Today my wide world of sports includes track & field, a Hall of Fame, UK baseball and Olympic sports

March 5, 2009

Spanning the commonwealth and beyond …

The Mason-Dixon Athletic Club will host its 49th annual Mason-Dixon Games, Friday and Saturday, in Broadbent Arena at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

Approximately 3,000 Kentucky middle school and high school athletes will compete, plus about 70 Masters and Open athletes.

Friday’s schedule begins at 4:30 p.m. with Masters and Open events. Middle school events begin at 5:15 p.m.

Saturday’s high school schedule begins at 8 a.m. for Class A, 1 p.m. for 2A and 5 p.m. for 3A. The meet is designated by the Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association as the indoor state championships.

Admission is $5 each day. Officials will again be collected canned goods and non-perishable items, to be donated to the Dare to Care Food Bank.

In conjunction with the Games, the Mason-Dixon Games Hall of Fame induction banquet will be tonight (Thursday) at Wildwood Country Club in Fern Creek.

Inductees include athletes Bobby Brown (long jump), Susie Brutscher (pole vault pioneer), 1976 Olympian Tommy Haynes (triple jump, long jump) and 1968 Olympic gold-medalist (200 meters) Tommie Smith (440 yards), along with officials Ron Althoff, David L. Armstrong, Donnie Ray and Jack Thompson, plus “significant supporter” of the Games David A. Jones.


Al Michaels returns to Olympic broadcasting

Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, announced Thursday that Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Al Michaels will serve as host of NBC’s live weekend and weekday daytime coverage of next year’s Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Michaels last broadcast a Winter Olympics in 1988, also in Canada — Calgary, Alberta.

In 1980, Michaels made the call on what, according to a variety of polls, Americans consider the nation’s top sports moment of the 20th century, The Miracle on Ice hockey victory over the Soviet Union.

“Do you believe in miracles? YES!” was his most memorable line as the game neared the finish at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.

Michaels will host more than 50 hours of live coverage. Although this will mark Michaels’ debut as an Olympic host, he is no stranger to the Games. Vancouver will mark his sixth Olympic assignment.

He covered hockey, biathlon, speed skating, ski jumping and cross-country skiing at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics; hockey at the 1980 Lake Placid Games; figure skating and hockey at the 1984 Sarajevo Games; track and field, plus road cycling, at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games and hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Michaels is the only broadcaster to call a Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host a Stanley Cup Final for network television.


12 semifinalists for Sullivan Award are named

The 12 semifinalists for the 79th annual James E. Sullivan Award include three gymnasts and three swimmers.

Nastia Liukin

Nastia Liukin

The Sullivan Award, named in honor of the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) founder and past president, is presented annually to the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. In addition to athletic accomplishsments, the Sullivan Award considers the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship and the ideals of amateurism.

Gymnasts on the semifinals list are Beijing Olympics all-around champion Nastia Liukin, Olympic balance beam gold-medalist Shawn Johnson and Olympic silver-medalist on the horizontal bar, Jonathan Horton.

Swimming semifinalists are the Olympic men’s 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay champions, Paralympian champion Erin Popovich (four gold medals, two silver) and 41-year-old Olympian Dara Torres (three silver medals).

Also on the list are: Cynthia Barboza, Stanford University, volleyball; Amanda Blumenherst, Duke University, golf; Sam Bradford, University of Oklahoma, football; Tyler Hansbrough, University of North Carolina, basketball; the Lopez family (Olympic medalists Diana, Mark and Steven), taekwondo, and Gerald “Buster” Posey, Florida State University, baseball.

Fan can vote online at The winner will be announced April 15 at the New York Athletic Club.


Trammel is USATF Athlete of Week

Two-time Olympic and World Outdoor silver-medalist Terrence Trammell, winner of the men’s 60-meter hurdles and the Visa Championship Series at last weekend’s USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, is USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week.

Trammell led all the way at Boston, clocking 7.37 seconds to break Reggie Torian’s 10-year-old meet record of 7.38. Trammell just missed the American record (7.36) but did get the fastest time in the world this season.

Among others, Trammell beat Oklahoma State freshman German Fernandez for weekly honors. Running in the Big 12 Indoor Championships at College Station, Texas, Fernandez won the mile in a collegiate-record 3:55.02. Three hours later, Fernandez won the 3,000 meters in the second-best time in meet history, 7:57.21.


