By Dave Krider
Jackie Coward, a senior from West High School in Knoxville, Tenn., broke her own national indoor record by running the 60-meter hurdles in a blazing 8.16 seconds during the star-studded 30th annual Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho. Mt. Pleasant (San Jose, Calif.) senior Vashti Thomas was a close second in 8.27 and she easily won the triple jump with a national 2008 best effort of 42-08.75.
Patrice Gates (Villa Rica, Ga.) set a national sophomore record when she threw the 20-pound weight 54 feet to place second at the Simplot Games…Nico Weiler (Los Gatos, Calif.) pole vaulted 17-02…Ashton Purvis, an outstanding sophomore from St. Elizabeth in Oakland, Calif., won the 60-meter dash in 7.38 and the 200-meter dash in 23.54.
During the Pepsi National High School Hall of Fame Classic at the Armory in New York City, Nadonnia Rodriguez - a senior from Brooklyn Boys & Girls – turned in the No. 4 all-time effort in the 400-meter dash (52.83)…Dalilah Muhammad has signed with the University of Southern California. The Benjamin Cardozo (Oakland Gardens, N.Y.) senior won the 400-meter hurdles at the World Youth Championships last summer.
And, yes, they’re still running cross country. Against a field full of collegians, California preps Jordan Hasay and German Fernandez won their respective championships at the USATF Nationals in San Diego, Calif. Hasay, a junior from San Luis Obispo Mission Prep, captured the junior women’s crown (20:32) for the second year in a row. Fernandez, who is a senior from Riverbank, was the junior men’s winner in 24:18 – barely nipping Iona College standout Ryan Sheridan (24:19). The top six finishers in each division qualified for the IAAF Cross Country World Championships in Scotland.
Boys Basketball Notes
* Senior guard Brandon Jennings has broken the one-year scoring record at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. With the season still on-going, the Arizona recruit has 1,070 points to easily surpass the standard of 980 by Josh Smith, who currently is playing for the Atlanta Hawks. His 34.5 average also is far ahead of Orlando Vega’s record 30.6. Jerry Stackhouse and Carmelo Anthony are just two of the many other superstars who have played for the Warriors over the years.
* It doesn’t pay to taunt Terrelle Pryor. South Fayette (McDonald, Pa.) students tried it, so the 6-foot-6 superstar responded with a monster game (24 points, 24 rebounds, eight blocks and seven assists) as Jeannette (Pa.) recorded a 64-54 overtime victory. Two South Fayette students were escorted from the game by police.
* Southern (Louisville, Ky.) has a 6-3 sophomore to watch. Chris Richard exploded for 39 points (23 in the fourth quarter) and 29 rebounds during an 80-65 victory over Louisville Fern Creek…Turning to Wisconsin, Kameron Cerroni poured in 42 points as Sussex Hamilton outlasted Brookfield East, 72-67, in a five-overtime thriller…In Illinois, unbeaten Decatur Eisenhower nipped city foe MacArthur, 98-93, in two overtimes.
* North Las Vegas Cheyenne is having a ball in the Nevada state tournament. First the Desert Shields stunned No. 1-ranked North Las Vegas Mojave, 69-49, ending a 22-game winning streak. Mojave had beaten Cheyenne three times earlier in the season. Then the Desert Shields (18-7) knocked off No. 2-ranked Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, 61-54, for a berth in the Class 4A state finals in Reno.
* Roswell Blessed Trinity staged one of the biggest upsets thus far in the Georgia state tournament as it shocked highly-regard Atlanta South Atlanta, 67-66, snapping a 14-game winning streak. South Atlanta’s only other loss in 28 outings had been against nationally-ranked St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.). The key was double- and triple-teaming 6-9 junior star Derrick Favors, who was held to 12 points.
* Two of Georgia’s premier coaches reached major milestones last week. Marietta’s Charlie Hood notched his 700th career victory, while Doug Lipscomb posted his 400th triumph for Marietta Wheeler…Moving to Indiana, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers’ brilliant 6-7 sophomore, DeShaun Thomas, lit up Warsaw for 41 points – including eight threes – during a 70-61 victory.
Girls Basketball Notes
* The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association has named Elena Delle Donne National High School Girls Player of the Year. The 6-5 UConn signee has led Ursuline Academy (Wilmington, Del.) to 10 consecutive victories after recovering from mononucleosis. The Delaware sharpshooter also will play in the WBCA All-America Game April 5 at the University of South Florida.
