Phoenix Sporting News
Phoenix Sporting News

Bradley, Lamb Spark Diamondbacks to 5-1 Win Over Struggling Phillies

By Ray Maloney

(posted June 19, 2016)

PHILADELPHIA – After peppering Philadelphia pitching for nine home runs in the first two games of the series, Arizona kept the ball in the yard, but the result was the same as the Diamondbacks won their third straight game with a 5-1 win over the struggling Phillies on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

Jake Lamb had two extra-base hits, including an RBI double in the sixth inning that drove in Paul Goldschmidt as the Diamondbacks increased their lead to 2-0.

Arizona tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning. Phil Gosselin got things going with a triple to lead off the inning and came in to score on a wild pitch to increase the Diamondback's advantage to 4-1. Lamb drove in Goldschmidt with a triple of his own for the final run of the game. Goldschmidt had walked to bring Lamb to the plate. It was the 57th walk on the season for Goldschmidt, who now leads the majors in that department. Lamb, meanwhile notched his 17th double in the game and his two RBIs give him 43 on the year.

Relief pitcher Brad Ziegler came on to work the ninth inning for Arizona. He struck out the first two batters he faced and got Maikel Franco to ground to short to end the game.

Bradley, who cruised through the first four innings and retiring 10 straight batters after a two-out single by Odubel Herrera in the first, gave up his second hit in the fifth inning. One batter later, Cameron Rupp drew a walk to put a pair of runners on base for the Phillies. That rally would come to a close as Bradley got Freddy Galves to pop out to the catcher and starting pitcher Zach Eflin grounded out to third to end the threat with the 2-0 lead intact.

Philadelphia would get its only run of the game in the sixth inning when Andres Blanco walked and Jimmy Paredes singled to put the first two runners on base for Philadelphia. Herrera would reach on an error by shortstop Nick Ahmed to load the bases and Bradley found himself in a deep hole.

He would work out of it. He got Tommy Joseph to ground into a double play to score Blanco, but Cody Asche lined to right to end the inning and any further damage. Bradley would be lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning and ended his day by going six innings and allowing just three hits, while striking out five to earn his third win of the season.

The Diamondbacks would get that run back in the seventh inning. Brandon Drury led off with a double to center field and came into score on a two-out single by Michael Bourne, who took second on the relay throw to the plate that was not in time to catch the speedy Bourne and Arizona increased its lead to 3-1.

Arizona got on the scoreboard in the third inning when Bradley lofted a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Brandon Drury, who had doubled to start the inning.

Elfin, who was knocked around in his major league debut last week against Toronto, improved dramatically in his second career start. He went 5.2 innings and gave up four hits. He was lifted with two outs in the sixth inning after giving a walk to Chris Hermann.

Arizona would finish with 10 hits on the day against Philadelphia pitching. The Phillies, meanwhile, managed just three hits in the game and lost for the sixth straight outing.

The Diamondback, which won a series in Philadelphia for the first time since 2007 with Sunday's win, will go for a sweep of the series on Monday when the two teams meet for the fourth straight day.

Dallas Rallies to Defeat Phoenix 117-111 in 3 Overtimes

By Ray Maloney

(posted June 19, 2016)

PHOENIX – One of the keys to being successful in any endeavor, including an athletic competition, is to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. Dallas did all that as the Wings rallied from a 17-point deficit late in the third quarter en route to a 117-111 triple overtime win over Phoenix on Saturday at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The win, the second straight win for the Wings, improved their record to 5-7 on the year and into third place in the Western Conference. Phoenix, meanwhile, dropped its second straight game and is now 4-8 on the year and fell into a tie with Seattle for fourth place in the conference.

The Wings, the former Tulsa Shock, before moving to the Lone Star state prior to the start of this season, scored the final seven points in the third overtime to overtake the Mercury and earn the win. All those points came in the final 1:47 of the game and was started by Odyssey Sims, who scored six of the final seven points.

