Area charity game set
by Matt Harvey
SPORTSEDITOR
    A basketball game to raise money for a Clarksburg resident awaiting a heart transplant will be held next Wednesday at Liberty High School and will feature former or current stars from WVU, Salem-Teikyo and Liberty.
    All proceeds will go to Gary Walls, 54, who is on a heart pump at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and has been awaiting the transplant since 1995, game organizer Patty Gonzalez said.
    “The main thing is that someone cares enough to think what we’re going through,” said Gary’s wife, Phyllis, 50.  “To me, that is such a wonderful thing, to have something to bring in some kind of money for us.”
    West Virginia players Marcus Goree, Jarett Kearse, Tom Beynon, John Oliver and Lionel Armstead are expected to participate, Gonzalez said.
    Also, former Salem-Teikyo stars Tony Washington, Billy Childers and Carl Watkins, as well as Bluefield College (Va.) assists whiz Jimmy Stemple are expected to play, Gonzalez said.
    And former Liberty players Adam Gonzalez, Luke and Shane Flanagan, Brian Ross, Gary Walls Jr., Mike Bland, Richard Swiger and Wes Knight are expected to play, Gonzalez said.
    Up to six West Virginia football players, including quarterback Marc Bulger, fullback Mark Plants and tight end Anthony Becht, will sign autographs, Gonzalez said.
    Prizes also will be given away, including autographed Salem-Teikyo and WVU basketballs and two tickets to a Baltimore Orioles game, Gonzalez said.
    Walls Jr. and other former Liberty players from the school’s 1996 basketball squad came up with the idea for the benefit, Gonzalez said.
    Gonzalez said she wasn’t sure at first if Phyllis and Gary would approve of the fund-raiser. “They’re very nice, and very private, so I kind of hesitated,” Gonzalez said. “But when I called her, she was very thrilled about the kids doing it.”
    Phyllis Walls has been staying with her husband since February. Mrs. Walls, a United Hospital Center employee, has been off work eight weeks and has been working without pay “for awhile,” she said. Gary Walls was an employee at Anchor Hocking until his disability made it impossible for him to work.
    Mrs. Walls said the family’s insurance is depleted, and the cost of treatment and medical supplies is “astronomical.”
Gary Walls hopes to receive a transplant sometime this year, or maybe next.
    Gonzalez’s daughter, Tiffany, a counselor for WVU athletes, helped round up the Mountaineers who will participate. Washington and some of the other local players, meanwhile, know Gary Walls Jr. “I just love the game of basketball. ... and he needs a heart,” Washington said. “I’d do anything I can to help the man out.” Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for students.
    Donations will enable all gate receipts to go to the Walls family; for instance, Liberty donated the court, the players are donating their time, Coca-Cola is donating concessions and several area restaurants also will make donations.
Gonzalez hopes the game will raise at least $1,000.
    The game originally was scheduled for Friday. It was moved to next week to avoid a scheduling conflict with the Winner’s Choice West Virginia Colleges All-Star Game Friday night at Lincoln High School.
    In addition to Gary Jr., Gary and Phyllis Walls have two other children at home: Jeff, 19, and Lora, 23.


Guzzi leads Bridgeport to softball win
by Eric Stoneking
CORRESPONDENT
    BRIDGEPORT — After suffering what was feared to be a career-threatening knee injury during basketball season, Bridgeport pitcher Beth Guzzi wanted to prove that she has recovered.
Boy, has she ever.
    Guzzi picked up the win on the mound and was the main  catalyst at the plate in Bridgeport’s 15-0, three-inning victory over Robert C. Byrd Monday at the Bridgeport Athletic Complex.
    She was nearly unhittable, striking out six of the fourteen batters she faced and throwing a two-hitter. She also provided most of Bridgeport’s offense, going 3-for-3 with four RBIs. “Beth pitched a good game for us,” said Bridgeport coach Lois Pratt. “When she is on, it makes it real hard for a team to beat us.”
    Erica Rome also was solid for Bridgeport. She finished with two hits and 3 RBIs, and she turned in many key stops at shortstop.
“Erica is playing real good ball for us right now,” Pratt said. “She has a strong arm and has been hitting well for us all season long.
“Erica moved from center field to shortstop this season and is a natural,” Pratt said. “She has converted many double plays with her sister (Andrea)getting us out of lots of jams.”
    This was an important victory for Bridgeport, ranked eighth in Class AA but coming off an unsettling performance in last week’s tournament at Cabell Midland.
    After beating Logan in the first game, Bridgeport dropped back-to-back games to Herbert Hoover and Greenbrier East. “We were real disappointed after our performance in the Cabell Midland tournament,” said Pratt.  “When the game started we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could play.” Kristen Goff and Shawna Elder had the only hits for Robert C. Byrd.
    Bridgeport returns to action again at home on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. against North Marion.
    LIBERTY18, Grafton 6: Amy Bland earned the pitching victory and drove in three runs as Liberty scored 13 runs in the fourth inning to rout Grafton. Liberty (2-5) was led by Bonnie Gaines, who went 2-for-2, and Michelle Allen, who added a double. Liberty had nine hits in the game.

Tennis

    BYRD, GRAFTON SPLIT: Grafton claimed a 5-2 win over Robert C. Byrd in the boys division. But Byrd’s girls won 4-3. RCB plays Notre Dame today at 3:15.



