GilmerFreePress.net

Tennis

Tennis

Sports News

The Free Press WV

►  MEC: WVSU Wins MEC Women’s Tennis Title

West Virginia State won its fourth Mountain East Conference Women’s Tennis Tournament title in five years defeating Charleston, 5-2, on Sunday at the Brian David Fox Tennis Center.

With the win, the Yellow Jackets earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament in the spring.

WVSU had to rally from an early 2-1 deficit in doubles. UC’s tandem of Kristine Gegeshidze and Katie Swann won at No. 1 doubles, and Elise Edwards and Silvana Slusarciuc picked up a win at No. 2 doubles. The Yellow Jackets salvaged a point at No. 3 doubles with a win by Kayla McKnight and Nika Tadic.

West Virginia State started strong in singles as MEC Player of the Year Laura Isbey picked up a win at No. 1 singles over Swann, 6-1, 6-1. Kierstin Hensley earned a win at No. 2 singles to give WVSU the 3-2 lead.

Tadic worked quickly losing just one game in two sets on her way to a win at No. 6 singles. The tournament-clinching win came at No. 5 singles as McKnight downed Alize Uyttenhove, 6-3, 6-3.


►  MEC Football Roundup (October 21)

West Virginia Wesleyan 20, Notre Dame 13

West Virginia Wesleyan stunned Notre Dame, 20-13, on Saturday afternoon at Mueller Field.

The Bobcats (4-4) slowed down the high-powered offense of Notre Dame (6-2) on Saturday limiting the Falcons to their lowest point total of the season. NDC was able to rush for 222 yards, but threw for just 78. West Virginia Wesleyan out-gained Notre Dame 308-300 on the afternoon.

WVWC’s Tra Jackson provided the first points in the game in the second quarter with a one-yard plunge to open the second quarter. The Falcons got on the board with a Malik Grove two-yard touchdown run, but the extra point was blocked to make it 7-6 in favor of Wesleyan heading into halftime.

The Falcons took their first lead of the afternoon late in the third quarter on a four-yard Brian Walker touchdown run. The Bobcats had the answer, though, as Ryan Deal found Ryan Gumbita for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-13 WVWC with still 7:11 left in the game.

The score remained that way until the waning moments when Notre Dame had one more chance taking over at its own 18 yard line with 1:17 left. NDC was able to get the ball to near midfield with six seconds left, but the Bobcats ended the game in dramatic fashion with a sack and a forced fumble by Davari Gill that was scooped up by Aman Speed Jr. who raced 35 yards to the end zone with no time left on the clock sealing the win for West Virginia Wesleyan.

Jackson finished with 106 yards and one touchodwn to lead WVWC. Luke Casey completed 8-of-12 passes for 106 yards, and Deal added 5-of-11 passing for 54 yards and a score. The defensive effort was led by Cody Goode who had 12 tackles (eight solo), including two for a loss with a sack. Brandon Grayson had a pair of sacks Keith Johnson added two TFL.

Grove led the rushing attack for NDC with 104 yards on 30 carries. He was also 13-of-18 passing for 78 yards. R.J. Goodwin led NDC with six tackles (1.5 TFL). Claudy Mathieu added 2.5 TFL for the Falcons.


West Virginia State 39, West Liberty 33

West Virginia State rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to send the game into ovetime where it prevailed 39-33 over West Liberty on Saturday afternoon at Lakin Field.

After falling behind 33-19 early in the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets (5-3) responded with a 10-play, 63-yard drive capped by a Juwan Etheredge touchdown run to get within a score. The score remained until late in the game when WVSU took over from its own 14-yard line with 4:25 left, and the Yellow Jackets marched down the field 86 yards in 3:35 to send the game to overtime. Matt Kinnick hit Quinton Gray from 11 yards out for the game-tying score.

In overtime, WLU (2-6) got the ball first and picked up a first down on the first play from scrimmage, but a false start penalty helped stall the drive and the Hilltoppers had to settle for a field goal attempt. The attempt, though, was no good, allowing WVSU needing any score for the win. It didn’t take long, though, as Etheredge took the first play for the Yellow Jackets 24 yards for the score that ended the game.

Etheredge finished with 111 yards and the two scores to help lead the WVSU offense. Kinnick was 26-of-40 for 241 yards and one TD. Gray hauled in 10 passes for 98 yards. Aaron Ball added four field goals to help aid the WVSU scoring.

Jeremiah Ortiz had a big day for West Liberty with 179 yards on the ground, and Savion Johnson added 16 carries for 90 yards and a score. Lukas O’Connor completed 11-of-23 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns.

Darius Goode racked up 15 tackles for West Virginia State, and Noah Hoxie had eight tackles and a sack. Logan Deri led West Liberty with 14 tackles, including two for a loss. Ty Holes had 11 stops and broke up two passes.


Fairmont State 18, Glenville State 15 (OT)

Sam Keil’s six field goals were enough to lead Fairmont State past Glenville State, 18-15, in overtime on Saturday afternoon at Morris Stadium.

Keil’s was 6-of-7 on field goal attempts in the victory for Fairmont State (5-3). His final make in overtime came from 34 yards out.

Glenville State’s Kevin Flores made three field goals, but missed from 41 yards as Glenville State got the ball first in overtime to allow FSU to just need three points for the win.

Dominique Gibson had the only touchdown in the game for either team with a four-yard run early in the second quarter (the PAT was no good).

The game was statistically even in most categories. GSC’s Jaylen McNair had 202 yards passing, while his counterpart Takwan Crews-Naylor had 178 through the air.

Fairmont State’s Marcus Porter had seven tackles on the day, as did Naiquan Thomas. Stephen Turner came up with the only turnover in the game with an interception.

Glenville State’s Andre Dalton piled up 12 tackles for the Pioneers and broke up two passes. Tristin Freeman had 10 total tackles with a TFL.


Charleston 27, UVa-Wise 21

Charleston held off UVa-Wise, 27-21, on Saturday afternoon at Carl Smith Stadium.

The Golden Eagles (3-4) controlled the line of scrimmage rushing for 150 yards and just allowing 52 on the ground for UVa-Wise (4-4). UC had 21 first downs on the game, including 12 through the air. The Cavaliers struggled turning the ball over losing three fumbles and having one pass intercepted.

UC took control of the game early going out to a 21-0 lead before UVa-Wise got a score before halftime to make it 21-7. Andre Hamilton returned a blocked field goal attempt in the third quarter to get the Cavs within a TD, but UC made it a two-score game again after a Dylan Miles field goal. Jacob Cousins hauled in a 77-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-21, but Miles hit another field goal to put the Golden Eagles up six. UVa-Wise had the ball with two minutes left, but a fumble ended any last-ditch efforts the Cavs had.

Tevion Cappe had 109 yards rushing and one touchdown. The Golden Eagles used a pair of quarterbacks on Saturday with Brant Grisel completing 9-of-16 for 119 yards and Mason Olszewski completing 9-of-13 for 123 yards and TD. D’Andre Brooks had six catches for 98 yards.

John Cominsky had nine stops, including 4.0 for a loss in the game with a sack. Khazin Daniels had a pair of sacks and another one for a loss. Luke Sears had the interception for the Golden Eagles.

For UVa-Wise, Jarome Johnson was 9-of-19 for 153 yards with two TDs and an interception. Buster Henderson had eight stops for the Cavs, including 3.5 for a loss with two sacks.


