Members of the Women’s Elite race chug beers at the starting line of the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin Kirby Lee for Flocasts AUSTIN, Texas — Beer miles are won and lost in the “party zone.” When participants in the world’s most athletic binge-drinking event cross into it, they stop running, hastily down a minimum 5 percent ABV beer and then take off again. The zone is only 10 meters long.The best male beer-milers spend somewhere between 4 and 6 seconds in their first stop in the party zone; the best women stay for about 11 seconds. By their fourth time through — the beer mile requires four laps of running, four beers of chugging — the competitors slow. With shaky legs and winded lungs, these same men average about 14 seconds and the women about 31 seconds.1For this calculation, I did not include the final beer split of Kelly Williamson at the Beer Mile World Championships because the time was such an outlier at 1 minute and 30 seconds.But things are different at the Beer Mile World Championships, which were held here for the first time in early December. The champions drank their final beers almost twice as fast as the average elite runner in the competition — 7 seconds and 21 seconds for the male and female winners, respectively. In a race with the motto: “Chug, Run, Repeat,” the fiercest competitors guzzle through the party zone as fast as Olympic triathletes put on their post-swim socks. “This thing has been going on for 30 years with thousands of results and no one’s really paid attention, and then all of a sudden it’s on national news and people are noticing,” Nielsen said. The video of his world record-setting mile has been viewed 1.35 million times.Some of the participants at the World Championships admitted to running the beer mile in part to dispel the myth that elite runners are some strange breed of nutrition-obsessed freaks. “People think we hang out in a cabin eating chia seeds,” said 42-year-old Luis Armenteros, who placed third in the men’s sub-elite division with a time of 6:03.2. “I can’t drink everyone under the table, but I can drink a lot.”“There is the perception that elite runners are machines whose bodies are temples, but we have our vices,” said Jack Colreavy, a 25-year-old runner who traveled from Sydney, Australia, to race in the elite men’s group, but who was unable to finish. “And mine is drinking beer.” “Who’s got the legs, lungs and stomach to hold it all down?”The bald announcer was trying to get the crowd going before the races began. The event was meant to be held at Yellow Jacket Stadium, a proper 1,600-meter indoor running track. But last-minute concerns from the track’s owners about the imminent binge-drinking forced the race to move to a motor-racing track on the outskirts of Austin. Beneath an empty grandstand with seating for thousands, what would be the homestretch of a Formula 1 race had been transformed into a makeshift track — an oblong oval marked off by orange construction cones. The turns were too tight and the straightaways too long, but for an event that is as much about drinking as it is running, it was good enough.On the final straightaway loomed the party zone, straddled by two tables with beer lined up in rows of four. Each of the 117 participants got to choose his or her own beer, and the best runners could drink the night’s special “Beer Mile Brew.” Hops & Grain, a local Austin brewery and event sponsor, brewed the German-style blonde ale to contain only 2.2 volumes of CO2, down from a typical 2.6 volumes. Chuggability is critical in a beer mile.The women were up first, adjusting track shorts-wedgies with one hand and holding their first beers with the other as they waited to start. When the gun fired, the group of twelve toned, lean women cracked open their cans. While drinking, they waddled like drunk penguins from the back of the party zone to the front, then took off running. In the crowd, some people were sporting shirts reading, “You just got beat by a mother of six.” They were the friends and family of Chris Kimbrough, a 45-year-old Austin local, who broke the women’s world record in October on her first attempt with a time of 6:28.6.At the World Championships, though, Kimbrough was struggling; by the third beer she was doing that pre-vomit shiver that a body does when it wants to stop — and it would take her 32.3 seconds to finish beer No. 4. She stood no chance against Elizabeth Herndon, a 29-year-old professor and marathoner who came out of beer mile obscurity (and Ohio) to down her fourth beer, a New Belgium Fat Tire, in just 21.4 seconds. Herndon smashed the world record with a time of 6:17.8. Kimbrough placed fourth.Just minutes after organizers rinsed away the liquid vomit from the women’s race, 10 tank-top wearing men lined up at the same starting line for the elite men’s final. One guy was wearing jorts.James Nielsen, the highly contentious current world record-holder with a time of 4:57.0, was not among them. Nielsen said he “physically could not make it that week.” Others interpreted his absence as a clear indicator that he couldn’t defend his world record because it wasn’t legitimate.In a video he posted to YouTube, Nielsen downs his second beer in less than four seconds — a feat that other beer milers say is physically impossible. Symmonds and fan-favorite Corey Gallagher were both vying to break the elusive sub-five minute beer mile, if only to put Nielsen in his place.Bud Light Platinums featured heavily in the men’s elite race, and when the starting gun fired, iridescent blue bottles tilted skyward. Gallagher, wearing a single glove on his beer-chugging hand, downed the first in an astonishing 6.1 seconds, but coasted through lap one in 67 seconds (6 seconds slower than his final lap), allowing the guy in jorts to take the lead. But no one could drink like Gallagher. It didn’t take him longer than 10 seconds to finish any one beer, and with the final lap in sight he demolished his fourth beer faster than his previous two — in just 7.3 seconds. He rounded the last turn well ahead of the pack, the crowd screaming as he looked on pace to break 5 minutes. But he crashed through the finishing tape without breaking the threshold: 5.00.23.