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FOOTBALL: Collinsville ties Valley Head, falls to Fyffe in Crossville jamboree

CROSSVILLE -The Collinsville Panthers traveled to Crossville to play Fyffe and Valley Head in football jamboree action on Friday. The Panthers failed to score in a 35-0 decision to Class 2A, No. 2 Fyffe. Collinsville tied Class 1A, No. 8 Valley Head 0-0.

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Monday 08/18/2014
FOOTBALL: Spring Garden hosting 8-team jamboree on Thursday
Posted: August 18, 2014

SPRING GARDEN – Spring Garden football coach Jason Howard said his team is getting a little tired of beating up on each other at practice.

GOLF: Minnix claims club championship
Posted: August 18, 2014

CENTRE – Jake Minnix has been going out to the Cherokee County Country Club with his dad since he could walk. Last week, Minnix claimed his first club championship title.

Friday 08/15/2014
VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Cedar Bluff motivated to have successful season
Posted: August 15, 2014

CEDAR BLUFF – There’s plenty of motivation to go around for the Cedar Bluff volleyball team this upcoming season.

VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Lady Warriors feature lots of new faces
Posted: August 15, 2014

CENTRE – There are plenty of new faces on the Cherokee County varsity volleyball roster this season, including a new head coach.

Thursday 08/14/2014
AP source: Brosnan withdraws from MLB vote
Posted: August 14, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) — Major League Baseball Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner were left as the remaining candidates to succeed Bud Selig as commissioner after MLB Executive Vice President Tim Brosnan withdrew before the start of voting Thursday.

Brosnan's withdrawal was disclosed to The Associated Press by a team official who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

Owners estimated Manfred had the support of 20-21 teams headed into the meetings this week, Werner of about six and Brosnan one: the Cincinnati Reds.

A three-quarters majority, 23 of the 30 teams, is required to elect a commissioner. Selig, who has run baseball since September 1992, plans to retire in January.

Teams vote by secret written ballot in MLB's first contested election for a new commissioner in 46 years.

Each candidate spoke to all owners for about an hour Wednesday and met in sessions Thursday morning with groups of 10 teams.

"I wouldn't even guess," Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno said Wednesday when asked whether the election would produce a commissioner.

Werner is supported by Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Moreno. Other teams have said Reinsdorf wants a commissioner who will take a harsher stance in labor negotiations for the deal to replace the collective bargaining agreement that expires after the 2016 season.

"I haven't been counting votes," Reinsdorf said. "I don't know where anybody stands."

Selig, 80, has ruled baseball since September 1992, first as chairman of baseball's executive council and since July 1998 as commissioner. The second-longest-serving head of baseball behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1920-44), Selig announced last fall that he plans to retire in January 2015. The trio of candidates was picked by a seven-man succession committee chaired by St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.

Manfred, 55, has been involved in baseball since 1987, starting as a lawyer with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius who assisted in collective bargaining. He became MLB's executive vice president for labor relations and human resources in 1998, received an expanded role of executive vice president of economics and league affairs in 2012 and last September was promoted to chief operating officer. He helped lead negotiations for baseball's last three labor contracts with players and the joint drug agreement that was instituted in 2002 and has been repeatedly strengthened.

Werner, 64, was the controlling owner of the San Diego Padres from 1990-94, triggering fan criticism for the payroll-paring departures of Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Tony Fernandez, Randy Myers and Benito Santiago. He has been part of the Red Sox ownership group since 2002, a period that included three World Series titles. While working at ABC, he helped develop Robin Williams' "Mork & Mindy" and later was executive producer of "The Cosby Show" and "Roseanne" at The Carsey-Werner Co.

MLB's last contested election for commissioner was after Spike Eckert was fired in December 1968. With the requirement then a three-quarters majority in both the American and National leagues, teams split between San Francisco Giants vice president Chub Feeney and Yankees president Michael Burke and failed to elect anyone during 19 ballots.

Bowie Kuhn, counsel to baseball's Player Relations Committee, was elected commissioner pro-tem on Feb. 4, 1969, with a one-year term. He was voted a seven-year term that August and remained in office until October 1984, when he was replaced by Los Angeles Olympics head Peter Ueberroth.

Former Yale President A. Bartlett Giamatti took over from Ueberroth in April 1989, died later that September and was replaced by his deputy commissioner, Fay Vincent. Selig, then the Milwaukee Brewers owner, teamed with Reinsdorf to head the group that pressured for Vincent's forced resignation in September 1992.

Selig led baseball as head of the executive council for nearly six years, including the 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that canceled the World Series. He repeatedly said he wouldn't take the job fulltime before he formally was voted commissioner in July 1998.