Boxing
by Matt Harvey
SPORTSEDITOR
    A Harrison County man won the open division welterweight title this weekend at the 58th Tri-State Gold Gloves competition in Ashland, Ky.
    Jason Lattea, 18, a bricklayer from Salem, unanimously decisioned Rashaan Blackburn of Lorain, Ohio, in a three-rounder Friday night, then unanimously decisioned Rodney Stringer of Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday for the title.
Lattea, who fights out of Tommy Thomas Boxing Gym in Clarksburg, qualified for the National Golden Gloves competition later this year in Syracuse, N.Y.
    Weight division winners at the national tournament qualify for the Olympic Trials. Lattea (15-1) becomes the first Harrison County resident to win an open regional golden gloves since 1977. He has a goal of qualifying for the Olympics and winning the welterweight title.
    “Jason is a very gifted fighter with a lot of natural ability and works out very hard,” trainer Tommy Thomas said.  “He’s a boxer-puncher, and a natural welterweight at 145 pounds.” Thomas was the last area resident to win an open regional Golden Gloves title.
    Thomas made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Greg Page in the heavyweight division. “I know it’s a tall order for someone to believe Jason could win a national title,” Thomas said, “but he’s a really good fighter. And in two short years he’s won several titles.”


Fields signs with Badgers
by Matt Harvey
SPORTSEDITOR
    Nathan Fields is headed to Wisconsin on a track scholarship. The Elkins High School senior who obliterated the state’s high jump record with a leap of 7-foot-3 at last year’s state meet signed a letter-of-intent with the Badgers on Monday. “They’re just a great school,” Fields said. Fields was recruited for the high jump, even though he also runs hurdles in high school.
    Also an outstanding football player for Elkins, he has considered playing football for the Badgers, who won the Rose Bowl last year. “I’ve thought about walking on, just being on special teams,” he said. “But since I’m going there on a jumping scholarship, I don’t know if the track coach will allow that. Usually they’ll allow sprinters to play football, but I’m not sure about field events.”
    Meanwhile, Fields said his sprained right ankle is responding well to treatment. He suffered the injury during basketball, and has missed Elkins’ one meet to date.
    Fields hopes to return to action next week. “It’s been real frustrating,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to go  out there and jump.”
    Despite the injury, Fields still is keeping the goal he set for himself after last track season: A jump of 7-6 at this year’s state meet.
Fields doesn’t plan to participate in the hurdles this spring until regionals — if at all.


WVU has better depth at safety
by Joedy McCreary
SPORTSWRITER
    MORGANTOWN — A combination of position changes, prompt comebacks and promising performances have given West Virginia coach Don Nehlen exactly what he wants at safety. “Last year, we ended up with no competition at safety,” Nehlen said. “This year, we do have competition.”
    How they wound up in WVU’s defensive backfield is immaterial, Nehlen said.
Among the candidates:
-Lewis Daniels, a running back last year, switched to safety this spring.
-James Davis, who came to Morgantown a linebacker last year, switched to safety.
-Rick Sherrod, who tore knee ligaments in the Ohio State game last year, has willed his way back to the field ahead of schedule.
-Jerry Porter, a quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-safety, returns with a year’s starting experience on his resume.
-Boo Sensabaugh, who’s more notorious for his all-out special-teams play.
-And Gary Thompkins, who had two interceptions and returned a blocked punt for a TD last season.

    ZEREOUE CLONE?:With two weeks of spring drills behind him, West Virginia freshman running back Avon Cobourne still doesn’t tire of talking about the since-departed Amos Zereoue.
    You almost get the impression that, if there were a Zereoue  film festival, Cobourne would sit in the theater’s front row, with his popcorn in one arm and his jaw on the floor. “I feel he’s great,” Cobourne said.  “I’d like to get all of his films and just study them.”
    Cobourne and Zereoue share attributes: Both are stocky, low-to-the-ground slashers, Cobourne said. But the protege still has a long way to go to catch the mentor. “He’s great and I’m still growing up,” Cobourne said of Zereoue.  “I’m a kid,” Cobourne said. “He was a man when he was a redshirt freshman.”
    Added Cobourne: “People say our styles are similar, but if I could do half what he did ...”

    NO NERVES: West Virginia quarterback Marc Bulger, whose livelihood is protected by five first-time starters, says he isn’t nervous about lining up behind the Mountaineers’ rehauled offensive line. “Just now that they actually know what (playing) is like, I won’t be too nervous about that,” Bulger said.
    Lining up behind WVU’s second-string line?  That’s another story. “Depth will be a problem,” Bulger said.  “These (first-string players) will be legitimate starters, but we won’t have (legitimate) starters behind them.”

    BLEEDING GOLD AND BLUE: When Cooper Rego transferred from Notre Dame after the 1997 season, he had two schools after him: West Virginia and Syracuse.
Why WVU?
    First of all, Rego had a feeling that Zereoue was going to leave school early for the NFLDraft. Secondly, Rego knew that West Virginia runs the I-formation and he would thus get plenty of carries.
    But the real reason?  “I like their uniforms better,”  Rego said, laughing.  “I wasn’t too high on (Syracuse’s) orange.”
West Virginia and Notre Dame share school colors of gold and blue.



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