“This is the world record, James Nielsen is a cheat and a fake,” Gallagher declared post-race, swigging a replenishment drink from his silver plastic trophy.Nielsen vehemently denies all accusations of cheating. “I think people can drink beers even faster than me,” he said when reached by phone. “I am definitely not the human limit on how fast a beer can be drank out of a can — I’ve seen faster.” Since its rather hazy inception at Burlington Central High School in Burlington, Ontario, in 1989, people from all over the world have attempted the beer mile: a four-lap, four-beer testament to just how insane elite runners really are. As the beer mile migrated south from Canada, the event gained traction on college campuses in the United States as an unofficial tradition to celebrate the end of track season, when young runners were in peak physical shape and seeking reprieve from a notoriously regimented sport.Seanna Robinson, the former women’s beer mile world record-holder, went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, when the beer mile rules were still being ironed out. The competition still operates on the “Kingston Rules,” which outline the penalty lap that is incurred if a runner vomits before finishing. “The naked run, the Timbits challenge and the beer mile were just some of the many things we did that played at running and celebrating,” Robinson said. When Robinson started running beer miles at Queen’s University, women were only required to drink three beers, skipping the first. She argued for the beer mile to be the same for men and women.At around the same time Robinson was pioneering for four-beer gender equality, and setting her longstanding record, Patrick Butler — at the time a member of the Wesleyan University track team — purchased the domain BeerMile.com. He’d seen the Kingston Rules online and wanted to adopt them in the U.S., as well as to create a place to aggregate and keep track of “official” beer mile results from all over the world. That was in 1998, and there were 452 beer miles logged on the site that year. Now there are about 40,000 total races — 4,439 of them coming this year (as of Dec. 3).Butler knows the database isn’t complete — he estimates that less than 10 percent of beer mile results are actually submitted to the site. But it’s prominent enough that some competitors want out. “I probably get five or six emails a week from people saying, ‘Can you take my name off of your site? I’m trying to get a job,’” said Butler, who maintains the database himself as a passion project.Nick Symmonds, an Olympic middle-distance runner, isn’t concerned about being associated with the beer mile. If anything, he’s a proponent of the sport. “Most people don’t know what a 1:42.9 in the 800 means — which is what I did at the Olympics — but they understand what a 5:19 beer mile is,” he told me in Austin. Symmonds runs professionally for Brooks and definitely does not need to run beer miles in his spare time — for the prize money or the notoriety — but he schlepped to Austin from Seattle to create continued interest in track and field. When asked why he came to the World Championships, he said, “There’s a chance they’ll continue to watch us in two years [at the 2016 Olympics].” Canadian Corey Gallagher heads down the straight away trailed closely by Australian Jack Colreavy at the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships in Austin Josh Baker for Flocasts Athletes competing in the open heat of the Flotrack Beer Mile World Championship crack open their first beers at Circuit of the Americas in Austin Kirby Lee for Flocasts
Jozy Altidore has been called back up to rejoin the U.S. men’s soccer roster after being demoted for the last two months. He will play in the friendly against Russia, which will be the teams’ final game of the season.The 23-year-old was removed from the roster by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann after several critical World Cup qualifiers because of his disappointment in the forward’s performance in practice and recent games.“We are happy having Jozy back in the group,” Klinsmann said, according to U.S. Soccer’s official website.Klinsmann admitted that he spoke to Altidore about the issues he had with him. The return of Altidore will allow Klinsmann to see his commitment to the game of soccer and provide the opportunity to still talk through some issues that may still exist.“We often forget that Jozy is not a 30-year-old player that you already expect to be kind of perfect and mature,” Klinsmann said. “He’s still going through ups and downs, which is totally normal.”The overall message that Klinsmann was attempting to convey to Altidore by leaving him off the roster was that there were areas where he needed to improve.“So when a down period comes and I leave him out of the roster, that’s not the end of the world,” Klinsmann said. “But it’s also a little signal to say ‘Hey Jozy, maybe there were things we didn’t like before.’ Now we can catch up and see how it goes.”Altidore is currently tied for second in goals in the Eredivsie and scored his ninth league goal of the season Saturday for AZ Alkmaar.Altidore was among the 20 players named by Klinsmann for Wednesday’s match against Russia. Defender Timmy Chandler will also be returning to the roster after playing in exhibitions. He vowed not to play in World Cup qualifiers because it would have bound him to the U.S. team, which would not allow him to play for Germany.
