Archive for October 16, 2011

DAN WHELDON KILLED IN INDYCAR RACE

Dan Wheldon celebrates his 2011 Indianapolis 500 victory last May. On Oct. 16, the popular champion was killed during the Las Vegas Indy 300 race.

LAS VEGAS – The racing world lost a legend as two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, 33, died of injuries he sustained in a fiery wreck on the 11th lap of the IndyCar Series finale at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"INDYCAR is sad to announce that Dan Wheldon passed away from unsurvivable injuries,” said IndyCar Chief Executive Officer Randy Bernard. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family. INDYCAR, its drivers and teams have decided to end the race. We will run a five-lap salute in honor of Dan."

The Las Vegas Indy 300 was billed as the series finale as Dario Franchitti and Will Power were scheduled to battle for the series championship amid a 34-car field. But on lap 11, 15 cars were involved in one of the most brutal wrecks in the history of open car racing. Wheldon’s car was one of three to go airborne and several caught fire as the race was red flagged. Power was also involved in the wreck and Franchitti was declared the series champion for the third straight year.

Wheldon, from Emberton, England, was the 2005 IndyCar Series champion and won the Indy 500 in 2005 and this past May. He was the only driver to accept a $5 million challenge to win the race in Las Vegas as a non-regular driver in IndyCar. He was expected to replace Danica Patrick as the driver of the Go Daddy car next season when Patrick jumped to NASCAR. He won 16 races in his nine-year IndyCar career.

"We are incredibly saddened at the passing of Dan Wheldon," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Belskus. "He was a great champion of the Indianapolis 500 and a wonderful ambassador for the race, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all of motorsports. Most importantly, he was a fantastic husband, father and man - a good friend to so many in this sport. His memory will live forever at the Speedway, both through the magnitude of his accomplishments on the track and his magnetism off the track. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his entire family, team and fans."

Wheldon is survived by his wife and two young children.

SKAGGS SIGNS WITH KNIGHTS

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

At almost every gathering of elite high school players, one theme is always prevalent – hard work pays off. That was the theme once again as Kokomo High School senior Christine Skaggs signed a national letter of intent to continue her student-athlete softball career at Marian University in Indianapolis.

“She is one of the hardest workers I know,” said Wildkat softball coach Lisa Tate. “She is a bright student who exceeds expectations placed on her. Christine will no doubt continue to achieve more than could be asked of her in the next few years. She is so deserving of all the accolades giver to her – and more.”

The first three years of Skaggs career at Kokomo have been staggering and record-breaking. From hitting a home run as a freshman off the very first varsity pitch crossed her strike zone to batting .556 as a sophomore to breaking the school career home run record of 19 as a junior, Skaggs has been a dominant force for the Lady Kats. And with another season left in the Red and Blue before she departs for Marian, expectations are high for Kat leader.

“Christine is an incredible team leader and one of the hardest working players I have ever had the pleasure of working with,” said Tate. “I believe Marian College is getting a great player, teammate, student, and a wonderful person. But I still get her for one more season.”

With the two-time All-North Central Conference performer in the lineup, Kokomo is 48-28. Those kinds of numbers match-up well with a successful Marian program that is 242-109 under head coach Scott Fleming. In Mid-Central College Conference play, the Knights are 93-33 and have advanced to the NAIA regionals three times in Flemings eight years as head of the program.

“Now that I know that she hit a home run in her first pitch, I know what to expect out of her,” joked Fleming. “I am very excited that she is coming to Marian as a student and softball player. I could tell how interested she was in our school and our program. Obviously, the hard work stands out and will fit in very well with our group. Our team likes to hit the ball and score runs, and that has stood out with her.”

Skaggs also owns the Kokomo single-season RBI record with 39, the single-season walk record with 23, single-season home run record with nine, and a piece of the single-season slugging percentage record of 1.028. She led the NCC in hitting last year with a batting average of .471. And as a pitcher, she had 129 strikeouts last year while recording one no-hitter and a pair of shut-outs in 2010.

“I am pretty excited,” said Skaggs, who will study biology at Marian. “I really like Coach Fleming and he communicated with me a lot. He was easy to get along with and said I have a good chance of early playing time. I know my parents are pretty excited as well, and we travel a lot. It was a lot of hard work, and I thank my Dad for all of the training and hitting we did – we used to go out every day and hit and pitch. It was tiring but worth it – I love the game and am glad I did it.”

Skaggs said she is happy she chose a school the size of Marian to continue her studies.

“I am glad it is a small school,” said the record-breaking athlete. “I will be able to relate with the teachers better and they can help me get adjusted. And I love the campus and the training facilities. It was a good fit.”

Once again, hard work pays off. Tate said Skaggs, “has left a footprint at KHS that will be recognized for a long time.” With the dominance she has produced as a Wildkat softball player, chances are she is going to leave the same kind of footprint as a Knight of Marian.

MUSTANGS WIN FIRST ROUND GAME

PROVIDED BY THE INDIANA MUSTANGS

The Indiana Mustangs, who are members of the Elite MCFL, traveled to Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon to face the Cincinnati Jayhawks of the Gridiron Development Football League in the first round of the Mid-States Football Tournament.  The Mustangs won 35 – 6, and will now advance to the secondround of the tournament.

The Mustang offense was led by quarterback Travis Kempton, a former baseball pitcher at the University of Indianapolis, who threw four touchdown strikes on Saturday.  Kempton’s first touchdown was an 8-yard pass to former Arlington High School standout James Sharp, who ironically is hoping to play both basketball and track at UIndy this year.

On the next series, Kempton ran a bootleg and found a an open Carlos Avilia for a 56-yard scoring reception. Before the first half ended, Kempton connected again with Sharp for a 48-yard touchdown. Holder Russell Peterson ran in the two-point conversion, and the Mustangs led 22–0 at halftime.

The Jayhawks were finally able to score on the stingy Mustang defense midway into the third period with a short touchdown reception. However, the Mustangs responded on their next drive with a 20-yard scoring reception to tight end Eric McKinney. In the 4th quarter, the Mustangs closed out the scoring with a one-yard touchdown plunge by fullback Dontae Hart, a former Ben Davis High School player.

Although Kempton’s four touchdown passes were game highlights, the Mustangs featured a powerful rushing attack behind an offensive line averaging 360 pounds - a line that allowed Nick Jackson to lead the team in rushing with 90 yards on 16 carries.

Defensively, the Mustangs were led by linebacker Dan Eason who finished the game with nine tackles, sack and two tackles for losses.

The Mustangs will be back in action on Saturday, October 15th for the 2nd round of the Mid-States Football Tournament.  The Mid-States Football Tournament is hosted by the National Football Events (NFE), and the team winning this regional tournament will have the option to play in a Bowl game scheduled in Florida during January 2012.