Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brad Gerling resigns at Caruthersville football coach

Brad Gerling has resigned as Caruthersville's varsity football coach to accept a job as the district's elementary school principal.
Gerling coached the Tigers five seasons, and the team's turnaround since 2007 was remarkable — from 0-10 in 2007 to 5-8 and a state quarterfinalist the next season. The Tigers were 10-3 last season.
Caruthersville reached the playoffs four times in Gerling's five seasons, including three trips to the quarterfinal round.
The school hasn't officially chosen Gerling's replacement.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cash-strapped Tour of Missouri cycling race called off

The Tour of Missouri couldn't find enough corporate backing to offset the state's lack of funding for the 2010 race — and finally today organizers pulled the plug.

The story from Associated Press writer David Lieb:

Organizers of the Tour of Missouri canceled this summer's bicycle race Thursday after state tourism officials declined to help fund it.

Tour of Missouri Chairman Mike Weiss said organizers pulled the plug on the race after Gov. Jay Nixon's administration refused to back it or even to meet with race supporters.

Earlier Thursday, a budget committee for the Missouri Tourism Commission endorsed a $13.4 million spending plan that included no state money for the race. State lawmakers had indicated a preference to allot the race $1 million.

Nixon spokeswoman Christine Bertelson said the final decision on state funding for the race belonged to the Tourism Commission, not the governor. But she indicated that Nixon agreed with the decision.

"In these economic times, given all the cuts that are going on all over state government, there are a lot of things that would be great if they could happen, but the state can't afford them," Bertelson said.

The 2010 Tour of Missouri had been scheduled for Aug. 31 through Sept. 6. Organizers had said previously that it likely would be canceled if the state did not subsidize it.

The three previous annual races received a total of $6 million in public money in addition to corporate and private donations. But the race struggled to find a title sponsor to attach its name to the event, which would have relieved the state of a financial commitment.

Supporters of the race blamed its demise partly on politics.

Last year, Nixon's administration temporarily froze the race's $1.5 million tourism allocation because of the state's financial troubles. The money ultimately was released and the race occurred.

Nixon is a Democrat. The Tour of Missouri was started under his predecessor, Republican Matt Blunt. And it has been championed by Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a likely challenger to Nixon in the 2012 election.

Race supporters complained that Nixon's office ignored their requests for meetings where they could have made a case for the race.

"There needs to be some sort of state endorsement for us to move forward with the planning," Weiss said. Because that never occurred, "we're not working on the event."

The race had been managed by Atlanta-based Medalist Sports Inc., which had wanted a commitment to public financing by this month.

"The leadership and support unfortunately appears to no longer exist, which is an integral element of a successful event of this nature," Chris Aronhalt, manager partner of Medalist Sports, said in a statement Thursday.

Financial woes also have scuttled professional cycling races in Utah, Connecticut and Georgia in recent years, leaving the Tour of California as the country's only high-level pro cycling event.

An economic analysis of the 2009 Tour of Missouri - paid for by the state - estimated that a half-million people watched the race and spent more than $30 million. But some tourism officials have questioned the value of the race when compared with a more broad-based marketing campaign for Missouri.

The proposed state tourism budget endorsed Thursday also cuts funding for advertising and marketing for the state fiscal year that begins July 1. Advertising spending would be less than half of what it was just two years ago.

"Everyone's going to have to take a cut in these tough times," Tourism Commission Vice Chairman Scott Hovis said during Thursday's budgetary meeting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kevin Emerick resigns as Jefferson basketball coach

Kevin Emerick has resigned as women's basketball coach at Jefferson College, leaving behind an amazing record to go into a private business venture.

Under Emerick, Jefferson's teams were 129-11 over four seasons. During that stretch, his teams never lost a region game, a conference game or even a game in their home gym in Hillsboro. Every loss came at neutral sites.

Emerick's teams were 8-6 at the national NJCAA tournament, and they finished second in the nation the past two seasons.

Southeast fans might remember Emerick as an assistant coach for one season under B.J. Smith. That season, Southeast reached the NCAA women's tournament and set a school record for most wins in the program's history. Emerick left shortly before an NCAA investigation into multiple violations in the program.

Jefferson has not announced Emerick's replacement.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Valle eliminated; G'Darius Stevenson to Sikeston?

Defending Class 2 state baseball champion Valle was eliminated from another state playoff run Friday afternoon.

Crystal City defeated the Warriors 1-0 in the district championship at Kirkwood. It's Crystal City's second win of the season over Valle, the first a 6-5 win April 16.

Crystal City will play a sectional game at home Monday against either Charleston or Scott City, which played at 11 a.m. Saturday at Perryville; that game has been rescheduled twice because of rain.

Other quick notes:

• Word spread this week that all-stater G'Darius Stevenson will bolt NMCC, move to Sikeston and play football for the Bulldogs in the fall. The move would be huge for Sikeston — a team coming off a record-setting season — and a punch to the gut for NMCC, itself coming off a district championship year.

The only problem: It's not happening. G'Darius and NMCC coach Arlen Pixley both said Friday that it's just a rumor. Stevenson, who ran for more than 2,000 yards last season as a junior, will wear an NMCC uniform in the fall.

• Two schools made boys basketball hires this week, both in the Jefferson County Conference. At Festus, assistant coach Anthony Kinder will be the new head coach, replacing Shawn Erickson. At Hillsboro, the Hawks have hired North County coach Dan Johnson to replace Chris O'Connell.