Welcome to Four-Point Play, our weekly NBA column that pieces together four statistical trends from around the league and lays out what they tell us about where a team has been or where it’s heading. Find a stat you think should be included here? Email or tweet me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Herring_NBA.Four days ago, the Pelicans were looking at yet another year in which they were on the same mediocre path they’ve been on the past few years, and would’ve been on for the next few years. But now, following their shocking trade for DeMarcus Cousins, they have the best power forward and center in the game along with a solid point guard.What remains to be seen is how well Cousins and Anthony Davis jell in the frontcourt and in coach Alvin Gentry’s uptempo, small-ball ideology.Cousins is capable of playing fast. His Sacramento teams led the NBA in pace twice (including last season), and finished among the league’s top 10 in three other seasons. But the 26-year-old, who holds the ball longer than any NBA center, was in the midst of a career year playing in the Kings’ plodding, methodical offense, which ranks fourth slowest in pace.It’s also worth watching whether New Orleans — a team that’s shown almost no commitment to offensive rebounding because of its emphasis on getting back defensively — will now ask its two great bigs to crash the glass more.If it does, it will be imperative for Cousins to shed the poor hustle habits he displayed when frustrated. His temper tantrums and preoccupation with arguing his point to officials partially explain why the Kings have been an average defense following a made shot, but among the NBA’s worst at stopping opponents after they themselves have failed to score. The lack of hustle, where Cousins doesn’t even try to get back into a play, also sheds light on why Sacramento ranks last in defense after committing a turnover.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cousinsnothustling.mp400:0000:0000:17Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.I trust that Gentry and the Pellies will figure things out, but it’ll be interesting to see which of the three — Gentry, Cousins or Davis — is forced to adjust, and how those changes help or hinder the team.All-star game awkwardnessWhether it’s LeBron James draining a routine-looking jumper from halfcourt, or Giannis Antetokounmpo throwing down a nasty putback jam over the top of Steph Curry, certain players pop more than others during a flashy affair like the All-Star Game.And then there are players like Hawks forward Paul Millsap. Millsap’s 5-point, five-rebound showing in the All-Star game Sunday was nearly identical to his All-Star trips in 2014, 2015 and 2016, when he quietly posted 6, 5 and 3 points, respectively.Millsap told me he feels a bit out of place during all-star games, because the ridiculous dunking and scoring — which is all anyone wants to see during the exhibition — isn’t what earned him the trip. And the four-time all-star isn’t capable of giving most fans what they want.“At the end of the day, I play the game the right way, whether it’s an all-star game or not. Some may call it boring, but I call it basketball,” said Millsap, one of the better all-around players in the game. “I’ve been successful by making the right play and right reads. So I try not to get too caught up in the all-star game. It’s a lot of fun. But at the end of the day, it’s just hard to break good habits.”Millsap has some company in that regard. Warriors star Draymond Green, after posting just 4 points on six shot attempts in last year’s all-star game, had only 2 points on Sunday (though he finished with six assists). Going back a couple years, Luol Deng made a pair of all-star games in 2012 and 2013, only to average 5 points while shooting 4-of-12 from the field. And though former all-stars Al Horford and Joakim Noah posted respectable numbers in the exhibitions, both looked a bit out of place at times.Still, I like that a roster spot or two generally ends up going to a jack-of-all trades sort of player. They have incredible value, even if they aren’t the all-stars in the most traditional sense.Joel Embiid’s turnover problemAside from the Cousins-Davis pairing, two of the other most intriguing post-break storylines are in Philadelphia. Will we see No. 1 pick Ben Simmons make his debut before the season ends? And can Joel Embiid, coming back soon from a minor tear in his meniscus, pick up where he left off?Embiid was posting 20 points a night while providing elite rim protection — no easy feat. Yet Embiid still has far to go — which is what’s so promising about his talent.Still learning how to safeguard the ball, Embiid is committing 5.4 turnovers per 36 minutes, the most among centers and 38 percent more than Cousins, who ranks next highest. The 7-footer has really been in a giving mood near the basket, where he’s coughed the ball up on nearly 22 percent of his post-up looks, the highest turnover rate among NBA players with at least 100 plays, according to Synergy. And his turnover rate jumps up to a whopping 32 percent when teams aggressively send a second defender to double Embiid in the post.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/embiiddoubled.mp400:0000:0000:07Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.And while Philadelphia obviously benefits from Embiid’s otherwise efficient play, the Sixers have ceded more easy baskets off those mistakes with Embiid on the floor. The club sees its opponents score more than 20 points per 48 minutes off turnovers with Embiid on the court, up from the 17 points per 48 minutes they surrender when he’s sidelined.None of this is to suggest that Embiid wasn’t somehow worth the wait for Philly, or that these issues aren’t fixable with more playing time and experience. If anything, they highlight how much more he can improve upon on an already impressive rookie campaign.Revisiting the Spurs’ corner-three defenseIn last week’s Four-Point Play, I looked at the Spurs’ multiseason success in defending corner threes, and whether the team’s defense was really that dominant at taking away the shot, or whether there was an unusual amount of luck involved.Specifically, I mentioned that the Spurs — despite holding opponents to a lower corner-three