#2 Shepherd 48, Urbana 14

The second-ranked Shepherd Rams got off to a quick start and never looked back in a 48-14 win over Urbana on Saturday afternoon at Rams Stadium.

After Urbana (3-5) got the early lead on its first possession on a 75-yard pass from Tajuan Green to Trevon Saunders, Shepherd (7-0) rattled off the game’s next 48 points. Shepherd had 479 yards of total offesne in the victory.

Connor Jessop had four touchdown passes and 259 yards passing in the win. Four Rams combined for 200 yards rushing. Wanya Allen added a pair of TD receptions. The Rams sacked Urbana six times in the game with Bruno Anyangwe and Elijah Norris each recording two.

Green had 240 yards passing and one score for Urbana. Duray Hall had 10 tackles, and L.A. Kelly nine stops to go with a fumble recovery for a touchdown.


Concord 31, UNC Pembroke 22

Zack Keaton hit three field goals and Jonathan Roebuck had an interception return for a touchdown to help Concord to a 31-22 non-conference win over UNC Pembroke.

UNC Pembroke (1-6) had more yards of total offense, more first downs and had the ball for nearly 34 minutes in the loss. The Mountain Lions (2-6), though, were able to get big plays and timely defensive stops and turnovers to earn the win.

Trailing 15-11 in the second quarter, Jamal Petty ripped off a 77-yard touchdown, and then Roebuck intercepted a pass on UNCP’s next possession to stake Concord to the 25-15 lead. After allowing a touchdown on the first possession for the Braves, Concord forced two turnovers and two punts the rest of the way to shut down UNC Pembroke. Keaton added a pair of field goals in the second half for the win.

Petty finished the day with 120 yards and the one score. Quarterback Adam Fulton added 123 yards through the air. Zach Malone led the defense with 10 tackles.

UNCP quarterback Dominick Samson was 24-of-35 for 283 yards with one touchdown and two picks. Miles Grant managed 71 yards on the ground with a score. Cameron Williams had six tackles, including two for a loss, and also forced a fumble for the Braves.


►  MEC: WVWC Women, Concord Men Take Cross Country Titles

West Virginia Wesleyan placed its top seven runners in the top 16 to propel the Bobcats to the 2017 Mountain East Conference Women’s Cross Country Championship on Saturday morning at the Bridgeport Recreation Complex.

The Bobcats won the title with just 35 points, ahead of Wheeling Jesuit’s 47 points. Concord was third with 68 points, followed by Charleston (115), Fairmont State (139), West Liberty (188), UVa-Wise (197), Notre Dame (218) and Glenville State (226).

Kelsey Chambers won her third-straight MEC Championship title and was also named the league’s Runner of the Year for the third-consecutive season. She finished the 6,000-meter race with a time of 23:09. Teammate Kaitlyn Workman was second with a time of 23:29.

WVWC’s contingent was led by senior Sydney Pineault who was third (24:08). The Bobcats also had Madison Frame (6th), Joanna Johnston (7th), Lexi Beach (9th) and Michaela Peterson (10th) earn first team honors by finishing in the top 10. Zoey Vilasuso (15th) and Rachel Englund (16th) earned second team recognition and rounded out the scoring for WVWC.

Also earning first team honors was Kelly Whittaker (UC), Sydney Haynes (CU), Emily Maddow (FSU). Haynes was named Freshman of the Year for her efforts this fall.

West Virginia Wesleyan head coach Jesse Skiles was selected as the league’s Coach of the Year for guiding the Bobcats to their fourth MEC title in five years.


►  MEC: Concord Wins Third-Straight Men’s XC Title

Concord picked up its third-straight Mountain East Conference Men’s Cross Country title on Saturday morning at the Bridgeport Recreation Complex.

The Mountain Lions had four runners in the top 10 and five in the top 14 to take the title with 32 points. The University of Charleston was second with 47 points, followed by West Virginia Wesleyan in third with 54. Wheeling Jesuit was sixth (89), followed by West Liberty (164), Glenville State (174), UVa-Wise (183), Fairmont State (217) and Notre Dame (220).

Like last year, Concord individuals went 1-2 in the race, although the order flipped this year as Justin Snyder won with a time of 26:15. Snyder was named the MEC Runner of the Year for his efforts for Saturday and the enitre fall season. Teammate Jason Weitzel was second this year finishing wiht a time of 26:33. CU’s Tyler Kosut and Michael Ruhnke also were in the top 10 to earn All-MEC first team honors.

Charleston had a pack of three runners in the top 10, led by freshman David Cecchi in sixth. Cecchi was tabbed as the league’s Freshman of the Year for his season. Teammates Jake Casto and Hunter Riffle were seventh and eight, respectively.

Wheeling Jesuit freshman Jacob Bishop was third in the race, and West Virginia Wesleyan’s Matt Dearth and Colin Wallace were also in the top 10 to earn All-MEC first team honors.

Concord’s head coach Mike Cox was selected as the league’s Coach of the Year as he directed the Mountain Lions to a third-straight title.


►  College Football Rankings: Associated Press Top 25

1. Alabama
2. Penn State
3. Georgia
4. TCU
5. Wisconsin
6. Ohio State
7. Clemson
8. Miami (Fla.)
9. Notre Dame
10. Oklahoma
11. Oklahoma State
12. Washington
13. Virginia Tech
14. NC State
15. Washington State
16. Michigan State
17. South Florida
18. UCF
19. Auburn
20. Stanford
21. Southern California
22. West Virginia
23. LSU
24. Memphis
25. Iowa State


►  College Football Rankings: Coaches Poll

1. Alabama
2. Penn State
3. Georgia
4. TCU
5. Wisconsin
6. Ohio State
7. Clemson
8. Miami (Fla.)
9. Oklahoma
10. Notre Dame
11. Washington
12. Oklahoma State
13. Virginia Tech
14. South Florida
15. NC State
16. Washington State
17. UCF
18. Michigan State
19. Auburn
20. Stanford
21. Southern California
22. West Virginia
23. LSU
24. Texas A&M
25. Michigan

Sports News

The Free Press WV

►  Ka’Raun, Kyzir White continue family legacy at West Virginia

Ka’Raun and Kyzir White are adding to the family legacy started by their older brother at No. 23 West Virginia.

Kevin White stamped his place in Mountaineer lore after a senior season in 2014 that earned him second-team all-America honors with 1,447 receiving yards, the second most in school history.

Ka’Raun and Kyzir White followed Kevin from Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Junior College to West Virginia and have boosted their own name recognition this season.

With the injured Chicago Bears’ wide receiver in attendance at homecoming, his siblings made big contributions in the Mountaineers’ 46-35 win over Texas Tech on Saturday.

Ka’Raun White caught two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as part of West Virginia’s comeback from an 18-point deficit, including a leaping grab of a 32-yard pass that prompted teammate Gary Jennings to flatten White afterward with a celebratory chest bump.

Kyzir White sealed the win in the final two minutes with his team-leading third interception of the season. He also tied for the team high with nine tackles and also forced a fumble.

Ka’Raun White will take a streak of two straight 100-yard receiving games on the road Saturday night when West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) plays at Baylor (0-6, 0-3).

Both Ka’Raun and Kyzir White sat out last year’s regular-season finale against the Bears with injuries. Ka’Raun White was unable to work on the timing of his routes with quarterback Will Grier until this summer after recuperating from a broken bone in his right leg.