Sims, a 5-8 guard, who is in her second season in the league, got things going for the Wings when she drove into the lane and got a Phoenix defender to go airborne before dipping under and banking a shot off the glass to put Dallas in front 112-111. It was the 29th lead change in the game. Glory Johnson, who drew the wrath of the partisan Phoenix crowd each time she touched the ball, added one of two free throws with just under one minute left in the contest and Sims converted on four foul shots in a span of 2.5 seconds to seal the win.

Phoenix held the lead for just 29 seconds in the third extra session. Penny Taylor drained a pair of free throws with 3:24 left and then added a shot from the right side to pull her team to within 110-109 with 2:37 to play. DeWanna Bonner dished the ball of to Alex Harden, who delivered the ball right back to Bonner for a basket with 2:16 remaining to put the Mercury in front 111-110. It was the last lead of the game for Phoenix as Sims took control to determine the outcome of Saturday's contest.

Taylor had given the Mercury a seemingly commanding 75-58 lead with 1:04 remaining in the third period. Dallas, which got a free throw from Johnson to close the quarter, trailed 75-59 heading into the fourth period. Erin Phillips and Karima Christmas each connected on 3-pointers to spark the visiting Wings to the first seven points of the fourth period as Dallas began its comeback. Skylar Diggins added back-to-back 3-pointers of her won in a span of 46 seconds to aid in the fourth-quarter alled. Johnson grabbed a miss by Diggins and scored to tie the game 87-87 with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.

Plennette Pierson continued the barrage of long-range baskets for the Wings. Her trey at 3:49 of the first overtime session gave Dallas a 90-89 lead. It was its first lead since holding a 39-38 lead at the 2:07 mark of the second quarter when Sims connected on a 3-pointer.

Diana Taurasi fouled out with 3:19 left in the first overtime. She finished the game with nine points after entering the contest averaging 20.8 points per game. She was not the only Phoenix player to foul out. Brittney Griner, Noelle Quinn and Candice Dupree all picked up their sixth foul in the third overtime.

In all, Phoenix was whistled for a WNBA record 42 fouls in the game. Dallas made the most of those opportunties as the Wings convered on 41 of 51 free throws in the game. Phoenix, meanwhile, the top free throw shooting team in the league, was good on 28 of 35 attempts in the game.

Neither team shot very well from the floor. Dallas was 33 of 86 for 38 percent in the game, including 10 of 32 (.313) from behind the arc, while the Mercury finished with 43 percent shooting after making 38 of 88 shots. Phoenix was good on seven of 21 3-pointers in the game.

I kept telling them to keep pushing hard,” Dallas coach Fred Williams said of his message to his team.

Diggins paced the victorious Wings with 27 points, 19 of those coming after halftime. She was joined in double figures by Pierson, Christmas and Sims, who all finished with 18 points in the game. Johnson chipped in with 15 points in the winning effort. It was a season high in points for Diggins, whose previous mark this season was 13 in a loss to Los Angeles, while Pierson also topped her previous season-best of 17 at Indiana.

Bonner led Phoenix with a game-high 38 points to match her career high. She scored 24 points in the first half after coming off the bench for the fourth straight game after opting to give up her role as a starter. Taylor added 21 points for the Mercury, while Dupree and Griner finished with 19 and 11 points, respectively.

The two teams turn around and play each other again on Tuesday in Dallas to start a three-game homestand for the Wings. They will also play host to San Antonio (June 23) and Indiana (June 25) before heading to Los Angeles to take on the Sparks.

Tuesday's game also marks the beginning of a three-game road swing for the Mercury, who will also travel to Washington (June 24) and New York (June 26) before returning home to play Connecticut on June 29. The Mercury defeated the Sun 99-90 in their previous meeting on May 31 in Phoenix.