percentage than any other team in the league — were leaving a disproportionate share of players wide-open for such looks. That prompted a number of thoughtful readers to raise a fair question: Couldn’t it be that the Spurs are simply more sophisticated about which types of shooters they allow to get open shots from the corner?So I asked SportVU researchers to run a handful of new numbers, looking at the disparity between which corner shooters the Spurs guard closely and the ones they are content to leave open. The finding: Yes, San Antonio — the NBA’s best defense over the past two decades — appears to do a better job than most at identifying which guys it can ignore.The Spurs are the fourth-best team in the NBA1Behind Golden State, Portland and Oklahoma City. at distinguishing between players worth guarding in the corner, and players worth leaving alone, according to SportVU, which looked at opponent’s expected-shot percentages.2The researchers looked at the expected 3-point percentage for players the Spurs guarded when taking corner threes, versus the expected 3-point percentage for players the Spurs left unguarded in the corner. The Spurs had the fourth-biggest difference between the two metrics.Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard said much of that stemmed from coaches repeatedly drilling game plans into players’ heads. “We usually do a good job knowing personnel and knowing what we want to accomplish that day,” Leonard told me. “So a lot of the time, if one of us gives up that shot, it’s coming from a rotation [our coaches] wanted us to make.”Like every other team, San Antonio still makes its fair share of mistakes, even if not all of them turn out to be costly. Boston guard Avery Bradley, left open for all five of his corner attempts this season, burned the Spurs with makes on four of those tries. (Houston sharpshooter Ryan Anderson, a 57-percent shooter from the corner that no one purposely leaves open, has been wide-open for three of his four looks; though he’s missed all four.)More often than not, though, the Spurs have shown discernment about who they willingly leave open. Corey Brewer3He was traded to the Lakers on Tuesday, but he played against San Antonio as a member of the Rockets., a 27-percent shooter from the corners, has been left completely open six times, and misfired on all six looks. Justin Anderson, a 36-percent shooter from there, has been left alone four times, hitting just one attempt. And Wesley Johnson, at 35 percent, has been uncontested on five of his six tries, connecting on only one of them.So, for Spurs fans who shout at the screen whenever the team leaves a shooter wide open: Don’t. They often do it on purpose, and for the last year and a half, it’s been hard to argue with the results.
OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston (14) dribbles the ball during a game against Northwestern on Jan. 28 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorEnergy filled the Schottenstein Center on Monday in Columbus, as everyone who was present for the late-night tip was well aware of what the contest meant for both parties. The top spot in the Big Ten was on the line, and No. 5 Maryland (21-3, 10-2) was the challenger for seventh-ranked Ohio State (19-4, 11-1). Earlier in the season when these two powerhouses faced off in College Park, Maryland, OSU took home the win, defeating the Terrapins 80-71. But the Buckeyes weren’t going to let past success affect how they entered Monday night’s meeting.The teams are both known for their impressive scoring attacks, with Maryland averaging 85.9 points per game and OSU right behind them with 85.3 points per contest, but it was the Buckeyes who administered a greater effort to propel them to a 94-86 upset victory at the Schott.The intensity that was circling around the arena from the start of pregame warmups translated immediately to a Buckeye success, as they started off the game with a 7-0 run.“I was really proud of our effort to start, and we had great focus and energy right from the tip,” OSU coach Kevin McGuff said.Maryland had a tough time against OSU’s full-court pressure, turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, but when it was able to adjust to the Buckeye defense and the atmosphere that was presented, the Terrapins were able to play catch-up and keep the deficit to seven points heading into the locker room at the break.OSU senior guard Ameryst Alston went on a surge to begin the first quarter, scoring 11 points, but more pressure came her way when she had the ball in the second quarter. She was limited to only two points, ending the half with 13. Along with her scoring in the first 20 minutes of play, Alston weaved passes through the defenders to her teammates, having three flashy assists at the half.The Terrapins were able to make a majority of their shots off second-chance opportunities, grabbing 11 rebounds in the first half. The Buckeyes, being a more guard-heavy unit, have struggled on the glass throughout the season. Maryland truly took advantage of OSU’s weakness Monday evening.Alston, though, would not point to height differences as an excuse for poor rebounding.“We are looked at as being undersized,” Alston said after the game. “But it’s just ‘who wants the ball?’ so that is effort.”Second-half action was dominated by the Buckeyes. They began to pull away after sophomore guard Asia Doss buried a 3-pointer with 4:26 left to play in the third, forcing a Maryland timeout and all the Scarlet and Gray fans to their feet.Going into the final quarter of play, the Buckeyes led 75-61. Even with the lead, OSU kept the foot on the gas pedal. It continued to apply the pressure and push the ball on the fast break. “I thought that we disrupted (Maryland), and those turnovers that we caused were key,” McGuff said. “Then we played at a really fast pace on offense. Overall, probably our best game to date.”The second-leading scorer in the Big Ten, sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell, was back to her normal self, scoring 33 points after an underwhelming performance in OSU’s previous game in which she only scored 16 points. Mitchell went on a tear in the first half,, putting in 18 points with three deep balls, and knocked down another 3-pointer in the second half to pad her point total for the night.It wasn’t only Mitchell who was knocking down 3-point field goals. The entire team shot an impressive 52 percent from beyond the arc, going 12-of-23.