The inevitable comparisons to Kevin White had already started before the 2017 season. At 6-foot-1, Ka’Raun White is two inches shorter than his older brother, yet he’s on pace to match Kevin’s 10 TDs from 2014.

“I’m just going to come play every week and hopefully everything will turn out pretty good,” Ka’Raun White said. “I’ll keep working in practice, keep working on that connection with Will to make things happen.”

Coach Dana Holgorsen said White had been great in practice the past two weeks and had a statement game against the Red Raiders — his eight catches and two TD receptions were season highs. He’s matched last year’s TD catch total of five and is averaging five receptions per game.

“Keep in mind, he missed all spring,” Holgorsen said. “So the relationship and timing with him and Will has taken a little bit longer. There was some times in camp where Will was frustrated that that timing didn’t exist. It’s just taken a little bit longer than we would have liked it. It looks pretty good now.”

Unlike his brothers, Kyzir White said he ended up playing on defense because “I just like to hit people.”

A second-year starter at the spur position, a safety-linebacker hybrid, Kyzir White is second to linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton in tackles with 32 and is easily on pace to surpass last season’s total of 58.

“We’ll all just have to play our part, do our job,” Kyzir White said. “Just play hard, try to create turnovers. Everything else will take care of itself.”

West Virginia safeties coach Matt Caponi calls Kyzir White “the mold that holds us together and a guy that brings us energy — just always shows up, hustles, makes plays. He has stood out.”

And has kept the family name prominent in Morgantown.


►  MEC Cross Country: Championships Set For Saturday In Bridgeport

The 2017 Mountain East Conference men’s and women’s cross country championships will take place this Saturday, October 21, at the Bridgeport Recreation Complex.

The women’s race will begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by the men at 10:30 a.m. Parking will be $10 per car.

On the women’s side, Wheeling Jesuit comes into the meet as the defending champion for the first time in league history. WJU won last year’s meet with just 24 points, 11 points better than rival West Virginia Wesleyan. The Cardinals are the only team from the league to earn a spot in the USTFCCCA Atlantic Region poll this season. WJU will have two-time MEC Runner of the Year Kelsey Chambers leading the pack, but also have four other runners who earned All-MEC honors in last year’s race back as well.

The Bobcats will be led by senior Sydney Pineault who will be aiming to be a four-time first team All-MEC selection on Saturday. Freshmen Madison Frame and Michaela Peterson, along with returners Joanna Johnston, Rachel Englund and Zoey Vilasuso will try to win back the conference crown that the Bobcats won in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Concord had five runners earn All-MEC honors last season led by first team honoree Aidan Payton, and have added freshman Sydney Haynes to the team’s lineup. Fairmont State has Logan Frame and Juliana Butcher back from last year, and freshman Emily Maddow has had a strong first season for the Falcons. UC will likely be led by the tandem of Cami Mossor and Kristiana Sklioutovskaya-Lopez to try and break through to the upper portion of the standings. Rachel Lovett from Notre Dame College was 13th last year as a freshman at the conference championship meet to earn second team All-MEC honors.

On the men’s side, Concord is the two-time defending champion and the favorite to win the title again this Saturday. The Mountain Lions have their top four runners from last year’s squad that not only won the conference championship, but also became the first team in league history to advance past the NCAA Atlantic Region championship meet on to the NCAA Championships.

Jason Weitzel, the 2016 MEC Runner of the Year, is back for his junior season, but has been pushed this season by teammate Justin Snyder. The duo ran a blistering pace at the Paul Short Invitational a few weeks back with Weitzel running 24:46 and Snyder running 24:53 on the 8,000-meter course. As a team, CU had a strong showing finishing third among Atlantic Region teams behind Edinboro and IUP, but ahead of Lock Haven. Tyler Kosut and Michael Ruhnke, both first team All-MEC honorees last year, are also back in the lineup for the Mountain Lions as well.

Concord finished just ahead of West Virginia Wesleyan last year and the Bobcats will be looking for their first title since 2014. Matt Dearth has proven to be one of the top runners in the conference on an annual basis as he wraps up his cross country looking to earn first team All-MEC honors for a fourth-straight season. Dearth will look to get support from Colin Wallace, Sean Snyder, Eric Wooten and Adam Romano to try and knock off Concord.

The University of Charleston will also make a push and try and take home the title on Saturday. The Golden Eagles have some youth up front with freshmen David Cecchi and Hunter Riffle, sophomore Max Allen to go with senior Jake Casto. Wheeling Jesuit’s Albert Schrimp was the league’s Runner of the Year in 2015, but injuries forced him to miss last year’s meet. This fall, Schrimp’s best 8,000-meter time was a 26:43 at the Louisville Classic back on Sept. 30. Freshman Jake Bishop has provided some depth at the front of the pack for WJU.

The top 10 in each race earn first team All-MEC honors, while athletes finishing 11th-20th are second team all-conference honorees. The awards will be given at the conclusion of both races at the Bridgeport Recreation Complex.


►  MEC Women’s Tennis: UC Looks To Defend Title

The fifth Mountain East Conference Women’s Tennis Tournament will open play on Friday, October 20, at the Brian David Fox Tennis Center in Huntington, WV. The winner will receive an automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

The University of Charleston is the defending champion after a stirring 5-4 upset over three-time champion West Virginia State in last year’s final. The match came down to No. 1 singles, and Kristine Gegeshidze downed Laura Isbey in three sets.

The Yellow Jackets, though, enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed after winning the regular season title for the fifth-straight year. West Virginia State has won three MEC Tournament titles to go with its five regular season championships. In fact, WVSU has lost just once to an MEC opponent since the league started, which was UC in last year’s final. In the regular season meeting between the two, WVSU came out on top, but only by a 5-4 margin. WVSU was able to pick up a key 9-8 win at No. 3 doubles to help aid it to victory.

West Liberty is the three seed, and also played WVSU close in its regular season meeting as the Yellow Jackets downed the Hilltoppers 5-4. A pair of wins in singles at the top two spots, as well as wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles helped lead WVSU to the win.

WLU will first have to take on sixth-seeded UVa-Wise in the quarterfinals. The Hilltoppers downed the Cavs 7-2 in the regular season matchup. The Cavaliers earned their way into the tournament with a win over Notre Dame in the final weekend.

Fourth-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan will take on fifth-seeded Fairmont State. The Bobcats just missed the three seed with a narrow loss to West Liberty and defeated FSU 7-2 earlier this season. WVWC came on top in a couple of close matches at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, and the first three singles matches were also competitive between WVWC and Fairmont State. The Fighting Falcons posted their best finish in the MEC regular season standings since the league started in 2013.

Sports News

The Free Press WV

►  NFL Power Rankings: It’s Chiefs and then Packers . . . and then what?

Each week, national NFL writer Mark Maske will provide his ranking of the league’s 32 teams. This week, Kansas City holds on to the top spot after maintaining the league’s only unbeaten mark with a convincing Sunday night win over the Texans in Houston. Nipping at the Chiefs’ heels are the Green Bay Packers, who broke more Dallas Cowboys hearts thanks to another sensational last-minute comeback authored by Aaron Rodgers. Things get a little muddy thereafter, with plenty of solid squads filling out the top 10.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) / Last Week’s Rank: 1

The Chiefs are quite simply the league’s best team. The offense has been next to unstoppable while the defense has been more than adequate, even if it permitted Deshaun Watson to post some impressive numbers Sunday night. Get used to the idea of Alex Smith as an MVP candidate. Does Smith’s excellence this season complicate the Chiefs’ long-term plan to move on to Patrick Mahomes at QB? That’s an issue for another day.