60 – 6.51 Jacoby Ford (Clemson) – Blacksburg, Va., 2/28 & Mark Jelks (Nike) – Boston, 3/1     U.S. leaders
200 – 20.66 Trey Harts (Baylor) – College Station, Texas, 2/27
400 – 46.08 Gil Roberts (Texas Tech) – College Station, 2/28    
U.S. leader
800 – 1:48.18 Michael Rutt (Connecticut) – Boston, 2/27
Mile – 3:55.02 German Fernandez (Oklahoma State) – College Station, 2/28 Collegiate Record
3000 – 7:53.67 David Torrence (unat) – Boston, 2/28
5000 – 13:57.49 Jake Schmitt (Washington) – Seattle, 2/27
60H – 7.37 Terrence Trammell (TAS) – Boston, 3/1     World leader
HJ – 2.32/7-7.25 Andra Manson (Nike) – Boston, 2/28
PV – 5.60/18-4.5 Jeremy Scott (unat) – Boston, 2/28
LJ – 7.90/25-11 Mikese Morse (Miami) – Blacksburg, 2/27
TJ – 16.94/55-7 Brandon Roulhac (Shore AC) – Boston, 2/28    
U.S. leader
SP – 20.67/67-9.75 Dan Taylor (Nike) – Boston, 3/1
WT – 23.73/77-10.25 Jake Freeman (unat) – Boston, 3/1
Hept – 5747 Nick Adcock (Missouri) – College Station, 2/28
60 – 7.15 Angela Williams (Nike) – Athens, GRE 2/25 & Lisa Barber (adidas) – Boston 3/1
200 – 22.94 Porscha Lucas (Texas A&M) – College Station, 2/28
400 – 52.34 Dominique Darden (Reebok) – Boston, 3/1
800 – 2:02.39 Phoebe Wright (Tennessee) – Lexington, 3/1    
U.S. leader
1500 – 4:17.37 Anna Willard (Nike) – Boston, 3/1
Mile – 4:25.91 Jenny Barringer (Colorado) – College Station, 2/28 Collegiate Record
3000 – 8:53.27 Amy Begley (Nike) – Boston, 2/28
5000 – 15:55.63 Gwen Jorgensen (Wisconsin) – Bloomington, Ind., 3/1
60H – 7.84 Lolo Jones (Asics) – Boston, 3/1
HJ – 1.93/6-4 Destinee Hooker (Texas) – College Station, 2/28 =U.S. leader
PV – 4.83/15-10 Jenn Stuczynski (adidas) – Boston, 3/1     AMERICAN RECORD
LJ – 6.71/22-0.25 Brittney Reese (Nike) – Boston, 3/1    
U.S. leader
TJ – 13.77/45-2.25 Shakeema Welsch (unat) – Boston, 2/28    
U.S. leader
SP – 18.59/61-0 Jillian Camarena (NYAC) – Boston, 2/28   
U.S. leader
WT – 24.43/ Amber Campbell (Mjolnir) – Boston, 3/1    
U.S. leader
Pent – 4216 Bettie Wade (Michigan) – Bloomington, 2/28

UK baseball opens 3-game set vs. Indiana State

Fresh off Wednesday’s two-out, two-run game-winning ninth-inning homer against Eastern Kentucky, the Kentucky Wildcats will open a three-game series Friday, 4 p.m., against visiting Indiana State.
Wednesday’s 9-8 outcome, courtesy of Chris Bisson’s walk-off homer, was UK’s 24th consecutive home non-conference win.

James Paxton

James Paxton

Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin

The Cats (6-2) and Sycamores (9-2) will meet Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.


UK will go with junior left-hander James Paxton (2-0) in the opener and senior lefty Chris Rusin (1-1) on Saturday. Paxton has 17 strikeouts and only one walk over 11 2/3 innings. Rusin leads the Southeastern Conference with 20 strikeouts, including a career-high 12 in a win over Western Michigan. Sunday’s starter is to be announced.

Cats add two games to schedule

Having lost a game because of inclement weather last weekend, UK has added a pair of games to its schedule.
The Cats will play host to Georgetown College, Tuesday at 4 p.m., and Wright State, April 1 at 6 p.m.

Pre-game clinic Saturday

UK’s third annual (free) coaching clinic will take place before Saturday’s game at Clilff Hagan Stadium, 8-10 a.m.
The clinic will feature drills pertaining to pitching, fielding, hitting, base-running and catching. All coaches in attendance will receive free admission for themselves and a friend to the UK-Indiana State game.

Briefly: James Johnson, Bobby Curtis


James Johnson, right, with Helena Hau and myself in Beijing.

James Johnson, right, with Helena Hau and myself in Beijing.

James Johnson,

a three-time national champion Greco-Roman wrestler out of the University of Kentucky, has been on tour since Feb. 23 as coach of U.S. Greco-Roman athletes competing in the Hungary Grand Prix and in Slovakia. The tour ends Sunday.

* Former state high school champion Bobby Curtis (St. Xavier, Villanova) placed third at last month’s U.S. Cross Country Championships. That earns him a spot on the Team USA squad that will run in the World Championships at Amman, Jordan, on March 28. Meb Keflezighi won the U.S. title, followed by Tim Nelson, Curtis and 2008 Olympic 10,000-meter runner Jorge Torres.
* Former UK standout Allison Grace helped Team USA place seventh at the recent Yokohama International Women’s Ekiden. The 14-team relay event was won by Japan in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 27 seconds. Grace, who trains out of Blowing Rock, N.C., as part of the Zap Fitness club, anchored with a 5.195-kilometer leg in 17:47. Carrie Messner Vickers led off for Team USA, followed by Desiree Davila, Samia Akbar, Stephanie Herbst-Lucke, Melissa White and Grace.



