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The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana • Page 14
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The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana • Page 14

Billings, Montana
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Kitliug fknrftt 20 Saturday. March 10.2001 SportsGuide "fetalis It 'l 1 r' -5 1 local events MOW BASKETBALL Bg Sky Conference tournament at Nwthridge, Calif. WOMrffS BASKETBALL Big Sky Conference tournament at Pocatelio, Idaho COLLEGE SOFTBALL MSU Sillings at St Martin's (2). 10 lacey, Wash. CLASS AA BASKETBALL State AA at Great Falls CLASS BASKETBALL State at Boieman CLASS BASKETBALL State Cat Billings (Metra) CLASS A VOLLEYBALL State A at Hardin CLASS VOLLEYBALL Southern at Forsyth NorthEast at Choteau Western at Superior CLASS VOLLEYBALL Southern at Harlowton Eastern at Sidney Northern at Belt Western at Deer Lodge GYMNASTICS Billings Gymnastics School Invitational, 8 a.m.

Shrine Auditorium WRESTLING Montana AAU Folkstyle tournament 9:30 a.m Skyview High School BOWLING Billings Women's City Tournament Heights Lanes and Sunset Bowl Bcncpe sitting 3rd at Florida Classic Sheridan, Wyo, ootfer Jim Benepe fired 6-under 65 on Friday to move into tie (or third place after two rounds ol the $425,000 londa Classic being played in Gainesville, la. Benept rs sitting at under 134 (69-65) at the tournament's halfway point, one shot behind leaden Deane Pappas and Rod Pampling, He Is tied with defending champion ran Quinn. Billings goller Mike Grab is in an 8-way tie for 10th place at 6-under 116 (67-6U Grob shot under 69 on Friday. Boneoel round on Friday featured six birdies and 12 pars. Grobl storecard included four birdies and two bogeys.

The 72-hole event will run through Sunday. At the IPGA Welch'sCircle tournament In Tucson. tuu Billings goiter Leslie Spalding shot her second-straight 3-under 69 and is anil-way tie for 19th place at 6-under 1M (69-69) after two rounds. Jen Hanna is leading the 72 -tournament at 1 3-under 131 (63 68). TtwGcCfunndwinbeprovkiifigccftmgeofthe Tucson tournament from pm today and Sunday.

Dcs Mote in IBA finals DCS MOINES. Iowa Despite losing leading scorer and league MVP Lonnie Cooper, the defending IDA champion Des Moines Dragons are marching on In the International Basketball Association playoffs. Des Moines defeated the Siouxland Bombers 105-91 Thursday night to wrap up a two-game sweep of their best-of-three East Division finals. Ty Mack scored 31 points and Dominic Ellison 24 to lead the Dragons. Ellison has taken over the starting spot vacated by Cooper, wrio left last week for a pro contract in Finland.

in the IBA finals, Des Moines will face the winner of the West Division finals between Dakota (Bismarck) and Saskatchewan. That best-of-three series begins tonight In Saskatoon. DQ cost Northern at KAIA meet HAVRE (AP) Montana State-Northern's wrestling team went from three-time defending champion to fifth place at this year's NAIA national championships, in part because one wrestler was disqualified for hitting an opponent Turk Lords won his fourth straight title at 197 pounds only the sixth NAIA wrestler ever to do that but the Lights missed out on a third-place team finish after Caleb Schaeffer was disqualified in his match for third place. Lindenwoofs Brant Brunner tackled Schaeffer out of the ring. Rather than stopping after the whistle, Schaeffer begin hitting Bruner on the head.

The official disqualified Schaeffer for flagrant misconduct, stripping him of any chance to place at the tournament "He lost control and got on the kid's head a little too hard after the whistle," said Northern coach David Ray. "(The officials) were right He lost control and it was unnecessary." The disqualification also meant Northern lost all the points Schaeffer had scored at the meet "(Schaeffer) knows he reacted out of impulse. Now he's realized what he's done, too," Ray said. "It was an expensive team lesson." Associated Prtss Greg Nash poses for a photograph as he sits In the bleachers at the Williams Playground In Sorrento, La. Nash, a high school dropout, has been signed by the Florida Devil Rays.

The most people Nash has played before Is 100 fans, now he's heading to spring training with the Devil Rays. Young baseball phenom sparks excitement, worry By MARY FOSTER AwnKWed Press SORRENTO, La. Greg Nash admits to being a little nervous about his secon trip away from home. Things are bound to go better than they did on the first. Nash now knows how to long distance, understands ordering pizza on the phone, and Isn't worried about getting lost in the Atlanta airport again.

