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FACES IN THE CROWD

Dec. 19, 2011
Dec. 19, 2011

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Dec. 19, 2011

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Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
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  • The bowls are upon us, and what's the most exciting matchup of the postseason? (Hint: not the BCS title game.) It's the Fiesta Bowl, in which prolific Brandon Weeden and the unstoppable offense of Oklahoma State meet the sublime skills of Andrew Luck and Stanford

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FACES IN THE CROWD

Edited by Alexandra Fenwick

J.T. CURTIS

This is an article from the Dec. 19, 2011 issue

RIVER RIDGE, LA. > FOOTBALL

Curtis, 65, the headmaster at John Curtis Christian School, guided the Patriots to a state-record 24 titles with a 33--3 victory over Winnfield in the 2A championship at the Superdome. The son of the school's founder, Curtis took over the football progam in 1969. In October he became only the second high school football coach to reach 500 wins. The second-winningest football coach, behind John McKissick of Summerville (S.C.), he engineered an undefeated season, for a 506-54-6 career record.

RENE PARAGAS

SANTA CLARITA, CALIF. > CROSS-COUNTRY

Paragas, 35, a 10th-grade history teacher at Saugus High, coached the Centurion girls to a sixth straight state Division II title. All five Saugus scorers finished in the top 20 at Fresno's Woodward Park for an overall team mark of 1:31.52, the fastest among all divisions. No cross-country team in California had previously won six straight titles, in any division or gender. In his eighth year of coaching, Paragas, the district teacher of the year, also led the program to its sixth straight nationals appearance.

PAT BAALMANN

HERINGTON, KANS. > FOOTBALL

Baalmann, 30, a first-time assistant, was thrust into helming Herington High after coach Bud Peterson, 61, died from pneumonia complications in a Wichita hospital during the team's second game. After Baalmann announced Peterson's death at halftime, the Railers rallied from a 10--0 deficit to a 21--10 win over West Franklin. Peterson had coached the team to a season-opening victory to end a 17-game losing streak. Baalmann went on to guide them to a 5--4 record, their best in nine years.

WENDY WILSON

YORKTOWN, VA. > FIELD HOCKEY

Wilson, 31, a phys-ed teacher at Tabb High, led the Tigers to a fourth straight 2A state title, the program's fifth overall, with a 3--0 win over Grafton. The victory capped an undefeated season for a No. 2 national ranking, and it gave Wilson a 167--18 record over eight years. She was named the Virginia High School League's field hockey coach of the year for the third time last season and the national field hockey coach of the year for 2010 by the National High School Coaches Association in June.

GARY HARRELL

WASHINGTON, D.C. > FOOTBALL

Harrell, 39, a first-year coach at Howard and a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award (for FCS coach of the year), led the Bison out of a 29-game conference losing streak with a win over Morehouse. The team, which had won only four of its last 33 games, improved from a 1--10 record last season to 5--6. A former wideout and punt returner on Howard's unbeaten 1993 squad, Harrell went on to a three-year NFL career and still holds the school mark for receptions in a game (13) and a career (184).

JOANNE HEWINS

WESTFIELD, MASS. > GYMNASTICS

Hewins, 52, an 18-year coach at Westfield High and a third-grade teacher, coached the coed Bombers to a record fifth straight team title at the home-hosted Western Massachusetts championships. Eleven of her gymnasts accounted for 14 top six finishes for an overall score of 137.375 points to defeat Minnechaug Regional by 2.4 and extend the team's win streak to 62, dating back to 2007. It was the eighth state title for Hewins, who runs a no-cut program.

Nominate Now

To submit a candidate for Faces in the Crowd, go to SI.com/faces. For more on outstanding amateur athletes, follow @SI_Faces on Twitter.

A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME

Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow may indeed be the smartest man in baseball, but he's not omniscient. Otherwise the 2002 Yale graduate, who majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, would have known that the A's had traded him to the Diamondbacks in a five-player deal last Friday. Instead the six-year veteran, who led Oakland with 67 appearances in '11, found out from Twitter—which prompted him to tweet a diplomatic response, along with an "updated" photo (right).

@CraigBreslow

I can no longer denounce the relevance of Twitter. It broke the story of my trade ... to me.

BODYWORK

V Is for Victory

Hard-core fitness? For this UFC star, it's worth reaching for

With his win by submission over Lyoto Machida last Saturday night, UFC 205-pound titleholder Jon Jones ran his record to 15--1. Here's one exercise the champ uses to help armor-plate his midsection.

REACH FOR YOUR TOES

Start out with a basic sitting toe-touch. If you can't get all the way to your toes, just reach as far as you can.

TOUCHING MOMENT

In one motion, swing your body back while bringing your legs straight up and execute a V-touch with fingertips to toes.

SLOW ... NOW BURST!

Using your core for control, slowly lower your legs back to the floor. Now sit up quickly and reach for those toes again!

THREE ILLUSTRATIONSILLUSTRATIONS BY JASON LEEPHOTOTWITTER.COM (BRESLOW)PHOTOCARLOS M. SAAVEDRA (JONES)PHOTOROMAGUERA PHOTOGRAPHY (CURTIS)PHOTOO'CONNOR PHOTOGRAPHY (PARAGAS)PHOTOCOURTESY OF HERINGTON HIGH (BAALMANN)PHOTOCOURTESY OF TABB HIGH ATHLETICS (WILSON)PHOTOVAUGHN WILSON/HOWARD UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS (HARRELL)PHOTOFRED GORE PHOTOGRAPHY (HEWINS)