Weekend mat preview — wrestling, gymnastics

February 5, 2009

More than a dozen countries will be represented this weekend at USA Wrestling’s Dave Schultz Memorial International Open. The competition, Friday through Sunday, will take place at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

With a nod to USA Wrestling media contact Gary Abbott for providing background information …

Greco-Roman standouts include Americans Lindsey Durlacher, Sam Hazewinkel and Harry Lester, along with Bulgaria’s Aleksander Kostadinov. Durlacher (55 kg) is a 2006 World Championships bronze medalist; Hazewinkel (55 kg) is the 2008 University Worlds champ; Lester (74 kg) is the 2006 and ’07 World bronze medalist, and Kostadinov (55 kg) is the 2007 and ’08 Junior World champion.

James Johnson

James Johnson

Incidentally, University of Kentucky graduate James Johnson, a three-time national champion, is coaching the Greco-Roman talent for the Sunkist Kids.

Top entrants in men’s freestyle include India’s Sushil Kumar and Russians Darsam Dzaparov, Magomed Zubairov and Evgeni Kolomiets. Kumar (66 kg) is the reigning Olympic bronze medalist; Dzaparov (66 kg) is the 2006 Junior World champion; Zubairov (74 kg) is the 2008 Junior World champion; and Kolomiets (96 kg) is the 2008 World University champion. 

Women’s freestylers include Carol Huynh, Clarissa Chun, Iwona Matkowska-Sadowska, Patricia Miranda, Katherine Fulp-Allen, Aka Tomar, Sylwia Bilenska, Tonya Verbeek, Tatyana Lazareva, Adeline Gray, Monika Ewa Michalik and Agnieszka Wieszczek.

At 48 kg, Canada’s Huynh is the 2008 Olympic gold medalist; Team USA’s Chun is the 2008 World champion; and Poland’s Matkowska-Sadowska is the 2006 World bronze-medalist. 

At 51 kg, Miranda is the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and four-time winner of the Schultz Memorial, and fellow American Fulp-Allen is the 2008 Junior World champion.

At 55 kg, India’s Tomar is the 2006 World bronze medalist; Poland’s Bilenska is the 2004 World University champion; Canada’s Verbeek is the 2004 and ’08 Olympic bronze medalist; and Ukraine’s Lazareva is the 2004 World University champion and ’08 World silver medalist. 

Gray, of the U.S., is the 2008 Junior World champ at 67 kg, while Poland’s Michalik is the 2006 and ’07 World bronze medalist.

Wieszczek, also a Pole, is the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.

* Wrestling is on tap in Lexington as well. The Lexington City Championships will take place Saturday at Tates Creek High School. Finals begin at 1:30 p.m.

Arkansas visits UK gymnasts; Hall of Fame class named

Switching from wrestling mat to floor exercise mat, Kentucky’s women will entertain third-ranked Arkansas in a Southeastern Conference meet, Friday at 7 p.m. This will be the annual “Pink Meet” at Memorial Coliseum, in support of UK HealthCare’s Markey Cancer Center.

The Cats have dropped three straight SEC meets after opening with a non-conference victory over Utah State. Arkansas is 4-1 overall, 2-0 in the SEC.

Admission is $1 for fans wearing pink, full price for others. A portion of proceeds will benefit breast cancer research, education and treatment at the Markey Cancer Center. The first 300 fans will receive a pink mug.

Friday also is designated as Girl Scouts Night, with free admission for those wearing Girl Scouts uniforms or T-shirts.

Heather Hite

Heather Hite

After the meet, UK’s sophomore gymnasts will sign autographs.

Last week, at No. 8 Florida, Heather Hite and Hillary Ferguson led UK on the balance beam, each scoring 9.750 to tie for second place.

Hillary Ferguson

Hillary Ferguson

Natalie Rubinstein, ranked 18th on the uneven bars, led the Cats in that event as she has all season, scoring 9.825.

Ferguson, No. 21 nationally in floor exercise, scored 9.825 at Florida to place third overall. She also took third in the all-around at 39.075.

Natalie Rubinstein

Natalie Rubinstein

Arkansas, coming off a win over No. 9 Alabama, is led by Casey Jo Magee. Ranked third nationally, she won her fifth all-around of the season by scoring 39.450. Ranked No. 2 on the floor, she scored 9.925 in that event.

* USA Gymnastics this week announced its 2009 class of inductees for the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

The HOFers include: 2004 Olympic all-around gold medalist Carly Patterson; 2004 rhythmic Olympian Mary Sanders; 2000 Olympian Steve McCain; and 1996 Olympian John Macready.

Also elected: two-time World Acrobatic champions Shenea Booth and Arthur Davis; trampoline and tumbling coach/judge Pat Wilson Henderson; trampolinist James Yongue; Temple University coach Fred Turoff, and the 1999 World Championships gold-medal double mini-trampoline team of Karl Heger, Mark Griffith, Byron Smith and Ryan Weston.

The Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony is set for Friday, Aug. 14, as part of the USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show at Dallas, which is held in conjunction with the Visa Championships. More information is available at