UK softball, baseball ready to swing away

February 2, 2015

The University of Kentucky held its annual Media Day for softball and baseball Monday morning in Commonwealth Stadium’s Wildcat Den and, as one might expect, there are high hopes.

Softball will be first to open its season, Thursday at Florida A&M. The Wildcats will stay in Tallahassee, Fla., through Sunday, with two games each against Florida State and Georgia Southern.

“We’re excited that the season’s opening this Thursday, especially because we just got this cold front,” said Rachel Lawson, who is starting her eighth season as coach of the Cats. “So we’re excited to get on a plane. … We’re expecting another good year for the Wildcats.

“Each year that this staff has been in Lexington, the team that we have has surpassed other goals that we had not hit on the previous years, so we’re excited for another good season. We have a really strong team coming back. We are coming back completely up the middle — we have our catcher back; we have our starting pitcher back, along with another couple of returning pitchers who are sophomores; we have our shortstop; our second baseman acquired a lot of time last year; and our center fielder.”

UK is coming off its first appearance in the College World Series.

UK baseball will open Friday, Feb. 13, by facing Ball State at Wilmington, N.C. The Cats will stay in Wilmington through Sunday, taking on Richmond and UNC-Wilmington.

UK must replace the national player of the year in A.J. Reed.

Candidates to take over the Friday starting pitching role include junior-college transfer Dustin Beggs, sophomores Zack Brown and Robert Zeigler, and junior Kyle Cody. Spencer Jack leads what Coach Gary Henderson thinks will be a deep bullpen.

“We’ve got a chance to match up left and right a little bit better than we have in the past, so those things are all exciting,” Henderson said. “We’ve got a bunch of strike-throwers that I think are going to give us a chance to have a very good pitching staff as it goes. There’ll be some growing pains until I figure out exactly what their strengths are and until they get comfortable. But I feel that’s a part of our club this year that I feel really good about.”

For more in-depth looks at the teams, see the Herald-Leader on Tuesday (softball) and later this week (baseball).


UK soccer men draw Oakland in NCAA

November 17, 2014

The Kentucky men’s soccer team learned Monday that, as expected, it landed an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats (10-5-4) will play host to Horizon League champion Oakland (9-6-3). The match is set for Thursday at 7 p.m.

Thursday’s winner will advance to meet nationally third-seeded Michigan State on Sunday.

UK finished the regular-season as Conference USA regular-season runner-up to Charlotte. The Cats were eliminated by South Carolina in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament.

Louisville, runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, received the national No. 13 seed and a first-round bye. The Cardinals (10-7-3), making their eighth straight NCAA appearance, await the winner of Tulsa and first-round host St. Louis. U of L will host the winner Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

In all, the NCAA field consists of 24 automatic qualifiers and 24 at-large teams. The College Cup Final Four will be decided Dec. 12 and 14 at Cary, N.C.

The top 16 seeds, all receiving first-round byes, are: 1. Notre Dame; 2. UCLA; 3. Michigan State; 4. Maryland; 5. Indiana; 6. Stanford; 7. Clemson; 8. Georgetown; 9. Syracuse; 10. Charlotte; 11. Providence; 12. Creighton; 13. Louisville; 14. Washington; 15. California; 16. Virginia.

UK soccer women host SIU-E in NCAA

November 10, 2014

The University of Kentucky women’s soccer team was named Monday to host Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in a first-round NCAA Tournament match.

The match will be played Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex.

UK (15-6) is a No. 3 seed. SIUE (13-6-1) will be making its first NCAA appearance, having qualified as champion of the Ohio Valley Conference.

Defending champion UCLA is the overall No. 1 seed. The other No. 1 seeds are Southeastern Conference champion Texas A&M, Florida State and Stanford.

UK, No. 17 in the NCAA RPI, is coming off of an SEC Tournament Championship run which saw the Wildcats advance to the SEC finals for the first time since 2006.

UK’s Arin Gilliland, Stuart Pope and Alex Carter each were named to the SEC all-tournament team.

The top 32 teams determined by the NCAA committee were chosen to host an opening round match. The top eight seeded teams will then host one of eight four-team pods in the second and third rounds.


Ky. Pro Football Hall of Fame shindig June 20

June 13, 2014

From the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame …

Golfers are invited to play with some of the NFL’s greatest players from Kentucky as the Class of 2014 is inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame on June 20.

