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Sports from the Friday, July 17 Exponent and Telegram

Autumn coming for us all -- so why not let it come for Jordan?

Lethal Weapon 4 won't go down as the best movie of the year, or the summer.

It isn't even the best movie released in July.

But there's a side to it that I like a lot: Mel Gibson's character, a Mr. Indestructible in the earlier Lethal Weapons, finally meets a worthy foe: Father Time.

The film does a neat job addressing all the aches and pains of growing old positively and thoughtfully.

I wish more of my colleagues would treat the aging process the same way.

Instead, many apparently appreciate only the beauty of youth.

This is on my mind now because of Michael Jordan.

The NBA's greatest player ever is certainly starting to show some of the wear-and-tear of the middle-30s.

Because of that, it's become a mantra of many sports writers that Jordan should retire now.

I don't mind if Jordan quits at this time -- if that's what HE wants.

But I don't think he should leave basketball just because a lot of people are worried about his image.

If MJ's a step slower next year, if the dunks and twisting layups come with less frequency, so be it.

If he plays until his grace goes the way of the two-handed set shot, let him.

Jordan loves his game -- as Willie Mays, Muhammad Ali and Johnny Unitas (guys often criticized for staying too long) loved their games.

Maybe you love playing 3-on-3 hoops down by the corner, maybe you love golf, maybe it's softball.

Maybe you're good.

Would you quit now, just because maybe next year you might slow down some?

Everyone who lives long enough gets older.

And with that comes wrinkles, forgetfulness, stiff muscles and all the other ails of age.

Our society says that's an ugly thing.

Too bad.

There's plenty of grace in age, for anyone who's not afraid to look.

There's wisdom, there's serenity, there's even willpower -- it's not easy, after all, to face another day of aches and pains.

Some saw a bumbling, stumbling old man when they watched Willie Mays playing outfield in his final playing days.

I saw a guy who was still willing to try, doing something that he liked a lot.

Anyway, I was just glad he stuck around long enough for me to see him play on TV.

A lot of folks want Jordan to be remembered at the height of invincibility.

They would have probably called for Mays to quit after "The Catch," or Ali to quit after stopping Liston the second time.

They would have missed a lot of great home runs -- and those three great fights between Ali and Frazier -- in the name of image.

Those folks want what they can't have: For life to stay forever young.

Not even Michael Jordan can play that game.


Shinnston rolls to area title

by Frank Tate


SALEM -- Shinnston was the heavy hitter on Thursday night in the Little League 12-Year-Old All-Star Tournament as it downed the Clarksburg Nationals 10-0 in a game shortened to four innings because of the 10-run rule.

The win gave Shinnston the District 5, Area 1 championship. It moves on to the District 5 final at Clarksburg City Park in Nutter Fort.

Clarksburg now plays in the loser's bracket final against Salem at the Salem Little League Park at 6:30 tonight.

Shinnston took command early as Ryan DeMarco led off with a walk and Adam Southern singled.

One out later, Jeremy Luchuck's three-run homer gave Shinnston a 3-0 lead.

Chris Harris then led off the second with a solo homer.

A walk, an error and a DeMarco single loaded the bases with no outs.

Southern followed with an RBI single and Chris Hurst drew a walk to make it 6-0. Jacob Kyle drove in the final run of the inning with a fielder's choice.

Shinnston ended the game in the fourth. Nathan Zirkle had the key hit, a two-run double.

Hurst was superb on the mound, allowing just one hit while fanning four.

SALEM 6, Bridgeport 4: Salem thwarted a sixth-inning rally by Bridgeport in the loser's bracket game.

Reliever Danny Mathey nailed down the save for starter Derek Bowen.

Mathey entered with the bases loaded, one out and his team ahead 6-2.

Mathey allowed a two-run single by the first hitter he faced, Bridgeport's Ben Francis.

However, Mathey then got the next two batters to end the game.

Salem scored four runs on four hits in the first inning, with Josh Nutt's 3-run homer the big hit.

Bridgeport cut it to 4-1 on Cash Kiefer's fourth-inning solo home and scored again in the fifth thanks to two Salem errors.