2. Green Bay Packers (4-1) / Last Week’s Rank: 2

Aaron Rodgers did it to the Cowboys again. Was there any doubt when he took the field Sunday for that final drive that he would guide the Packers to at least a tying FG attempt? He and the Packers got the winning TD, however, and they continue to pile up victories as some of their injured offensive contributors begin to return. Rookie RB Aaron Jones looks capable of helping out considerably.

3. Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) / Last Week’s Rank: 5

The toughest part of the Eagles’ schedule is still to come. That is undeniable, and it begins with Thursday night’s game at Carolina. But win or lose against the Panthers, the Eagles have shown enough to prove they should have staying power. Carson Wentz is legitimate, making the Eagles a factor in the division chase all season.

4. Denver Broncos (3-1) / Last Week’s Rank: 4

The Broncos return from the bye with a favorable matchup Sunday night against the Giants, who are winless and basically out of wide receivers. If they can beat the Giants and then the one-win Chargers, the Broncos would take a 5-1 record into an October 30 showdown with the Chiefs in Kansas City on “Monday Night Football.“

5. Carolina Panthers (4-1) / Last Week’s Rank: 8

QB Cam Newton has completed 48 of 62 passes for 671 yards with six TDs and one interception in his past two games. His return from shoulder surgery was gradual but now he has emerged as an accurate pocket passer who clearly has changed his game, with a relatively modest 90 rushing yards this season. Newton was criticized last week, and rightfully so, after his sexist remark for which he later apologized. But things are going extremely well on the field, and if this continues he will be an MVP candidate again and the Panthers will be Super Bowl contenders once more.

6. New England Patriots (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 9

The defense was better, but still far from perfect in Thursday night’s win at Tampa. The offense struggled without TE Rob Gronkowski, managing only one TD. The Patriots prevailed only because of three missed FGs by now-former Bucs kicker Nick Folk and Jameis Winston’s last-second incompletion at the goal line. But there’s no sense worrying about lost style points, and now the Patriots have a chance to get a winning streak going when they visit the Meadowlands on Sunday to face the Jets.

7. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 13

It could have been a passing-of-the-torch day in the NFC West. Instead, the Seahawks beat the Rams in L.A. in a game with unusual significance for early October. The Seahawks remain the team to beat in the division, and the future perhaps is not quite now for the Rams.

8. Atlanta Falcons (3-1) / Last Week’s Rank: 11

The Falcons return from their bye with, they hope, WR Julio Jones ready to play Sunday without missing any games due to his hip injury. The playing status of pass rusher Vic Beasley, out since Week 2 because of a hamstring injury, is to be determined as the week progresses.

9. Detroit Lions (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 6

The Lions are good but perhaps not quite good enough to match up with the NFC’s best teams, as narrow losses to the Falcons and Panthers demonstrate. Now QB Matthew Stafford is dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries heading into Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

10. Los Angeles Rams (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 7

The Rams had their chances against the Seahawks but couldn’t deliver. They’ve still become competitive ahead of schedule. Overtaking the Seahawks so soon was a lofty ambition.

11. Baltimore Ravens (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 24

The Ravens ran into the Raiders at a good time, with Derek Carr sidelined. Still, it badly needed a solid performance after lopsided losses to the Jaguars and Steelers.

12. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 22

The good version of the Jaguars showed up Sunday in Pittsburgh. They can’t actually play well two weekends in a row, can they?

13. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) / Last Week’s Rank: 25

The 0-3 start has been followed by wins over the Browns and Bills, so the Bengals can rest a little easier on their bye week. All is not well yet. But their season at least has possibilities again.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 3

That unraveled quickly, didn’t it? The Steelers went from celebrating a big win in Baltimore with a breakout performance by RB Le’Veon Bell to lamenting a lopsided defeat to the Jaguars with QB Ben Roethlisberger throwing five interceptions and then questioning whether he still has it. Is Roethlisberger done? Probably not. But it’s never a good sign for a player to be even wondering that.

15. Buffalo Bills (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 10

No, the Bills are not for real, at least not in terms of being an honest-to-goodness contender. Their loss to the Bengals demonstrated that pretty clearly. The offense simply isn’t good enough. But that doesn’t diminish the very good job being done by their first-year coach, Sean McDermott, in simply having them competitive and above .500.

16. Minnesota Vikings (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 17

Sam Bradford quite simply should not have been on the field Monday night. His knee clearly was not ready for him to return to the lineup. Case Keenum should have gotten the start. The in-game switch to Keenum was the obvious move and it resulted in the Vikings’ victory over the Bears.

17. Washington Redskins (2-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 16

The Redskins return from their bye week feeling relatively good, and rightfully so, about how they’ve played. They appear to be the main challenger to the Eagles in the NFC East. Who would have predicted that two-team race? The Redskins have the winless Niners coming to FedEx Field this weekend but cannot afford to be complacent, particularly with CB Josh Norman out of the lineup. His absence will be felt.

18. New York Jets (3-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 19

The Jets are competent, but don’t get carried away. A win over the Browns means next to nothing. And there could be a reality check when the Patriots show up across the field Sunday at the Meadowlands.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 12

Maybe it’s time to do something dramatic, such as use a second-round draft pick on a kicker. In the meantime, Patrick Murray takes over for Nick Folk and tries to bring some stability to what is beginning to seem like a cursed position for this organization.

20. Houston Texans (2-3) / Last Week’s Rank: 14

Rookie QB Deshaun Watson continues to dazzle, but the Houston defense simply had no answers for the Chiefs. The Texans led the league in total defense last season even without J.J. Watt, but now that defense is in disarray and is without Watt again. Watt pushed his body to the brink for so long while becoming a three-time NFL defensive player of the year. But that approach clearly took its toll, and now it is fair to wonder if Watt’s days of playing at that level are done.

21. Indianapolis Colts (2-3) / Last Week’s Rank: 27

So much for what could have been a pretty pleasant day for the Colts, with the ceremony honoring Peyton Manning followed by Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning FG in OT against the 49ers. Instead, the day was all about Pence’s early exit.

22. Miami Dolphins (2-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 29

The Dolphins had little time to savor their win over the Titans, needing to deal with that video of offensive line coach Chris Foerster ingesting a powdery substance. Foerster resigned Monday, and the organization must move on from that episode while players come to terms with a new policy requiring them to stand for the national anthem if they’re on the sideline or opt to remain in the locker room or tunnel.

23. New Orleans Saints (2-2) / Last Week’s Rank: 20

The Saints emerge from their bye on a two-game winning streak but with a pair of difficult games, Sunday at home against the Lions and then at Green Bay a week later.

24. Dallas Cowboys (2-3) / Last Week’s Rank: 15

The Cowboys are below .500 and two games behind the Eagles in the NFC East heading into their bye week. They also could lose RB Ezekiel Elliott at any time if a federal appeals court lifts the injunction that is keeping his six-game suspension on hold. This is not at all how things were supposed to be going, is it? In retrospect, the Cowboys needed to take more time off the clock before scoring their late go-ahead TD Sunday – they know as well as anyone by now that you simply cannot give Aaron Rodgers that much time to beat you. He will.

25. Oakland Raiders (2-3) / Last Week’s Rank: 18

The Raiders say they expect QB Derek Carr to return after missing only one game due to a transverse process fracture in his back. That’s good. They certainly need him. Losing at home to a team that was struggling like the Ravens is not what a top contender should be doing. There is plenty of reason to question if the Raiders are as good as was advertised entering the season.