Ueberroth, Giamatti, Vincent and Selig were elected unanimously.

Braves recall LHP Luis Avilan from minors
Posted: August 14, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have recalled left-hander Luis Avilan from Triple-A Gwinnett.

Avilan, who began the season as one of Atlanta's top setup relievers, is with the team for Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Avilan was 3-1 with a 4.85 ERA in 47 games when he was optioned to Gwinnett on July 19. He says he focused on his curveball and change-up at Gwinnett.

Avilan joins James Russell as left-handers in the Braves' bullpen.

The Braves relied on Avilan in 2013, when he was 5-0 with a strong 1.52 ERA in 75 games.

The Braves optioned right-hander Juan Jaime to Gwinnett following Wednesday night's win over the Dodgers.

Tuesday 08/12/2014
Clippers sale to Steve Ballmer goes through
Posted: August 12, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Ballmer officially became the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

The team said the record $2 billion sale closed after a California court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise to the former Microsoft CEO. Her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, had unsuccessfully fought the sale of the team he owned since 1981 in court.

The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the sale.

"I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers," Ballmer said in a statement. "Clipper fans are so amazing. They have remained fiercely loyal to our franchise through some extraordinary times."

Ballmer was nearly an NBA owner last year before owners chose to keep the Kings in Sacramento, rather than allow them to be sold to a group that included Ballmer and moved to Seattle.

Adam Streisand, Ballmer's attorney, said Tuesday that Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas signed the order authorizing the sale even if Donald Sterling's attorneys filed an appeal.

"We were ready," Streisand said. "Within minutes, the deal was signed, sealed and delivered."

He said even if Donald Sterling seeks an emergency order directing the judge to vacate his order, the attorney is confident an appellate court would agree that Levanas made the correct decision.

Donald Sterling's attorneys weren't immediately available to comment.

The sale ends some troubling concerns that had surrounded the team in recent months.

Doc Rivers would possibly have quit as coach if Sterling remained the owner, interim CEO Richard Parsons had testified. All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who also is president of the Players Association, might have sat out and convinced other players to join him. Sponsors who already started to flee after a recording of Donald Sterling making racist comments was released might have stayed away for good.

None of that appears to be a problem with Ballmer taking over what could be a powerhouse team next season. By agreeing to the record purchase price, he's already proven he's willing to spend in contrast to the famously frugal Sterling.

The transaction ends Donald Sterling's run as the longest-tenured owner in the NBA after 33 years. After buying the Clippers in 1981, he moved the franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles three years later.

The 80-year-old real estate mogul has been in probate court fighting his wife's proposed deal to sell. At issue was whether Donald Sterling killed the deal by revoking the trust after his wife removed him as a trustee. Shelly Sterling acted after doctors found Donald had symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

The drama began in April when the recording surfaced of Donald Sterling dressing down his girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games. The audio spurred the NBA to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million.

His wife of 58 years then took control of a family trust and negotiated the $2 billion sale of the team to Ballmer. Shelly Sterling said she was initially given her husband's blessing to sell the team and he praised the deal she reached.

When it came time to sign it at the end of May, however, Sterling said he would not sell and would sue the league.

Ballmer said he will be "hardcore" in giving the team, Rivers, the staff and players the support they need.

Rivers called it "an amazing new day in Clippers history," and said he's inspired by Ballmer's passion for the game.

Ballmer, Rivers and Clippers players will attend a new fan festival announced for next Monday at Staples Center.

Monday 08/11/2014
Slive: College sports in 'historic evolution'
Posted: August 11, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive says college athletics are "going through a historic evolution."

Slive released a statement Monday after a judge's ruling that players in FBS football and Division I men's basketball are entitled to at least $5,000 a year for rights to their names, images and likenesses. He says the judge on Friday appropriately recognized "the importance of integrating academics and athletics in this decision."

The NCAA says it will appeal U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's ruling against the NCAA's argument that its model of amateurism is the only way to operate college sports.

Slive says "the ultimate consequences" won't be known until legal questions are resolved. He says the judge's decision and recent changes in NCAA governances represent "a historic evolution of the landscape of college sports."

SHANNON FAGAN: Blanchard among the All-Stars
Posted: August 11, 2014

Cherokee County’s own Coty Blanchard was among seven Hudson Valley Renegade baseball players chosen to the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.

VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: New class, changes for Sand Rock
Posted: August 11, 2014

SAND ROCK – It’s a Thursday afternoon, and the Sand Rock Lady Wildcats are in the middle of their volleyball practice routine.

FISHING: Peek preparing for championship
Posted: August 11, 2014

It’s been a banner year for Centre native Richard Peek on the Walmart Fishing League Worldwide tour.