In this little town of 1300 an hour north of New Orleans, life is as slow as the dark bayou that runs along the main highway. Around here, celebrations are bought by the six-pack at the convenience store, and a crowd of 100 watching a baseball game is a major event. "I just think about playing baseball That's the same everywhere," said Nash, known as Toe" to family and friends because of his size-18 feet "I'm not worried about things on the field It's things off the field that can be worrying." Things off the field have always been the problem for the 18-year-old. Nash was arrested five times in the past 10 months, ranging from assault to robbery to possession of marijuana. Ascension Parish assistant district attorney Ben Johnson worked out a pretrial diversion program for Nash.

"I think he's a good kid, but a misguided kid. He needs to get away from some of the people he hangs out with," Johnson said. "You know what it's like for a bunch of boys that age with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to tell them what's expected of them." On the field, life has been easier. Benny Latino, a scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, first spotted Nash when he was 10 years old. "It was a Little League game and this kid was the greatest little leaguer I'd ever seen," Latino said.

"He was a monster. He hit two home runs. He struck out 17 of the 21 batters he faced." Last summer, Latino searched out Nash again and found that he'd lived up to that early promise. At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Nash was still playing baseball, trading Little League for a semipro team in the Sugar Cane League, run by his cousin, former NBA player John "Hotrod" Williams. "He's a great baseball play- 1 er," Williams said.

"But he was getting by on his natural ability. I started him off running and lifting weights. He'd never been told anything about the things that would help him." Despite Nash's lack of coaching, Latino said one game was all it took to show him a On television MEN'S BASKETBALL America East Conference championship, 9:30 a.m ESPN Conference USA championship, 10 a.m, CBS Southland Conference championship, 10 a.m., ESPN2 ACC Conference tournament semifinal, 11:30 a.m., ESPN Southwestern Athletic Conference championship, Noon, ESPN2 Big 10 Conference tournament semifinal, 12:30 p.m., CBS ACC Conference tournament semifinal, 1:30 p.m., ESPN Mideastern Athletic Conf. championship, 2 p.m., ESPN2 Big 10 Conference tournament semifinal, 3 p.m., CBS Atlantic 10 Conference championship, 4 p.m., ESPN UCLA at Washington, 4 p.m., FOXSN Mid-American Conference championship, 5 p.m., ESPN2 Big East Conference championship, 6 p.m., ESPN Big Sky Conference championship, 7 p.m., ESPN2 Mountain West Conference championship, 8 p.m., ESPN Western Athletic Conference championship, 8 p.m., FOXSN Big West Conference championship, 10:30 p.m., ESPN AUTO RACING NASCAR Busch Series, Aaron's 312, 11 a.m., FX NASCAR Winston Cup, Cracker Barrel 500 practice, 1:30 p.m., FX "It took him a while to calm down." Once at the DevU Rays' minor-league facility in West Virginia, Nash stunned team officials with his talent Batting right-handed then left-handed Nash began hitting pitches out of the park. He was even better when a coach had him widen his stance.

His pitches lacked style, but not speed He was clocked at 95 mph. "He's a huge talent" Latino said "He's raw, untrained and needs to learn a lot, but his potential is enormous." Teammates had to teach him how to make long-distance calls and even how to send out for food "He didn't know how to order pizza," Williams said. "I'm sure he never ordered it at home. His father fed him." Nash is due to report to the Devil Rays' rookie camp on Sunday. Public relations director Rick Vaughn said there's been a tremendous surge of interest in a player who never even played high school ball.

"I guess there are 25, 30 people want to talk to ram the first day," Vaughn said. "He's not the biggest rookie story we have. Josh Hamilton, the No. 1 draft pick in 1999, is a very big story. But Toe is certainly big considering what he's done and where he's been." A story on Nash in USA Today sparked calls from all the TV networks and Oprah Winfrey, and book and movie offers, said his agent, Jerry Reynolds.

"Right now everyone wants him to be able to concentrate on learning to play baseball," Reynolds said. "It's a good story but it doesn't become a great one until there's a happy 400 feet He pitched and was throwing in the 90s. There I was watching the kid on a field in the middle of the bayous doing everything and doing it great He was The NaturaL' Nash's father, Charles Tooty" Peyton, who raised him since his mother left when Nash was 12, taught Nash to bat. Peyton would pick up bottle tops from the bars around town and pitch them for his soa Nash would hit them with a broomstick. "He got to where there were never very many to pick up around him," Peyton said.

