA women’s golf championship
Apologies to Wilson, who took a bad snap that should have cost the Hawks 20 yards in a playoff game and turned it into a 35-yard season-saving completion. Unfortunately, when Luo sank a 61-yard wedge shot for birdie on the 18th hole to win her match, it downgraded Ciara’s hubby to silver-medal status.
Luo’s hole-out was the final stroke of her college career, as the Huskies went on to win their first national title with a 3-2 victory over Stanford.
Best breakthrough athlete: Seahawks’ Thomas Rawls
No 12th man wanted to envision a world sans Marshawn Lynch in uniform, but injuries to Beast Mode made that so for much of last season. And it hardly mattered.
Rawls dazzled fans and dumbfounded foes by leading all running backs in yards per carry (5.6) in 2015. The undrafted rookie rushed for 169 yards on 23 carries vs. the Bengals, then went for 209 yards on 30 carries vs. the 49ers in his next start.
Best comeback athlete: Robinson Cano
Seventy games into last season, Cano had two home runs — which was one for every $120 million on his 10-year contract. At the All-Star break this season, the Mariners’ second baseman is hitting .313 with 21 homers and a major-league-leading 202 total bases. Obviously, the past month or so hasn’t been kind to the M’s, who quickly faded from the divisional race. But knowing the team’s best everyday player is back to his old self might spark some optimism among fans in the second half.
Best championship performance: Chantel Osahor, NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional
Huskies coach Mike Neighbors said opponents never believe the film when scouting Osahor. They are consistently convinced they can handle her in real time, but as she proved in Lexington, Ky., last March — they can’t.
Chantel’s flat-footed set shot — which was responsible for her hitting 6 of 13 three-pointers in the regional — later was featured on ESPN’s Sports Science.