Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Whether or not it's nice, spring coaches pay the price

The annual rite of spring.
Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day, the unofficial "most important" weather date of late winter.
Supposedly we are to learn on that date, based on a furry creature, if we are going to have an early spring or six more weeks of winter.
Perhaps an even more in-tune prognasticator of the weather would be a coach of a spring sports team in Iowa.

No one, save for the average farmer, is more up on, in tune with, or has more knowledge of the weather fluxuations during these crazy months than the spring sport coach. It doesn't matter if it is track and field, soccer, tennis or golf, they start their day off and end it by peeking at the long term and short term forecasts.
Maybe the schools should give these guys and gals double pay, since they are doing double duty!
Not only do they have to plan their schedules for outdoor activity, they also have to plan on what they can get accomplished indoors if Mother Nature forces them inside. 


Sweeney starts season with A's

Ryan Sweeney has recovered well enough from knee surgery to make the Oakland Athletics roster.

Sweeney played ony 13 games during the exhibition season, but showed he was healthy by posting a .395 batting average. He played all three outfield spots and was designated hitter.

Sweeney has been a regular outfielder for the A's for the past three seasons, playing mostly right and center field.  He batted .286 in 2008, .293 in 2009 and was hitting a team best .294 last season when he was sidelined in July by patellar tendinitis. He had surgery July 30 and was idled for six months, necessitating the careful approach in spring training.

Oakland Manager Bob Geren told that he was counting on Sweeney to be able to play all three outfield spots this season. The A's acquired David DeJesus and Josh Willingham in the offseason and both are experienced major league outfielders. Willingham is slated to start in left, Coco Crisp in center and DeJesus in right to start the season.

"He's going to be an outfielder who's going to have to play all three (spots) to utilize him," Geren said of Sweeney, who has a lifetime .286 batting average in 364 major league games.

Sweeney, 26, is a 2002 Cedar Rapids Xavier grad. He was a second-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in the June 2002 free agent draft. He was traded to Oakland before the 2008 season.



Washpun in limbo; is Tennessee possible?

Cedar Rapids Washington senior Wes Washpun said Monday afternoon he's expecting a phone call from new Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin, but he doesn't know how the conversation will go.

Martin has left Missouri State after three seasons to succeed Bruce Pearl at Tennessee, which leaves Washpun in limbo. Martin offered Washpun a scholarship to play basketball at Missouri State next season, but Washpun doesn't know if Martin will offer him a scholarship to join him at Tennessee.

He also doesn't know if the new coach at Missouri State will honor the offer. And beside that, he's not sure if he would have accepted the offer to join Martin at Missouri State or not.

Martin offered Washpun a scholarship in February. The spring signing date is April 13, so at this point Washpun has not signed a national letter-of-intent with anyone.

"I'm open to anything right now," he said. "I'm just waiting to see what Coach Martin is going to do. If he offers me at Tennessee, then great. But if he doesn't and the Missouri State offer holds, then that's good too."


All-Star Game rosters set for Friday

Shane Benton, Josh Montague and Jenna Eells were overshadowed during much of their Linn-Mar basketball careers by other star players, but they'll be all-stars Friday night.

Benton, Montague and Eells are three of the headliners for the 2011 Eastern Iowa All-Star Games that will be played in the Linn-Mar High School gym.

The girls game is scheduled for 6 p.m., with the boys game to follow. There will be a 3-point shootout during halftime of the girls game and a jamfest during halftime of the boys game.

Benton and Montague helped the Lions win the Class 4A state title this year, but Marcus Paige and Matt Bohannon grabbed most of the headlines. Eells was a key reserve when the Linn-Mar girls won the Class 4A state title in 2010 and reached the semifinals this year, but Kiah Stokes was the star.


Betsworth pumped up for 8-man football

Ed Betsworth is working on his playbook for the Cedar Valley Christian Huskies football team this season, but the veteran coach doesn't have as many X's and O's to worry about.

In fact, he's got three less X's and three less O's than normal, because the Huskies are going to play eight-man football in 2011 with a brand-new program on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids.

Betsworth, 46, is currently the athletic director at Holy Catholic Middle School, but he was the head football coach at Lincoln Community of Stanwood (1991-92) and Dunkerton (1993-96) and knows how to run a program. He's also been an assistant high school coach and has worked with Xavier's grade-school program.

Betsworth has four children in the Cedar Valley Christian school system (K through 12) and is excited about starting a new program from scratch. Cedar Valley is a small school with approximately 80 students in grades 9 through 12, but Betsworth thinks there are enough talented boys to pull this off.

"There's athletes there. The talent is there. Our pool isn't dry," he said. "But, it's going to be a learning experience for them and for me and my coaches. We have to keep it simple, because a lot of these kids haven't played football.

"We might get a couple of wins," he said. "Then again, we might not."


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