The eyes of Middletown will be focused on the U.S Gymnastics Olympic Trials next month as former Middletown High School South star Alyssa Beckerman is likely to bid for a spot on the team. Beckerman finished fifth overall at last weekend’s U.S. Gymnastics Championship in St. Louis, ahead of established former Olympians such as Amy Chow, Dominique Moceanu and Dominique Dawes. By placing fifth, Beckerman all but locked up a spot at next month’s trials. Beckerman finished just 1.675 points behind the winner of last weekend’s championship, Elise Ray. The top 12 finishers at the nationals advance to the trials, where gymnastics guru Bela Karolyi will head a committee that will choose the six-member Olympic team. Although performances at nationals and the trials will be considered when ranking the gymnasts, they will not be binding. Although Beckerman was expected to be one of the gymnasts to advance to the trials, it’s anybody’s guess as to how far she can take her Olympic aspirations. A large component in the hunt for one of the six available spots on the Olympic team is the opinion of Karolyi, who was lured out of retirement to assemble another dream team. In order to get him to agree to come back, the four-person selection committee was established because he argued that the new process would result in the best team. As a result, Karolyi has said that he can take someone who is dominant in one particular event rather than selecting six gymnasts who have high overall scores. However, some critics of the move argue that the new process opens the door for Karolyi to select the returning gymnasts from the 1996 Olympic gold-medal winning team over more-deserving candidates. Five of the seven gymnasts from that team are competing for spots on the Sydney squad. However, Beckerman said she knows that all she can do is give her best effort on the floor, and let the selection process play itself out. If she is selected to participate in the Olympic Games, it will mark the culmination of a lengthy training process, which led to Beckerman and her family moving to Cincinnati at the beginning of her senior year in high school so that she could train at one of the nation’s best gymnastic academies. That proved to be a good move when Beckerman finished eighth in the all-around at the U.S. Championships in 1988. Recently, she warmed up for last weekend’s championship by competing in the Spieth-Sogipa Cup in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where she took first.
CHRIS KELLY Raritan’s Matt Pendle tries to score a takedown against Manalapan’s Sean Burns during a 135-pound semifinal bout at Southern Regional High School, Manahawkin, on Saturday.
BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer Brookdale’s baby program is all grown up. The women’s basketball team, the youngest of the junior college’s athletic programs at nine years, has become the school’s newest Region champion. The Blues won their first-ever Region XIX championship on March 5, beating Passaic, 60-46, in Carney’s Point, and advancing to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III National Tournament that begins tomorrow and runs through Saturday in Corning, N.Y. It was a particularly satisfying championship for the veteran Blues, who had advanced to the Region final last year and had built an 18-point lead on Gloucester, only to see the game and the championship slip away. The March 5 final provided the chance for the Blues to put that game behind them for good and do something no other women’s team had done in school history. “It was wonderful to see the look on their faces,” said Joanne Cobb, co-head coach of the Brookdale women along with Marianne Campacci. “It was super, especially after last year.” “They knew they could do it and they were just thrilled,” she added. “They were on a mission. They had a motto: ‘Find a way.’ They rode it into the tournament and they rode it out.” Sophomore guard Becky Piper (Colts Neck) was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She scored 15 points in the final, and did her usual strong job on defense and the boards. Danielle Vitalone (Middletown South) also put in 15 and pulled down 10 rebounds, while forward Amy Gaudious (Long Branch) contributed 14 points and 11 blocked shots. As the top seed, Brookdale received a bye to the semifinals, played on March 3. The Blues won their semifinal, 49-31, over Cumberland behind Tammy Wood’s 18 points, and advanced to their second straight final. Brookdale, 20-9 overall, battled through adversity and a tough schedule this year, both of which made them a better team. Back in December, Campacci and Cobb didn’t have enough healthy bodies to field a full squad for practice. Add to that, the team went to Las Vegas, where it played a trio of top