Monday, April 28, 2008

Barracudas' Kimball published on USA Swimming Web site

Don Kimball, the head coach of the Wilson Barracudas swim team, has been published on USA Swimming's Web site. In his article, Kimball, who works magic with young swimmers in the Wilson area, extolled the virtues of training in a wetsuit.

Don's piece is the Speedo Tip of the Week, a feature on the site which attracts millions of viewers.

Kudos to Don for a neat story and getting a little national attention for Wilson!

USASwimming.org's Speedo Tip of the Week

Barton's No. 1 earns No. 2 ranking

The game that still amazes anyone who sees it got some new legs recently.

Barton College's thrilling 77-75 victory against Winona State in the 2007 NCAA Division II men's basketball championship game was voted second most dramatic finish in NCAA championship history by the NCAA's Champion Magazine.

The Bulldogs' comeback from seven points down with 45 seconds to go ranks ahead of such famous finishes as the buzzer-beater dunk by N.C. State's Lorenzo Charles to beat Houston in the 1983 Div. I men's basketball championship or Warren Morris' walk-off two-run home run to win the 1996 College World Series for Louisiana State.

That's pretty impressive but if you think Barton's feat should have been No. 1, consider the winning moment.

Simpson College wrestler Nick Ackerman won the 2001 Div. III champion in the 174-pound weight class. Not a mindblowing accomplishment unless you understand that Ackerman had both legs amputated below his knees when he was 18-months-old due to bacterial meningitis.

I don't know about you, but I think the Bulldogs are in pretty good company.

NCAA Champion Magazine's top 10 all-time most dramatic finishes

Monday, April 14, 2008

Boyette sparkles in Duke scrimmage

The past three seasons haven't been especially kind to Duke football.

The Blue Devils have won exactly two games while losing 33.

But with new head coach David Cutcliffe taking over for Ted Roof, there is fresh hope in Durham. Perhaps there is also a chance for senior Re'quan Boyette to recapture some of the glory he experienced as a star running back at Fike High School.

Boyette is certainly off to a good start as he ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's 90-snap scrimmage in Wallace Wade Stadium. Boyette, the 2004-05 Wilson Daily Times Athlete of the Year, peeled off a 65-yard scoring jaunt and averaged 7.7 yards per carry.

He has led Duke in rushing the past two last fall and has accumulated 1,072 yards in his three seasons — almost half of what he piled up in his senior season with the Golden Demons in 2004.

I remember Re'quan's 78-yard run to the end zone as a freshman against Florida State in 2005. It remains the 10th-longest scoring dash in Duke football history. Maybe with a new offensive system under Cutcliffe, Boyette will have a chance to show his speed more than he has the past few years.

The Blue Devils' conclude spring practice with the Spring Game on Saturday in Wallace Wade. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dail's hits record about to be toppled

An item of interest comes our way from Charles Alston in Rocky Mount regarding the imminent dethroning of Wilson's Rusty Dail as the N.C. Wesleyan College baseball program's all-time hits king.

Dail, a member of the NCWC and Fike High School athletic halls of fame, collected 251 hits in his time in a Battling Bishops uniform. But that number was matched by center fielder Matt Smith in the Bishops' doubleheader sweep of Shenandoah University on Sunday.

Smith has a chance to pass Dail on Friday when Wesleyan travels to Lynchburg (Va.) College for a doubleheader.

But all is not lost for Dail, who was a guiding force on Wesleyan's 1989 NCAA Division III World Series champion. The 1985 Fike High graduate and current Wilson American Legion Post 13 baseball head coach is still tied for first in career triples with 15. Dail's 220 at-bats in 1987 is still a Bishops season standard and he is second all-time in runs scored with 206.

Another Wilson native, Charles Simpson, is Wesleyan's all-time home run king with 47 from 1982-85. Simpson was a standout third baseman at Hunt High School from 1979-81.

So while Smith should pass Dail very soon, the left-hander's record stood for nearly two decades and that's not too shabby.

By the way, the Bishops are doing pretty well this year with a 23-9-1 mark and are in second place in the USA South Conference standings with a 9-3 ledger. Wesleyan has three games remaining before the USA South tournament in Burlington from April 17-20. Then Bishops return to Rocky Mount for their final home date, a doubleheader against University of Mary Washington on Sunday, May 4, beginning at 1 p.m.

As has been the case throughout much of the Wesleyan history, there is a distinct Wilson influence. Junior catcher Justin Batts. a Wilson Christian Academy graduate, leads the club in RBIs with 39 and is third with a robust .376 batting average.

Also seeing action for the Bishops has been Greenfield School product Tony Whitehead and Bradley Taylor, a member of Charles B. Aycock High School's 2007 3-A state champion as well as a two-year performer for Post 13.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The rankings are back but they're not always what they seem

Here's a glance at some of the high school spring sports rankings and Wilson Daily Times readership-area teams' involvement.

In the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association 1-A poll, North Johnston is No. 13.

With back-to-back losses in The Brittany, Hunt fell out of the 3-A poll.

Southern Nash continues to occupy the top spot in the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association 3-A boys tennis rankings, while Charles B. Aycock is seventh. Greene Central is fifth in the 2-A rankings.

No area teams are currently ranked in the N.C. Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association poll or the Impact Baseball rankings.

Like most polls, all of these must be taken with a grain of salt because they are created by a small group of voters without much exposure to the body of teams around the state. I probably put more stock in the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association poll because its Web site is so well-run and up-to-the hour on game results. But the NCSCA all-state teams are only represented by teams whose coaches pay dues and participate in the voting meetings so keep that in mind.

I vote in the weekly Associated Press football rankings each fall and even that is not even close to being an accurate assessment of teams in the NCHSAA's four classifications. I only get to see a handful of teams each season and go on whatever info I can glean about other teams. Once the initial rankings are set, I just adjust based on what each team does each week.

Rankings are fun for us in the media and fans but don't mean a thing ultimately.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fike tied for eighth in state 3-A Wachovia Cup points

The standings for the Wachovia Cup for all-around athletic excellence have been updated by the N.C. High School Athletic Association following the winter season.

Fike remains in the 3-A top 10 at tied with Jacksonville for No. 8 but in the conference standings is in second behind Rocky Mount. That's because the state standings are based on overall finishes and Fike was the runner-up in girls golf and boys soccer. The conference standings are based on conference finish.

Of area interest in the 3-A state standings, Eastern Wayne is No. 11 and Rocky Mount is No. 14.

On the conference scene, Hunt (115.5) is just behind Eastern Wayne (118) in the 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference, with Charles B. Aycock third (98.5) and Beddingfield fifth (88).

Rocky Mount (49.5) is just ahead of Fike (46.5) in the NEW 6 Conference while Southern Nash is fourth (41.5) and SouthWest Edgecombe is last (38).

North Johnston leads the 1-A Carolina Conference with 36.5 to 24 for runner-up Ayden-Grifton. Greene Central occupies third in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference with 31.5 points, not far behind front-running North Pitt (35) and second-place Farmville Central (32.5).

NCHSAA state Wachovia Cup standings

NCHSAA conference Wachovia Cup standings

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hesmer can stop shots but can he blog?

As promised, I've got some more stuff on Wilson native William Hesmer, the starting goalkeeper for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

This comes from William himself as he produced a blog on the Crew's Web site during preseason camp.

I'm impressed. If the soccer thing doesn't work out, there might be a future for William with the written word.

William Hesmer's preseason blog