“I think we have a special team,” Mitchell said. “Everyone can shoot and do something well on and off the court, and I think it helps us throughout the course of games.”Alston had a productive second half as well for the Buckeyes, finishing her night with 22 points and eight assists.Maryland was led by junior center Brionna Jones, who scored 28 points on the night. She acted as an absolute force in the paint with her extraordinary post play. Along with scoring buckets for the Terrapins, Jones dominated the glass,, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.The Buckeyes are scheduled to hit the road for their next two games, facing Iowa on Thursday night and then traveling to “Happy Valley” to take on Penn State on Valentine’s Day. Now riding a seven-game winning streak, OSU has emerged as the team to beat in the Big Ten.
Nearly seven months after a one-year contract was signed putting Ohio State in charge of managing both the Schottenstein Center and Nationwide Arena, no plans have been made for when the agreement expires June 30. The deal has provisions that provide for extensions of either month-to-month or yearly after this date, said Xen Riggs, assistant vice president of OSU’s Office of Administration and Planning. Riggs was responsible for the oversight of the Schottenstein Center, along with other major events on campus. He helped work through the details of the general goals for the partnership on a daily basis. OSU and Nationwide aren’t taking the fast track to decide what will come next for the long-term contract between the venues. “I don’t think anybody’s in a monstrous hurry,” Riggs told The Lantern. “We want to do it right and we want to do it well. We want to make sure the structure benefits the community and university in the most advantageous ways.” Riggs said there are ideas being thrown around for the new contract that still need to be refined, but overall, there won’t be much difference on how the venues operate. No ideas were disclosed to The Lantern, since they are still in the works. “It’s really just structure that will be put in place,” Riggs said. “One nice thing about being into this (seven) months is we’ve got (seven) months of experience and history. Now that we know each other better, we know what works best.” Karen Davis, director of business communications for the Columbus Blue Jackets, said the focus on the contract is now on leveraging combined resources to provide the best entertainment and event experience for customers. However, she reiterated there are no immediate timetables dictating discussions regarding the future of the agreement. OSU and Nationwide joined forces for financial and marketing reasons. Officials felt it was also the right thing to do for the community. “The synergies between the two venues is better than it was when we were competing against each other,” Riggs said. When the arenas were competing against each other before the contract on non-sporting events, they often undercut each other’s efforts to land events, causing the winning venue to actually lose money, said Stephen Buser, an OSU professor emeritus of finance who conducted a report on the financial viability of the National Hockey League franchise in 2009. OSU President E. Gordon Gee agreed that “having two competing arenas in which each are undercutting each other creates a level of competition that is unhealthy.” OSU now handles booking for concerts and other non-athletic events for both arenas. Tickets for events can be purchased at both venues. Instead of duplicating efforts on marketing, the venues have combined all marketing tactics. More time and money can now be spent on cross-promotion and gaining larger audiences for events. “The co-management relationship offers us more opportunities at reaching our core audience in the Columbus area by being able to now market our shows across both venues and their customer bases,” said Donna Larkin Lake, public relations manager of Feld Entertainment, a production company that brought “Disney on Ice” to Nationwide last week. Riggs said the vision of joint marketing tactics is to enhance Columbus as a destination for concerts and live events by providing marketing and other tools that might not be available in other cities. Financially, combined marketing tools have brought the venues big savings and revenue. According to Riggs, the collaboration was hitting and exceeding the expected financial and programmatic outcomes they anticipated. However, there are no specific target numbers in the contract. Before the contract, Nationwide was in contract with SMG, a Pennsylvania-based management corporation that handles booking for events. Eliminating this management fee has also helped save money between the two venues. The estimated cost savings for both arenas from consolidation in terms of management will be close to $1 million for both arenas, Gee said. “From the Blue Jackets’ perspective, we’ve been very pleased with the partnerships,” Davis said. “The consolidation of duties in some areas and sharing of best practices has been mutually beneficial, as we had hoped it would.” Gee credits the success of the contract to Riggs. “He’s a magician,” Gee said. “He’s one of the best in the business in managing these large arenas. In fact, that’s why we have someone like him here who can escalate the use of both of those arenas in good ways so that we all benefit from it, as a community and as a university.” Another agreement benefit for OSU is the use of Nationwide Arena for its hockey team. “I think that would be a great place for them to play,” Gee said. “I don’t want to move them entirely off campus, but the more we can integrate ourselves in the city, I would welcome that.” In Buser’s NHL report, he found the Blue Jackets lose between $4 and $5 million a year in management fees. According to his study, the team has been losing an estimated $12 million annually. Despite this money loss, the level of tax revenues generated by the Blue Jackets in terms of accelerated growth of business in the Arena District is more impressive than is the case of