That leaves just a few boys basketball jobs available out of almost 20 that came open since the season ended. Spots are still open Doniphan, Grandview and North County.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Makeup dates set for Thursday's district rainouts

Three high school district baseball championships scheduled for Thursday were washed out, but all three have been rescheduled.

In Class 2, Valle and Crystal City — both ranked among the top 5 in the state coaches poll — will play at 1 p.m. Friday at Vianney High School in Kirkwood, the school announced late Thursday afternoon. The game was moved from Brentwood, where the field is partially covered by water.

If the game is once again postponed because of weather, it's expected to be rescheduled for Saturday.

Also in Class 2, Charleston and Scott City will play at 4:30 p.m. Friday at St. Vincent.

In Class 3, Park Hills Central and Potosi will play at 4 p.m. Saturday at Potosi.

All three games will help complete the sectional schedule for Monday and Tuesday.

Seven more SEMO teams take district baseball titles

Seven Southeast Missouri teams joined the list of district champions Wednesday and earned spots in the state high school baseball sectional round that starts next week.

In Class 4, Jackson knocked off North County 1-0 and advanced to play Tuesday against either Pacific or Washington, which are scheduled to play Thursday. That game, along with others scheduled Thursday, face a forecast of heavy rain.

Elsewhere Wednesday, Notre Dame — ranked No. 1 in the most recent state coaches' poll — defeated No. 5 Kennett for its Class 3 district title and will face either Park Hills Central or Potosi, which play Thursday.

In Wednesday's other district finals, Clearwater advanced to set up a sectional game against Twin Rivers on Monday, while Cooter and Chaffee advanced to a Class 1 faceoff, as did Oak Ridge and Winona.

Two other district championships are set for Thursday: Scott City vs. Charleston at St. Vincent in Class 2, and Crystal City vs. Valle in Class 2.

Click here for the latest state coaches' rankings, and check out the MSHSAA site here for detailed state playoff brackets.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Twin Rivers heads into state sectional round

Updated 10:10 a.m. May 19

Twin Rivers became the first of almost a dozen local teams that could claim a high school baseball district title after the Royals won Tuesday.

Twin Rivers knocked off Neelyville for its Class 2 district title, setting up a sectional game against either Clearwater or Greenville; those teams play Wednesday.

At least five district championships will be up for grabs Wednesday, several of them moved up a day as coaches try to beat Thursday's forecast of rain.

At Risco, coaches shuffled their Class 1 district schedule to include semifinals at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by the championship at 5:30.

Other championships on the line Wednesday feature Bernie at Chaffee at 4 p.m.; Couch vs. Winona at Van Buren at 4; Greenville at Clearwater at 4; Kennett at Notre Dame at 4; and Jackson vs. North County at Poplar Bluff at 3.

Two of those games feature matchups of state-ranked teams. Notre Dame is No. 1 and Kennett No. 5 in the latest state baseball poll (click here for the full rankings), and in Class 1, Bernie is No. 8 and Chaffee No. 10.

Other finals are scheduled for Thursday.

At Caledonia, Lesterville and Oak Ridge are scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for a district title. Finals will be at 3:30 Thursday for Class 3 teams at Potosi, at 4:30 for Class 2 teams at St. Vincent, and at 5 for teams at Brentwood, where the final could feature Crystal City and Valle, which are ranked among the top five in the state poll.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rain makes a mess of district baseball schedule

Wet fields Monday again delayed the start of four high school district baseball tournaments that involve Southeast Missouri teams. But among those that did play, two have produced unlikely championship rounds.

At Poplar Bluff, fourth-seeded Jackson and seventh-seeded North County will play at 3 p.m. Wednesday for a Class 4 district title and a berth in the sectional round after both used upsets to sneak into the finale. Jackson knocked off top-seeded Festus 6-3 on Monday, just before North County defeated sixth-seeded DeSoto 4-1.

The Class 2 tournament at Twin Rivers has also produced an unlikely championship pairing; third-seeded Twin Rivers and fifth-seeded Neelyville will play at 4 p.m. Tuesday for the championship after Monday's upset wins over Malden and Senath-Hornersville.

At least four other tournaments have yet to complete the first round. Rain on fields at Brentwood, Potosi, Risco and St. Vincent have kept almost 20 area teams from playing a postseason game, but those tournaments are scheduled to try again Tuesday.

Get the updated brackets and times on the MSHSAA's baseball page.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Tour of Missouri is all but dead -- will you miss it?

Missouri legislators had to cut $6 million from something in the upcoming budget -- it looks like $1 million of it will come from the Tour of Missouri cycling race, which probably won't survive without the state's financial help.

The race was a boost for tourism across the state, especially in smaller communities that included Cape Girardeau, Farmington and Ste. Genevieve, which were among cities on the race's 600-mile route. Last year's event drew about 500,00 spectators who, in addition to watching the race, spent an estimated $38 million eating local food, buying local products and staying in local hotels.

The 2010 version of the race was already ranked by one publication as one of the top five cycling events in the U.S.

There's still a chance the race will come back with corporate sponsorship -- not a good bet in a dicey economy, but not impossible. We'll hope that somebody steps up with a hefty financial backing.

If it doesn't come back, will you miss it?