Friday 08/08/2014
Rain halts play early at PGA Championship
Posted: August 08, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The second round of the PGA Championship was off to a soggy start and a sudden stop Friday.

A steady rain forced officials to suspend the round after just 20 minutes because of too much water on the putting surfaces. Work crews already were using squeegees on the greens when another burst of showers hit Valhalla.

Play was halted 45 minutes before Rory McIlroy was to tee off, and as Ryan Palmer was playing the first hole.

Palmer, Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell shared the first-round lead at 6-under 65. Palmer was the only one from that group who played in the morning, which typically has easier conditions.

Rain was in the forecast for most of Friday. While it would make the greens soft, it would make the course longer.

Tuesday 08/05/2014
FOOTBALL: Piedmont, Cedar Bluff ranked in ASWA Preseason Poll
Posted: August 05, 2014

Arguably one of the best high school football games in the state of Alabama last season was the Class 3A state quarterfinal playoff match-up between the Piedmont Bulldogs and Madison Academy Mustangs.

Clinic owner charged with distributing steroids
Posted: August 05, 2014

MIAMI (AP) — The owner of a now-defunct Florida clinic was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to distribute steroids, more than a year after he was accused of providing performance-enhancing drugs to New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and other players.

Federal court records show Anthony Bosch is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute testosterone. The documents do not specify whether the charges are directly related to the Major League Baseball scandal.

Court documents say that from October 2008 through December 2012, Bosch willfully conspired to distribute the anabolic steroid testosterone.

Bosch surrendered Tuesday morning, and eight other people also have been arrested, said Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Mia Ro.

A Miami New Times report from January 2013, which sparked MLB's investigation, said Rodriguez had bought human growth hormone and other substances from 2009 to 2012 from Bosch's clinic, Biogenesis of America. The newspaper said it had obtained records detailing the purchases by Rodriguez and other ballplayers.

Fourteen players associated with the Coral Gables clinic were disciplined last year by MLB, including a season-long 2014 suspension imposed on Rodriguez.

MLB had sued Bosch and his clinic but withdrew the lawsuit in February. The lawsuit had accused them of conspiring with players to violate their contracts by providing them with banned substances.

Although the lawsuit sought unspecified damages, it also provided a way for MLB to subpoena clinic records.

Rodriguez, who denied using banned substances while playing for the New York Yankees, initially fought the suspension. He finally ended his fight with MLB in February, accepting the suspension and withdrawing a pair of lawsuits against the MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Rodriguez's suspension is the longest penalty in the sport's history related to performance-enhancing drugs. He was the only player involved in the scandal to contest his penalty.

Monday 08/04/2014
SHANNON FAGAN: McGatha, Rogers claim Jackson Memorial golf tournament
Updated: August 04, 2014 - 1:01 pm

Just two weeks removed from winning his third Dub Ellis Invitational title in Centre, Piedmont native Jeremy McGatha continued his solid play on the links this weekend at the James E. Jackson Memorial 2-Person Golf Tournament.

RUNNING: Cedar Bluff to run cross country this fall
Posted: August 04, 2014

CEDAR BLUFF – With all the success Cedar Bluff has had with its track and field programs, starting a cross country team seems like a natural progression.

For Michael Phelps, there's no place like home
Posted: August 04, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) — Sitting on the deck at his beloved Meadowbrook, Michael Phelps glances toward the pool where he was once afraid to put his face in the water.

"This is me," he said, a slight smile curling off his lips. "This is home."

This is where Phelps put in most of the work to become the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. This is where he's looking to add to that legacy after an aborted retirement, his eyes firmly on the Rio Games two years away.

And as the world's greatest swimmer takes his comeback to its biggest stop yet — this week's U.S. national championships in Irvine, California — it's important for him to remember where he came from.

Why? Because for all the hoopla over LeBron James returning to Cleveland, there's no bigger homebody than Phelps.

He still trains at the pool where he learned to swim, a nondescript building in Baltimore's inner suburbs, right in the middle of the Jones Falls flood plain.

Drive past the shuttered ice rink with weeds growing up at the edges and there it is, a rectangular cube of gray concrete blocks.

Inside, kids do cannonballs off the side of the pool, teenagers sun on the faux beach with umbrellas stuck in the sand, geriatrics glide slowly through the water looking to ward off the advancing years.

In the middle of this scene out of Anywhere USA, there's Phelps and his star-studded training group, an impressive collection of gold medalists, world champions and national record holders.

"It's funny," said his longtime coach, Bob Bowman. "When I come out here and see kids playing around, that's just what Michael did every day when he was a little kid. When I first met him, he was just playing around in the pool, playing games with his friends."

As they wrapped up preparations for the national championships, Phelps and Bowman shared an exclusive look at what goes on behind the scenes with The Associated Press.

