Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on March 11, 1992 · Page 18
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 18

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Wednesday, March 11, 1992
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Page 18—Wednesday, March 11, 1992 / Wrestler Kolat aims for perfect end to perfect career By ALAN ROBINSON AP Sports Writer PITTSBURGH — He beat seven opponents in one day, six of them of college age, to win the West Virginia Open championship — even though, at age 14, he still hadn't wrestled his first high school match. People realized that Gary Kolat was something special. He still is. His coronation as perhaps the greatest high school wrestler in U.S. history will come this weekend in Hershey, in his fourth and final Pennsylvania state tournament. "I can't wait for it," Kolat said. "It's going to be great. It's going to be awesome." The same words have been used regularly to describe the 135-pound Kolat, the most storied U.S. high school wrestler since Dan Gable. The owner of a 133-0 record — the best in his state's history — three state championships and three state Outstanding Wrestler awards, there isn't much Kolat, of Rices Landing, hasn't accomplished as a high schooler. What sets the four-time All-America apart from other teenagers are his accomplishments outside the scholastic arena. "He's so far advanced for a high school wrestler, it's scary," said Gary Barton, the coach of Pennsylvania power Clearfield. While most high schoolers were wrestling scrimmage matches last December, Kolat was in Europe, winning the French Open championship and competing daily against world-class Russians. Last summer, while his high school contemporaries were in summer camps or in junior-age tournaments, Kolat placed fourth in the U.S. Nationals against opponents eight to 10 years older. He also was fifth in the U:S. Internation- al Invitational in Tampa and won two matches in the Sunkist International meet in Phoenix. As a sophomore and junior, he finished third and fourth, respectively, in the mid-season Midlands Open tournament at Northwestern University. In fact, since he was a freshman, virtually his only wrestling against other high schoolers is during the scholastic season. The rest of the year is reserved for wrestling older, stronger, better opponents as a member of the world-class Foxcatcher club in Philadelphia. "His maturity from being around older wrestlers all his life, from traveling ... he's beyond high school kids," said Ron Headlee, his coach at Jefferson-Morgan High School. "He knows everybody in wrestling." And everybody knows him. That's why Kolat — who, at age 4, was regularly beaten up by his sister — is regarded as THE recruit in high school wrestling. He hasn't chosen a college — visits are planned to West Virginia, Clarion, and Minnesota — but his friends expect him to choose Penn State. Not only is Penn State a perennial Top Five team, staying in the state would keep Kolat close to friends and family and allow him to continue training with the Foxcatcher club. "He could be a two-time or three-time Olympian," Foxcatcher coach Greg Stroe- be! said. Kolat is invited to the U.S. Olympic team trials this spring, but is a decided long shot to become just the second high school wrestler to make the team. Jimmy Carr, then 16, of Erie, was an Olympian in 1972, when the qualifying format was different. The U.S. national team was chosen last summer and to oust a wrestler, Kolat must survive a Professional Bowlers Tour-like 5-4-3-2-1 elimination tournament. The incumbent wrestler has to defeat only the Continued on page 19 PIAA'S Ail-Time Best The best records, by won-lost-tie percentage, in Pennsylvania high school wreslling history, as compiled by state wrestling historian Bob I lower of Lewis town: (Name, School, Senior Season, Record, Pel.) x-Cary Kolat, JelTerson-Morgan, 1992, !33-0, 1.000. Mike Johnson, Lock Haven, 1961,84-0, 1.000. Cleorge Custer, Canonsburg, 1940,76-0, 1.000. Bob Truby, Trinity. 1987, 70-0, 1.000. Jerry Maurey, Clearfield, 1950,67-0, 1.000. Ty Moore, North Allegheny, 1990,146-1, .9932. Jim Conklin, Waynesburg, 1943.70-0-1, .993. Chris Kwortnik, North Penn, 1989, 141-1, .993. Joey Wildasin, South Western, 1990, 132-1, .9925. Jim Martin, Danville, 1984,156-2, .9873. Mike DeAugustino, North Allegheny, 1976, 76-1, ,987. John Chatman. Trinity, 1970, 74-1, .9867. Ed Peery, Shaler, 1953, 71-1, .9861. JackCuvo, Easton, 1985, 139-2, .9858. Manuel Pihakis, Canonsburg, 1952, 99-1-1. .9851. Dennis Merriam, Halboro-Horsham, 1976, 55-1, .9821. John Hughes, Benton, 1991, 142-2-1, .9793. DonHaney, Canonsburg, 1950,92-2, .9787. LeeTodora, Salisbury, 1988,135-3, .9783. Matt Gerhard, Catasauqua. 1984,127-3, .9769. x-still active Shelton develops BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Ben Shelton already has played professional baseball for five seasons, beginning when he was 17. "I've always been either the youngest or one of the youngest guys on my team every year," said the first baseman, who finally reached Class AA last June. Slumps have been his undoing. "Ben's a real nice kid and he has a tendency to dwell on things when they turn bad," Pirates minor league director Chet Montgomery said. "He worries too much about his slumps and that can make it even worse. Most young players are like that, though. Sometimes people forget that he's still only 22 years-old." And it may be the age where Shelton understands that every player goes through bad stretches. "I'm starting to understand that you can't get down over one bad day," Shelton said. "Everyone is going to have them during a long season. Once I get past that, I think I'll be fine and I'll make it to the major leagues." The Pirates used their second- round pick in the 1987 amateur draft to select Shelton from River Forest High School in Oak Park, 111. Since then, they've watched him develop. "It's been kind of frustrating," Shelton said. "The toughest part is seeing guys who were.drafted behind me do better. I'll see someone who was taken after me make it to the majors and wonder why I haven't progressed faster." Shelton has struck out 572 times in 1.529 at bats over five seasons. He has struck out at least 112 times in each of the past three seasons. He began seeing some light last season, though. After one season in rookie ball and three more at Class A, Shelton hit .261 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs in fi5 games at Salem in the Class A Carolina. He was promoted to Class AA Carolina and hit .231 with one homer and 19 RBIs in 55 games. "I felt I gained some consistency last year," Shelton said. "I never really hit any really bad cold spells." This is Shelton's first major- league camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he doesn't expect to stay. "I'm excited to get the opportunity to play in front of the big-league brass this spring." he said. "I just hope I make enough of an impression that they remember me once I go back to the minor-league camp." Ryan Express starts slowly in spring debut against Bucs MID-AIR MAGIC — Bucknell University's Bill Courtney (24) slices between Sandford Jenkins (left) and Joe McGouhan during me first half of last night's Patriot League championship game at Bethlehem. Fordham earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 21 years with a 70-65 victory. See roundup on page 19. (AP Leaf Photo) PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Nolan Ryan gave himself a grade of "C" — as in "could have been better." His spring training debut Tuesday was about as expected: Below average velocity and poor location in a 6-5 win over Pittsburgh. "It wasn't too bad for a first outing," said Ryan, who gave up three runs on three hits, walked two and struck out two in four innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. "I felt it was a good overall performance. My velocity was low, but that was to be expected. I did have very poor command of my pitches." Ryan was greeted by an old friend in the second inning, former Texas Ranger Steve Buechele, who hit a solo homer off baseball's all-time strikeout leader. "It was a fastball right down the middle," Ryan said. Ryan was bugged by the Rangers' spring training rule in which a pitcher is automatically yanked after two straight walks. "I got to thinking about it," he said. "I wanted to face live hitting. I didn't want to go to the sidelines." In his next at-bat, Ryan went to 3-2 on Buechele and summoned catcher Ivan Rodriguez to the mound. "Tell Boo to swing at the next pitch," Ryan said. Buechle did and missed. Ryan will pitch again Saturday against Boston, but right now he's tired. "I'm at that dead body stage," he said. It's Ryan's 26th spring training, and he's fighting fatigue. "I'm at that blah stage where everything takes an effort," Ryan said. "It will probably last a week to 10 days. Then I'll be OK." Ryan isn't certain this will be his last year of professional baseball. He'll take a long look at it in September and October and see what his body tells him. "I'll prepare like it's my last year, but I could play next season," said Ryan, who is already signed for 1993. Ryan likely will be the Rangers' starter on opening day, although he said "It doesn't matter to me if I'm in the starting lineup. Whatever they want to do is fine." ' Anyway, Ryan is having a sweaty good time at spring training. He doesn't loathe the hard work. He loves it. "I like spring training," he said. "It gets easier every year because you know what you have to do to get ready for the season. "For me, it's been going good. There have been no physical setbacks so far. I've had some Achilles problems, but that was because of the spikes I was wearing." Ryan's first training camp was with the New York Mets in 1968 at St. Petersburg. "Going there I had no idea what it would take to make the team," Ryan said. "Fortunately for me, they kept a young staff that year." Ryan said spring training gets him away from ringing telephones. "You can relax and concentrate just on baseball," Ryan said. "It's nice to have your evenings off and not have to go places." Ryan said he is hoping he can pitch just one more time in the playoffs, like he did for the Mets. "I'd like to do it one more time before my career is over," Ryan said. HOMER CITY - The Homer City Area Athletic Boasters Club has announced that Iryouts will be held Friday, March 20, for the two Junior American Legion baseball teams, Arone Auto Body and Homer City. The tryouts will begin at 5 p.m. at the new Junior legion field. Players aged 13-15 who do not turn 16 before Aug. 1 andwhoareresidcntsofthe Homer-Center School District arc eligible. In the event of inclement weather, the tryouts will be' held the following day at 1 p.m. The Indiana County Slo-Pilch Softball League will hold an umpire meeting Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Denny's Restaurant. Several teams riding bubble into tournaments KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — At first they were startled, but now teams like Iowa State and Georgia Tech can relax. The chairman of the NCAA selection committee was misinterpreted, he says, when he was reported saying that teams with losing conference records probably would be left out of the 64-team NCAA field. "What I really hoped I was saying and apparently did not say ... was that should a team not have a winning record within a conference, there have to be some additional factors," Roy Kramer said Tuesday in a teleconference call. "Our goal is to pick the best 34 teams, regardless of where they come from." Several "bubble" teams head into their conference tournaments with good overall marks but .500 records or worse in their own leagues. These include the Big Eight's Iowa State (5-9) and Nebraska (7-7), the ACC's Georgia Tech (8-8) and Virginia (8-8), Purdue (7-9) from the Big Ten and Pittsburgh (9-9) from the Big East. Kramer said other teams in past tournaments have nabbed a bid by compensating for losing conference records with other selling points. "Obviously, conference records are a factor," Kramer