Bonner A Beacon as Mercury Rallies Past Sky 86-80

DeWanna Bonner

By Ray Maloney

(posted June 12, 2016)

PHOENIX – Mariners of years gone by relied on beacons to assure themselves safe entry into ports. DeWanna Bonner's beacon shined the brightest as Phoenix managed to weather the storm and rally in the closing minutes to defeat Chicago 86-80 on Sunday at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The win was the second straight for Phoenix, which has now won four of its last six games after opening the season with a four-game losing streak. The Mercury are now 4-6 on the season. Chicago, meanwhile, saw its four-game winning streak come to an end as the Sky fell to 5-5 on the year.

Bonner, a three-time recipient of the sixth woman of the year award in the WNBA, came off the bench to score 20 points. She finished four of 12 from the floor and connected on 12 of 14 foul shots to account for her scoring output. She also added four rebounds and two steals in the game.

She excelled at both ends of the floor (Sunday),” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said.

Bonner, who started seven of the first nine games this season, asked for the move to a reserve role, according to Brondello.

I fought it initially,” the Phoenix coach of her star's request to come off the bench, “but give credit to her. She that was the best way for her to get back into the flow of the game.”

Bonner got Phoenix's impressive rally going on the defensive end of the floor. With just over six minutes left in the game and her team trailing 72-66, the six-foot, four-inch veteran, poked away a pass in the lane and sprinted to the other end to take a long pass. She was fouled on the play by Jessica Breland, but converted both free throws to pull her team to within 72-68 with 6:28 to play in the game. She added two more foul shots at the 4:48 mark and the Mercury found themselves down just 75-73 and the stage was set for the dramatic finish.

Phoenix took the lead 78-77 on two more free throws from Bonner with 2:31 to play. It was the first lead since being in front 9-8 early in the opening period. Brittney Griner's offensive rebound and basket less than one minute later increased the Phoenix advantage to 80-77.

But, the visiting Sky knotted the game when former Phoenix player Cappie Pondexter (2006-09) converted a three-point play with 1:29 left in the game.

Bonner added two more free throws to give the lead back to Phoenix with 1:17 remaining. Candice Dupree and Diana Taurasi each added a pair of free throws to close the scoring and the door on Chicago.

Phoenix outscored Chicago 50-33 in the second half to overcome a 47-36 halftime deficit.

We needed that win,” said Bonner, a former collegiate star at Auburn. “I just wanted to bring a little more energy than I did against San Antonio.”

Bonner was held scoreless against the Stars on June 9, but finished that game with a team-high four assists and added two rebounds.

The fact Phoenix found itself in a position to rally did not seem to be in the making in the first half. Taurasi started things off well enough for the Mercury when she slipped off a defender and connected on a jumper from just inside the free throw line for the first basket of the game just 15 seconds into the contest. That was the highlight of the period as Phoenix managed to connect on just four of 18 shots from the floor as Chicago pulled out to a 25-18 advantage, thanks in large part to six field goals from inside the lane in the quarter.

We allowed too many points in the paint,” Brondello said of her team's first-quarter woes. “We weren't helping each other on the penetration with our activity.”

Phoenix ended the first half with just nine of 32 (.222) shooting from the floor. Chicago countered with 53 percent shooting by connecting on 18 of 34 shots from the floor.

Phoenix improved to 11 of 21 shooting from the floor in the third period, including three 3-pointers early in the quarter. But, Phoenix still found itself in trouble.

Courtney Vandersloot's 3-pointer to open the second half put Chicago in front 50-36, its' biggest lead of the game. It was not until a Taurasi 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the third quarter to pull Phoenix to within 64-56 that things began to go the way of the Mercury.

Bonner grabbed a loose ball on the defensive end and raced the length of the floor to score with 2:47 left. A field goal from Brittney Griner and another 3-pointer from Taurasi just ahead of the buzzer to end the quarter pulled Phoenix to withing 67-63.