the typical city hosting an NHL team, Buser said. “I discovered that other cities now look to Columbus as a new model for development in and around a hockey arena,” Buser told The Lantern. “The visiting cities were stunned to see that strong business development continued in the Arena (District) even during the worst of the recent recession.” Buser also said other cities have concluded the Blue Jackets, Nationwide and the Arena District provide a virtual money machine for the generation of business development and local tax revenues. The only financial fear Buser has is if Columbus loses the Blue Jackets. “Development of the Arena District could easily stagnate or even reverse the current trend and Columbus, Franklin County and the state of Ohio would suffer tremendous losses in current and future tax revenues,” he said. The only struggle the venues have faced so far deals with the economy of the concert business. “The number of tours out on the road has been a little lower than it has in past years, but that seems like it might be coming back,” Riggs said. Riggs estimated the number of major tours through Columbus has been down by as much as 20 to 25 percent. Earlier reports of the initial contract speculated ticket prices for events would be cheaper with this contract. Riggs said the concert business doesn’t work this way. “We’ve said that from the beginning,” he said. “It really wouldn’t have any impact on ticket prices. The market is the market regardless of those factors.” Venue officials don’t know where the decision making process on the long-term contract will be in the next six months, but said they have good ideas in the works. “I don’t think anybody wants to put a hard timeline on it because that’s not our intent,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go and (five) months sounds like a long time, but it’s really not for a project like this.”
Ohio State women’s soccer senior defender Kendyl Reed was surprised to be named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, because she said was just doing her job. “Honestly, I was shocked because it is my job not to let anyone through,” Reed said. “I wish there was a defensive team of the week because I think our whole back four did an outstanding job.” Reed acknowledged her strengths that contribute to her success as a defensive player. “I am patient and since I have been on the attacking end … I kind of know what an offensive player is looking for,” Reed said. “I have an attitude where I won’t let someone get in front of me.” OSU coach Lori Walker praised Reed for the skills that helped the player earn the award. “She is very fast, very crafty and she reads the game well,” Walker said. Senior defender Aly Walker said Reed’s strength is her hard work and dedication from the start of a game to the finish. “She stays focused the entire game and I can always count on her,” Walker said. The Buckeyes have a 3-2-0 overall record and Reed said she hopes the team keeps moving up in the rankings. “Our goal is to be in the top and we want to be Big Ten champions,” Reed said. “We need to keep working on staying connected and playing smart.” While Reed said she is looking forward to her job at an accounting firm after this season, she is sad to see the student-athlete phase of her life end. “It’s weird to see my (soccer) career slowly ending, but I want to finish strong,” Reed said, “so it’s fun but sad at the same time.” The Buckeyes, undefeated so far on their home field in three games so far in 2012, will face No. 13 Missouri on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Ohio State men’s ice hockey coach Mark Osiecki maintained the ebbs and flows of this season haven’t unnerved his team. But a sweep against Lake Superior State last weekend likely boosted their spirits. “I don’t think our guys have lost any confidence (all year), but it certainly helps to win,” Osiecki said. “Now we have to turn the page and get ready for the Irish.” The Buckeyes are set to host Notre Dame for a two-game series this Friday and Saturday at the Schottenstein Center. After all, only five points separate OSU and the Irish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings. And, in the process, OSU might have a chance at upsetting the No. 11 team in the country. The Fighting Irish (16-10-0, 12-6-0-0 CCHA), losers of five of their last six games, have recently dropped from first to third in the CCHA standings. The Buckeyes, coming off back-to-back wins against the Lakers, sit sixth out of the league’s 11 teams. The weekend will showcase the teams’ only two meetings of the regular season. Goals will likely be at a premium all weekend as both teams are in the top seven schools in the country in goals allowed per game. OSU junior forward Alex Szczechura said scoring first in the game, as his team did twice last weekend, is crucial. “It’s something we really emphasize, jumping on teams early on. We’ve struggled with that in the past,” Szczechura said. Osiecki said he hopes to break through the stingy Notre Dame defense with the pace of his players’ attack. “Our strength is our transition, and our strength is our speed,” Osiecki said. Although Notre Dame’s defense has allowed .08 fewer goals per game than OSU’s defense has this season, the advantage between the posts goes to the Buckeyes. OSU senior goalie Brady Hjelle is second in the conference to Miami’s Ryan McKay in both goals-against average (1.60) and save percentage (0.946). McKay, though, has only played nine games this season, compared to Hjelle’s 32. Hjelle was named CCHA Goaltender of the Week for the fourth time this season after making 64 saves in the sweep of Lake Superior State. The series marks the tail end of a four-game home stand for OSU. Junior defenseman Curtis Gedig said he loves the Schottenstein Center’s atmosphere as well as other aspects of playing in Columbus. “Guys are a lot more positive in a way,” Gedig said. “We don’t have to worry about catching up on school because we’re traveling.” OSU is set to open its series with Notre Dame Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: January 31, 2013 An earlier version of this story said that OSU’s men’s hockey won back-to-back games against Northern Michigan last weekend. They actually played Lake Superior State.