Division I teams, and it made for a very difficult December. “The trip to Las Vegas was a big help,” said Cobb. Piper and Gaudious, who earned All-Region First Team honors, were the cornerstones of the team. Piper leads the team in scoring at almost 14 per game and is tops in steals (84). She also rebounds well for her position (6.0). Gaudious had 14 double-doubles during the season and two triple-doubles. The 6-foot-1 Gaudious, who has Division I schools looking at her because of her versatility on both ends of the floor, averaged 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds a game. Defensively, she was a shot-blocking force. Maybe her biggest contribution was as a passer. The sophomore led the team in assists with 116 during the season. Vitalone (11) and Wood (13), from South River, also averaged double figures, giving Brookdale a balanced attack, inside and outside. Vitalone, Piper and point guard Stephanie Brady provided the three-point shooting, with Gaudious, Wood and freshman Ashley Healy forces in the paint. As the newest program at the school, the women’s basketball team was the only one without a Region crown. Under Cobb and Campacci, the Blues were a team on the rise with three Garden State Athletic Conference titles in the last four years. The Region title was all that was missing, and they put that behind them in Carney’s Point. “We felt we did arrive two years ago,” said Cobb. “But we were not finishing off. We decided to change things, and emphasize attacking and staying focused on certain things.” That focus translated to the team’s first trip to the junior college national championships. “This is gravy,” Cobb said of the team’s trip to the nationals. “Just to be representing the region is great.” The Blues were seeded seventh for the NJCAA championships and will play the No. 2 seed Joliet, Ill., (24-8) tomorrow night at 8 p.m. in their first game. Mohawk Valley, N.Y. (32-1), Anoka-Ramsey, Minn. (24-1), Monroe, N.Y. (30-1), Bunker Hill, Mass. (23-3), Montgomery, Md. (16-6) and Madison Area Technical, Wis. (21-7) are the other teams in this year’s tournament. Cobb said her biggest concern at this week’s championships will be her lack of depth. The Blues will be facing teams that can go 12 and 13 deep. Having gone up against top Division I teams, they are ready for any style of play, she added. It’s a question of overcoming the opposition’s depth.
MIGUEL JUAREZ staff der=0 bgcolor=”#d0d0d0″>p1_xlg.jpg’,306,251)”> MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Keansburg’s William Moran returns a shot during the Monmouth County Flights Tournament on Saturday at Middletown’s Tindall Park.
By TIM MORRIS Staff Writer Above: St. John Vianney High School’s Gabrielle Caponegro takes it to the basket as she drives past New Providence High School defender Katie Kinum during the NJSIAA Tournament of Championship quarterfinals March 17 at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River. The Non-Public A champion Lancers were victorious, 63-39. Below: St. John Vianney’s Zoe Pero looks for an open teammate as New Providence defenders Emily Molstad, back, and Sydney Morgan try to trap her along the baseline. A fearless freshman sank the St. John Vianney High School girls basketball team’s bid to return to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions (TOC) finals.With the Lancers clinging to a 43-41 lead and less than a minute remaining in the TOC semifinals March 19 at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, St. Rose freshman Mikayla Markham stepped back from behind the 3-point arc and launched the shot that would sink the Lancers. PHOTOS BY STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR Markham’s 3-pointer with 45 seconds left lifted the Purple Roses to a 44-43 lead.The Lancers could not respond to the 3- pointer, and the Purple Roses extended the lead from the foul line. Jess Louro made a pair of free throws and Jennifer Louro was one of two to make the final score 47-43 in favor of St. Rose.Until Markham’s 3-point shot, the Lancers had taken control of this back-and-forth game between Shore Conference powers in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Purple Roses, 11-2, in the first four minutes. A 3-point shot by Kellie Crouch gave the Lancers a fivepoint lead, 40-35, with 4:13 left in the game.Less than a minute later, a 3-pointer by Jess Louro pulled the Purple Roses within one, 41-40.Gigi Caponegro and Kelly Campbell each made one free throw to extend the Lancers’ lead to 43-40 with just 1:10 remaining. It would be St. John Vianney’s final point.A Jess Louro free throw pulled the Purple Roses within two, 43-41, setting the stage for Markham to deliver the dagger.The Lancers, looking to win a record seventh TOC title, had to settle for