Salem added two runs in the sixth as Bowen completed a 3-for-3 day with a solo homer.


Babe Ruth 13s

HARRISON COUNTY NATIONALS 17, Beckley 2, susp., 4 innings: Harrison County gets a chance to put the rain-delayed game away at 4 this afternoon.

A full schedule of other games also are scheduled for the rest of the evening in the 13-year-old Babe Ruth state tourney at Elkins: Elkins plays Buffalo at 5:30 p.m., while Upshur plays the Beckley-Harrison loser at 8 p.m.

Babe Ruth 14s

HARRISON COUNTY NATIONALS 3, Elkins 2: The Harrison County Nationals advanced to the second round of the Babe Ruth 14-Year-Old State Tournament with a 3-2 victory over Elkins on Thursday in Weston.

Trailing 2-1, the Nationals scored two runs in the fifth inning to grab the one-run victory.

Mark Jones, Mike Honce and Bobby Buffey each earned base-on-balls before Jason Glisson plated Jones with another walk. R.J. Coleman added an RBI single to give the Nationals their final margin.

Honce picked up the win going the distance and striking out 14. He gave up five hits and both runs were unearned. Honce also had an RBI walk in the second.

Lewis County defeated Beckley 9-7 in eight innings in the first game and will face Huntington Southeastern today at 5 p.m. Beckley and Elkins play in a loser's bracket game at 7:30 p.m.

The Nationals will face the winner of the Lewis-Huntington game.


Some of best runners in world on way

by Matt Harvey


The field for the second annual Greater Clarksburg 10K Run already has drawn some of the elite runners in the world.

"It should be almost as good a field, or maybe better depth-wise, as last year," said Dorsey Cheuvront, the race's elite athlete coordinator.

And he isn't just talking trash.

Six of the male runners rated in the top 25 in the world in 1997 by Runner's World magazine have committed to compete, Cheuvront said, while two of the top 10 U.S. men will participate.

At least three of the top 25 women in the 1997 Runner's World rankings will compete, Cheuvront said. And another woman rated No. 1 by the magazine in 1996 before taking 1997 off also will run, Cheuvront said Thursday.

One runner who won't be on hand for the race Aug. 8 will be defending men's champion Khalid Khannouchi.

Khannouchi initially had planned to run in the Clarksburg 10K, along with two other races around the same time period.

But a sponsor had scheduled events for him abroad at the same time and he had to cancel, Cheuvront said.

"He's the hottest guy out there right now," Cheuvront said.

OK, so that probably means all the Joe Q. Average runners around here will have a shot at the title this year, right?

Not so fast, silly rabbit.

Not unless they can run the 6.2-mile race at a pace averaging 13 seconds for about every 100 meters.

That's how good this field still will be.

Take, for instance, Kenya's Peter Githuka, Joseph Kariuki and Gideon Mutisya.

All are world-class runners.

Githuka was second in the world last year, and holds the 8K world record, while Kariuki was No. 11 in the world in 1997 and won the 10-mile Huntington (W.Va.) Distance Run earlier this year, plus holds the 25K world record.

Mutisya, who like Githuka and Kariuki had a high finish here in 1997, was 13th in the world a year ago.

The defending women's champion, Kenya's Hellen Kimaiyo, will be back after finishing fifth in the world last year and winning Atlanta's tough Peachtree 10K earlier this month.

But she will face serious challengers in fellow Kenyans Delilah Asiago and Catherine Ndereba.

Ndereba was No. 1 in the world in 1996 before missing 1997 while she was pregnant, while Asiago, who didn't run in Clarksburg in 1997, was second in the world last year.

Runners also will participate from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola, France, Canada and Ecuador, Cheuvront said.

"It's a pretty good mix," he said. "I told somebody the other day it'll be like a little United Nations."

Some outstanding U.S. runners who will participate include South Carolina's Mary Ellen Kelley, who has been one of the strongest female runners in the country this year, and Cincinnati's John Sence, ranked No. 5 in the United States last year.

Chicago's Jeff Jacobs, No. 8 in the country last year, also will run.