Taurasi led all scorers with 31 points. She also scored 31 in the Mercury's 90-75 win over San Antonio in their previous game. Sonja Petrovic joined Taurasi and Bonner in double figures with 10 points of her own, including a pair of three pointers. Griner and Dupree both chipped in with nine points in the winning effort.

Chicago also placed three players in double figures. The Sky was led by Elena Delle Donne's 18 points, while Pondexter and Vandersloot added 15 and 11 points, respectively.

Phoenix returns to action June 17 at Los Angeles. The Sparks 10-0 on the season. Chicago, meanwhile, plays at Los Angeles on June 14.


Corbin Stymies Cubs as Arrieta Loses for First Time This Season

Patrick Corbin

By Ray Maloney

(posted June 5, 2016)

CHICAGO – Good things usually happen for the Chicago Cubs whenever Jake Arrieta takes the mound. Such was not the case on Sunday as Arizona strung together three straight hits in the second inning and pushed across a pair of runs en route to a 3-2 win over Chicago at Wrigley Field.

Arizona, which is now 25-34 on the season, dropped the first two games of the series by a combined 11-3 score. Chicago, meanwhile, saw its major league-best mark slip to 39-16 on the year.

Chris Hermann got things going for Arizona when he led off the second with a single to center. He moved to second on a hit to right off the bat of Chris Owings. A blistering blast off the bat of Yasmany Tomas drove in Hermann and Owings with the first two runs of the game for the Diamondbacks.

The Cubs cut the Arizona lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the inning when Arrietta doubled in former Diamondback Miguel Montero, who had reached on a fielder's choice.

Arizona regained its two-run margin in the fifth when Michael Bourne singled with one out and later came in to score on a single by Paul Goldschmidt to left field. It was the 34th RBI of the season for Goldschmidt.

Arieta managed to get out of the inning with no further damage, thanks in part of some poor baserunning on the part of the Diamondbacks, but was lifted in the top of the sixth inning as Trevor Cahill came on in relief. Arrieta allowed nine hits to Arizona, but struck out 12 in his five innnings of work. It was the first loss of the season for Arrieta, the reigning National League Cy Young winner. It was also the first loss by the righthander since July 25, 2015, who was 20-0 since then heading into Sunday's game.

The Cubs got to within 3-2 in the sixth inning when Javier Baez homered to right-center. It was the fourth home run of the season for Baez and the Cubs never seriously challenged after that.

Hermann finished with three hits and Owings added two hits of his own for Arizona, which finished with 10 hits on the day off five Chicago pitchers. In all, Arizona struck out 18 times in the game. Trevor Cahill fanned four batters in 1.2 innings of work and Travis Wood struck out two in 1.1 innings on the mound.

Arizona starter Patrick Corbin improved his record to 3-5 on the year with a solid outing. He allowed all five Chicago hits on the day and went seven full innings, while striking out five Chicago batters. Tyler Clippard pitched the eighth and Brad Ziegler came on in the ninth to pick up his 11th save the year.

Chicago manager Joe Maddon was ejected in the seventh inning after voicing his displeasure on a check swing by Goldschmidt on a pitch that Goldschmidt appeared swing at, but first-base umpire Tripp Gibson ruled otherwise and Goldschmidt walked to load the bases.

Arizona returns home for a nine-game homestand beginning Monday in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks will play Tampa Bay in a three-game series. Miami will travel in for three games beginning Friday and the homestand will conclude with three games against the Dodgers June 13-15.

The Cubs embark on a nine-game stretch away from Wrigley Field as they play three games at Philadelphia beginning Monday and travel to Atlanta (June 10-12) and Washington (June 13-15). Chicago returns home to play Pittsburgh on June 17.