Nash's arm, Peyton said, was a gift from God "He can throw you out on his knees," Williams said "And he can do it from anywhere shortstop, the outfield, anywhere." The Devil Rays signed Nash, paying him a $30,000 bonus, more money than Nash had ever seen. Nash wanted to buy a car, but he didn't have a driver's license. In fact Williams said he didn't have any documents. No birth certificate, no Social Security card, nothing. Nash dropped out of school when he was in eighth grade and life was confined to the area around his father's house and the nearby ball park.

His flight to DevU Rays' Instructional League turned into a nightmare. Nash, who had never flown before, had to change planes in Atlanta. When he got to the busy airport, Nash panicked. He thought he had to get his bags and transfer them to the next flight and when he couldn't find them, he fished an emergency number out of his pocket and called Williams. "He was crying.

He wanted to come home," Williams said. PRO GOLF PGA Tour, Honda Classic, third round, 1 p.m., NBC LPGA Tour, Welch's Circle Championship, third round, 2:30 p.m., GOLF CHANNEL Senior PGA Tour, SBC Senior Classic, second round, 4 p.m., CNBC NHL HOCKEY Avalanche at Stars, 1 p.m., ABC HORSE RACING Florida Derby, 4 p.m., ESPN2 diamond in the rough. "He can do it all pitch, hit field," Latino said. "That first night I watched him hit one homer from the right side, about 380 feet then hit one from the left side more than NBA BASKETBALL Riverton seeks Legion manager RIVERTON, Wyo, The Riverton, American Legion Post 19 baseball team is looking for a manager for the coming season. Interested candidate can e-mail inquiries and qual-; ifications to or call 1-307-857-02505.

Women's Run clinics start March 19 The Montana Women's Run first "Getting Started Clinic" will be held on Monday, March 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Rocky Bowl (Herb Klindt Field), near Rocky Mountain College. The "Getting Started Clinic" is sponsored by the Billings Athletic Club. The clinics, which are held weekly, help runners prepare for The Montana Women's Run, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 12. For information, contact Renee Coppock at 255-7287.

1973 Iditarod was "little tougher" IDITAROD, Alaska (AP) Dick Wilmarth was more than halfway to Nome when his fellow mushers started talking about quitting the first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Wilmarth said he was camped out in a cabin near Galena when the other mushers came to talk to him in the middle of the night about turning back. The temperature had dropped to 50 degrees below zero. The group wanted the decision to be unanimous. Wilmarth said he didn't even stick around for the discussion.

"I told them 'I'm going to go to While they were still talking, Wilmarth said, he walked out hooked up his dog team and headed down the Yukon River to become the first winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The year was 1973. Wilmarth, now a 59-year-old miner and trapper in Red Devil, greeted well-wishers Tuesday at a tent set up at the Iditarod checkpoint halfway through the race. Inside the large, two-room wall tent Wilmarth and a few friends were drinking freshly brewed coffee and offering guests home-baked peanut butter cookies. Wilmarth's river otter, marten and wolverine pelts swung in the breeze outside the tent door, near where he had been using a chainsaw to cut wood.

Wilmarth was 29 when his friend Bob Vanderpool heard about plans for the race. "We thought that would be a pretty neat thing," Wilmarth said. The two, who met soon after Wilmarth came to Alaska as a teen-ager, remain friends today. Vanderpool, 85, sat in the corner of the tent and listened to his friend talk about the first Iditarod. Wilmarth said he rounded up dogs for his team from Native villages on the Kuskokwim River.

He got five of the dogs by swapping a rifle for a snowmachine and then trading it He put together a 12-dog team just a few months before the race. Wilmarth said there was no trail after Finger Lake, so he and renowned sprint dog musher George Attla donned snowshoes to clear the way for the teams. Wilmarth arrived in Nome in 20 days and 49 minutes to win a first-place prize of $12,000. Attla got $4,000 for fourth. "I was in better shape when I got to Nome," Wilmarth said.

Thirty-four teams set out from Anchorage to Nome that first year, but more than a third of them scratched. John Schultz, the last finisher, arrived in Nome more than 12 days after Wilmarth, providing the largest margin of time between the arrivals of the first and last mushers. Wilmarth said he got pretty hungry on the trail, and snared beaver for food. A couple of times Vanderpool flew over and dropped 5-gallon survival cans with hard candy and freeze-dried applesauce to his friend. While mushing along the Yukon River, Wilmarth tried to steal fish from a fish trap, but nearly fell in the river instead.

