COLLEGE PARK, MD. > TENNIS
Francis, who studies and trains at his hometown's Junior Tennis Champions Center, where he is in eighth grade, won the boys' singles at Les Petits As in Tarbes, France, 6--0, 6--2 over William Blumberg (Greenwich, Conn.). Francis dropped just one set as the No. 4 seed. The nation's top-ranked boy under 14, he also took the boys' singles title as the No. 15 seed at the AEGON Junior International tournament in Bolton, England a week earlier, defeating Michael Mmoh (Bradenton, Fla.), 6--3, 6--3.
February 20, 2012
LOUISVILLE, COLO. > CYCLING
Mina, an eighth-grader at Louisville Middle School, won her third cyclo-cross national championship title with a victory in the 13-to-14-year-old girls' division at junior nationals in Madison, Wis. Racing for the Fuji team in muddy conditions on the 2.1-mile outdoor course, she defeated Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wis.) by seven seconds in the two-lap race, with split times of 11:07 and 11:33. Her overall mark of 22:40 was the fastest time for the first two laps by any female under 18 at the event.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. > FIGURE SKATING
Tomoki, a Thomas Jefferson Elementary sixth-grader who trains at the DuPage Figure Skating Club near Chicago, won the intermediate men's gold at the U.S. junior championships in East Lansing, Mich., for his second straight national title. He was first in the short program and the free skate, where he scored 66.56 points in a routine that included two triple Salchows (102.34 points overall). A two-time Upper Great Lakes regional champion, Tomoki won the juvenile boys' gold last year.
FLOWER MOUND, TEXAS > FIGURE SKATING
Ashley, an eighth-grader at Shadow Ridge Middle School who trains at the Dallas Figure Skating Club, won the intermediate ladies' gold at the U.S. junior championships. She came back from a ninth-place finish in the short program to win the free skate, executing a triple toe loop--double toe loop combination, for 68.05 points and a 99.41 cumulative score to take the title by just .35 of a point. Ashley returned to skating a year ago after sustaining stress fractures to two lower back vertebrae.
BETHEL, ALASKA > SLED-DOG RACING
Peeks, 31, a mental health counselor at the University of Alaska--Fairbanks, became the first woman to win the Bogus Creek 150 in the 24-year history of the overnight round-trip race from Bethel to Bogus Creek. An event rookie, racing for Kaiser Racing Kennel, Peeks finished in 17:41:19, completing the 146-mile course with seven of her 10 dogs to defeat two-time defending champion Lewis Pavila (Kwethluk, Alaska) in 0° temperatures with 25-mile-per-hour gusts and powdery trail conditions.
AGAWAM, MASS. > BASKETBALL
Wright, a 6'10" junior center at Keene (N.H.) State, hit a jump hook to score the go-ahead basket with 1:12 to play and then blocked Middlebury's potential game-winning basket with 2.2 seconds left to lead the Owls to a come-from-behind 77--76 win over the previously undefeated Panthers. He had a team-high 15 points and nine boards, rallying his team from a 10-point deficit with just over six minutes left to help Keene (18--5 through Sunday) knock Middlebury from the No. 1 spot in Division III.
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It took 19 years—and 16 penalty kicks—but with a 1--0 victory over Ivory Coast in the African Nations Cup final last weekend, Zambia's national soccer team appeared to exorcise the demons of a 1993 plane crash that had claimed the lives of all but one of its players. At Gabon's Stade d'Angondjé, just miles from where the plane fell, 120 scoreless minutes passed on Sunday, followed by seven successful PK attempts by each team, before midfielder Stophira Sunzu, 22, slotted home the winner. After the final whistle, coach Herve Renard embraced Zambian football federation president Kalusha Bwalya, the '93 team's lone surviving player (he was not on the plane) and put words to what everyone around him was thinking: "It was a sign of destiny, written in the stars."
Using His Head
A young inventor comes up with a device to warn of possible concussions
Super Bowl victors and BCS champs regularly earn trips to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but it's not every day that high school science-fair winners get the same honor. Rarer still do the two worlds intersect, but among the students at last week's White House science fair was Braeden Benedict, a freshman at Peninsula High in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., whose invention of a low-cost device to help detect sports concussions uses science to help athletes.
Special helmets and impact-detecting chin straps can cost hundreds of dollars, but Braeden's creation, an ampule that adheres to the front of a helmet and releases a liquid dye upon a potentially brain-rattling hit, costs only a few dollars and gives coaches a simple visual signal that a player should be yanked for evaluation. Braeden was inspired to create it last year after a football teammate worsened a concussion he had unknowingly sustained. The 15-year-old is working on patenting his invention, which won last year's Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and which Eric Nauman, director of Purdue's Human Injury Research and Regenerative Technologies Lab, called "an elegant way to solve the [detection] problem."