Defense, Free Throws Spark Phoenix in Comeback Win over Connecticut

By Ray Maloney

(posted May 31, 2016)

PHOENIX – The importance of executing the little things was brought to the forefront in a big way as Phoenix won for the second time in as many outings with a 99-90 win over Connecticut in WNBA action on Monday at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The Mercury, which lost the first four games of the season, improved to 2-4 on the season after defeating visiting Washington two nights earlier at home. Connecticut, which split its first two games of the season, lost for the fourth straight time and is now 1-5 on the season.

Phoenix, which struggled from the floor for much of the game, trailed by 14 points on three occasions in Monday's contest. The last of those large deficits came when Morgan Tuck backed into the lane and nailed a nifty turnaround jumper to give the Sun a 63-49 advantage with 5:51 to go in the third quarter.

That was when Diana Taurasi came to life. And at the right time for the Mercury.

After missing on her first seven shots of the game, including all five in the first half, Taurasi scored five points in a span of 20 seconds as Phoenix began to find success from the floor. Taurasi connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key to start the rally for the Mercury. They would outscore the Sun 20-8 over the final 4:47 of the period.

The spurt was highlighted by Alex Harden's running jumper from 29 feet out to beat the buzzer as the end of the third period and pulled the Mercury to within 73-72 heading into the final 10 minutes of play.

Brittney Griner put Phoenix in front early in the final period when she scored from inside the lane to give the Mercury a 74-73 advantage. It was their first lead since a 4-3 advantage in the first minute of the game.

Connecticut continued to have trouble from the floor as the Sun when nearly six minutes without scoring while Phoenix extended its lead to 88-73. A pullup jumper from Alex Bentley with 4:42 remaining in the game was the first points for Connecticut since Chiney Ogwumike scored with 50.3 second left in the third period.

Phoenix's defense proved to be one of the key factors in Monday's outcome. The Mercury, which had just four turnovers in the game, forced the Sun into 21 turnovers and managed to convert those miscues into 28 points.

It all comes down to defense,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “We have to become a great defensive team … while (Connecticut) scored 90 points, which is a little too much, we keep getting better.“We keep getting better … and we're going to keep getting better and better every game.”

That Phoenix was still in a position to mount its comeback came as a surprise considering the way things started for the Mercury.

Phoenix was held to just five of 20 (.250) shooting from the floor in the opening period and watched as the Sun managed to connect on nine of 15 (.600) from the floor, including four three-pointers in the first period. Connecticut used an 15-6 run over the final 4:12 of the period to lead 26-17 at the first break. The spurt continued in the second quarter as Connecticut outscored Phoenix 11-6 to start the period. A basket down low from Jonquel Jones put the Sun in front by 14 with 6:02 remaining in the quarter.

Phoenix ended the first half with just 13 of 38 (.342) from the floor, but hung around thanks to stellar free throw shooting. The Mercury hit 13 of 16 foul shots in the half, while Connecticut went to the line eight times over that same span. For the game, Phoenix connected on 27 of 31 free throws compared to 12 of 15 foul shooting for the Sun.

(Connecticut) is team that has been fouling a lot,” Brondello explained. “It was our mindset to be aggressive, but keep moving the ball.

We are at our best when we are being aggressive,” Brondello added.

Phoenix, one of the most experienced teams in the league, placed all five starters in double figures. The Mercury's starting five averages 8.8 years in the league, while Connecticut, one of the youngest teams in the league at 4.6 years by each of its five starters, also placed five players in double figures.

Brittney Griner led the way for the Mercury with 21 points, while Taurasi finished with 19 points after being held to just five free throws in the first half. Penny Taylor added 16 points while DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree both chipped in with 15 points.

For Dupree it was the scond time this season she has scored in double figures and Phoenix is 2-0 in those contests. Taurasi notched a season-high with nine assists to lead Phoenix in that department as the Mercury talled 22 assists in the game.

Camille Little scored a season-high 16 points to lead the way for the Sun, while Tuck also had a season-best with 12 points after coming off the bench for Connecticut. They were joined in double figures by Bentley (14), Jasmine Thomas (11) and Alyssa Thomas (10).