* Though she’s just a sophomore, 6-6 Madison Williams already has Notre Dame and Michigan State at the top of her college wish list. She is averaging nine points, eight rebounds and six blocks for once-beaten Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.). One of her teammates, 6-2 senior Erica Solomon, already has signed with Notre Dame.
* Turning to Texas, 6-7 Brittney Griner, a junior at Houston Nimitz, is quite the rage. There have been over 600,000 views of her dunking on a YouTube video. She amassed 29 points, 14 rebounds, 11 blocks, nine assists and two dunks last week in a playoff victory. However, in her next outing she was limited to 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks and Nimitz lost to Katy Cinco Ranch, 50-42.
* A long winning streak ended Saturday for Oregon-Davis (Hamlet, Ind.), which lost to Fort Wayne Canterbury, 49-43, in the first round of the Class A regional. The Bobcats had won their last 43 games, including the 2007 state title. Most of their starters will return next year, however, giving them a good shot at their second state championship.
* The fireworks probably still are going off in Kansas City, Mo., where the Winnetonka girls basketball team halted a 66-game losing streak with a 38-33 victory over city foe Park Hill. The Lady Griffins last had tasted victory on Feb. 15, 2005…In Tennessee, Clarkrange defeated Red Boiling Springs, 49-36, to give coach Lamar Rogers his 900th victory.
* Madison (S.D.) set a national record by winning its 14th consecutive Class A state championship. The Bulldogs had been tied with Sehome of Bellingham, Wash. Madison’s point total of 141.896 bettered its own state record, which had been set the previous year with a young team. Senior Katie Breuer compiled the top scores in vault and balance beam. It marked the seventh title for coach Maridee Dossett, who was a member of the first Madison champion in 1995.
Interestingly, the individual Class A state championship was held the following day and it was dominated by a seventh grader, Sam Wiekamp of Clear Lake Deuel, who won all four individual events and the all-around title. That feat had been accomplished just four times in Class A and once in AA…In the Class AA team competition, senior Brooke Cersosimo won four events (12 in her career) to spark Mitchell to the championship.
* In Illinois, senior Mary Burke of Palatine Fremd grabbed the spotlight at the state finals. She became only the third gymnast in state history to win all-around three times. She also is the second ever to win every individual event plus a team title. In addition, she set a state finals record with a score of 9.9 on the balance beam.
* Uintah junior wrestler Candace Workman continues to make history as she competes against boys in the Utah state tournament. This year she placed second in Class 3A at 103 pounds after being pinned by another junior, Chasen Tolbert, of Delta. Workman, who placed sixth as a sophomore, finished the year with a 36-10 record.
* Collingswood (N.J.) nipped Paulsboro, 34-31, in a historic South Jersey Group I final. It ensured that Paulsboro’s national record would end at 25 consecutive state championships. An excited, standing-room crowd of 1,200 watched senior Alex Wight post a comeback 7-4 victory over junior Brandon Samuel at 140 pounds to break a 31-31 deadlock in the final match of the evening. Earlier in the season, Collingswood had beaten Paulsboro, 28-22, to end a 37-year, 307-match Colonial Conference winning streak.
* It took a disqualification in the final event (the 400-yard freestyle relay), but Hartland Arrowhead finally got over the hump to win Wisconsin’s Division I state swimming championship. The Warhawks, who had finished second the last three years, edged three-time defending champion Madison Memorial, 217-216.
* Griffin, Ga., is going to turn back time on March 29 when it hosts a series of baseball games using wood bats, instead of aluminum. Close to 50 major league baseball scouts are expected to be present to get a close look at Griffin shortstop Tim Beckham (6-2, 197), an outstanding hitter who is projected as a very high major league draft selection in June.
* Tony Annese, who guided Muskegon, Mich., to a 78-15 record and two Division I state titles, has resigned after eight years as head football coach. His overall record at four schools is 181-41…Cedar Hill, Texas, junior offensive tackle Thomas Ashcraft (6-5, 280) has made a commitment to the University of Texas.
* Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) has promoted assistant and former player Kathryn Farland to head volleyball coach. She will succeed Hall of Famer Louise Crocco…Mount St. Charles (Woonsocket, R.I.) handed Massachusetts’ No. 1-ranked hockey team, West Roxbury Catholic Memorial, its first loss, 5-4.
* Ramapo (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) senior Morgan Hoffmann defeated 77 of the best junior golfers in the world to win the AJGA Houston Boys Invitational at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. He shot rounds of 69-72-73 for a 54-hole score of 214. The Oklahoma State signee, who trailed by four strokes on the final day, won by three strokes over Texan Cody Gribble (Dallas Highland Park), who took an eight on the par-4 18th hole.