26. Tennessee Titans (2-3) / Last Week’s Rank: 21

Good thing the Titans had that rock-solid, no-need-to-do-anything-else backup-QB situation, huh? Otherwise they might have had to make a call to Colin Kaepernick.

27. Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) / Last Week’s Rank: 30

The Chargers went on the road to beat the Giants for their first victory of the season. But after playing in front of opposing teams’ fans at StubHub Center, does it even make a difference where they play?

28. Arizona Cardinals (2-3) / Last Week’s Rank: 23

When the Cardinals are bad, they’re really bad. Their three losses have come by a combined 50 points. And those poor outings are happening far too often these days.

29. Chicago Bears (1-4) / Last Week’s Rank: 28

Rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky had some good moments Monday night in his first NFL start. One of them was not the late interception that he threw to set up the Vikings’ winning FG. No one should have expected any miracles right away. This will be a long process with ups and downs. But Trubisky provided enough glimpses of his talent to believe he just might get there eventually.

30. New York Giants (0-5) / Last Week’s Rank: 26

The season is as done as it gets. The Giants are winless. Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall are out for the remainder of the season as part of a severe shortage of WRs. It’s amazing that it has come to this. But now thoughts turn to the fallout. Will Coach Ben McAdoo’s job be safe? And would the Giants use a top draft pick on a QB even if Eli Manning isn’t ready to retire? The answers here are yes and maybe.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-5) / Last Week’s Rank: 31

Politics aside, the Niners lost another game they had a chance to win. They’re not Browns-level bad, based on the eye test. But their record says that they are.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-5) / Last Week’s Rank: 32

Carson Wentz is in Philly. Deshaun Watson is in Houston. And now the Browns are left wondering if Kevin Hogan possibly can be the answer at QB, if indeed they’re ready to be done wondering that about DeShone Kizer. The answer: Probably not. These are, after all, the Browns.


►  MEC: Women’s Tennis: Tadic Named Player Of The Week

West Virginia State’s Nika Tadic has been named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week.

Tadic, a freshman from Split, Croatia, came up with several key victories over the week as the Yellow Jackets won a pair of 5-4 matches and took another step towards a fifth-straight Mountain East Conference regular season title. In the win over Charleston, she teamed with Kayla McKnight to win a narrow 9-7 decision at No. 3 doubles, and later picked up a win at No. 6 singles. Against West Liberty, she moved up to No. 5 singles and rallied from a set down to win her mach against the Hilltoppers. She closed out the week with a win at No. 5 singles against Notre Dame College.


►  MEC: Concord Sweeps Cross Country Honors

Concord’s Justin Snyder and teammate Sydney Haynes have earned Mountain East Conference Runner of the Week honors for their efforts on the cross country course last week.

Snyder, a senior from Princeton, WV, earns the honor for the third time this season after his first place finish at the Concord Alumni Invitational. He covered the 8,000-meter course with a time of 26:52 to claim his second individual victory of the season.

Haynes, a freshman from Cana, Va., also had a first place finish at the Concord Invitational. She stopped the clock with a time of 19:29 on the 5,000-meter course.


►  MEC: Hill Earns Volleyball Honor

Shepherd’s Cambriea Hill has been named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week after for her efforts last week.
Hill, a sophomore from Columbia, Md., led the Rams to a 3-0 record in conference play last week. She opened the week with 18 kills, 21 digs and four aces in a five-set win over Fairmont State. After recording 15 kills in a win over Notre Dame, she tallied 16 kills and 10 digs in the victory against Urbana. She averaged 4.1 kills per set and 2.9 digs per set.


►  ESPN suspends Jemele Hill after tweet about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

ESPN suspended “SportsCenter” anchor Jemele Hill for two weeks on Monday, the network announced, after Hill violated the company’s social media guidelines over the weekend. Hill suggested NFL fans boycott vendors and advertisers associated with the Dallas Cowboys after franchise owner Jerry Jones told players they’d be benched if they demonstrated during the national anthem.

Hill had previously run afoul of network executives in September after she tweeted Donald Trump was a “white supremacist.“ White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the remarks “a fireable offense” days later during a press briefing.

ESPN at the time warned Hill her remarks were in violation of the company’s policy, but declined to punish her after other anchors threatened not to appear on “SportsCenter” without her. Hill hosts the 6 p.m. hour of the show with Michael Smith.

Over the weekend, Hill made her boycott suggestion on Twitter:

“This play always work. Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.“

- Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 09, 2017

“Or, how about not patronizing the advertisers who support the Cowboys? You can watch and do that, right?“

- Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 09, 2017

ESPN’s statement called Hill’s previous tweet, presumably about Trump, “impulsive” and said her subsequent apology for it acknowledged she was “letting her colleagues and the company down.“

The network in September claimed Hill’s tweets appeared as though she was speaking on behalf of ESPN. But Hill stood by her tweets, which included one that read, “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.“

She said in statement afterward that she regretted her words “painted ESPN in an unfair light.“

Trump demanded an apology from ESPN for what he called “untruths.“

His administration has also taken the NFL on as players have demonstrated during the national anthem in recent weeks. On Sunday, Mike Pence attended an Indianapolis Colts game, but left after “The Star-Spangled Banner” when players from the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the anthem.

Hill joined ESPN in 2006 as a national columnist and made television appearances on “SportsCenter,“ “First Take,“ “Around the Horn” and “Outside the Lines.“ She has been active covering the intersection of sports and race for ESPN. She hosted a town hall meeting with then-President Barack Obama in July 2016 about race relations, policing and racial equality.

She began hosting her own hour of “SportsCenter” in February.

ESPN has a history of harsh punishments for staffers who cross the NFL. The network suspended then fired columnist and TV personality Bill Simmons in 2017 after intense criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

In Sports….

The Free Press WV

►  Puck Dynasty: Penguins in historic company after Cup triumph

The salary cap was a passion project for Mario Lemieux, the owner, when the NHL wrestled with it during the 2004-05 lockout even though he knows it would have been something Mario Lemieux, the player, would have fought to the bitter end.

“We couldn’t compete with the (New York) Rangers and LA and the big markets and Chicago and Detroit,“ the Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Famer-turned-chairman recalled.

So Lemieux pushed for the cap during the NHL’s lost winter, well aware the ripple effects would include a rise in league parity at the potential expense of the dynasties that have been a part of the league since it started awarding the Stanley Cup nearly a century ago.

The math was easy for Lemieux. Better to have 30ish solvent and competitive clubs than just a handful.

“The salary cap gave us a chance to spend to the cap and be on level playing fields with the other teams,“ he said.

The cap has proven to be more of a speed bump than a road block for the Penguins. The proof was all around Lemieux as he spoke on the ice at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday night after the Penguins nudged past the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final to become the first team in 19 years and the first of the salary cap era to win back-to-back titles.

“It’s hard to win the Cups as we’ve found over the last 10-12 years,“ Lemieux said.

Just not impossible.

The Penguins flew home to Pittsburgh on Monday with the Cup in their possession for the third time in nine years. A downtown parade is scheduled for Wednesday, a party that’s on the verge of becoming a rite of late spring.

Pittsburgh has done it by investing heavily in their core group and finding the right complement of players and staff around Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to make it work.