Sophomore guard Cait Craft takes the ball up the court during a game against Penn State Feb. 9 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 74-54.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorWith just five games remaining in the regular season, the Ohio State women’s basketball team (14-13, 4-7) is trying to finish the season strong.To do that, the Buckeyes will need to make a concerted effort to outrebound their opponents and get in easy shots.When the Buckeyes outrebound their opponents, they are an impressive 11-1, the only loss coming Sunday against then-No. 9 Penn State when the Buckeyes shot just 27.9 percent from the field.But that’s easier said than done for the struggling Buckeyes, who are trying to avoid a four-game losing streak — which would be the longest for the team this season.Senior center Ashley Adams, who is tied for third on the team in total rebounds despite coming off the bench for most of the season, has played a big part in games in which the Buckeyes have won. In the Buckeyes’ most recent victory Jan. 30, she tallied 15 points and six rebounds on 7-7 shooting.Adams, who has struggled during the current three-game skid, said the pressure put on her and her teammates to win the battle on the boards is very demanding.“It is kind of stressful because our guards get back,” Adams said. “It is really difficult to have the mentality to get the ball every time and not give up.”Adams, along with fellow senior center Darryce Moore, received a lot of help from sophomore guard Ameryst Alston and junior guard Raven Ferguson on the boards against Penn State. The two guards combined for 17 total rebounds, something Adams said is always a positive.“It is extremely helpful whenever they have above five or six rebounds,” Adams said. “It relieves us a lot.”The Buckeyes received what senior forward Martina Ellerbe called a much-needed two days off this week, as they prepare to take on No. 25 Michigan State Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.“It is a long season and I feel like our bodies go through a lot,” Ellerbe said. “I came in and got some shots up though.”OSU coach Kevin McGuff said he is excited to get his team back on the court, especially against a good Michigan State team.“Overall, they are playing very well,” McGuff said of the Spartans. “It (the Breslin Center) is a great venue to play in and they support their team well.”The Buckeyes dropped their first meeting to the Spartans, 82-68, Jan. 26, a game in which MSU 6-foot-7 redshirt-junior center Madison Williams had a career day, blocking seven shots and pulling down eight rebounds while also altering multiple OSU shot attempts.“We have changed our offensive around (since the MSU game), so hopefully our guards will have a better chance of finishing,” Adams said in reference to the Jan. 26 loss.When later asked how the offense was changed, Ellerbe simply said with a smile, “It is a secret.”The Buckeyes and Spartans are scheduled to tip at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.