Phoenix takes to road for a pair of games. The Mercury plays Seattle on Thursday and will play at Minnesota on Monday. The Storm defeated Phoenix 81-80 on May 20 in Phoenix, while Minnesota downed the Mercury 85-78 on May 25. Phoenix will return home for a game against San Antonio on June 9.

Connecticut takes on Atlanta on Thursday to start a three-game home stretch and will play Indiana Saturday. The Sun will end that homestand on June 10 against Seattle. 

Second Half Surge Propels Mercury to First Win  

By Ray Maloney

(posted May 29, 2016)

PHOENIX – After losing its first four games of the season Phoenix was out in search of its identity.

The Mercury found it and in a big way as a huge second half performance on both ends of the floor allowed Phoenix to overtake visiting Washington on the way to a 93-77 win over the Mystics on Sunday afternoon at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Phoenix is now 1-4 on the season and managed to avoid the first five-game losing to start a season in franchise history. Washington, which lost its first two games of the season, saw its three-game winning streak come to an end and is now 3-3 on the year.

Basically, (Diana) Taurasi said 'enough is enough,'” Washington coach Mike Thibault said, following the game. “She put her head down and went to the basket and did some major damage. We did a good job on the other players, but … ”

Washington, which led 45-42 at the start of the second half, managed to extend its lead thanks to an 11-4 run in the first three minutes of the second half.. A field goal from Emma Messeman put the Mystics in front 56-46 with 7:20 left in the third quarter and provided Washington with its largest lead of the contest.

From there it was all Phoenix.

Taurasi ended a Phoenix scoring drought of over three minutes when she drove the lane with 5:48 to go in the period and made it 56-48. It also sparked an 11-0 run by Phoenix that allowed the Mercury to regain the lead at 57-56 when Taurasi drove the lane with 3:49 remaining in the quarter.

Messeman put the Mystics back in front a short time later when she scored from underneath for a 58-57 advantage with 3:21 to play. It would be the last lead of the game for the visitors.

The next two plays would signal the beginning of the end for Washington. The Mystics would be outscored 36-19 the rest of way.

Taursai put the Mercury back in front when she drove the lane and scored with 2:50 remaining to give Phoenix a 59-58 lead that the Mercury would not relinquish. Less 20 seconds later, Brittney Griner blocked Messeman on the defensive end and rifled a pass downcout that teammate DeWanna Bonner corralled and laid in to extend Phoenix's advantage to 61-58.

That was kind of the spark on the gas,” Griner said of her block, “ … I know it ignited me.”

Washington seemed out of sync after losing its lead and twice in the final period was whistled for shot clock violations.

We had some good open shots,” Thibault said, “we just seemed to be waiting too long to attack the basket.”

The built up angst is off our shoulders,” Taurasi said of the skid to open the season. “We need to take this (win) and keep getting better.”

Taurasi, who was held to eight points in the first half, finished with a game-high 28 points.

She's the best player in the world and she showed why,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said of her star.

Taurasi finished 10 of 17 from the floor, including five of nine from behind the arc, three of those coming in the pivotal second half as she tallied 20 of her team's 51 second-half points. She was one of four Phoenix players to reach double figures. Candic Dupree (16), Bonner (13) and Griner (13) also finished in double figures for the victors.Bonner led the way for the Mercury with 12 rebounds.

Washington also placed four players in double figures. The Mystics were paced by Stefanie Dolson and Messeman, who scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, while Tayler Hill scored 11 and Bria Hartley added 10 points of her own.

Phoenix returns to action on Tuesday when the Mercury plays host to Connecticut. Washington, meanwhile, is idle until Wednesday when the Mystics return home to play Chicago.

Solarte Homers Twice to Power Padres Past Diamondbacks

Yangervis Solarte

By Ray Maloney

(posted May 27, 2016)

PHOENIX – Yangervis Solarte homered twice, while Matt Kemp and Derek Norris also homered as visiting San Diego crushed Arizona 10-3 on Friday at Chase Field.