finishing the year with a 26-4 record, while St. Rose (32-1) moved on to its first TOC finals, where the Purple Roses were to face Shore Conference Tournament winner Manasquan (30-2) in the March 23 finals at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton.The loss, no matter how painful, did not dampen a season in which the Lancers were back on top, winning their first state title since 2011.St. John Vianney gained a big measure of revenge in the NJSIAA Non-Public A finals, defeating Immaculate Heart Academy, 50-46. Immaculate Heart had beaten St. John Vianney in last year’s finals.Down by 14 at the half, 33-19, the Lancers’ vaunted defense limited the Blue Eagles to just 13 points in the second half on their way to the state championship and a return to the TOC.St. John Vianney was seeded third for the TOC behind top-seed Manasquan High School and No. 2 St. Rose, as Shore Conference teams dominated this year’s state tournament (a fourth, Middletown High School South, was the Group III state champion and seeded fifth).The Lancers had little trouble with Group I state champion New Providence High School in the TOC quarterfinals on March 17 in Toms River. They had a big advantage over the No. 6 seed in the paint with 6-foot-3 Kimi Evans. They established their 6-foot-3 center early, which forced the Pioneers to double Evans, and that created space for St. John Vianney’s 3-point shooting. Campbell and Crouch each hit three from behind the arc, and Tina Lebron added a pair as St. John Vianney rolled, 63-39.Evans had 15 points and Campbell scored 12 for the Lancers, who had 10 players score.The win set up the semifinals with St. Rose.Once again, the Lancers were sparked by their relentless, full-court defense that simply wears teams down. Sooner or later, the turnovers pile up and St. John Vianney gets on one of those patented runs that break games open.On offense, head coach Dawn Karpell received contributions from a number of different players. Campbell (14.9 points per game) and Evans (11.3) were the only Lancers to average double figures on the season. In all, seven players scored more than 100 points on the season. Crouch, Caponegro, Lebron, Zoe Pero and Vanessa Pinho all averaged more than five points a game.Crouch led the team in 3-point shots with 50. Campbell knocked down 40, Lebron had 34 and Pinho scored 28.A look at the St. John Vianney roster gives every indication that the Lancers could be back in the TOC next year. There are no seniors on the roster.
By Ian ChadbandChelsea will begin 2015 protecting a three-point lead in the Premier League title race but will heed the words of their grand old striker Didier Drogba who warns that it is simply not enough.“We start again a new championship,” boomed the Ivorian, as Chelsea prepared to visit their fierce London rivals Tottenham on New Year’s Day, with champions Manchester City, at home against Sunderland, still snapping at their heels.Everything bodes well for Jose Mourinho’s soaring side, not least the fact that on the seven previous occasions his teams have been leading their respective leagues at Christmas, they have always gone on to take the title.Mourinho’s faithful old lieutenant Drogba, though, believes it will have to be a particularly special achievement for the ‘Special One’ to maintain that extraordinary sequence.“I think it’s going to be tough,” Drogba said, reflecting on how Chelsea’s one-time eight-point lead has been whittled down.Indeed, if City had not blown a 2-0 lead on Boxing Day to draw with Burnley, there would have now been only one point separating the leaders.“We knew it was not over. A few years ago, I think we were 11 or 12 points in front of Man United and then they won the league,” Drogba said.“So eight points or nine points – I don’t know how many points we had on top of Man City – I think it is not enough.“I think now we start again a new championship. I think the game is on.”Mourinho, happy to play up any conspiracy theory if it helps strengthen his players’ indignation, claimed after the draw at Southampton that a campaign to portray his team as divers was costing them crucial points.Still, he could hardly be starting the year at a happier hunting ground, Chelsea’s domination over Spurs having been so pronounced in the Premier League era that their fans like to think of Tottenham’s White Hart Lane home as ‘Three Point Lane’.Against Sunderland, City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be looking to avoid a repeat of what he felt was complacency in the Burnley slip-up.Manchester United, seven points behind their city neighbours in third place, visit Stoke City while the New Year match of the day could be at St Mary’s where Southampton and Arsenal, fourth and fifth respectively on 33 points, lock horns.
