Tuesday, June 26, 2012

IU Olympic Miss and Make; Hoosier Athletes Honored; More

Sometimes life isn’t fair. Sometimes dreams crash and burn.

Take Molly Beckwith, a former Indiana track standout with a great shot at Olympic glory.

If she could make it.

Beckwith had a chance in Monday night’s U.S. Olympic Trials. The London Olympics opportunity was there. All Beckwith had to do was match her 800 meter season best of 1:59.16, the second best time in the U.S. this season.

All she had to do, was stay strong in the final 20 meters.

Her mind was willing, but her body, and some fierce competitors, were too much to overcome.

Beckwith placed fourth in the Eugene, Ore., event in a time of 1:59.68, just getting edged out for third by Alice Schmidt (1:59.60).

The top three advanced to London. Yeah, it was that close, and that much of a heartbreak.

Beckwith was fourth for most of the race, then made a move in the last 200 meters to threaten to take the lead. She got into second, then faded in those last 20 meters and couldn’t catch Alysia Montano, who won at 1:59.08. Geena Gall surged at the end to finish second at 1:59.24. Schmidt made a late push to get the final qualifying spot.

Beckwith, a 2010 IU graduate, still trains in Bloomington under IU coach Ron Helmer. She runs for Saucony. She’s still young enough to take a shot at the 2016 Olympics, but that’s a long way off. This one will be tough to get over.

In better news, another former Hoosier, diver Christina Loukas, made the Olympic team in the 3-meter springboard. She finished second in the swimming Olympic Trials in the state of Washington.

Loukas’ score of 1,017.85 wasn’t enough to catch winner Cassidy Krug’s 1,094.85-point total.

This will be the second straight Olympics for Loukas. She took ninth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 3-meter springboard.


Let’s say you run a TV network and want to broadcast the new college football playoffs. Prepare to fork over a lot of cash. We mean A LOT of it.

The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes is reporting it could be worth $5 billion over 10 years. For math majors, that’s $500 million a year. Last year’s BCS contract paid out $174 million. In other words, college football powers can make three times as much a year as the current deal -- in a struggling economy.

It makes you wonder what took everybody so long to get it done.

The current plan, devised by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and major conference commissioners, calls for four teams, two semifinals and a title game. A selection committee will determine the four teams.

Look for ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC to bid on all or part of the package.

The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee is meeting in Washington D.C. to vote on the playoff plan.

Also figure, in the next couple of years, the number of teams will grow to eight. You could argue that, in some years, more than four teams are legitimate national title contenders. An eight-team format would include every team that could be a national champ, which is what you have in the NCAA basketball tourney. Not every deserving team makes the basketball field, but every team that could win it all does.


In a time when we hear all that’s wrong with athletics, it’s nice to get hear about those who do it right.

And so we offer Andy Bayer and Allysa Vavra, Indiana’s 2012 athletes of the year.

Bayer runs distance really fast. Vavra swims really fast. Both earned All-America honors in their respective sports.

At the NCAA meet, Vavra took eighth in the 200-yard individual medley and fifth in the 400 yard individual medley to earned All-America honors in both events. Her 200 IM time of 1:55.58 was the second fastest in school history. Her 400 IM time of 4:01.73 also is the second fastest time in school history. To cap off a busy championship, she plaeced seventh in the 200-yard breaststroke.

She also was Big Ten champion in the 200 IM and the 400 IM. Vavra made the U.S. Olympic Trials, but failed to advance to the London Olympics.

“What a tremendous honor for Allysa Vavra,” IU swim coach Ray Looze said in a university release and the athlete-of-the-year award. “With so many outstanding teams here and Indiana, our staff is humbled that Allysa would receive such recognition. She has come a long way as a person, and has a bright future.”

Bayer earned All-America recognition in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

In cross country, Bayer helped the Hoosiers to a seventh-place finish. He won Big Ten indoor titles at the mile and 3,000 meters, scored 26 points by himself, and helped IU to its first conference championship since 1992. At the NCAA indoor meet he was second in the distance medley relay and fifth at the mile to help IU finish sixth as a team.

In the outdoor season Bayer was the Big Ten champ in the 1,500 meters as Indiana took third as a team. He then edged two-time NCAA champ Miles Batty of Brigham Young to win the 1,500 NCAA title.

Bayer is competing in the Olympic Trials in Oregon this week.

“Andy has gone above and beyond all season for the team,” IU track coach Rom Helmer said in a release. “What he did at the Big Ten Indoor Championships was remarkable. We would not have won a Big Ten title without him. He proved he’s one of the best runners in the country.”

IU now has 45 track national champions and 141 overall individual NCAA winners.

“Allysa and Andy represent what Indiana athletics is all about: not only great athletes, but great students and young people with great character and values,” athletic director Fred Glass said. “We are proud of them, and their accomplishments.”


IU baseball coach Tracy Smith hasn’t lost his out-of-state recruiting touch.

Smith just landed junior college All-American Brad Hartong out of Cypress College. Hartong is one of 14 newcomers heading to Bloomington, one of two from California. Smith also tapped into Florida, Minnesota, Ohio and Illinois for players.

All Hartong, a catcher, did last season was hit .364 while throwing out 26 of 32 base stealers.

Another Californian, infielder Garret Brown from Irvine, hit .420 with three home runs, three doubles, two triples, 16 runs batted in, six steals and 25 runs scored.

The Hoosiers also got Kansas 5A player of the year in pitcher/first baseman Evan Bell (.444 average, 7-2 pitching record with a 2.18 earned run average); Fort Wayne South Side pitcher/first baseman Will Coursen-Carr, the state of Indiana’s Gatorade player of the year after going 10-1 with 134 strikes and a 0.40 ERA in 70 innings, plus hitting .488 with 36 RBI; and pitcher Zach Haynes of Kentucky, who was 15-0 in his high school career, including a no hitter;


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