The pair of homers from Solarte gives him three on the season, while Kemp now has 11 and Norris five.

Arizona got home runs from Brandon Drury, his eighth of the season, in the eighth inning and a solo homer to the pool in right-center from Jake Lamb in the bottom of the ninth. It was Lamb's seventh round-tripper of the season, but it was not enough as the Diamondbacks fell to 21-29 on the season and 7-18 at home this season. San Diego, meanwhile, improved to 20-29 on the year.

Neither team lost any ground in the standings as division-leading San Francisco was defeated by Colorado 5-2 in Denver earlier in the night, while second-place Los Angeles was edged by the New York Mets 6-5 in New York.

Kemp got the onslaught started in a big way. He drilled a 1-1 pitch from Robbie Ray over the fence in center field to give San Diego a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Solarte followed with a homer run of his own to increase the lead to 4-0 with just one out in the innng and the Padres never looked back. They added two more runs later in the inning when Norris belted a 2-run homer to drive in Brett Wallace as San Diego extended its lead to 6-0.

Solarte notched his second home run of the game in the sixth inning as San Diego moved in front 9-0. Norris later doubled in Melvin Upton Jr. for its final run of the game and a 10-0 lead in the sixth.

San Diego got on the board in the opening inning when Jon Jay doubled to lead off the game and Wil Myers drew a walk off Ray.

The Padres pounded out 18 hits in the win, one hit shy of their season-high, and left 11 runners on base. Arizona managed just sux hits on the night.

San Diego starter Christian Friedrich (1-1) picked up his first win of the season. He went seven innings and allowed just three hits and one walk. Ray, meanwhile, fell to 2-4 on the year with the loss after going 4 2/3 and allowing five runs on nine hits.

Former Illini Swimming Great Ray Essick Dies at 82

Ray Essick, a former standout swimmer at Illinois and former executive director of USA Swimming, died May 25 at the age of 82

Staff Report

(posted May 25, 2016)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.. – University of Illinois 1955 varsity swimming letterwinner Ray Essick III died May 25 surrounded by family. He was 82.

Essick, who competed for legendary coach Allen B. Klingel while attending Illinois, was named to the “30 Most Influential People in Swimming over the Past 30 Years” list in 2015, and was also a 2015 inductee into the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was awarded the 1998 USA Swimming Award and the American Red Cross presented him in 1997 with the Good Neighbor Award, one of the highest national awards given to an outstanding volunteer.

In 1960, Essick started Lake Forest Swim Club as head coach before leaving in 1966 to become head swim coach at Southern Illinois University. After a successful seven-year stint there, he was hired as head swim coach at Harvard University, where he guided the Crimson from 1973-76.

Following his time in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Essick led the swimming committee for the AAU until 1980. Beginning in 1980, Essick joined USA Swimming in Colorado Springs upon its formation as its first executive director. Essick guided the organization from its formation in 1980 until his retirement in 1997, when current executive director Chuck Wielgus took over.

“Ray Essick led our sport through a period of enormous growth and prosperity,” Wielgus said. “He brought his passion as a coach and his drive for success to his role as USA Swimming’s first executive director. He was a mentor and a dear friend.”


Track and Field Legend Mamie Rallins Killed in Ohio Traffic Accident

Mamie Rallins, a two-time Olympic hurdler and former coach at The Ohio State University, was killed May 16 in a multivehicle crash near Port Clinton, Ohio. She was 74. (Photo courtesy OSU Athletic Media Communications)


(posted May 17, 2016)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Track and field lost a legend on May 16 when Mami Rallins was killed in a multivehicle accident near Port Clinton, Ohio. She was 74.