"Those guys on the Yukon wouldn't give me any food. They were rooting for their own guys," he said. The Iditarod in 1973 was not really a race, Wilmarth said. It was more a time to enjoy the Alaska wilderness with friends, something he has not outlived. Sled dog teams now get to Nome in half the time ft took Wilmarth.

The trail is marked with day-glow painted poles, is groomed in places and hundreds of volunteers staff race checkpoints. Bulls at Hawks, 5:30 p.m., WGN PRO FOOTBALL XFL, Las Vegas at Orlando, 6 tifflirrcirflirrwmt Lady Griz roll past Bobcats, 84-67 p.m., NBC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL Big 12 Conference championship, 6 p.m., FOXSN PREP BASKETBALL State Tournament third-place game, 6:30 p.m. Omega Productions State Tournament championship game, 8p.m. Omega Productions PRO BOXING Shane Mosley vs. Shannon Taylor, 8 p.m., HBO Associated Press POCATELLO, Idaho Lauren Cooper scored 19 points leading a balanced Montana attack to a 84-67 win over Montana State in a semifinal game in the Big Sky Conference women's tournament Friday night The win vaults the Grizzles (21-8) into the Saturday night final against the winner of the Weber State-Idaho State matchup.

The champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Women's Tournament The Bobcats (19-10) led throughout most of the first half. Their biggest lead was at 32-27 before Montana closed the period by scoring the last seven points to lead 34-32 at the break. Montana carried that momentum into the second half, drilling five 3-pointers and setting an all time Big Sky postseason tournament record, going 7-of-8 for the game. Montana used a 10-2 run to open up a 44-38 lead before Montana State used one final run to cut that lead down to 49-47. MSU could never regain the lead, though, as the Grizzlies hit outside shots and then scored their last 15 points of the game from the free-throw line.

Montana dominated the intrastate rivalry, taking two of three this season, and now has won 50 of 58 overall against MSU. Amy Meckling led Montana State with 17 points. Montana had four other players in double figures on the evening. EWU men 58, NAU 53 LOS ANGELES Jamal Jones scored 15 points as Eastern Washington knocked off Big Sky Conference tournament defending champion Northern Arizona 58-53 in the tournament semifinals on Friday night Kareem Hunter took control late in the second half for second-seed Eastern Washington (17-10), which won its first tournament game in four years and will play in the tournament championship game on Saturday. Hunter, who finished with 12 points, pushed the Eagles' lead to 53-46 with a layup at the 2:33 mark that capped a 17-9 run.

But fourth-seed Northern Arizona (15-14) reeled off the next four points, which included a Rod Hutchings 3-pointer that cut the margin to 53-51 with 1:11 remaining. Hunter answered with another layup that extended Eastern Washington's advantage to four points. The Eagles, who have won five of their last six, iced the game at the free-throw line, hitting 3-of-4 in the final 30 seconds. Eastern Washington went to the free-throw line 15 more times than Northern Arizona, making 19-of-22 to the Lumberjacks' 4-of-7. Chris White finished with 14 points and seven rebounds for Eastern Washington, which for the first time in a decade has defeated the Lumberjacks three times in a season.

Cory Schwab, who hit four 3-pointers to give the senior 105 in on the season, led Northern Arizona with 16 points. Schwab ranks in the top 5 nationally for 3-pointers. The Lumberjacks defeated Eastern Washington in last season's semifinals to get to the conference championship game. 6YU men 77, Wyoming 66 LAS VEGAS Terrell Lyday scored 32 points as Brigham Young defeated Wyoming 77-66 Friday night to advance to the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament Mikeli Wesley added 23 points and Trent Whiting scored 11, with Lyday and Wesley scoring 30 of the Cougars 34 second-half points. Brett McFall led Wyoming (20-9) with 19 points and teammates Josh Davis and Marcus Bailey each added 14.

Davis led all rebounders with eight Gazette Cnline Sports Poll Who is the best plgyer ever to wear a RimRockers uniform? SfKJPtS Trivia What was the most-watched NCAA men's basketbaO diampiorcship game ever? Log on to to enter responses and see results fj "It was a little bit of a different deal back then," Wilmarth said. "Things were a little rougher.

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