Sports Briefs

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2003

Bulldogs get first win against Wasilla

The Nikiski Bulldogs boys soccer team celebrated an undefeated trip to the Matanuska-Susitna this weekend, coming back from a scoreless first half to tie with Colony 3-3 Friday, and beating Wasilla Saturday 1-0.

Bulldog coach Jim Coburn said his team was getting their first opportunities to get outside and play, and that playing time is improving the team's performance.

"The more they play, the better they get," he said. "We've got a lot of seniors who haven't been on a full soccer field this year."

Friday at Colony, the Bulldogs went into the half down 3-0. Coburn said their determination and conditioning took over, however.

"The kids went in and decided they weren't going to be denied," he said. "Our defense really stepped up and had an impressive effort."

In addition to stopping the Knights' scoring attack, Nikiski junior Nick Russell scored a hat trick, getting two assists from senior center midfielder Joey Wicker and another from freshman Kevin Epperiermer.

Saturday, Nikiski beat Wasilla for the first time in the Bulldogs' five-year soccer program.

"It was a big win for us," Coburn said. "Wasilla was a really tough team."

Early in the first half, off of a free kick from sophomore Travis McGahan, senior Kevin Gerke scored with a header into the Wasilla net.

Senior goalie Josh Winters recorded his first shutout. Coburn also credited stingy defense again, giving nods to McGahan and seniors John Rooper, Rustin Hitchcock and Nathan Smith for helping to abate any Moose scoring attempts, and noted that the referees acknowledged the team's conduct.

"We were congratulated by the refs in both games," Coburn said. "They thought our sportsmanship was excellent."

The Bulldogs record is 1-1-1.

Basketball awards banquet to be held

The Skyview High School basketball awards banquet will be held Tuesday at the Skyview High Commons. All players, panrents and fans are invited to attend. Potluck will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Dennis Smith at 262-7974.

Injured umpire leaves hospital

BOSTON -- Umpire Jerry Layne left the hospital to be checked out by baseball's doctors on Sunday, a day after he was hit in the facemask by a pitch from Pedro Martinez.

Layne was diagnosed with a cervical sprain. He was hospitalized overnight before flying to Arizona for further examination, Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said.

Layne was injured in the fourth inning of Saturday night's game when a rising fastball grazed the top of catcher Jason Varitek's glove before hitting Layne squarely in the mask in front of his forehead.

After a brief discussion between third base umpire Dana DeMuth and Layne about the count, Batista lined the next pitch into left field for a single. Layne remained in the game for the rest of the half inning, then departed before the Red Sox came to bat in the bottom of the fourth.

Dan Iassogna entered in the bottom of the fifth inning as the second base umpire, and Marvin Hudson went behind the plate. The same crew worked Sunday's game.

Radcliffe sets world best

LONDON -- Paula Radcliffe needed exactly one year to go from novice to groundbreaker in the marathon.

She shattered her world best by almost two minutes Sunday -- the biggest single drop in two decades -- to win a second straight London Marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds.

Radcliffe never had competed at 26.2 miles until the 2002 London Marathon. Now she owns three of the four fastest women's times in history, after lowering the world best she set just six months ago in Chicago by 1:53.

Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, previous world-best holder, was second . Sunday in 2:19:54. Deena Drossin of the United States was third in 2:21:16, five second faster than the American best set by Joan Benoit at Chicago in 1985.

''It was an impressive performance by Paula. I can't wait to see the clips of it,'' Drossin said.

Radcliffe's performance overshadowed a thrilling men's race.

Olympic and world champion Gezahegne Abera of Ethiopia beat Stefano Baldini of Italy in a sprint. Abera and Baldini were each clocked in 2:07:56 after a finish that resembled a 100-meter dash. Joseph Ngolepus of Kenya was next, just one second back, followed by countryman Paul Tergat.

The winning time was two minutes off the world best.

The women's marathon world mark has been broken four times in the last 2 1/2 years and six times since 1998. Tegla Loroupe of Kenya set the standard of 2:20:47 five years ago, and the mark has fallen a total of more than five minutes since.

On Sunday, Radcliffe lowered the world best by the greatest margin since Benoit clipped 2:46 off Grete Waitz's mark at the 1983 Boston Marathon.

''There was a lot of pressure, and people were talking about the times I was going to run,'' Radcliffe said. ''I went through halfway way faster than I had planned to, even if I felt good.''

London Marathon organizers put eight male pacesetters into the women's race, making it a ''mixed'' field eligible for world bests according to the IAAF, track and field's governing body.

The race was run with light winds and a starting temperature of 50 that edged up to 60 by the finish.

''Everyone said that London could not be a fast course. But I knew from last year it was,'' Radcliffe said. ''We got a good day, and the wind was behind us more than it was in front and we have proved it is a fast course.''

She will be a prohibitive favorite if she enters the marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics, although she wouldn't commit Sunday to participating.

Radcliffe pulled clear of the field right at the start in London and completed the first mile in 5:10 -- almost exactly her average pace.

Her time at the midway mark was 1:08:02, 1:19 ahead of Constantina Dita of Romania. Susan Chepkemei (who wound up fourth) was another nine seconds back, and the next seven runners were more than two minutes behind Radcliffe.

Radcliffe extended her lead over Ndereba to nearly three minutes after 18 1/2 miles.

Abera waited until the end to sprint home and left five others in his wake -- Baldini, Ngolepus, Tergat, Samson Ramadhani of Tanzania and two-time London champion Abdelkader El Mouaziz.

Nine men had better personal-best times than Abera entering the race, but no one possessed his closing speed.

''I have confidence in my sprinting and I knew I would have to wait until the end to win,'' said Abera, who began his kick with about 60 yards left.

His last loss was two years ago in Boston, where he was dehydrated and finished 16th. Sunday's victory was his fourth straight, all by the narrowest of margins.

Abera won the marathon at the 2001 World Track and Field Championships by one second, won a marathon in Fukuoka, Japan, in 2001 by three seconds, and won there last year by two seconds.

Notes: Khalid Khannouchi of the United States, the 2002 men's champion and world-best owner, skipped the race because of tonsillitis. ... Zola Pieterse (formerly Budd) dropped out after 20 miles. It was the first marathon for the former world-record holder at 5,000 meters -- best known for her barefoot clash with Mary Decker at the 1984 Olympics.

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