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.



Track and field goes prime time at U. of Kentucky with High School Invitational, SEC Championships

February 21, 2009

If you love track and field — and I do — the University of Kentucky’s Nutter Field House is a slice of Eden right now.

Coming next weekend, Feb. 27-March 1, the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships.

Just finished Saturday, the UK High School Invitational.

Entrants from 17 states. Winners from 10 states. Season-leading high school performances in seven events (although Nutter’s 291-meter track relegates marks made at distances over 200 meters to the “oversized track” category).

Kentucky had only one winner, Sacred Heart Academy sophomore Emma Brink in the mile. A strong finish enabled her to hold off the defending champion, Madeline Morgan of Alabama’s Mountain Brook Track Club, 4:55.75 to 4:57.28.

While Brink missed Morgan’s year-old meet record (4:52.70), she broke her personal best — set just three weeks earlier — by 14 seconds!

“Fast start. I know we did a 2:26 half,” Brink said in explaining her drop in time. “We had great leaders. I tried to just keep with the top group and then, with a lap-and-a-half to go, my coach said ‘surge!’ That’s his favorite word.

“So I knew just to push as hard as I can, opening my arms because that helps to open your stride. It was a great race to the end. Very close.”

A two-time Class 3A state cross country champion, Brink said it was “very exciting” to win one for the commonwealth Saturday.

As for those national-leading marks, four went to the girls:

* Jasmin Stowers, a junior from Pendleton, S.C., took her U.S.-leading time of 8.44 in the 60-meter hurdles down to 8.43.

* Another South Carolina junior, Briana Nelson of Greenville, zipped 400 meters in 54.34.

* Takeia Pinckney, a senior from Decatur, Ga., came in with a nation-leading 7.45. Saturday, she slashed her time to 7.33 to nudge out Chalonda Goodman (7.34). Stowers was fifth (7.65).

* Goodman, from Newnan, Ga., rebounded to defend her meet title in the 200 (23.79) and defeat both Nelson (second, 24.48) and Pinckney (fifth, 24.86).

Brittany Porter, another Decatur standout, didn’t get a nation-leading mark. However, she did sweep the long jump (meet-record 18-7.75) and triple jump (39-0.75).

Three nation-leading marks were set by the guys:

* Tavaris Tate, a senior from Starkville, Miss., took the 400 in 47.06. He also set a meet record of 21.41 in the 200.

* Wayne C. Davis II, a Texas A&M recruit from Raleigh, N.C., came in leading in the 60-meter hurdles at 7.79. He whacked a full tenth of a second off to 7.69.

* Zach Wills, a sophomore from Mason, Ohio, posted a meet-record 9:13.04. That’s the fastest two-mile this season, although there have been four better efforts registered when converting metric deuces to the imperial distance.

Wills outkicked University of Kentucky recruit Matthew Sonnenfeldt (9:15.56) of Knoxville, Tenn.

Another UK recruit, Patrick McGregor of Hoover, Ala., won the mile in 4:21.34 in sit-and-surge (with 500 meters left) fashion.

Comments from some of the winners:

Texas recruit Chalonda Goodman, after the 200, on where her training is now compared with a year ago: “I think that’ I’m kind of behind. But all my times are contrary to that because I’m running faster this year than I was at this time last year, especially in the 60. I PR’d today. So I’m happy.”

Briana Nelson, 400-meter winner (54.34): “I’m really satisfied with it. I was going for the (meet) record (54.07) but … I tried to put down a good time.”

Tavaris Tate, on his 200-meter strategy: “Get out strong, stay out in front and keep my pace.”

Tate on running the fastest 200 of the season: “I’ve been training for big events and I just thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to come up here and showcase my talents. It’s a blessing to be No. 1, and that’s what I strive to do.”

Wayne C. Davis II on the 60-meter hurdles: “I just think my rhythm’s getting better as I go along this season. I’m getting better and better. And I really like that after I lifted a lot of weights this week. I felt sore. I thought I was going to do terrible. I actually came out and did pretty good.”

Davis on his recent national record in the 55-meter hurdles (7.05): “After that race I was the most sore I’ve been in my life. I took myself to the limit, so it takes a little time to recover from that.”