said. "It's one of those 8-9 factors we look at very carefully as we begin to prepare a resume, so to speak, on each one of those institutions." Other factors, Kramer said, would be strength of schedule, quality wins on the road or at home, losses against quality opponents or poor opponents and how well a team has performed in the last 10-12 games. "Obviously, we've had teams in the tournament with a .500 record or less in their conference in the past," Kramer said. "All those institutions had some very positive chips to play on the other side of the fence that made it possible for them to be invited. I would suspect that would happen again this year." The Big Eight, which finished 97-13 against outside competition, hopes to have six NCAA teams. Other leagues with plans for multiple selections include the ACC, Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10. Rules limiting the number of teams one conference can put in the tournament were long ago discarded. With 34 at-large selections to go with 30 automatic entries determined by conference tournament or regular-season champions, the committee is free to do what it wants. "Our goal is to pick the best 34 teams that are out there, based on all the information fed into our network," Kramer said. "We are somewhat oblivious to the fact this is the fifth, or second, or eighth team or whatever from a conference. "If every conference had a team that ended up 18-0 in the conference, we would need realigning of conferences. The fact that people beat up on each other in their conference is a fact of life. We understand that every conference with any strength at all is going to have several teams that fall into that category, having lost some tough games within their conference." Kramer's nine-man committee will begin its marathon deliberations in Kansas City late Friday afternoon. The 64-team field, divided into four regionals seeded No. 1 through No. 16, will be unveiled on national television Sunday at 6-30 p.m. EST. Kramer said the committee will analyze about 100 of the nearly 300 Division I teams. "There will always be controversy," said Kramer, also a member of the NCAA infractions committee and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. SEE-WORLD SATELLITES Strike threat jeopardizes PGA tourney FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The PGA Tour reacted with skepticism to the veiled threat of an unprecedented walkout of irate field staff officials this weekend at the Honda Classic. "We would be very surprised if there was a work stoppage at this juncture of the negotiations," deputy tour commissionfir Tim Finchem said by telephone from his office in Ponte Vedra, Fla. "The negotiations have just begun." Finchern was responding to a comment by union negotiator Richie Phillips that a work stoppage and possible disruption of the tournament "is one of the options" he will discuss with Professional Association of Golf Officials iPAGO) later this week. Those officials, who conduct the day-to-day operation of tour tourna- ments, are "in a high state of fury," Phillips said, over the tour's initial offer in contract negotiations. "I'll have to work hard to hold them in this weekend," Phillips, the attorney who last led baseball umpires out on strike at the start of the 1991 season, said by telephone from his office in Philadelphia. Tour officials themselves declined comment about the possible walkout of a tournament in progress. "I'm just not going to get into that right now," said Wade Cagle, PAGO president and the senior official at this tournament. "All I can tell you is that all the guys are extremely disappointed with what they came up with," Cagle said, The $1.1 million tournament is scheduled to begin Thursday, with network television coverage by NBC set for .Saturday and Sunday from the tournament's new location at the Weston Hills Country Club. Phillips said he will meet with union members in Florida either Thursday or Friday "to discuss the options" after the receipt Monday of a tour counter-proposal to union contract demands. Those options include a work stoppage as early as this weekend, "putting up pickets" and possible disruption of the tournament, Phillips said. The union is seeking higher pay, increased travel expenses and improved retirement and insurance packages. Phillips said tour officials now receive about one-third the pay of major league umpires. Jackson facing surgery Continued from page 17 "I have to think about everything I have to do, getting in and out of my truck, going down stairs, going to the bathroom in the morning. It was the Lord's way of telling me that I was taking too much for granted. I've accepted that." Jackson was the Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn in 1985, averaging 162 yards per game en route to a career total of 4,303. He rushed for 2,782 yards in 38 games with the Raiders, a 5.4 average per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns. "If someone out there can play two sports, I'd say more power to them," Jackson said Tuesday. "I have no regrets since I left high school. I'm thankful the Lord gave me the ability to play both sports. Not to be conceited, but I think I've done a good job." During four full seasons with the Royals, Jackson hit .250 with 109 homers and 313 RBIs and made one trip to the All-Star game, hitting a leadoff homer in 1989. "It's a shame," White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk said. "It's tough to see that talent, that person, not able to do the things he's capable of doing. He never realized his talent in either game. He barely touched it." Chicago made a flurry of roster moves to get around Jackson's $910,000 option for this season. The White Sox placed Jackson on waivers last week and he cleared Tuesday. Jackson then refused a minor- league assignment, became a free agent and re-signed with Chicago for the major league minimum of $109,000. As Serious About Tires As You Are About Cars. Speed and style mile after mile. 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