___

TRAINING FOR GOLD

Before the Athens and Beijing Olympics, Phelps would push himself to the brink of exhaustion in practice, swimming up to 16,000 meters a day. Now, he's putting in about half as many laps in the pool but doing longer sessions in the weight room, resulting in a more muscular physique.

Even though Phelps is only 29, an age that many consider the prime for a male athlete, there's a lot of mileage on those dangling arms and shorter-than-expected legs (an unusually long torso is one of the anatomical keys to Phelps' success). His body doesn't recover as quickly as it once did, so he's focused on becoming bigger and stronger, in hopes of going faster over shorter distances. No longer will he compete in the 400-meter individual medley, a brutal event that is essentially four races within one. He dropped the 200 butterfly, as well, giving up one of his signature events.

At nationals, Phelps' longest event will be the 200 IM. He'll also compete in three 100s — freestyle, backstroke and fly. Still a daunting program, but nothing like rival Ryan Lochte, who's entered six events, or 17-year-old Katie Ledecky, who put her name in eight.

But perhaps the biggest change for Phelps is those he trains with on the Meadowbrook-based North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

There's Yannick Agnel, the towering Frenchman who won two golds at the London Games; Allison Schmitt, who captured five medals at the last Olympics; Lotte Friis, a bronze medalist from Denmark; plus Conor Dwyer and Matt McLean, both with a relay gold to their names.

"If I want to be the best in the world, I needed to have the best coach and the best group in the world," Agnel says. "Where else can I find that but here?"

From Bowman's perspective, this is just what Phelps needed, too — stiff competition, on a daily basis.

"It used to be if Michael was on fire, nobody could beat him," the coach said. "Now, if Michael's on fire, there are maybe a couple of people who can still beat him. They're that good."

___

HOME SWEET HOME

When Meadowbrook opened in 1930, it was not designed for competitive swimming. There were fountains in the middle, giant slides and high dives along the sides. Things changed in the mid-'80s, when a floating deck was installed to mark off the 50-meter racing distance. In 1995, a second pool was built, this one covered by a roof and surrounded by three walls, with tarps that can be lowered on the fourth side to keep it running in the winter.

Phelps' two older sisters were competitive swimmers at Meadowbrook, so it was only natural for him to take lessons when he was 6. Cathy Bennett was his first instructor.

"It sounds pretty important, doesn't it?" she said, laughing. "It didn't feel important at the time, I'll tell you that."

Phelps, to put it bluntly, was a handful.

"I hate to say that about Michael," Bennett said apologetically, "but he had every excuse in the world to get out of the pool. 'I need to go to the bathroom. It's too cold.'"

Actually, the youngster didn't feel comfortable putting his face in the water. Bennett told him to swim on his back. Within a few weeks, Phelps flipped over.

He never looked back.

Even as his fame grew, Meadowbrook remained pretty much the same. When it's time for training outside the pool, Phelps and his teammates trudge down a rocky path, to a "weight room" that is nothing more than slab covered by a tent. For pull-ups, they grab a U-shaped pipe and yank themselves off concrete blocks. On this day, Schmitt cut the bottom of her foot while walking back toward the locker room without shoes.

"It might not be the prettiest or the best facility to train in, but it gets the job done," Schmitt said, patching up her foot and spraying blood off the deck. "It's kind of homey."

Agnel prefers it this way.

"When you have something so fancy, you forget everything about hard work, the tough life," the Frenchman said. "In some kind of way, this helps us to be mentally tough, as well. It's pretty cool."

For Phelps, it's more than cool.

It's home — so much so that he and his coach now run the place.

"Who would think the greatest Olympian of all time would come from suburban Baltimore?" Bowman said. "But he's got to come from somewhere. It might as well be here."

___

Friday 08/01/2014
FISHING: Peek to compete in Professional Bass Fishing’s Forrest Wood Cup
Posted: August 01, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of bass fishing, will return to Lake Murray and the Columbia, S.C. area Aug. 14-17 to crown bass fishing’s top angler of 2014.

Thursday 07/31/2014
JSU FOOTBALL: Quarterback a position of depth for Gamecocks
Posted: July 31, 2014

JACKSONVILLE – Several members of the media anxiously awaited the arrival of Jacksonville State sophomore quarterback Eli Jenkins on Thursday at JSU’s football media day.

Wednesday 07/30/2014
SOFTBALL: Former Lady Warrior standouts to hold camp Aug. 4-5
Updated: July 30, 2014 - 5:10 pm

CENTRE – Former Cherokee County High School pitcher Tori Davis and shortstop Kaitlyn Griffith were a part of several special Lady Warrior softball teams throughout their careers.

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