Kenneth Gilstrap, who nipped Titans Elite (Ga.) teammate Eric Harris in the 60, 6.86 to 6.87: “I didn’t run like I was supposed to. Bad drive phase. Bad finish. I tightened up. So I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Gilstrap, a Middle Tennessee State football recruit (likely cornerback but possibly running back or receiver), on racing Harris: “We’re good friends. Competitors. He work(s) hard, I work hard. Just like to run against each other, have fun.”

Patrick McGregor, on his move from fifth place to first near the halfway point of the mile: “Just sit back for a little bit and try and find a gap. Because I was slowing down a lot, so I figured I’d get boxed in if I didn’t move soon. So I did.”

McGregor, on his time (4:21.34): “I’ve been sick all week, so expectations were not as high as they were a couple weeks ago in Boston (where he ran 4:09.41). I didn’t really have any expectations at Boston, but it’s going to be hard to try and repeat something like that. So I’m just trying to keep working hard. It’s all about finding the right race, run against good guys with that mindset and just try to compete and win. And the time is irrelevant.”



Top three finishers, plus Kentuckians placing among top six. Race distances in meters unless noted. No team scoring.


High jump — Alexandra Morgan (Mtn. Brook, Ala.) 5 feet, 8 inches; Alyssa Hall (Withrow, Ohio) 5-8; Mary Seward (Cobb, Ga., TC) 5-6.

Long jump — Brittany Porter (Triple Action, Ga.) 18-9 (breaks meet record of 18-7 3/4 set by Whitney Marsh, Mtn. Brook TC, Ala., 2003); Kawanna Brooks (Kenwood Academy, Ill.) 18-6; Hannah Cox (Tenn. Elite TC) 17-5. Also: 5. Samantha Smith (Mt. Vernon, Ky.) 17-0.

Triple jump — Brittany Porter (Triple Action, Ga.) 39-0 3/4; Kawanna Brooks (Kenwood Acad., Ill.) 36-1; Lexie Burley (Slipstream TC, Tenn.) 36-0 1/2. Also: 5. Samantha Smith (Mt. Vernon, Ky.) 35-1 1/2; 6. Michaela Hunter (Mt. Vernon, Ky.) 34-1 1/4).

Pole vault — Alyson Hasty (Precision TC, Tenn.) 11-0; (Tie) Laura Bedsole (Hoover, Ala., TC), Alex Metzger (Indianapolis), Sandi Morris (Quick Striders, S.C.) and Leigh Allen (Lexington) 10-6.

Shot put — Brittany Wilson (Harrison, Ohio) 39-7 1/4; Jessie Harrison (Houston TC, Tenn.) 35-11 1/2; Courtney Kruger (Cordova TC, Tenn.) 34-4 1/4.

Mile — Emma Brink (Louisville) 4:55.75; Madeline Morgan (Mtn. Brook, Ala.) 4:57.28; Allie Scalf (Johnson City, Tenn.) 5:06.27.

60 hurdles — Jasmin Stowers (Quick Striders, S.C.) 8.43; Christienne Linton (Mich. Accelerators) 8.67; DanHeisha Harding (Chaminade Juli., Ohio) 9.10. Fastest qualifier: Stowers, 8.56.

60 — Takeia Pinckney (Titans Elite, Ga.) 7.33; Chalonda Goodman (New Horizon TC, Ga.) 7.34; Mahagony Jones (Rhodes Rams, Ohio) 7.59. Fastest qualifiers: Goodman (7.4483) and Pinckney (7.4500), 7.45.

400 — Briana Nelson (Quick Striders, S.C.) 54.34; Lauren Ellis (Quick Striders) 56.88; Ashley Liverpool (Walnut Hills, Ohio) 57.24.

800 — Cory McGee (Pass Christian, Miss.) 2:14.74; Marie Demedicis (Mtn. Brook, Ala.) 2:17.46; Cristin Gonzales (Quiet Storm, Va.) 2:17.81.

200 — Chalonda Goodman (New Horizon TC, Ga.) 23.79; Briana Nelson (Quick Striders, S.C.) 24.48; Mahagony Jones (Rhodes Rams, Ohio) 24.74.

 Two-mile — Amber Zimmerman (Knoxville, Tenn., TC) 11:15.35; Claire Turner (Red Bank TC, Tenn.) 11:25.84; Mary Cumbee (Wildrbeast TC, Tenn.) 11:32.88. Also: 4. Emme McAtee (Louisville) 11:45.18; 6. Tenny Ostrem (Campton, Ky.) 11:50.34.