The Ohio State track and field family is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our dear friend,” current OSU coach and director of track and field and cross country Karen Dennis said. “As a former Olympian and the first African-American woman to coach at The Ohio State University, (Rallins) was a trailblazer and a champion for all things Ohio State.

She was our biggest supporter, a cheerleader, coach, statistician and team grandma,” Dennis added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her friends, family and former student-athletes. She will be greatly missed.”

A two-time Olympic hurdler, Rallins helped start the women's track and field and cross country programs at Ohio State when she was appointed head coach in 1976. Rallins coached 60 athletes to Big Ten indoor/outdoor titles, 24 all-Americans, as well as nine Olympic trial qualifiers and one Olympian during her 18-year coaching career. She also served as an assistant athletics director at the school for three years.

Rallins also coached elite athletes during her storied career, serving as the head coach of the U.S. indoor world championship team in 1987 and assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 1996 and was the head manager for the U.S. women's track and field team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

A native of Chicago, Rallins starred at Tennessee State during her collegiate career and participated as a hurdler in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol investigators said Rallins' car crossed the center line and struck two tractor-trailers before colliding with another car. No else involved the accident was seriously injured.

Coaching Legend Siddens Credits Lads for Making Him Look Good While Developing Champions On and Off The Mat

By Ray Maloney

MASON CITY, Iowa – The job coaches have performed throughout the history of high school sports in the United States can probably never be fully measured in the impact they have made on the lives of individuals both as athletes and as productive members of American society.

Whatever formula used to gauge that impact is certain to begin with the influence Bob Siddens had in his 40 years at Waterloo (Iowa) West High School and the lessons he imparted continues even since retiring from the school nearly three decades ago.

The soft-spoken Siddens will always deflect that impact and credits the countless number of lads that he was in charge of during his brilliant and illustrious coaching career. But, the fact remains that Siddens is not in a position to make the decision concerning any recognition that deservedly finds its way to him.



Culp Stands Alone as Wrestling, Football Great


HOUSTON, Texas – Growing up in the searing heat of the desert surrounding Yuma, Ariz., a young asthmatic boy spent plenty of time helping out around the family home before finding an escape into a world that eventually led him to immortality.

That “escape” proved to be athletics and when all was said and done Curly Culp stands alone. An NCAA wrestling champion while at Arizona State, Culp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 following a standout career with the Kansas City Chiefs, who he helped lead to a win in Super Bowl IV, and two other teams before his retirement after the 1977 season.

Culp is believed to be the only person ever to attain those three lofty triumphs.

Life is a journey … and I've had a great journey,” said Culp, who recently turned 70.



Peninger Established Michigan State Wrestling as Dynasty During Hall of Fame Career


OKEMOS, Mich. – While most opposing coaches make friendly small talk prior to their wrestling teams battling on the mat, it was quite likely that Grady Peninger was making a sales pitch.

It's unknown just how many foes came away with a bill for some cowboy boots after visiting with the former Michigan State coach. A bill awaiting them when they got home was the least of their worries. More often than not those same coaches had to look back and wonder what they could have done differently in their attempts to defeat Peninger and the Spartans.

Loses were few and far between for Peninger, who dominated the sport as an athlete and as a coach for more than four decades. So dominating was Peninger that his exploits have earned him enshrinement into no fewer than six halls of fame, including the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, an honor he achieved in 1987.




Mills' Olympic Moment Truly Golden

(Posted Oct. 3, 2011)

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. — Standing atop the podium at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo Billy Mills’ mind was filled with emotions as he listened to the playing of the national anthem.He had just conquered the competition and became the first American to win the 10,000 meters at the Olympics — something that no American has been able to duplicate since that memorable day in the Land of the Rising Sun more than 40 years ago.He overcame a stumble and a box created late in the race by some of the others dreaming of Olympic gold and glory and with long strides charged through the final 100 meters to win in a blaze of glory.



Ray Maloney
Rita Murphy
Print Print | Sitemap
© Ray Maloney - Powered by 1&1