“I always say best organization, amazing team,“ Malkin said. “We have great chance win every year.“

That’s not how it’s supposed to work nowadays. Championship windows are supposed to be narrower with the cap in place, not wider. Sure, Chicago has won it three times in six seasons in the cap era but the Blackhawks were forced to blow it up after 2010. The Kings won it all in 2012 and 2014, and are now in the process of starting over.

Not Pittsburgh. The Penguins have more Cup appearances (four), playoff wins (90) and regular-season victories (467) over the last decade than any team in the NHL. And it’s not really that close. While Crosby is loath to talk about his “legacy” — he won’t turn 30 until August — the way he describes the only franchise he’s ever known sounds an awful lot like a “dynasty.“

“Your goal is to win every year and our team just had a collection of guys that knew how to win, knew how to find ways,“ Crosby said after picking up his second straight Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Having a coach with an ability to challenge his stars without alienating them and a general manager with a knack for finding the right pieces helps. When GM Jim Rutherford replaced Ray Shero in the summer of 2014, he raised eyebrows when he said he only planned to be in the job a couple of years.

Funny, nobody’s asking how much longer the 68-year-old is sticking around anymore. He gave coach Mike Sullivan the blunt directive to cut through the noise when he hired him to replace Mike Johnston in December 2015. The former grinder with 54 goals in 709 career NHL games turned out to be the perfect conduit to get the Penguins to play fast and, to borrow Sullivan’s pet phrase, “play the right way.“

The Penguins are right up against the salary cap annually but they also don’t overpay their stars. Considering their value to the team both Crosby ($8.7 million) and Malkin ($9.5 million) are bargains. They’re not the only ones.

Rookie Jake Guentzel (NHL rookie playoff record-tying 21 points), Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson all found themselves playing vital roles alongside Pittsburgh’s cornerstones at some point during the postseason. None of them had a cap hit of more than $675,000.

No wonder Malkin is hardly in the mood to put his career into perspective. He’ll turn 31 next month. He, Phil Kessel and Letang are all under contract through 2022. Crosby until 2025.

“I think we still play together long time and maybe when we retire think about it,“ Malkin said. “We’re still young, still hungry and of course we want more.“

If Malkin and Crosby can stay healthy, Pittsburgh will certainly be right there. Oddsmakers made them the early favorite for a three-peat, something that hasn’t been done since the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980-83, a full year before Lemieux made his NHL debut and nearly a half decade before Malkin and Crosby were born.

There will be turnover. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s handing off of the Cup to Matt Murray was a symbolic passing of the torch. Fleury will almost certainly play elsewhere next season and defenseman Justin Schultz is a restricted free agent but may have played himself into a contract too rich for the Penguins to match.

Rutherford and Sullivan will get to work trying to fit the pieces together again. Their franchise cornerstone will take a brief breather this summer, maybe go fishing back home in Nova Scotia and then start pointing toward next season.

“You have a small window to play and to have a career, and I feel fortunate,“ Crosby said. “I also understand how difficult it is. So you just want to try to make the best of it.“

Over and over and over again if you can.


►  Rafael Nadal Just Did What No Other Player Has Done

Rafael Nadal won his record 10th French Open title Sunday, beating No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in straight sets as he continued his career-long dominance on clay courts. That he won his 10th French Open is no small stat, notes the AP: That is more than any man or woman has won at any major tournament in the nearly half-century professional era. It took the fourth-seeded Nadal just over two hours to win 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, with the Spaniard sealing it on his second match point when Wawrinka sliced a backhand volley into the net. Nadal did not drop a set all tournament on his way to his 15th Grand Slam title overall. Only Roger Federer has more, with 18, notes the Washington Post, which christens the 31-year-old Nadal the “king of clay.“

In Sports….

The Free Press WV

►  Tennis Great Accused of Being Racist, Homophobic

There’s mounting pressure to rename the Australian Open’s Margaret Court Arena after its namesake, Australian tennis great Margaret Court, told a Christian radio station this week the sport is “full of lesbians” and transgender children are the work of “the devil.“ The Guardian reports the 74-year-old Court, who won 24 singles championships at Grand Slam tournaments, also blamed transgender children on Hitler and communism and claimed the top lesbian tennis players turned younger players gay by taking them “into parties and things.“ This isn’t Court’s first time making offensive statements. According to the BBC, Court praised apartheid in the 1970s, saying South Africa “has the racial situation rather better organized than anyone else,“ specifically the US.

In an open letter to the arena, Martina Navratilova says it’s clear Court is an “amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe.“ Navratilova, who’s won 18 Grand Slam titles, wants the arena renamed, saying facilities should be named for both an athlete’s accomplishments and “for who they are as human beings.“ Court, who is now a minister, once accused Navratilova of being a bad role model for children because she’s gay. “We should not be celebrating this kind of behavior,“ writes Navratilova, who accuses Court of making life harder for LGBT youth. Nancy Armour at USA Today says the Australian Open is essentially endorsing Court’s views by having an arena named for her. And tennis star Andy Murray says players could boycott the Australian Open.


►  ‘Iconic’ Voice Returning to Monday Night Football

“Are you ready for some football,“ with the singer whose “iconic” voice left Monday Night Football six years ago? The Tennessean reports that Hank Williams Jr. has returned to ESPN’s good graces, with his signature opening and music video for a reworked “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night” set to appear during all Monday Night Football showings throughout next season. The video will debut with the September 11 game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints. “I think it’s a return to our past in that it’s such an iconic song associated with football,“ says Stephanie Druley, the network’s senior VP of events and studio production. “It belongs to Monday Night Football. It really is about returning to what fans know.“

Considering that Williams and ESPN broke ties in 2011 over Williams’ controversial remarks about then-President Barack Obama—in which he said Obama playing golf with then-Speaker John Boehner was “like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu,“ per a CBS News article at the time—not everyone is thrilled with Williams’ return. “Really @NFL and @ESPN?“ tweeted journalist and activist Shaun King. “You all are bringing Hank Williams Jr. BACK to Monday Night Football after the racist/bigoted s—- he said? Really?“ Druley shrugs at any backlash that might come ESPN’s way. “I’m sure there’ll be some, but I’m not concerned,“ she says, per the Tennessean. “It was the right time.“

In Sports….

The Free Press WV

►  WVU’s Izzo-Brown wins Furfari Award as state’s top college coach

The head coach of the West Virginia University women’s soccer team has a message for young girls aspiring to reach the success she’s had after 21 years of coaching.

“Embrace the suck,” Nikki Izzo-Brown told members of the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council during its annual Building Futures Breakfast Tuesday at the Charleston Town Center Marriott.

“Sometimes people think when you run into a road block to stop or it’s a negative thing, instead just embrace it and figure it out. Figure out a way to get around the suck,” she explained.

Izzo-Brown was the featured speaker at Tuesday’s breakfast.

On Monday, she was named the Furfari Award winner as the West Virginia’s top college coach — voted on by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

The award, she said, is not about her. “It’s recognizing myself, but more importantly what my team and my staff have accomplished. It’s never about one person.”

Izzo-Brown lead the Mountaineers to a 2016 runner-up finish in the program’s first-ever NCAA College Cup appearance in 21 years. The University of Southern California defeated WVU last December.

Since joining the conference in 2012, Izzo-Brown, the five-time reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year, has led WVU to eight Big 12 titles.

Next season for the team will be a lot different, Izzo-Brown predicted. She said the girls want to win the championship now more than ever.

