first_imgStaff Writer Jackson, TR East dominate Middletown South tourney Local teams struggle to compete with out-of-towners JERRY WOLKOWITZ Middletown North’s Marc Evans tries to roll over Red Bank Regional’s Nick Delorenzo for a pin during a 112-pound match during the Middletown South Wrestling Tournament on Saturday. Evans went on to beat Delorenzo 9-4 before bowing out in the semifinals. It wasn’t that long ago that the Middletown South Wrestling Tournament was a showcase event for many of the Bayshore area’s finest grapplers. Back when the likes of the legendary Glenn Pritzlaff were dominating the competition on the mats, the host Eagles were always a sure choice to contend for the overall team title, while squads like Middletown North and Rumson-Fair Haven would battle for respect and a good finish against imposing Ocean squads that would always seem to have at least three or four top wrestlers with potential district, region and even state titles on their minds. And to take home a title from the tournament was always an accomplishment worthy of acknowledgment, and a sure sign that you were ready to compete with the area’s, and many of the state’s, best. Because of the quality of wrestling the tournament annually presented, it began to establish a reputation as one of the top holiday-time tournaments in the state, drawing interest from schools outside the Monmouth County wrestling circle. JERRY WOLKOWITZ Middletown South’s Tom Gray tries to escape the hold of Freehold Township’s Chris Stein during a 130-pound match on Saturday. Each year, more and more teams from outside of Monmouth County expressed interest in joining the fray, eager to give their wrestlers a chance at the prestige that came with a win at the Middletown South Tournament. As a result, Saturday’s finals shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, as only one local wrestler made it to the finals against competition hailing from throughout the state. South’s Brian Hennessy entered the finals against Freehold Township’s Rob Morello, knowing exactly what to expect. The two have seen plenty of each other, and after Hennessy beat the 135-pound leader of the Freehold team in a dual meet last year, they have enjoyed a serious rivalry ever since. This time around, Morello, the Region VI runner-up last year, came back to beat Hennessy, taking him down with 14 seconds left in overtime to win 4-2. The bout was one of the more exciting finishes of the tournament, and marked the high point for the local wrestling scene. Hennessy continued to impress, and should be a favorite when the district tournament rolls around. The finals were dominated by a young Jackson team which is proving that it hasn’t lost all that much from last season’s top-ranked team in the Shore Conference. The Jaguars got by a Toms River East team which did not field a full lineup 171 1/2 to 141 1/2, as the Raiders rested up for an important dual meet with the Jags on Jan. 10. However, the Raiders had more winners (four) than Jackson, who took the team title by placing four runners-up and five third-place finishes. In third place for the team title was High Point (137 points) followed by Clifton (93 1/2), Woodbridge (80 1/2) and Pinelands (61). Then came the local teams, Middletown South (46), Middletown North (42), Neptune (36), Allentown (34), Freehold (29) and Red Bank (9). Middletown North junior Marc Evans managed a third-place finish in the 112-pound weight class, beating Pinelands’ David Smith 5-3 in the consolation round. He was joined by teammate Dan Ling, a senior who took third in the 145-pound class with a 9-5 decision. However, North’s Ryan Oswin (130) and Joe Bisking (171) were unable to win their consolation matches. Middletown South also had a few wrestlers survive until the consolation round, where they were beaten. As for Red Bank, only sophomore Brandon Scott (145) made it to the consolation round, where he lost a 13-10 decision. Other local teams were also in action this weekend in a series of nondivisional meets. Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, used a steak of 11 straight wins to overcome Holmdel on Saturday, 65-10. The Hornets won the match’s first two contests at 103 and 112 before the Colts ran off their streak to push their early-season mark to 2-0 heading into tomorrow’s Manchester Hawk Classic. As for the 1-1 Hornets, they will look for a better showing as the host of tomorrow’s Holmdel Christmas Invitational. Other schools that will travel to Holmdel tomorrow are Keyport, coming off a 65-15 loss at the hands of Manchester; St. John Vianney, who topped Keansburg 72-12, and Monmouth 59-11 on Saturday; Red Bank Catholic; Rumson-Fair-Haven; Shore; and a St. Rose squad which lost three matches on Saturday to Point Borough (83-0), Manasquan (72-12) and Donovan (57-15). As for Rumson, they have jumped out of the starting blocks this year and are looking to continue to notch wins early in the season. Led by the sophomore tandem of Patrick Berger (15-3 last year) and Bryan Heller (25-3), the Bulldogs will be a tough match-up for everyone at the Holmdel tournament. Senior Jesse Eckleberry (21-5 last year) will also be a favorite tomorrow. By Doug mckenzie last_img read more

first_img By Warren RappleyeaStaff Writer By Warren Rappleyea Staff Writer With a new coach and several returning starters, the Holmdel High School softball team is looking to surpass last spring’s 8-13 record. Following some poor weather during the week, the Hornets finally opened the season on Saturday against defending Parochial A champion St. John Vianney and suffered a 10-0 loss. “I’m looking at this as kind of a building year because this is a young team even though it has some varsity experience,” said coach Lisa Schutt. “But I have high expectations and I’m going to push the girls hard. We’re going to train like a championship team and do our best to play like one.” Schutt knows a thing or two about winning. She played for Middletown South, a perennial Shore Conference power, and at the University of Georgia. Last year she served as a volunteer assistant for Tom Erbig at Middletown South. The new coach plans to lean on the experience of senior co-captains Stacie Gussis and Angela Sze to help lead the way. Gussis, a first baseman in her third varsity campaign, and Sze, an excellent defensive center fielder, are also among the Hornets’ top hitters. Holmdel carries just three other seniors, outfielders Lizzy Hayashida and Alaina Infuntino, and second baseman Tara Ruda, all of whom moved up from the junior varsity. Junior Juliann Vikse, an outfielder last spring, is the Hornets’ primary pitcher. Schutt noted that Vikse has good speed on her deliveries and has been hitting spots consistently. Sophomore Jen Curran, who earned a starting berth last season, returns behind the plate and in the leadoff spot. Her strong arm should discourage opposition base runners. Except for Gussis, the infield in comprised of juniors: returnees Jen Zudonyi and Kristina Dayback at shortstop and second base, respectively, and Megan Yetka, the third baseman. Another junior, Amanda Kapsales, is the right fielder, and sophomore Tiffany Hsu is in left field. Lefty-hitting Marissa Marra, also a soph, will see action at first base and in the outfield. “We have a solid infield and strong pitching,” Schutt said. “Our goal is to work as a team and gain the skills to compete with the top programs.” Holmdel was scheduled to return to play yesterday against Red Bank Regional, and is scheduled to take on Raritan tomorrow in Hazlet. Hornets need to rebound from a season-opening loss to SJV last_img read more

first_img BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer With a group of young veterans returning, the Holmdel High School boys tennis team is looking to improve on last spring’s 14-4 record. The Hornets feature a trio of sophomores in the singles slots and a very deep and talented group of players, coach Chuck Chelednick said. The Hornets got off to an inauspicious start, however, dropping its season-opener last Monday to fifth-ranked Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), 3-2, in what was a hard-fought battle that came down to the final match at second doubles. They then dropped a 3-2 match to Rumson-Fair Haven on Thursday, before blanking Raritan, 5-0, on Friday. Jonathan Tai holds down the first singles slot for Holmdel. A year ago, Tai went 12-5 alternating between the first and second spots, and boasts a consistent all-around game and a tricky spin serve that keeps opponents off-balance. Jeff Yang, a solid baseline player with good forehand strokes, is No. 2. He was 13-3 last season. Jeff Yen is an exceptionally quick baseline player who wears down opponents. Yen was 14-1 as a freshman. Senior Julius Li and junior Ken Hettler, who combined to go 14-2 last season, are at first doubles. Greg Teng, a sophomore, and Josh Mooney, a junior, will start the season at second doubles. Sophomore Alex Wu and Jon D’Agostino, who were 10-1 together a year ago, will also see doubles action. “We’re very deep and I’m going to mix and match players throughout the year,” Chelednick said. “Everyone will get their shot.” Other members of the team include juniors Ken Chiou and Kushal Patel; sophomores Justin Chu and Allen Liu; and freshmen Eric Chung and Vincent Lyu. “We’re playing in a very tough conference [Shore A North)], so we’re going to need our doubles teams to come through,” Chelednick said. “I think a lot of our matches will be 3-2s, so we’re going to need strong seasons from just a bout everyone.” As the 10th-ranked team in the Shore, Holmdel faces some high expectations once again — nothing new for one of the Shore’s elite programs. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer last_img read more

first_imgThe MC Renegades, a 13U travel baseball team playing in the central Jersey area, is seeking quality players, especially pitchers and catchers. Players must be born after May 1, 1995. The team will be having indoor winter training workouts starting in January and then will play in a spring travel baseball league, including tournaments. The team is looking for dedicated players. A few slots are still available. If interested, contact Les Kramsky at 732-239-6767 or lesrkramskyesq@ yahoo.com.last_img read more

first_imgBy Mike CollettUEFA’s decision to expand the European championship to 24 teams six years ago was condemned by many but millions of fans across the continent are delighted with that choice now as the Euro 2016 qualification race draws to a gripping finale.One English newspaper said the idea was “mad”, while a global broadcaster dismissed it as a “terrible, horrible, no-good idea”, which would ruin the “perfect” 16-team format that had been in place since 1996.But try telling that to the fans of Iceland, who will be making their major tournament debut in France next year, or Wales, who have not been seen at a major finals since the 1958 World Cup but are virtually certain of joining them.Northern Ireland, who have failed to qualify for every tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, also stand on the brink of giving their fans a summer holiday with a Gallic flavour.UEFA President Michel Platini has embraced the expansion he proposed in 2009 and the Frenchman told Reuters this week he was delighted at how the preliminary tournament had played out over the last year.“The decision to expand was taken in the interest of promotion and development of football in Europe,” he said of the proposal made at the UEFA Congress in Copenhagen six years ago.“We have been delighted with the positive impact the new format has had on national team football across the continent,” he added.“We have seen extremely competitive groups with several teams fighting for qualification, a high quality of football played and great enthusiasm in several nations who have never or rarely qualified for a major tournament.“The European qualifiers have been a success so far and we are sure the final tournament in France next year will be the most competitive to date.”With two rounds to play, England, Austria, Iceland and the Czech Republic will definitely join hosts France next summer, while 31 teams remain in contention and 18 have been eliminated.With so many teams still involved in the race to either qualify automatically by finishing in the top two, or grab a third-place playoff lifeline, far more games than usual are likely to be tense affairs when qualifying concludes next month.DUTCH JEOPARDYOne issue that united most critics of the expansion plan was that the qualifiers would be a procession for the most powerful nations but even that argument has been turned on its head with the Netherlands, World Cup semi-finalists last year, needing results to go their way just to squeeze into the playoffs.World champions Germany and European champions Spain both top their groups and are bankers to qualify but neither are mathematically certain just yet.The Dutch though, are facing elimination, having lost twice to an Iceland side that have risen almost 100 places in the FIFA rankings in the last year after tasting defeat just once in six qualifiers in reaching the finals with three matches to spare.Former Sweden international Stefan Schwarz, whose clubs included Benfica, Arsenal, Fiorentina and Valencia, is also full of praise for teams like Iceland, who have qualified under his old national boss Lars Lagerbeck.“The expansion of the tournament gave an opportunity for other countries to qualify and get some more experience,” he told Reuters at the Soccerex global convention in Manchester, England earlier this week.“But of course, not all the games in the finals are going to be as competitive as before when there were less teams,” he added.“The teams coming through are all well-organised, they have to be given credit for qualifying. Iceland so far have been really brilliant and with a great manager, Lars Lagerbeck, who I was lucky to play for with Sweden.“I think it is good for football.”Former Scotland boss Andy Roxburgh, now technical director of the Asian Football Confederation, believes the expanded finals will have a positive affect on the European game.“There was an acceptance that the majority of medium or modest-sized associations had through hard work, investment, dedicated coach education and intense player development, raised their standards and would not be out of place at the finals,” he said.“On the evidence of the qualification rounds, there are grounds for optimism.”Apart from Iceland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are plenty of other outsiders dreaming of securing one of the 19 places still up for grabs.Albania, Israel, Estonia and the once-mighty Hungary, now ranked 37th in the world, are still in the running and after the upsets witnessed so far, none of them can be discounted.last_img read more

first_imgBy Justin PalmerHailed already by some as all-time greats, New Zealand will be venerated in rugby folklore if they become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups by beating Australia at Twickenham on Saturday (6pm).The old adversaries, both twice winners, meet in the denouement of the global showpiece for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 1987 having previously only met in three semi-finals.The All Blacks swept aside the Wallabies four years ago on the way to ending their 24-year wait for a second triumph and Steve Hansen’s side have unquestionably been the dominant force since.New Zealand have suffered only three defeats in 53 games spanning the four years after their 2011 triumph and Saturday’s trans-Tasman battle will signify a changing of the guard for the men in black.The likes of supreme flyhalf Dan Carter and centres Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith head to pastures new in French club rugby after long and distinguished international careers, with talisman and captain Richie McCaw also highly likely to call time after extending his world record to 148 caps.Lifting the Webb Ellis Cup aloft would be a fitting end not only for the 34-year-old McCaw, who Hansen thinks is the “best rugby player to have played the game”, but for Carter who missed the 2011 final through injury.“He is probably the greatest player we have had play the game,” Hansen said of McCaw on Thursday. “Certainly for New Zealand.”Standing in their path are a rejuvenated Australia side who have gone from a team in chaos and racked by infighting to World Cup finalists since Michael Cheika was appointed last October after Ewen McKenzie’s shock resignation.Cheika lost three of his first four games in charge but, since slumping to sixth in the world rankings in March, Australia have claimed the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship, culminating in a 27-19 win over New Zealand in Sydney – their first win over the All Blacks since 2011.Impressive wins over England and Wales in the pool stage confirmed their credentials for the title and having enjoyed a quarter-final let-off against Scotland, the Wallabies were both clinical in attack and resilient in defence in defeating Argentina to reach the final.They will need to step up a notch again with Hansen naming an unchanged All Blacks team and bench from the one that beat South Africa 20-18 last weekend.Australia have made one change with loosehead prop Scott Sio back after recovering from an elbow injury.Centre Matt Giteau, 33, is the lone survivor from the last Australian team to play in the World Cup final, in 2003 when they lost to England.Teams:New Zealand: 1-Joe Moody, 2-Dane Coles, 3-Owen Franks, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Jerome Kaino, 7-Richie McCaw (captain), 8-Kieran Read; 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Dan Carter, 11-Julian Savea, 12-Ma’a Nonu, 13-Conrad Smith, 14-Nehe Milner-Skudder, 15-Ben SmithReplacements: 16-Keven Mealamu, 17-Ben Franks, 18-Charlie Faumuina, 19-Victor Vito, 20-Sam Cane, 21-Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22-Beauden Barrett, 23-Sonny Bill WilliamsAustralia: 1-Scott Sio, 2-Stephen Moore (captain), 3-Sekope Kepu, 4-Kane Douglas, 5-Rob Simmons, 6-Scott Fardy, 7-Michael Hooper, 8-David Pocock; 9-Will Genia, 10-Bernard Foley, 11-Drew Mitchell, 12-Matt Giteau, 13-Tevita Kuridrani, 14-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 15-Israel FolauReplacements: 16-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17-James Slipper, 18-Greg Holmes, 19-Dean Mumm, 20-Ben McCalman, 21-Nick Phipps, 22-Matt Toomua, 23-Kurtley BealeReferee: Nigel Owens (Wales) (editing by Rex Gowar)last_img read more