4-by-400 relay — Mich. Accelerators 3:53.95; Withrow, Ohio 4:00.60; Mountain Brook, Ala. 4:04.97.

4-by-800 relay — Mountain Brook, Ala., 9:45.75; Mich. Accelerators 9:46.79; Action TC, W.Va., 9:55.90.


High jump — Anthony May (Hoover, Ala., TC) 6-10 1/2; J.R. Leonard (Mtn. Brook, Ala.) 6-4; Justin Meyer (Elder, Ohio) 6-4. Also: 6. Bud Fancer (Hebron Skywalker) 6-0.

Long jump — Damar Forbes (Sprint Athletics, Ga.) 24-7 1/2; Tyler Anderson (21-9) Tyler Anderson (Antioch, Tenn.) 21-9; Reggie Mitchell (Elder, Ohio) 21-8. Also: 5. Dylan Millay (Owensboro) 21-5.

Triple jump — C.J. Davidson (Carolina Rdrn, S.C.) 46-11 1/2; Tyler Anderson (Antioch, Tenn.) 45-7 1/2; J’Don Short (Knoxville, Tenn., TC) 42-8.

Pole vault — Ryan Cook (Precision TC, Tenn.) 15-0; John Greenlee (St. Xavier, Ohio) 15-0; Cory Duggan (Mnsgr Farrell, N.Y.) 15-0.

Shot put — Bruck Brucker (Purple-Gold TC, Tenn.) 57-4 3/4; Cameron Frazier (Owensboro) 55-5; Brandon Turner (Indy Elite TC, Ind.) 52-8 3/4. Also: 5. Tony Pogue (FRSI TC, Ky.) 51-7; 6. Patrick Stuart (American Big Guys, Ky.) 51-1.

Mile — Patrick McGregor (Hoover TC, Ala.) 4:21.34; Scott Lasiter (Flashes TC, Ind.) 4:23.52; Ryan Eaton (Team Gator TC, Ky.) 4:24.49. Also: 4. Robbie Scharold (Northern Ky. TC) 4:25.25.

60 hurdles — Wayne C. Davis III (SE Raleigh, N.C.) 7.69 (breaks meet record of 7.73 set by William Wynne, Titans Elite, 2008); Renaldo Powell (Mich. Accelerators) 8.04; Damar Forbes (Sprint Athletics, Ga.) 8.13 Fastest qualifier: Davis, 7.85.

60 — Kenneth Gilstrap (Titans Elite, Ga.) 6.86; Eric Harris (Titans Elite) 6.87; Blake Heriot (Pacesetter, Ohio) 6.90. Fastest qualifier: Gilstrap, 6.84.

400 — Tavaris Tate (Starkville, Miss.) 47.06; Blake Heriot (Pacesetter, Ohio) 47.53; Will Henry (Trotwood, Ohio) 47.91.

800 — Moise Frisch (Toledo Whitmer, Ohio) 1:54.94; Geoff Spencer (Louisville) 1:56.86; Jordan Cheney (Knoxville, Tenn., TC) 1:56.89. Also: Thomas Canary (Lexington) 1:57.03.

200 — Tavaris Tate (Starkville, Miss.) 21.41 (equals meet record set by Mike Lloyd, unattached N.C., 2002); Eric Harris (Titans Elite, Ga.) 21.54; Blake Heriot (Pacesetter, Ohio) 21.71. Also: 4. Ben Mason (Lexington) 21.90.

Two-mile — Zach Wills (Mason, Ohio,TC) 9:13.04 (breaks meet record of 9:13.76 set by Chad Balyo, Springboro, Ohio, 2006); Matthew Sonnenfeldt (Knoxville, Tenn. TC) 9:15.56; Clint McKelvey (Knoxville TC) 9:26.92. Also: 5. Jackson Carnes (Louisville) 9:36.57.

4-by-400 relay — Trotwood, Ohio 3:20.66; Monsgr Farrell, N.Y., 3:22.34; Mich. Accelerators 3:24.03. Also: 4. Radcliff, Ky., 3:27.72.

4-by-800 relay — Monsgr Farrell, N.Y., 8:05.29; Zip Express, Ky., 8:14.35; Wilderbeast TC, Tenn., 8:15.95. Also: 4. Louisville 8:17.76.