The golf outing will take place at Covered Bridge Golf Club in Sellersburg, Ind., with team entries set at $2,500 and $5,000. All proceeds benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital’s Congenital Heart Center. To register, call (502) 629-8060.

The Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame celebration will take place at the Brown Theatre in Louisville, June 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $25 and may be purchased online at Click on “fundraising events.”

Lexington businessman Frank Minnifield (Henry Clay High School, University of Louisville, Cleveland Browns) will receive the eighth annual Blanton Collier Award for Integrity, an honor named after the former University of Kentucky and Cleveland Browns coach. The award recognizes individuals who have shown outstanding integrity on and off the field. Minnifield, 54, started and grew a successful home-building business. He was the first African-American executive on the Lexington Chamber of Commerce board of directors and was elected chairman of the University of Louisville board of trustees in 2011.

“Frank Minnifield lives out our father’s belief you can accomplish anything so long as you do not care who gets the credit, which explains why he was so surprised to be nominated for this award,” said Dr. Kay Collier McLaughlin, daughter of Blanton Collier, speaking on behalf of her family, the Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group and the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame board. “Frank is a visionary and humanitarian who almost single-handedly created the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame to benefit children in the commonwealth.”

The class of 2014 inductees include:

Sherman Lewis of Louisville (Manual High School 1960, Michigan State ’64), who coached with the San Francisco 49ers (1983-91), Green Bay Packers (1992-99), Minnesota Vikings (2000-01) and Detroit Lions (2002-04).

Elvis Dumervil of Miami (Miami Jackson H.S. 2002, University of Louisville ’05), who played for the Denver Broncos (2006-12) and Baltimore Ravens (2013-present).

Larry Seiple of Allentown, Pa. (William Allen H.S. 1963, University of Kentucky ’67), who played and coached with the Miami Dolphins (1967-78), Detroit Lions (1980-84), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1985-86) and Dolphins (1988-2000).

Mark Clayton of Indianapolis (Cathedral H.S. 1979, University of Louisville ’83), who played for the Miami Dolphins (1983-92) and Green Bay Packers (1993).

The Centre College team from Danville also will be inducted.

Proceeds from the celebration and golf outing will support the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Norton Kosair Children’s Hospital and its Brave Hearts, a support group of local families united by their children’s fight for life after being born with complex congenital heart defects that require heart surgery.


World champ Phillips learned work ethic at UK

June 12, 2014

Olympic gold-medalist. Five-time world champion.

Dwight Phillips knows how to jump far.

Dwight Phillips (Maloney photo)

Dwight Phillips (Maloney photo)

Recently retired after 14 years of competition on the international circuit, Phillips is in Danville through Saturday. He’s passing on his long-jump expertise in the role of staff clinician for Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy, hosted by Centre College.

The camp is something of a homecoming for Phillips, who competed in 1997-98 for Kentucky, then transferred when sprints coach Darryl Anderson was hired at Arizona State.

“Kentucky’s where I learned that hard work and dedication, and I’ve got to attribute a lot of that to Coach (Edrick) Floreal, at the University of Kentucky right now. Because without that, I don’t think I would have become the athlete that I became because he really instilled in me the value of hard work, and I have a strong work ethic as a result. So I’m so grateful for my time in Kentucky.”

Floreal, now the head coach at UK, was coaching jumpers when Phillips was here.

“On my second day of practice at the University of Kentucky, Coach Floreal, he watched me run and he’s checking out my mechanics. And he told me ‘Dwight, if you focus on the long jump, you can be the NCAA champion and the Olympic champion.’ I was like ‘man, this guy is crazy. There is no way in the world that I could possibly become an NCAA champion in the long jump or the triple jump.’

“I mean, I’m a 400-meter runner, and that’s what I wanted to do. But I’d like to express to the younger athletes today, in hindsight, that sometimes you can have somebody else that can see something in you that you don’t see in yourself.”

While at UK, Phillips concentrated on the 400 and dabbled in the triple jump. It wasn’t until he was at Arizona State that he blossomed in the long jump.

He made it to the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, placing eighth.

In 2003, he won indoors and outdoors at the World Championships. A year later, he won Olympic gold at Athens.

