Monday, July 30, 2007

East Texas Swimmer Headed To Nationals

An East Texas high school swimmer entered rare air over the weekend when he qualified for the USA Swimming Junior National Championships. William Norton, a senior-to-be at Grace Community High School and member of the Tyler Swim Team, qualifed for nationals in the 1500 meter Freestyle at the USA Sectional Swimming Championships in San Antonio.

According to his Tyler Swim Team coach, Matt Franks, Norton is the first Tyler area swimmer to qualify for the junior national championship meet since another Tyler Swim Team member, Jacob Taylor did it in the late 1990's.

Norton leaves for Indianapolis, where this years junior nationals will be held, on Friday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Tour de France Needs Fixing

One of the reasons I love sports so much is because there are athletes out there capable of overcoming incredible odds to do things the average person, including me, can't do.

I have a mountain bike, but I don't consider myself necessarily a "cycling" fan. However, I have always been intrigued by the Tour de France, and the monstrous challenges it offers. Following the 7 straight titles won by Lance Armstrong, after nearly dying from cancer, was awesome. I was similarly moved when Floyd Landis pulled out a miraculous win last year, all while needing a hip replacement! So when it came out that Landis more than likely cheated his way to victory, I was upset. I know this isn't just a problem in cycling. See Ben Johnson, Mark McGwire and Lyle Alzado just to name a few. But, the closer I looked at the sport of cycling at the Tour de France level, the more I saw a systematic effort by its participants to try to get away with cheating, whether it be with steroids, or blood transfusions or just taking a cold medicine. Yes, a cold medicine! These riders are not allowed to take ANYTHING! Oh, unless they have a medical waiver from their doctor saying they need to because of asthma or something. As long as they have a waiver, that drug is allowed. How ironic, that 60% of the riders at last year's race had medical waivers! Some of those over the counter drugs help "mask" the use of other illegal drugs. At last check, more than 40% of the riders had the medical waivers this year. Now, with two riders in two days being bounced from the race due to failed drug tests, including favorite Alexandre Vinokourov, and the race leader Michael Rasmussen under suspicion because he didn't report his whereabouts during a recent drug test, it seems the sport, or at least the Tour de France, needs to take drastic steps.

While I'm no expert, I'm going to use the common sense meter for proposing a solution. When each rider reports to the race, they are locked up in a "dorm" by tournament officials, where they will have zero access to outside sources. Each team will be issued the exact same support equipment, when it comes to water bottles, the water inside the bottles, the energy bars, etc. The teams will be "quarantined" in a separate compound, where all of their equipment will be searched and approved. Each rider will continue to submit to daily drug tests just in case. That's the only way this can be fixed. While it's hard for many Americans to grasp why these athletes would go to such lengths to cheat for a bicycle race, it's apparent this is a sport held in high regard in many parts of Europe, with millions of dollars on the line.

I am all for inspirational stories. I just don't like to find out later that their source of inspirational came in an illegal bottle of drugs.

Monday, July 23, 2007

East Texas High School Football Prospects

ESPN just released it's top 150 high school football prospects for the upcoming football season. Van's Jermie Calhoun ranks 4th on the list, and the top running back. Gilmer landed two players on the list, OG David Snow at 75th, and RB Justin Johnson at 122nd. Paris also has two players on the list with OT Stephen Good at 87th and CB Jordan Fields at 103. Kendall Wright of Pittsburg ranks 96th as an "athlete".

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Prairieview A&M Back To East Texas?

Prairieview A&M looks as if they will play another football game in East Texas. While not yet official, the Panthers have tentatively agreed to play a game at Lobo Stadium in Longview on October 20th. An opponent hasn't been finalized, but it looks to be Concordia College.

Wiley College, which doesn't have a football program, is considering holding homecoming activities in connection with the game.

More to come...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Nextel Cup Driver Boosting Busch Series Team

Grace Community High School grad C.J. Fambrough is the rear tire changer for the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Busch Series car. Tony Stewart is driving the car for this weeks Busch race at Daytona. He'll start on the front row, after qualifying second!

One Heck Of A Water Hazard!

The rain in East Texas has been relentless, causing serious problems to roads and residents. It has also put a huge damper on playing golf, especially at Meadowbrook Country Club in Kilgore. Check out this picture sent to me by a viewer. This is looking down Houston Street. The creek has completely overflowed. This entire fairway is under water!

Here are some pictures from a viewer of The Woods golf course near Jacksonville. It looks like an island green in the first picture!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

East Texan Pitting For And "Acting" Big Time

Grace Community High School grad C.J. Fambrough, who is the rear tire changer for the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 car in the Busch Series will be appearing in a new commercial on ESPN. That's him in the Fed Ex fire suit, being filmed for the commercial. It will begin airing this weekend.

C.J. will also get his first exposure to a Nextel Cup driver as 2005 Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart slides behind the wheel of the #18 car for this Friday's Busch Series race at Daytona. Stewart drove the #18 car in the season opening Busch event at Daytona, but his Nextel Cup team pitted for him that race. C.J.'s Busch team pit crew has been putting in some great times this year. They won the award in a recent race for the least amount of time spent on pit row. I can't wait to see how they do with a Nextel Cup driver this week!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Nothing Better Than Hot Dogs On The 4th

I'm a baseball fan, which means I'm a hot dog fan. I don't know what it is, but baseball and hot dogs go hand-in-hand. They just taste better at the ballpark. I think it has something to do with the smells of grass and dirt and pine tar and beer and peanuts that just enhance their flavor. I'm not talking about these jumbo monstrosities covered with chili and cheese and everything else under the sun, that you need a loan to pay for. I'm talking about the regular hot dog, with a little mustard, and maybe some relish. I can eat four or five of those things at-a-time. That's why I love watching the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island every year on the Fourth of July.

I love everything that involves competition, especially something that I know I can't do, and I know I can't eat 10 hot dogs in 12 minutes, much less 50! It's awe inspiring to watch the master himself perform, 6-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi. He weighs 150 pounds soaking wet, yet the way he makes those dogs disappear is otherworldly. He set the record of 53 3/4 hot dogs at last years event. This guy is the king of all things eating. He's the top ranked eater in the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). Take a look at his accomplishments since last year's hot dog win:

Brats: 58 Johnsonville Brats / Brat Days / 10 Minutes/ Aug. 5, 2006
Cow Brains: 57 (17.7 pounds) / 15 minutes
Hamburgers: Krystals: 97 Krystal Burgers / 8 minutes/October 28, 2006
Lobster Rolls: 41 Lobster Rolls in Boston challenge / 10 minutes/Sept. 23, 2006
Rice Balls: 20 pounds rice balls / 30 minutes

Like Roger Maris' 61 homers, I thought the hot dog eating record was unbeatable. Then, along came Joey Chestnut, who last month, ate 59 1/2 hot dogs! That's five hot dogs and buns per minute! He is a force to be reckoned with, also holding world records in Asparagus (8.6 lbs/10 min.), Chicken Wings, Long form (182/30 min.), Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (47/10 min.), Gyoza(212 chicken and vegetable gyoza/10 min.), Horseshoe Sandwiches (6 lbs, 5 oz/12 min.), Pork Ribs (8.4 lbs/12 min.), Pork, Pulled (9 lbs, 6 oz/10 min.) and Waffles (18.5 Waffles (8 oz.)/10 min.).

Kobayashi is claiming he has arthritis of the jaw. He could be playing with Chestnut's head. We'll see tomorrow. I can't wait!