Senior guard Aaron Craft attempts a layup during a game against Nebraska March 14 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. OSU lost, 71-67.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorFor an 18- or 19-year-old college student, sometimes the allure of money can prove to be too much.In the modern age of college basketball, it is rare for talented freshmen to stay at school for much longer than a season before jumping to the NBA. Which is why when the NCAA Tournament rolls around every year, a focus is placed on a potentially deciding factor when fans are selecting their brackets.Experience.Pundits often state that a team with experience — that has seen what the NCAA Tournament is like — is more likely to succeed in March.That is good news for Buckeye Nation, as every one of OSU’s top six players have been to at least an Elite Eight and a Final Four.Two seniors — guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. — and four juniors — center Amir Williams, forwards LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson and guard Shannon Scott — make up the main rotation for the Buckeyes (25-9, 12-9) this season, with no other player starting for coach Thad Matta in 2013-14.Craft said even though the team comes in with experience in the Big Dance, that isn’t going to be as much of a factor as everyone believes.“It doesn’t help as much as you may think,” Craft said Sunday after finding out OSU’s tourney fate. “Just because we’ve been there in the past doesn’t necessarily equal success now. It’s a different year, it’s a different team and every draw is different. The worst that we could do is to fall back on, ‘We’ve had some experience, we’ll be OK.’ That’s not the case. It’s about coming out and making the most of the opportunity we have this year and trying to make it last as long as possible.”The Findlay, Ohio, native has seen his fair share of NCAA Tournament games though, playing in 12 games in March Madness in the span of his career. Perhaps the most memorable moment in Craft’s postseason career came when he hit a game winning 3-pointer against Iowa State in the third round in 2013.Craft said perhaps the one piece of knowledge that can aid the Buckeyes from seasons past is how to fight through the toughest tests.“The one thing that can carry over is the fact that we’ve been through battles,” Craft said. “Obviously throughout the league, throughout this year, all three guys sitting beside me, we’ve been through tough games and atmospheres like this. If things aren’t really going our way, we have a good sense of staying poised. That’s one thing that I think can help us going forward because obviously things aren’t always going to go our way. But continue to fight with one another, that’s something that I think can carry over from the games from the past, especially the NCAA Tournament.”But even though OSU is participating in its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament, 2014 might be a little different. For the first time in five seasons, OSU will not be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the field.Junior forward Sam Thompson said even though having a lower seed is different, it doesn’t affect what OSU has to do to make a deep run.“We know whatever seed we got, wherever we were placed in the NCAA Tournament, there’s no such thing as an easy game, there’s no such thing as an easy opponent,” Thompson said Sunday. “We know that we have to bring our best basketball for 40 minutes if we want to have success in the tournament, and whether we have a two next to our name or whether we have a six next to our name, that doesn’t change.”Coach Thad Matta agreed, saying the team has improved as the season has gone on and he just wants another chance on the court.“This is Ohio State’s sixth straight NCAA Tournament … I’m just, I’m excited for this team and the opportunity to play again,” Matta said. “As I told our guys, we’re a better basketball team than when we left Columbus going to Indianapolis. No matter who you’re going to play in the NCAA Tournament, it’s going to be a really good basketball team.”Matta, who is the only coach in the country that has led a team to at least the Sweet Sixteen each of the past four seasons, said the preparation doesn’t change having a lower seed.“I’d like to have the same mindset, because I liked how far the last couple teams, three teams, have made it,” Matta said. “That’s why I’m excited to get in there and talk to the guys.”The sixth-seeded Buckeyes will look to flaunt their experience, and aim to repeat their successes, against Dayton (23-10, 10-6) Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:15 p.m.
Redshirt-senior Logan Stieber reacts after winning his 4th consecutive NCAA title by beating Edinboro’s Mitchell Port in the 141-pound championship match during the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 21 in St. Louis. Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe Heisman Trophy of the wrestling world was announced on Monday and Ohio State’s redshirt-senior Logan Stieber took home the hardware.Stieber was awarded the Dan Hodge Trophy after finishing a collegiate career that saw him become just the fourth wrestler to win four national championships. He also led the Buckeyes to their first-ever team national title this season.With a 119-3 record, including a 29-0 stint as a senior, the Monroeville, Ohio, native said the award given by WinMagazine and The Culture House was something he’s always wanted to win.“Growing up, the first college match I saw was Cael Sanderson winning his fourth title,” Stieber said in a press release. “I knew the Hodge Trophy was the biggest and best award so I wanted to win it. To now be in that group is very humbling and I’m proud to have won it.”Criteria for the award includes a wrestler’s record, number of pins, dominance on the mat, past credentials, quality of competition as well as sportsmanship and citizenship.Stieber finished his senior campaign with 22 of his 29 wins coming via bonus points, including 10 pins, eight technical falls and four major decisions.Tom Ryan, who has coached Stieber at OSU for four years, said he believed his wrestler could accomplish all he has and didn’t expect otherwise.“As soon as last season ended, I met with him,” Ryan said in the release. “We discussed that the pinnacle of the sport would be to win four titles, winning the Hodge and winning the national team championship. Those were the three things we discussed. The fact that he led the team to a title, won his fourth and now won the Hodge is an awesome end to his career.”Stieber is the second wrestler to win the Junior Hodge Trophy, which is given to the top high school wrestler in the country, as well as the Hodge Trophy. Stieber was a four-time Ohio State champion in high school before heading to OSU.The Hodge Trophy was first given in 1995 and is named after Dan Hodge, a former wrestler who went 46-0 in his college career and was a three-time NCAA champion at the University of Oklahoma.Stieber is also the first Buckeye to win four Big Ten titles. His first two NCAA titles came at 133 pounds in 2012 and 2013 and a third at 141 pounds in 2014.Stieber was also named the NCAA’s Most Dominant Wrestler and the NWCA Most Outstanding Wrestler this season.