By Martyn HermanJose Mourinho was sacked as manager of Premier League champions Chelsea on Thursday after a calamitous run of results left the west London club one point above the relegation zone.A club statement said Chelsea and the 52-year-old Portuguese had parted company by “mutual consent” seven months after he led them to the title by an eight-point margin.It concludes a spectacular fall from grace for Mourinho, rated as one of the world’s best coaches, who declared himself the “happy one” when he returned for a second stint in charge of Chelsea in 2013 after spells at Inter Milan and Real Madrid.Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat at surprise league leaders Leicester City on Monday, their ninth loss in 16 league games since the start of a season that has gone spectacularly wrong, proved to be the final straw for Russian owner Roman Abramovich.After that latest setback Mourinho accused some of his players of “betraying my work” – a verbal attack that appeared to be his last throw of the dice in halting the slide.“All at Chelsea thank Jose for his immense contribution since he returned as manager in the summer of 2013,” a statement on the club’s website (www,chelseafc.com) said.“His three league titles, FA Cup, Community Shield and three League Cup wins over two spells make him the most successful manager in our 110-year history.“But both Jose and the board agreed results have not been good enough this season and believe it is in the best interests of both parties to go our separate ways.“The club wishes to make clear Jose leaves us on good terms and will always remain a much-loved, respected and significant figure at Chelsea.”Chelsea said they would not be making any further comment until a new appointment was made.INTERIM MANAGERDutchman Guus Hiddink is the bookmakers’ favourite to take over as interim manager, having done so successfully in 2009 when Chelsea fired Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari.Few could have foreseen Chelsea’s decline this season, especially as Mourinho was rewarded for the title with a new four-year contract in August.The squad is virtually identical to the one that dominated last season’s Premier League and won the League Cup.Yet the defeats have piled up, key players Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have looked distracted, Mourinho has twice fallen foul of the FA and there has been talk of dressing room unrest.Ahead of this weekend’s home clash with Sunderland, Chelsea have managed only 15 points during their worst start to a season since they were relegated from the top flight in 1978-79.Opposing fans have taunted Mourinho with chants of “You’re not special any more” – a cheeky reference to his opening statement when he first joined the club from Porto in 2004.“Please do not call me arrogant because what I say is true. I’m European champion, I’m not one out of the bottle, I think I’m a special one,” he said at the time.When Chelsea beat Porto last week to reach the last 16 of the Champions League it seemed he had bought himself time, but defeat by Leicester put the club’s demise into sharp focus.After 16 games last season Chelsea had lost once and had 39 points while Leicester were bottom on 10.HOPES EXTINGUISHEDA year on and Chelsea are 20 points behind the east Midlands outfit and their title hopes, if not their top-four ambitions, have been extinguished before Christmas.“I’ve never known a capitulation like it from a football club,” former England striker and now BBC pundit Alan Shearer said as news of Mourinho’s sacking spread.“I have never known players to perform like they did last season and then be so bad now. It’s unprecedented.”Mourinho’s special relationship with Chelsea began when, fresh from Champions League success at Porto, he won back-to-back Premier League titles plus the League Cup and FA Cup, before falling out with Abramovich and leaving in 2007.He was welcomed back as a returning hero in 2013 after spells at Inter Milan, where he again won the Champions League, and Real Madrid and delivered a third Premier League title, but this season has been the worst of his career.Chelsea have lost the same number of league games this term as they did in the three seasons from 2004 to 2007.While thrashings by Manchester City and Liverpool were chastening, it was defeats by less glamorous clubs like Leicester, Southampton, West Ham United, Stoke City and modest Bournemouth that led to a sense of crisis.The strain has shown too with Mourinho twice being fined for his behaviour and receiving a one-match stadium ban after he was banished to the stands at West Ham on Oct. 24.His post-match interviews became increasingly unpredictable. One rambling answer after Chelsea lost to Southampton lasted seven minutes while on other occasions he was mono-syllabic.Acknowledged as the most successful manager in Chelsea’s history, and claiming they would not find anyone better, he retained the affection of many fans to the end but crucially seemed to have lost some of the dressing room.Despite the loyalty of the Blues supporters to their Portuguese coach, however, Abramovich had seen enough.