“I think once you get a taste of a national championship game and not winning it, you have a little bit more fire in your belly. I think that’s exactly what the girls are going to be motivated because they didn’t win it,” she said.

This is the first time a soccer coach has been named the winner of the Furfari Award.

WVU Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins, WVU Women’s Basketball Coach Mike Carey and WVU Rifle Coach Jon Hammond were finalists for the award.

“That’s important that soccer is making such an impact in our state, but also that I’m up against so many great coaches. To represent all those coaches means a ton to me,” Izzo-Brown said.

During her speech Tuesday, she said it’s important to first have a vision. Her teammates work hard, stay focused and believe in themselves. She said while there’s no secret to success, she believes there are pillars to get there.

“You can’t allow anything to disrupt what you want to do and how you want to accomplish it,” she said. “Just be confident in your abilities and just stay on task.”

The Furfari Award is named in honor of the late sports writer Mickey Furfari.

Izzo-Brown will be honored on May 21 at the 71st Victory Awards Dinner at the Village Square Conference Center in Clarksburg.


►  Greenbrier Classic to Salute First Responders

The PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic will honor first responders for rescue and recovery efforts during last June’s devastating floods in West Virginia.

Officials say on the tournament’s website that police officers, EMS, firefighters, National Guard members and others will be selected to serve as caddies for the tournament’s July 5 pro-am event at The Greenbrier resort. They also will be recognized during ceremonies on July 4.

The tournament will be held July 6 through 9 on the Old White TPC course.

The floods killed 23 people statewide, including 15 in Greenbrier County. The resort and the town of White Sulphur Springs were ravaged by flooding and last year’s Greenbrier Classic was canceled.

The Greenbrier hotel reopened two weeks after the floods.


►  State Raises Penalty for Punishing Whistleblowers

A revised West Virginia law will increase the possible civil fine from $500 to $5,000 for government employers who threaten or retaliate against whistleblowers.

The measure passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jim Justice also authorizes firing them instead of the possible six-month suspension under current law.

It clarifies that the fines are owed by the violators themselves, not their agencies, and says a court finding of a violation will be considered official misconduct and can be used for termination.

The law prohibits firing, threatening or retaliating against a worker for making a good faith effort to report about wrongdoing or waste.


►  Serena Williams Fires Back After Joke About Skin Color

Serena Williams fired back against tennis great Ilie Nastase after he made a joke about the skin color of her unborn baby, and she quoted Maya Angelou to do it. “It disappoints me to know we live in a society in which people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child, and sexist comments against my peers,“ Williams wrote on Instagram. She was referring in part to the 70-year-old asking whether the child Williams is expecting with fiance Alexis Ohanian, who is white, will be “chocolate with milk.“ On Monday, Nastase expressed bewilderment to the AP. “I want to know what word I used is racist?“ he asked, adding that Williams is a friend. Williams also referred to Nastase’s treatment of women on Britain’s tennis team—at Fed Cup matches over the weekend, he angrily called Johanna Konta and captain Anne Keothavong “b———.“

Nastase also put his arm around Keothavong and asked for her room number, within ear shot of the press, and berated the chair umpire, all of which got him suspended as Romania’s team captain by the International Tennis Federation and booted from the tournament, reports the Guardian. “I lost my temper,“ he acknowledged to the AP, while calling his punishment “crazy.“ Even as a player, Nastase had been renowned for his temper on the court. In her post, Williams said she supported an ITF investigation of Nastase’s behavior and cited poet Angelou: “Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? You may shoot me with your words ... you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I rise.“


►  Jeb Bush, Derek Jeter Buying Baseball Team: Report

If multiple reports are to be believed, Jeb Bush will finally be following in his brother’s footsteps—as the owner of a professional baseball team. The presidential also-ran is said to be part of a group—along with former New York Yankee Derek Jeter—that will be purchasing the Miami Marlins for $1.3 billion, Bloomberg reports. Nothing is official—an anonymous source says the sale contract hasn’t been signed yet—but the Miami Herald confirmed the report. Bush and Jeter, as well as at least three other investors, are said to have outbid multiple other groups, including one led by Tagg Romney and former ballplayer Tom Glavine. The Kushner family had also reportedly been close to a deal.

Bush, who tried and failed to buy the Marlins three years ago, will reportedly be the “control person” in charge of franchise decisions for the Marlins. The deal would need MLB approval and could still take months to finalize. The Marlins are owned by Jeffrey Loria, who paid $158 million for the team in 2002. Despite losing money and having some of the worst attendance in the league, the Marlins are currently valued at $940 million. If the reported $1.3 billion purchase price is accurate, it would be “one of the most lucrative franchise flips” ever, Deadspin reports. Loria is apparently selling the Marlins in order to get his estate in order—and also because he’s tired of the team’s constant losing and the criticism that has brought on him.

In Sports….

The Free Press WV

►  Tennis Great’s Response to Serena’s Pregnancy: Racism

Most people respond to news of a pregnancy with congratulations, but a septuagenerian tennis great is catching heat for allegedly responding to Serena Williams’ baby news with commentary about the baby’s biracial heritage. “Let’s see what color it has. Chocolate with milk?“ Ilie Nastase reportedly told a news conference on Friday, ahead of the Fed Cup. Nastase, 70, is the captain of Romania’s women’s tennis team, and is now under investigation by the International Tennis Federation, which says in a statement that it “does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language.“ Further, “We are aware of alleged comments made by Romanian Captain Ilie Nastase and have begun an immediate investigation so that we have the full facts of the situation before taking further and appropriate action.“

Nastase followed one controversy up with two more Saturday: he began cursing at two British players and an umpire, promptly getting himself ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct. Nastase then reportedly cursed out the British journalist who reported his comments about Williams; Eleanor Crooks posted video of the incident, in which he allegedly says “Why did you print that?“ and called her “stupid.“ The ITF says it has stripped Nastase of his captain’s title and he won’t be further involved in the Fed Cup. NBC notes that during his playing heyday in the 1970s, Nastase was nicknamed “Nasty.“


►  At London Marathon, a Record Falls

Kenyan runner Mary Keitany broke Paula Radcliffe’s women-only marathon world record on Sunday with a third victory in London, reports the AP, while Daniel Wanjiru won the men’s race for the first time. The 35-year-old Keitany completed the 26.2-mile in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 1 second to shave 41 seconds off Radcliffe’s 12-year-old mark. The retired British athlete still remains a world-record holder. Radcliffe fought six years ago with the IAAF to ensure her 2003 marathon time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds—with two male pacemakers—was still recognized as a record rather than just a world-best. Keitany was on track to break that outright world record halfway through Sunday’s race, but the pace eased up. She still ran to victory to seize the women-only record. Tirunesh Dibaba was 55 seconds behind Keitany while fellow Ethiopian, Aselefech Mergia, was third.

“It was very fast pace and I tried to follow it,“ Keitany said. The women’s marathon was missing its defending champion. Keitany’s compatriot, Jemima Sumgong, tested positive for the blood booster EPO in February. The men’s race saw the 24-year-old Wanjiru winning his first major marathon in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 48 seconds. That was nine seconds faster than Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, while Bedan Karoki was third. The men’s and mass race had a royal start, with Prince William, wife Kate, and brother Harry pressing a button to sound the klaxon. There was a British winner in the wheelchair race, with David Weir storming to his seventh victory. The 37-year-old retired from track competition last year after the six-time Paralympic champion failed to medal at the Rio Games. “It’s the first time I’ve felt comfortable in years,“ Weir said.


