INDY, AKRON, AND COLUMBUS By Dr. Alex Warner SHOTS IN THE DARKE
Helio Castroneves won his fourth Indianapolis 500 Sunday, overcoming younger drivers in the final few laps to claim the checkered flag and the right to drink milk from a bottle and kiss the finish line.
The 46-year-old reenacted his “Spiderman” climb of the fencing at the Speedway much to the delight of the fans. Castroneves joins with Tom Brady (43), Phil Mickelson (50), and recently retired Patriots and Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri (48) in giving inspiration to all of you 40-and-overs out there.
Once again, age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, age is a number that doesn’t matter! At 72, most days I still feel like I’m 40, although I tend not to look in a mirror too often!
The Coca-Cola 600 was won by Kyle Larson Monday, giving Rick Hendricks Motorsport a record-setting 269th NASCAR win. Just like at Indy the day before it was great to see a large crowd on hand as pandemic protocols continue to be lifted!
Congratulations to Bradford’s Lady Railroaders softball team as they secured a berth in this week’s D-IV Final Four to be played in Akron. The ‘Roaders played New Riegle Thursday as this is being written, coming off an epic 1-0 win over Mechanicsburg Sunday at Lady Wave Stadium in the regional finals.
The sister act of pitcher Skipp Miller and catcher Austy Miller paced the hard-fought victory, providing not only the pitching and defense but also the offense to score the game’s only run.
My wife Kathy taught the sisters’ parents Skip Miller and Sommer Schmeising in fourth grade at Bradford Elementary, so we’ve had a rooting interest in the team all spring.
Best wishes and good luck to Coach Shon Shaffer and the girls as they participate in their second state tournament in the past four years!
Unfortunately a tremendous season for Greenville’s Lady Wave came to an end, with a crushing 21-20 loss in eight innings to Hebron Lakewood in the D-II regional championship game. A number of factors played a role in the defeat in which the Wave held large leads at various times only to see Lakewood battle back.
Nonetheless, a 31-2 record for a team of mostly underclass players is a tribute to not only Coach Jerrod Newland and his staff but also to senior leaders Grace Shaffer and Nyesha Wright. The future remains bright, another trip to Akron is a real possibility; hang in there LWSB Nation!
Several qualifiers for this week’s state track and field finals in Columbus emerged from county teams in regional meets. In Division I, Greenville’s Harley West qualified in two girls’ events, finishing third in both the shot put (40’-10”) and discus (118’-11”) while Grace Conway tied for third in the pole vault (11’-4”).
D-II saw Versailles’ girls place second as a team, trailing only Oakwood. The girls 4×100 relay team of Allison Mangen, Kelsey Francis, Kate Griesdorn, and Ali Moran took first place honors (51.08) as did the 4×200 quartet of Francis, Ashley Jones, Griesdorn, and Lexi Magoto (1:49.33).
The 4×400 group qualified with a third place finish, while Moran in the 100 placed fourth, Magoto took a second in the 400, and Jones placed fourth in the long jump.
In D-III the Ansonia girls 4×100 finished third with freshman Colleen Steinmetz claiming a regional championship in the pole vault at 11’-6”. Maria Petry of Tri-Village makes the trip to Columbus on the strength of a fourth place effort in the high jump.
On the boys side, Versailles junior Taran Tyo was a double winner, taking the discus at 177’-08” (almost 28 feet ahead of the nearest competitor) and the shot at 53’-7” (Braydon Kiehl of the Tigers also qualified).
Jackson Shellhaas of Ansonia had a second place vault of 14’-0” to earn the trip to Franklin County while T-V junior Layne Sarver had a leap of 6’-4” in the high jump to claim first place laurels. The Patriots 4×100 relay team also qualified, placing fourth. Good luck as always to these state participants!
Finally, the world’s second-ranked women’s tennis player, Naomi Osaka, withdrew from this week’s French Open. Citing mental health reasons, Osaka has struggled with depression and has avoided press conferences as a result, thereby earning fines and possible suspensions. A four-time majors champion, Osaka is dealing with these issues as best she sees fit and you have to respect her decision. The pressure put on young athletes at this level is immense, the rewards great, but something that each individual must handle in their own way.
Until next time, stay healthy and active, especially those of you over 40!!
Dr. Alex Warner is a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate