Sports Briefs

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2004

Peninsula Amateur set for the weekend

The 31st annual Birch Ridge Peninsula Amateur Golf Tournament will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Birch Ridge Golf Course.

The entry fee is $50, plus $50 for greens fees. Season ticket holders are exempt from the greens fees. The price includes 18 holes of golf each day (scratch play flighted by handicap) and an awards barbecue in the pavilion on Sunday.

Men's flights consist of one championship flight and first through fourth flights, while women's flights include one championship and first and second flights. Trophies and gift certificates will be awarded to winners and runners-up in each flight.

The round on the first day can be played at any time Friday, or any time on Saturday before 2 p.m. Rounds on Friday and Saturday must be attested to by another tournament player.

Motocross Division to hold city race

The Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions Motocross Division will hold their second city race of the year Saturday at Twin Cities Raceway, with sign-ups at 10 a.m. and racing at noon.

The spectator fee is $5, with seniors gaining entrance for $3. Those aged 12 and under get in free.

The Racing Lions also will be collecting used eye glasses for donation. The glasses can be deposited in buckets at the track.

For more information, contact Wendy Hudson at 260-3305 or 398-3306.

Wilson, Gatson look good in returns

ANAHEIM, Calif. Not quite perfect, but far better than average, Blaine Wilson and Jason Gatson returned from injuries Thursday night and made good cases for spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

Wilson and Gatson were the headliners at preliminaries of the Olympic trials. Two of the best gymnasts in the country, they each missed the national championships earlier in the month and the quality of their comebacks will determine who makes the six-man Olympic team.

By the looks of things, they're very much in the running for a trip to Athens.

National champion Paul Hamm almost certainly has a spot, too. He closed with a 9.9 on the high bar to finish in first despite an uneven night in which he fell off the pommel horse and struggled a bit on rings.

Brett McClure was the most consistent gymnast on what seemed like a shaky night for most of the 17 men in the meet. McClure, the silver medalist at nationals, finished with 57.425 points, .175 behind Hamm after one round of trials and also in second behind Hamm when the scores were combined with results from nationals.

The top two scorers after finals Saturday will earn automatic spots to the Olympics. A selection committee will choose the final four men. Committee members are looking for specialists on pommel horse and vault, two events that are typically difficult for the Americans.

More importantly on Thursday, they were looking for signs that Wilson and Gatson would be back to full health when the Olympics start in seven weeks.

Wilson, the five-time national champion seeking a trip to his third Olympics, competed in his first event since tearing his left biceps in February, an injury that many thought could end the 29-year-old's career.

Not even close.

Opening on the still rings once his best event, but now watered down because of the injury Wilson put on a steady performance on all six events and scored 56.35 points, good for a spot among the top five.

The highlight came at the end, when he fought his way through a nice pommel horse routine, an event that has given him trouble over the years. After the dismount, he bowed to the crowd and his mother cried in the stands, having just watched her son take the next successful step on a comeback few thought possible in such a short time.

Gatson, meanwhile, was coming off a back injury and performed in only four events, skipping floor and vault.

His highlight came on parallel bars, where he moved back and forth during a powerful routine that ended with a big dismount and a near perfect landing. He scored a 9.85, the highest of the meet, and also had a 9.7 on still rings. Some might argue that those high scores alone may have been enough to earn him a trip to Athens.

Gatson earned a 9.375 on pommel horse not gold-medal quality, but impressive simply because of the fact that he stayed on, fighting through a difficult pass on the left side of the horse that would have left most guys flat on the floor.

Wilson wasn't perfect, either. His floor routine was slow and included a series of bobbles, including two passes in which he looked like he stepped out of bounds. Judges didn't raise the yellow flag on either, however all part of a night in which Wilson got the kind of marks afforded to a five-time national champion.

If Wilson and Gatson finish the way they started, it could spell trouble for a number of men hoping to pick up spots. Among them were Raj Bhavsar, who fell off the high bar for a score of 7.75 that knocked him down several spots.

Hamm's twin brother, Morgan, missed some key moves on rings and scored an 8.45. His status, however, is thought to be more secure than that of Stephen McCain and Sean Townsend, each of whom had solid nights and finished among the top eight.

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