Football clubs are expected to field both a men’s and women’s team as per the requirements of PNGFA.Participating centres in the Highlands Region wishing to take part must be a current member or associate member of PNGFA.Member associations and associate members must pay in an annual registration fee of K1000 to PNGFA and have their players registered in their member associations.Goroka Football Association president Cathy Agunam said preparations were underway and teams must pay the participation fee of K500 each before the deadline on 5 October.Agunam said they were expecting each association to come prepared with the finalists advancing to the Besta Cup final in Lae.All teams are urged to arrive in Goroka by 8th October with their payment deposit slips.So far, Manus men’s team and KTSA women’s team of Kavieng are confirmed for the New Guinea Islands while Lae Football Association men’s team and Lahi women’s team are confirmed for Momase.For Southern Region, Koupa 3 and Koupa 2 men’s teams have qualified along with Port Moresby Soccer Association women’s team.
This was confirmed by PNGRFL Chairman, Sandis Tsaka in a press statement today.Meninga was appointed coach of the Australian Kangaroos succeeding Tim Sheens this month.Tsaka thanked Meninga for his work with the PNGRFL as Kumuls coach since 2014.“Mal is an icon of the sport and the value, profile and integrity he brought to the game in PNG with his involvement with rugby league in PNG has been highly appreciated. “We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours,” said Tsaka.He said the PNGRFL is currently working on a comprehensive plan and program to prepare a strong PNG team for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup which will be co-hosted by PNG.“The PNGRFL Board will at its next meeting in January, deliberate on the plan and start the process to recruit the right people to identify, develop and prepare both our national men’s and women’s teams for the 2017 World Cup,” said Tsaka.
The three-day tournament which started yesterday has attracted a record 109 teams from 43 villages across the Central Province.President of the Central Netball Association, Iammo Launa said there are four divisions- Masters, Young Oldies, A Grade and B Grade.”We got off to a bit of a late start yesterday but are back on track. So far, so good.”The finals are scheduled for tomorrow but if time runs out, we’ll play them on Saturday morning,” said Launa.In today’s results in the Young Oldies division, Maopa Blue def. Moreguina 17-10, Pelagai def. Puiwa Paramana 13-5, Saroa def. Pelagai Grey 22-8, Maopa Red def. Gamoga 19-7 and Puiwa Paramana def. Gamoga 19-0.In the A Grade division, Kalo Red (1) drew with Saroa 14-14, Lalaura def. Gabone 8-4, Paramana Marlins def. Pelagai Grey 19-11, Papaka def. Kamali (1) 8-6 and Kalo Gold def. Keapara 10-6.In the B Grade division, Maopa Red def. Kemabolo 18-3, Paramana Marlins def. Saroakeina 19-6, Pelagai (2) def. Amazon Bay 11-10, Kalo Red (1) def. Moreguina 14-8 and Kalo Red (2) def. Saroa 23-5.”Prize money across all divisions is K1000 for first place and K500 for runners up,” said Launa.Launa finished by thanking sponsors of the Central Cup which include Governor of the Central Province, Kila Haoda, Vitis Industries, PNG Sports Foundation and Lae Biscuit Company.