“I would have to say the highlight of my career probably was my very first (world) championship in Birmingham, England. I never won an NCAA championship in the long jump; I never won the high school State Meet in the long jump,” Phillips said. “But at that moment, I taught myself how to win on the world stage. And once I got a taste of that, I just wanted more and more and more. I think that was one of the most defining moments of my career. … And, of course, the Olympic gold medalist – that’s just a dream come true.”

Phillips is one of eight Olympians on the Maximum Velocity staff. He is a business partner with one, 800-meter runner Hazel Clark-Riley.

“We came up with an organization called FOSC – Future Olympian Sports Clinics – where we travel the world and help inspire the next generation of Olympians,” Phillips said. “We do it in a unique fashion. Everything we do is implemented or put together by Olympians. We get to travel to different states and teach kids technique, responsibility, life values. We talk about health and wellness, anti-bullying campaigns.

“And most importantly, just teaching them the value of sport. You may not become an Olympic gold-medalist in track and field, but you can become an Olympic gold-medalist in life. And that’s the message that we’re trying to convey to all of our kids and parents as well, to bring up a positive next generation of track and field athletes.”

Olympians weigh in on Tyson Gay

Phillips and several of the Maximum Velocity clinicians were asked about the punishment levied recently against Lexington sprinter Tyson Gay. With nullification of competition results dating to 2012, Gay lost parts of three seasons. But the ban from when he tested positive for using a banned substance was one year rather than the usual two. That’s because Gay cooperated and named names when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency was conducting its investigation.

“I’m very adamant about my message with doping. I don’t think it’s right,” Phillips said. “I don’t think it’s the right message that our governing bodies and doping agencies are sending to the kids that if you give up viable information that you can have a reduction. I think the overall message should be that drugs should not be tolerated, no matter what. And I think we’re sending the wrong message to the sport, to the kids. Personally, I don’t think it’s good for the sport.

“Tyson may be a very good guy, but sports is full of good people that make bad choices or bad decisions that allow bad people to be around them. It’s unfortunate. But at the end of the day, it’s wrong. And what’s wrong is wrong and what’s right is right. I hate it. Quite frankly, I hate the fact that he will be able to come back this year, compete. And other athletes have been working hard that have integrity, and they’re going to be kind of pushed to the side. And that’s really unfortunate.”

Clark-Riley agreed.

“I have a very strong stance against people that use performance-enhancing drugs,” she said. “I don’t know if people understand the implications in that people say ‘well, everyone gets a second chance.’ Yes. But the people that you beat and that you took medals away from don’t necessarily get a second chance. You work very hard in this sport. … For someone to cheat, it’s very frustrating for us athletes. A year seems like a slap on the wrist. It doesn’t necessarily seem fair.

“I don’t know the details behind the scenes, but just on the surface the fact that he’s able to already come back and compete, it’s a little bit frustrating. And it doesn’t really send a message to the people that are willing to cheat. It doesn’t deter them. To me, he still is financially in a great position, still has some great endorsements. And he was able get those, unfortunately, by cheating. … I don’t have an Olympic medal, but I have the fact that I can look back on my career and say everything that I accomplished I accomplished with hard work. And it’s something that my family is proud of. And I still had a very successful career and I can look at children and tell them that I did things the right way. It’s not going to be a fairytale, it’s not going to be easy, but you have to do things the right way.”

From Lexington’s Sharrieffa Barksdale, 400-meter hurdler: “I think it was a fair ruling. … Knowing his character and stuff like that, I’m like Tyson’s second mom. So it is what it is. Tyson is a very honest person and knowing him, he would not do anything intentionally to cause this embarrassment and this dark cloud over him. Tyson, he’s just not type of person. … I believe him and I stand behind Tyson wholeheartedly, because I know what type of person he is. … A lot of people will say he’s a dopey. He’s not. He’s not. He’s the type of person that his character, his principle and his upbringing, it stands for something.”

Kevin Young, 400-meter hurdler: “It just shows the evolution of our sport because years ago WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and USADA would have took more of a hard-nosed stance. … The court of public opinion on Tyson Gay is pretty positive. Everybody knows he’s a standout athlete, a standout person. … He should have been a little more vigilant on his part. However, I’m glad he’ll have an opportunity to participate.”

Sprinter Lauryn Williams: “I just think that he gave the information that he could. He ended up in a really tough situation and I admire the way he’s handling it. He’s been up front. He’s the only person I’ve seen out of any positive tests who addressed the media immediately when he had the positive test. And, last I talked to him, he planned on addressing them and telling kids his story. Because so often people come back from their ban and they don’t say anything. But I know Tyson has a plan that will be able to really impact the youth by telling his story so that they can avoid coming into a situation like he did.

“I don’t know the particulars of everything that happened, but if he cooperates and we’re going to catch more people in the future, then yeah, USADA had to make the decision that was best for the information that was given to them.”

High-hurdler Aries Merritt: “Tyson and me are actually managed by the same agent. Mark Wetmore’s our agent. And I just feel bad about the whole entire situation. As an athlete, I feel like he was betrayed. You just can’t trust everyone. And as athletes, who do we trust? It’s really difficult to put trust in people as it is, and then to put your career on the line, to trust someone and then be let down is just devastating. It cost him a World Championship medal. It cost him his Olympic (silver) medal from London even though he didn’t even test positive during that time. It’s just tragic. I wish him the best and obviously he’s running this year. He’s served his sentence and hopefully he’s learned from this mistake. The whole situation is just bizarre and it’s just awful.”

UK’s Bryant added to The Bowerman watch list

February 6, 2014

Dezerea Bryant of Kentucky and Dani Bunch of Purdue were added to the February edition of the Women’s Watch List for The Bowerman – collegiate track & field’s highest individual honor – which was announced Thursday by The Bowerman Watch List Committee.

In addition, UK hurdler Kendra Harrison is on the “also receiving votes” list for the Bowerman

Bryant, a junior sprinter at Kentucky, and Bunch, a senior thrower at Purdue, parlayed collegiate-leading performances in January into inclusion on The Watch List. Both represent the first appearances by their respective programs on either the men’s or women’s Watch List.

Bryant is the collegiate leader at 60 meters in 7.19 with three of the four fastest times in 2014, and is second among collegians at 200 meters in 23.04.

Bunch is just ¾ of an inch shy of the all-time collegiate top-10 performers list in the weight throw with a nation-leading 73-4 (22.35  meters) with the four best throws among collegians, and is ranked third among collegians in the shot put at 56-4¾ (17.19m).

The duo bumped Florida’s Cory McGee and San Diego State’s Shanieka Thomas down to “also receiving votes” status.

The Bowerman women’s watch list, February 2014

Kamaria Brown (jr., Texas A&M) sprints

Dezera Bryant (jr., Kentucky) sprints

Dani Bunch (sr., Purdue) throws

Abby D’Agostino (jr., Dartmouth) distance

Phyllis Francis (sr., Oregon) middle-distance

Anna Jelmini (sr., Arizona State) throws

Shalaya Kipp (sr., Colorado) distance

Laura Roesler (sr., Oregon) middle-distance

Ashley Spencer (jr., Texas) sprints

Lindsay Vollmer (jr., Kansas) combined events

Also receiving votes — Natalia Bartnovskaya (Kansas); Ciarra Brewer (Florida); Emily Grove (South Dakota); Kendra Harrison (Kentucky); Cory McGee (Florida); Sami Spenner (Nebraska); Shanieka Thomas (San Diego State); Jasmine Todd (Oregon).

Kentucky Pro Football Hall names inductees

January 31, 2014

The Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame announced it 2014 inductees Friday at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville.

They are former Manual and Michigan State running back Sherman Lewis, who served on the coaching staffs of the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions; former Louisville defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil, formerly of the Denver Broncos and now with the Baltimore Ravens; former Kentucky and Miami Dolphins star Larry Seiple, who later coached with Detroit, Tampa Bay and Miami; and former Louisville and Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers receiver Mark Clayton.

In addition, the Centre College football team will be inducted.

“We take delight in remembering that Centre was, in fact, a national power in collegiate sports between 1917 and throughout the 1920s,” said Dr. John Roush, president of Centre. “Bo McMillan and several of his teammates were among the best football players in the country during that time, and Centre’s 1921 team of C6HO fame stands as an important part of the college’s story as a place where extraordinary things occur on a regular basis.”

Frank  Minnifield, out of Henry Clay and the University of Louisville and a former cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, will receive the eighth annual Blanton Collier Award for Integrity, named after the former UK and Browns coach.