►  College Freshman Killed During Hammer Throw Event

A track and field event ended in tragedy Saturday afternoon in Illinois. A 19-year-old freshman volunteering at a competition held at Wheaton College was accidentally hit by a hammer during the hammer throw event. WCPO reports the “hammer” is actually a metal ball that’s attached to a grip via a steel wire; it weighs 16 pounds for men and 8.8 pounds for women, though it hasn’t been reported which size hammer hit Ethan Roser.

The Chicago Tribune reports Roser, who had transferred to the school in January and planned to become a minister, was pronounced dead at the hospital. “We are deeply grieved, but, because of our faith in Christ, not without hope,“ says Wheaton College President Philip Ryken in a statement. Roser’s father, Rev. Mark Roser, echoed that faith-based reaction: “We know he’s with Jesus, and the fact that he’s in paradise is a great source of comfort to us.“

In Sports….

The Free Press WV

►  Report: Fernandez Died With Bible Verse on Forehead

Aaron Hernandez had a Bible verse scrawled on his forehead when he was found hanged in his prison cell early Wednesday, sources tell WBZ. The sources say the former NFL star had the words “John 3:16” on his forehead, along with red marks on his hands and feet. The Bible verse, one of the best known in the New Testament, reads: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.“ Law enforcement sources also say Hernandez may have smoked “K2” synthetic marijuana the night that he died. In other coverage:

  • ABC looks at Hernandez’s life in two Massachusetts prisons, where staff were told to treat him like any other inmate. He reportedly got into gang-related fights in the Bristol County House of Corrections and the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, where he was sent after being convicted of murder in 2015.
  • Kevin Cullen at the Boston Globe recaps what he calls the “squandered life” of the 27-year-old. Despite his success at the highest level of his sport, “Hernandez enthusiastically embraced the ethos of gang life, the guns, the posse, the tattoos. All except one: doing time,“ he writes. “Real gangsters accept prison as a price to pay for the life. In the end, Hernandez couldn’t or wouldn’t.“
  • The Orlando Sentinel looks at early signs of trouble in the three years Hernandez spent playing college football with the Florida Gators.
  • Robert Monroe, one of the jurors who found Hernandez not guilty of a double murder last week, tells the Boston Herald that he is confused by the timing of the apparent suicide. “I thought he was really happy at the verdict. If he hung himself not too long after … clearly, I must have been wrong,“ he says.
  • The AP reports that Hernandez is not believed to have left a suicide note—apart from the Bible verse—and his death is a mystery to people in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, where he grew up. “I just think it got to him—the guilt,“ says local resident Mixson Philip. “Each man has to live with himself. You can put on an act like nothing happened, but you’ve got a soul. You’ve got a heart.“


►  Serena Confirms Pregnancy

A Representative for Serena Williams has confirmed the"Serena Is Pregnant!“ headlines that set the Internet abuzz Wednesday. Earlier, the 35-year-old tennis great posted a photo of herself on Snapchat labeled “20 weeks,“ displaying what Page Six describes as a “growing baby bump.“ Williams, whose baby is due this fall, will now miss the rest of the season, including the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open, the BBC reports. We now know that Williams won the the Australian Open in January while pregnant—her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title. Williams got engaged late last year to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.


►  Tennis Match Halted by Very Loud Sex

When it comes to tennis, the word “love” isn’t usually quite so literal. SB Nation reports a tennis match between Mitchell Krueger and Francis Tiafoe had to be briefly stopped when the sound of vigorous lovemaking filled the stadium at the Sarasota Open. At first, announcer Mike Cation thought the sound was coming from porn playing on a cellphone somewhere in the stadium—even briefly considering Krueger as the owner of the smutty phone, according to Deadspin.

But it eventually became clear the sex was real and happening in a nearby apartment. Krueger hit a ball in the direction of the sound, and Tiafoe yelled, “It can’t possibly be that good”—both to no avail. “I can still hear it,“ Cation said minutes later. “It’s still going.“ Tiafoe ending up winning the unusually sexy match.

In Sports….

The Free Press WV

►  Aaron Hernandez’s Murder Conviction May Be Lifted

An attorney for Aaron Hernandez says he isn’t convinced his high-profile client committed suicide. Prison officials say the former NFL star hanged himself with a bed sheet, but attorney Jose Baez says he will conduct his own investigation alongside the prison’s because Hernandez didn’t seem remotely suicidal, reports TMZ. Meanwhile, media outlets are struggling to make sense not only of Hernandez’s death but of the dramatic downfall from stardom that led to his life sentence on a murder conviction. Related coverage:

  • Hernandez probably won’t be known as a convicted murderer much longer, reports USA Today. The 27-year-old had appealed his conviction, and his death means that the verdict will likely be vacated by the Massachusetts Appeals Court because he wouldn’t be able to assist in his own defense.
  • CNN and the Washington Post have similar stories with a broad look at his life. He’d been an athletic prodigy in his hometown of Bristol, Conn., and both stories note that Hernandez was especially close to his dad, who died after hernia surgery when Hernandez was 16. He’d begun hanging out with a tougher crowd by then, and trouble began escalating after his father’s death and continued at the University of Florida and beyond.
  • This New York Times focuses on the 2013 murder that resulted in his life sentence. He and victim Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro player, were dating sisters at the time, and Lloyd was apparently suspicious the night Hernandez picked him up. He texted his sister that he was with “NFL,“ adding, “just so you know.“ Hernandez was accompanied by two friends from Bristol at the time, the story suggesting he never could quite shake those roots.
  • As for the 2012 case in which he was accused, and acquitted, of killing two men, it all stemmed from a spilled drink in a nightclub. But the two cases may be connected: One line of speculation was that Hernandez killed Odin because he learned of the 2012 killings and was talking too much, per this post at SportsGrid.
  • The Boston Herald has a timeline of his criminal cases HERE .
  • An April 16 column in the Boston Globe about his recent trial described Hernandez as “serene” in court. Photos “captured a man who didn’t seem to have a care in the world—a murder defendant blowing kisses to his family, waving to his friends, a study in confidence.“
  • Massachusetts has a spotty record when it comes to prison suicides, reports the Globe.


►  Serena Photo Sets Off Pregnancy Headlines

The internet is abuzz with “Serena Is Pregnant!“ headlines. The 35-year-old tennis great posted a photo of herself on Snapchat labeled “20 weeks” and displaying what Page Six describes as a “growing baby bump.“ (See a tweet of the photo HERE .) People interprets it the same way, though Fox Sports is among those waiting for a more definitive confirmation. If true, it means Williams won the the Australian Open in January while pregnant—her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title. Williams got engaged late last year to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

In Sports….

The Free Press WV

►  Serena Challenges 2 Guys to Tennis in SF Park

Two guys at a San Francisco park were lucky enough to get a tennis lesson from one of the biggest names in the game: Serena Williams was walking in Mission Dolores Park with her fiance on Sunday night when she came across two men playing tennis and offered to join them, reports TMZ. “Yes please!“ one of the men said in a Snapchat video, per the San Francisco Chronicle. “Oh my goodness. Is this for real?“ Though Williams didn’t play a full set—she blamed the furry boots she was wearing—she did pose for photos. “The moral of the story is: you never know when I’m going to come in to a tennis court near you,“ she added on Snapchat.

Click Below for More Sports...

Page 1 of 25 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »




The Gilmer Free Press

Copyright MMVIII-MMXVII The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved