Round of Applause
Amanze Williams is a pretty incredible athlete. Sure, we’ve known that for a few years (just by the pure fact that he’s been mentioned in my Round of Applause quite a few times over the last two seasons) but he pulled off the most impressive feats of his career last weekend at the New England track and field championships. Williams swept the long jump and triple jump at the New England meet following his gold-medal performances at the Class L and State Open meets. There aren’t many feats that require more athleticism than winning the jumping events at a track meet, and Williams does it like few others in the country can do. Congratulations to Williams, who will bring his talents to UConn and surely help the defending Big East champion.
Pat Dean and Steve Hiscock are both playing well in Class A minor league baseball. Dean, a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins system, is 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in six starts. He has struck out 28 and walked just eight this season with the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League after recovering from elbow tendinitis. In fact, Dean was named the Midwest League’s Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday after throwing 6 2/3 no-hit innings against Lake County. Dean struck out nine and walked two in the outing. Hiscock, who pitches with the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League, is 1-1 with a 4.83 ERA in 18 appearances out of the bullpen. He has struck out 37 with 15 walks this season in his time with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Hiscock hasn’t allowed a run in six of his last 10 outings. We will continue to track how both Dean and Hiscock fare for the rest of this minor league season.
Spring football is nearing its end, which means spring games are coming up for our local teams. Many of you may not follow spring football (or even know that it exists), but Woodland and Naugatuck have been practicing for the last two weeks to see what the team in the fall will be made of and which holes need to be filled. The Hawks and ‘Hounds will both be looking to fill holes at quarterback after the graduations of Jack DeBiase and Erich Broadrick, and both can use help in the secondary and skill positions after graduation losses there. If you want to see what your favorite team is looking like heading into the summer, both will play their spring games Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at their respective high schools.
The Dallas Mavericks are NBA champions—thank goodness. I wasn’t a huge LeBron James fan during his days in Cleveland, but I didn’t necessarily root against him. In these playoffs, I found myself wanting to see the Heat lose every single game they played. As has been noted by many analysts in the wake of the Mavericks’ 4-2 win over the Heat in the NBA Finals, I don’t like the fact that James wanted to take the easy way out of earning a championship from the ground up in Cleveland and just try to join a team of all-stars in Miami. Nothing worth having in life comes easy, and James knows that now. And who do we have to thank for the realization of that proverb? Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. I always like seeing a veteran team win, especially one with as many 30-somethings as the Mavs feature. Hopefully their legs don’t fall off this summer and they can make a run at one more ring next spring.
Chorus of Boos
Mark Cuban can never make anything easy. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks was extraordinarily well behaved throughout the end of the season and the playoffs, in contrast to how his behavior has been over the last decade. One of the most influential and outspoken owners in sports finally has his championship and wants to celebrate like any other executive would. Except he doesn’t want to buy rings for his team. No, he wants to get them bracelets, instead. Woah, woah, woah. Bracelets? Pardon me, but one of the nicknames for capturing a championship is “winning a ring.” You don’t hear anyone going around saying, “Boy, I really want to get that bracelet this season.” I have no idea who came up with the idea of getting rings after winning championships, but that is a non-negotiable caveat of earning a title. Sure, the bracelets might be more lavish, but Dirk Nowitzki wants a ring or else he’ll wring Cuban’s neck. (See what I did there?)
Lips to CN’s Ear
“I didn’t see myself reaching where I am now but setting high goals at the beginning of the season got me to where I am today, and I hope to move forward with my success. [Winning the Class M javelin competition] was very important to me. My name goes on the wall in the gym and no one can take that away from me.”
Woodland junior javelin thrower Scott Lang after he won the Class M javelin competition earlier this month at Willowbrook Park in New Britain. Lang won the event by 16 inches, registering a throw of 168 feet, 7 inches to beat Windham Tech’s Nick Follansbee. Lang also placed eighth at the State Open with a throw of 156-11. Lang’s win at the Class M meet made him the only All-State track athlete of the season for Woodland.
“I’ve gotta believe that we’re going to be contending for the state tournament. We’re deep in pitching and our defense is good. We just have to hit the ball better than we have in the past. Hitting is the key.”
Prospect-Beacon Falls American Legion coach Jim Augelli on his team’s prospects for this season. PBF is coming off a tough, 4-22 season last summer but returns many veterans as well as adding several promising, young players. The team lost its first game to Monroe, 8-1, but had more hits than its opponent during the game.
“This certainly has been more than I could ever ask for. You are talking about the best athletes in all of New England and to win two gold medals, I’m still kind of in shock. It hasn’t really hit me yet. … I was really hoping to win another state title in my senior year, but what I achieved is more than anything I could have dreamed of. … I certainly don’t plan it like that (to win on my final jump), but it feels awesome when I do hit the jumps.”
Naugatuck track senior Amanze Williams after winning the long jump and triple jump at the New England championships last weekend to close out his high school jumping career. Williams is perhaps the finest jumper in the history of the Naugatuck Valley League and has now earned a pair of All-New England honors to his extremely impressive résumé.