first_imgThe spotlight at next week’s FIFA Congress will fall on the presidential election – but the real key to the future of football’s beleaguered governing body is embedded in a document with the unglamorous title ‘Draft statutes – Congress 2016’.Drawn up over the last eight months, it suggests changes to stop the scandals that have left the organisation supposed to lead the world’s most popular sport facing its greatest threat for decades.The most obvious challenge is criminal investigations in the United States and Switzerland that have already resulted in the indictment of several dozen officials for corruption, many of them serving or former presidents of national or continental associations.US prosecutors have continued to call FIFA a victim of corrupt individuals. But if FIFA as an organisation were criminally charged, sponsors and other partners might be reluctant to do business with it.But that is not the only concern. In the last month, talk has resurfaced among Europe’s most powerful clubs of a breakaway European Super League, as well as complaints about the amount of time players spend with national teams.National team competitions depend on a calendar agreed between FIFA and the clubs, which commit to release players to their national teams on certain dates.If the clubs, which are always eager for more opportunities to play lucrative friendlies abroad, were to pull out, it would throw international football into chaos.There was similar discontent in the 1990s, when European football’s governing body UEFA became deeply critical of Joao Havelange, the Brazilian president of FIFA at the time.UEFA produced proposals that included handing more power to the continental confederations, rotating FIFA’s presidency and limiting it mainly to organising the four-yearly World Cup.Leading clubs including AC Milan and Manchester United then sought to build support for a breakaway league, and top players found themselves in a tug-of-war as clubs refused to release them for internationals.OLD AND NEW CHALLENGESFIFA’s response was to threaten national associations (FAs), clubs and players with suspension if they linked up with the proposed league, and UEFA quelled the threat by reorganising its competitions.But FIFA now faces similar challenges, added to the menace of match-fixing organised by illegal betting syndicates, all while trying to shake off a series of scandals that have seen FIFA president Sepp Blatter banned for ethics violations and cast a shadow over the awarding of at least three World Cup finals. Clearly, it cannot afford to get its reforms wrong.“If there is not a strong FIFA, football will be grabbed by a lot of people who have no interest in the game and want to use the game for other reasons – political, business or even criminal,” said Jerome Champagne, one of five candidates for president.The reform proposal on the table includes term limits for top officials, to avoid another 18-year presidency such as Blatter’s, as well as disclosure of their salaries.More radically, it would take responsibility for everyday business decisions away from the ‘political’ representatives of national associations. These would sit on a new-look 36-member FIFA Council, which would have at least six female members, and set a broad strategy for world football.Day-to-day management would instead pass to a new, professional general secretariat, more akin to a corporate executive board, which, like the Council, would be overseen by a fully independent Audit and Compliance Committee.The proposals also place a greater onus on continental confederations and national associations to police themselves.The 209 national associations, who ultimately hold the power in FIFA through the Congress, and vote for the president, are often seen as a significant part of the problem.LACK OF TRANSPARENCYMost of those indicted in the United States committed their alleged crimes while carrying out duties for their national FAs or continental confederations.In November, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International said the vast majority of FAs were failing to make basic information public, creating a potential breeding ground for corruption.“The (proposed) statutes do generally address the obligations of confederations to observe the FIFA statutes,” Transparency researcher Gareth Sweeney told Reuters, “but they do not adequately explain how FIFA can oversee the confederations’ and the FAs’ compliance.”“FIFA is effectively answerable to its Congress, but how transparent are its member FAs? It’s clear that has been inadequate until today.”Sweeney also bemoaned the lack of independent participants on the FIFA Council, whose members will all be elected by the FAs.“While that opportunity has been lost, the draft statute reforms do cover a lot of required checks and balances that could limit the type of corruption we have seen in the past.”Other critics believe the only way to deal with FIFA is to start all over again.“We believe they need to dissolve it, and by ‘they’ I mean the Swiss government, they have the power to do so,” said Jaimie Fuller, a member of the New FIFA Now campaign group.He said that FIFA’s failure to organise a presidential debate with the five candidates standing on Feb. 26, three of them with current or former ties to FIFA, showed a lack of will to reform.“If FIFA was genuine in saying they want to be a reformed organisation, they should have been conducting the presidential debate themselves; instead it’s the same the old system today, and this reinforces the fact they have no desire to reform,” he said. “It’s the same men doing deals behind closed doors.”last_img read more

first_imgFormer Manchester United striker Andy Cole is recovering in hospital after undergoing a kidney transplant, the club said in a statement on Friday.Cole, who won the treble with United in 1998-99 and scored 121 goals for the club in 275 appearances, had the transplant as part of his treatment for the nephrotic syndrome focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.“Andrew and his family would like to thank the club and fans for their support,” United said on their website.“They also request that he can continue with his treatment in private, and ask that their privacy is respected.”The 45-year-old Cole joined United from Newcastle United midway through the 1994-95 season and scored five goals in a 9-0 rout of Ipswich Town. The following season he helped United win the title, pipping Newcastle to the crown.He later struck up a prolific partnership with Dwight Yorke.After leaving United Cole had spells with Blackburn Rovers, Fulham and Manchester City, taking his Premier League goal tally to 187, behind only Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney.last_img read more

first_imgNew Caledonia won silver while Wallis and Futuna won bronze.PNG came fourth in this event, conducted from the harbourside area.This has completed the Va’a finals. V12 and V6 relays will be conducted on Saturday and Sunday at Ela Beach.last_img

first_imgFour of the men, including the captain, were given five-year jail sentences while a fifth is facing a prison term of three and a half years.They were detained in the southern Finnish city on 2 July after a woman said she had been raped at a hotel.Eight men were originally held. Two were released soon afterwards.Another of the players was released from detention at the end of August and acquitted by the court in Tampere.The team had been taking part in a tournament ahead of the Rio Olympics when the rape took place at the hotel in which the players were staying.The men had denied the accusation, insisting the woman had given consent.The men given the longer sentences included 27-year-old captain Rolando Cepeda Abreu, Alfonso Gavilan, 21, Ricardo Calvo Manzano, 19, and Osmany Uriarte Mestre, who is also 21. Luis Sosa Sierra, 21, was given a shorter sentence.They were ordered to pay €24,000 (£20,500; $27,000) in compensation to the victim.As the allegations emerged, two of the team coaches were sacked.Despite its depleted squad, Cuba fielded a team in Rio and lost all five of its matches.last_img read more