Chiawana three-sport standout Riley Cissne is SBLive’s 4A Senior Athlete of the Year

Welcome to something that is the first of its kind at SBLive Washington – the WaFd Bank 2019-20 senior male and female athletes of the year for each classification.

Because the SBLive crew gets so immersed in specific sports seasons, it is nice to take a step back to pick a statewide honor on a broader scale.

The criteria isn’t too expansive: The starting point is finding seniors who are all-league/all-state performers in two or more sports. Totality of career is also a factor. So is administrator/coach/fan recommendation.

Enjoy as we honor some of Washington’s top multi-sport senior athletes over the next week!

RELATED: RAIGAN BARRETT 4A GIRL SENIOR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

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(Photo courtesy of Chiawana Athletics)

As Scott Bond continues the transition from Chiawana’s offensive coordinator to the school’s head football coach, he’s confident in the group of players set to return. But there’s one question Bond had a tough time answering. 

How do you replace Riley Cissne?

Perhaps it’s a loaded question. Is there really any way to replace a three-time first team all-Mid Columbia Conference linebacker, who coaches called a “coach on the field” and “the total package?”

“He’s the real deal,” Bond said of the team’s undersized and always over-prepared leader. “He was the leader. He knew what everyone was supposed to do. When they didn’t understand the call, they’d look for Riley.”

The same can be said on the baseball diamond as a catcher, where he was the league MVP as a junior. And in the wrestling circle, where he was a two-time team state champion. Seemingly everything Cissne is involved in, he excels. 

For that, he’s SBLive’s 4A Senior Boy Athlete of the Year.

Cissne has fielded offers for football, wrestling and baseball, and could have reasonably pursued any of the three individually at the next level. Instead, Cissne narrowed down his college choice by picking a school that would allow him to play two sports. That narrowed the list to one: Whitworth University in Spokane. 

“I talked to both coaches and they said it’s gonna be really tough but they said they’ve had kids do it before and make it work,” Cissne said. 

It’s a rare feat, but one that was done by Cissne’s high school football coach Steve Graff, who played football and baseball for two years at Eastern Washington. Cissne says summers will include heavy preparation for football, and once the fall season is over, all attention will turn to baseball. 

If his slight 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame allowed for opponents to underestimate him, he certainly took advantage. What he lacked in sheer size, he made up for in pretty much every measurable — and unmeasurable — category.

“He whacks you, he runs through you, he does all kinds of things,” Bond said. 

Focusing on two sports also means he’s done wrestling competitively. Cissne’s Riverhawks won back-to-back 4A state wrestling titles over the last two seasons. Each of his four years, Cissne has placed at state — eighth as a freshman, eighth as a sophomore, fourth as a junior and third in February as a senior. He was a first team all-MCC selection all four years.

Cissne considers baseball the sport he’s put the most time into starting at a young age. At Chiawana, he’s left a legacy in all three. 

At least one of his coaches is still trying to figure out how to replace him. 

“If we could find (another) one, that’s a good deal for us,” Bond said. “Those are some hard shoes to fill.”

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RILEY CISSNE’S BIO

School: Chiawana

Sports: Football, wrestling, baseball

Next step: Signed to play football and baseball at Division III Whitworth University.

Senior year highlights: First team all-Mid Columbia Conference selection in football, first team all-MCC in wrestling with third place state finish, no senior baseball season (cancelled due to COVID).

Career accomplishments: Two-time 4A state wrestling team champion, placed at state all four years (8th, 8th, 4th, 3rd). Three-year first team all-MCC selection in football at outside linebacker. Four-year all-league selection in baseball, MCC player of the year as a junior. He was one of the state’s top returning baseball players.

School/community achievements: 3.95 GPA, graduating with associate’s degree after completing running start at Columbia Basin College. 

Statewide High School Sports Reporter at SBLive | andy@scorebooklive.com

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