The official induction ceremony weekend will take place in Louisville with a ring ceremony on Friday, June 19, followed by a golf-outing fundraiser at Covered Bridge, and the awards banquet at the Brown Hotel on Saturday, June 20.

Proceeds will support the Children’s Hospital Foundation, Norton Kosair Children’s Hospital and its Brave Hearts, a support group of local families united by their children’s fight for life after being born with complex congenital heart defects that require heart surgery.

NCAA Volleyball at Kentucky is postponed

December 6, 2013

The NCAA Volleyball first- and second-round matches at Kentucky, scheduled Friday and Saturday, have been postponed to Saturday and Sunday due to inclement weather.

Matches are set for 2:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday’s opening match will pit No. 20 Michigan State (21-11) against Ohio (27-5). The second match will have No. 17 Kentucky (21-8) taking on Duquesne (20-9).

Saturday’s winners will meet Sunday at 4 p.m.

UK also will play host to NCAA regional play next weekend, Dec. 13-14.

Fans who have already purchased tickets for this weekend will be able to use their all-session and single-session tickets for the revised schedule. Tickets purchased for Friday’s originally scheduled first round will be admissible for Saturday and tickets purchased for Saturday’s originally scheduled second round will be admissible for Sunday.


UK, Morehead, U of L gain NCAA soccer berths

November 11, 2013

Kentucky, Morehead State and Louisville have each received a bid to the NCAA Soccer Tournament.

The draw for the 64-team NCAA field was announced Monday afternoon.

Kentucky and Louisville earned at-large berths, while Morehead qualified as champion of the Ohio Valley Conference. Games will be played at campus sites Friday or Saturday.

UK (13-6-1) will play host to Ohio State (10-6-3) on Friday night at 7:30. Also, Morehead (10-10-1) will travel to Wake Forest (10-6-2) on Saturday at 7 p.m. U of L (12-5-1) will play host to Missouri Valley Conference champion Illinois State (14-6) Saturday at 1 p.m.

UK’s Wildcats will be making their third straight appearance in the NCAA, a school record.

UK  lost in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. With wins over top 60 teams West Virginia, Louisville, Georgia, Dayton and Tennessee, the Wildcats were considered a shoo-in for the at-large NCAA berth they received.

The Cats played host to NCAA first-round matches each of the last two seasons.

Lexington boxer wins World Champs debut

September 24, 2013

A touch of the gloves to USA Boxing for providing this information.

Samantha Kinchen with coach William "Sarge" Farris. (Mark Maloney photo)

Samantha Kinchen with coach William “Sarge” Farris. (Maloney photo)

Lexington boxer Samantha Kinchen opened competition Monday in the Women’s Junior/Youth World Champ-ionships in Albena, Bulgaria, with a dominating 3-0 victory.

Kinchen, a Henry Clay graduate and now a freshman at the University of Kentucky, won all four rounds from Ana-Roxana Patrascu of Romania, doling out a standing eight-count along the way in a youth welterweight (152-pound) bout.

Kinchen advances to the quarterfinals, where she will take on Ukraine’s Tetiana Ryzhenkova on Wednesday. Kinchen is trained by Lexington’s William “Sarge” Farris.

In addition to Kinchen, Team USA also advanced junior bantamweight (119-pound) Jessica Galvez of Sparks, Nev., and junior featherweight (125-pound) JaJaira Gonzalez of Glendora, Calif., both via walkovers as their Italian opponents failed to make weight.

One American was eliminated as youth flyweight (112-pound) Karina Sarabia of El Monte, Calif., lost 3-0 to England’s Crystal Louise Barker.

The Championships will be live streamed throughout the tournament at and Preliminary round bouts will run through Wednesday, with junior competition taking place in the afternoon and the youth women boxing in the evening. The afternoon sessions are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) and evening action will start at 7 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET). All of the tournament participants will enjoy a rest day on Thursday,  prior to semifinals on Friday and the event finals on Saturday, September 28. The junior division championship bouts will begin at noon local time (5 a.m. ET) and the youth final round contests will take place at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET).

Coaches Farris, Jason Crutchfield (Flint, Mich.), Michael Newson (Las Vegas, Nev.), and Bienvenido “Benny” Roman (Brooklyn, N.Y.), will guide the U.S. boxers in Bulgaria with Dr. Larry Lovelace (Oklahoma City, Okla.) serving as the Team Physician.