STARKVILLE -- Anthony Alford has heard the talk. The rising junior at Petal High School is a standout quarterback who is considered a college prospect. But Alford is attracting even more attention for his exploits on the diamond.
Thomas Velek can't help but smile. In five days, Velek and the rest of the world will watch as the World Cup begins in South Africa. The United States Men's National Team will play England in its first game Saturday in what it hopes will be a month filled with excitement. Velek, who is a professor at the Mississippi University for Women, has another reason to be proud as the world's biggest sporting event begins. As competitive director for the Columbus United Soccer Club, Velek can look back with pride at how Columbus teams fared in the third year of competitive soccer in the city and in the club's second season.
STARKVILLE -- In an effort to spark youth interest in tennis, Starkville Tennis Association is beginning a program that's been in the works for the past three years. Quick Start, a United States Tennis Association program, is aimed at giving children 10-years old and younger the chance to learn the sport using modified scoring, special equipment and smaller court dimensions. With solid tennis infrastructure in Starkville, Quick Start will help strengthen area tennis by making the game more appealing for youth.
A family that practices together gets to travel together. That is the reward Kendrick Conner, 14, Kendré Conner, 11, and Kiara Conner, 11, earned for their recent performances in the local and sectional competitions in the Pitch, Hit & Run. The performances of the Conners and Deandreya Sykes, 10, and Tyler McAdams, 8, also of Columbus, secured the athletes invitations to Minute Maid Park, which is the home Major League Baseball's Houston Astros.
After playing for Curt Fowler last summer, Brent Hallmark wanted to play for him again this summer. Hallmark will get his wish as he will play for the Tippah County Tribe in the Cotton States Baseball League. The only difference is Hallmark won't play for the same team he played for last summer in the wood bat league for college players.
It's not a good time to be a rookie trying to earn a roster spot in the WNBA.
Former Mississippi State women's basketball standout Armelie Lumanu has learned that fact, and former teammates Chanel Mokango and Alexis Rack hope they don't suffer the same fate.
But Boris Lelchitski, the agent for all three players, said Mokango (with the Atlanta Dream) and Rack (with the San Antonio Silver Stars) are doing well and remain in competition for roster spots.
CORINTH — Former Mississippi State track and field standout Tiffany McWilliams Dudley ran a time of 38 minutes, 41 seconds Saturday to win the Corinth Coca Cola 10-Kilometer Classic. McWilliams Dudley, 27, finished 13th overall in the race that featured more than 800 competitors. Amory’s Stephen Otey was the next highest finisher among local competitors. He was ninth in the 15- to 19-year-old age division (36th overall) with a time of 43:55.
Joseph Webster finished first individually to help Monroe County Bassmasters win team honors at the Mississippi Bass Federation State Tournament on Saturday. Webster weighed in nine bass that weighed 26.42 pounds during the two-day tournament on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway that helped Monroe County Bassmasters win with 49 bass that weighed 117.7 pounds. Webster weighed in four bass at 11.34 pounds on Friday and five bass at 15.08 pounds on Saturday, while Monroe County Bassmasters had 23 fish for 55.16 pounds the first day and 26 for 62.58 pounds the second.
Mickey Aldridge might only have time to be considered a “weekend fisherman,” but that doesn’t mean he and his peers won’t be competitive this weekend. Aldridge and the rest of the Starkville Bass Club will join fishermen from Columbus, West Point, Aberdeen, Monroe County, and the rest of the state at the Mississippi TBF State Championship Bass Tournament.
Shockwave Aquatics swim coach Robert Gonzalez couldn’t have asked for much more. After his swimmers delivered 83 to 84 percent best times at the Mississippi Swimming, Inc. Short Course State Championships in February, Gonzalez wasn’t sure what would come next. But with the start of the summer season quickly approaching, Gonzalez believes his team’s runner-up performance to the Mississippi Makos will carry over. He also hopes his team’s efforts, which included three state records and nine competitors who scored 108 or more points, will help attract new members. (The team’s efforts to increase its numbers are highlighted in the accompanying press release.)
Tony Eddins has been blessed. Born and raised in Columbus, Eddins had the good fortune to be loved by his biological parents and his stepfather and stepmother. He used the positive examples set by his parents to have a successful sports career at New Hope High School, where he excelled at football, basketball, and track and field.
Local swimmers, for the first time ever, will have the opportunity to join the Shockwave Aquatics summer league program and the seventh-annual strokes clinic. The program serves as a transitional step from traditional swim lessons to the year-round Shockwave program with the goal to develop the stroke, skills and confidence of all participants. Swimmers in these programs will have the opportunity to work with Shockwave and Mississippi All-Star coach Robert P. Gonzalez and age-group coach and former Division-1 All-American swimmer Mark Garrigues over the course of the program.
Local catfish anglers will have an opportunity this weekend to show their prowess and to make a little money at the same time. The Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail will visit Columbus for the first time Saturday for a qualifier that will send the top 20 teams to the Classic on Nov. 12-13 in Columbus. Anglers will fish the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Columbus in a team event that is open to anyone. Teams can be made up of one or two individuals, with one exception. A third person can accompany a team provided he or she is under 16 years of age or older than 65 years of age. There is a $200 entry fee per team.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State Athletic Strength and Conditioning Department will hold its first clinic March 12 to educate coaches and trainers on technological advancements and new methods of building better athletes.
Baseball fans in the state of Mississippi should have a new gold mine of information available to them very soon. Gene Swindoll, whose Web site, Gene’s Page, has been covering Mississippi State athletics, including recruiting, since 1996, hopes to bring Mississippi Hardball on line at the end of this week. The site, www.MississippiHardball.com, will focus on junior college, high school, and travel teams and players in and from the state of Mississippi. Swindoll said there will be some carryover of coverage of senior colleges, particularly when it comes to MSU baseball recruiting news, but he said the site will concentrate its efforts on recruiting.
Swim Columbus will send 20 athletes to the 2010 Mississippi Swimming, Inc., Short Course State Championships on Friday through Sunday at the Laurel Natatorium in Laurel. The meet will feature the state’s top age-group swimmers, and will begin Friday with the senior girls 200-yard freestyle relay. The meet will conclude Sunday with the boys 15 and older 1,650 free.
Stacy Hester began the year as the head coach of one of the state’s most noted high school baseball programs. By the middle of 2009, Hester was out at New Hope High School.
Still feeling the pain of losing his mother, Kent Willis has decided to postpone his Straight Path Baseball Camp for a year. The minor league pitching coordinator for the Atlanta Braves organization canceled the camp after his mother, Willie Mae Willis, of Columbus, passed away Nov. 12. She was 76.
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