Friday, March 30, 2007

The track and field diaries

In a recent interview about trade secrets, Templeton High runner Garrett Cowan let me completely inside the mind of a distance runner.

Cowan wasn't shy about giving away some of his best race strategies, adding that runners are normally so paranoid about what other runners say and do, they probably wouldn't take his advice anyway.

One of the most unexpected quips Cowan got off was about how he sizes up the field pre-race. In a 2-mile race, Cowan likes to stick with the runner who starts out fastest and overtake him somewhere near the end of the final lap.

One of the keys to that strategy is trying to determine who the fast starter will be before the gun sounds. Cowan says he's guessing right 80 percent of the time. Here's one of his tipoffs.

"If you look at the guy in the line that has shaved legs," Cowan said, "you can tell he's taking it very serious. He thinks he's the best runner, and he's going to go out really fast."

Apparently, there's a myth out there that shaved legs make you faster. Cowan said some runners shave just to intimidate the other competitors.

I think the same might be true for rush-hour traffic. That might explain why I always see so many female passengers in shorts with their bare feet up on the dashboard.

Well, let me tell you ladies, neither Garrett Cowan nor I will be intimidated!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Any scouts out there?

OK, I need some help.

Since we just wrapped up prep basketball coverage last week and I spent most of the past week in the office doing office things, I can't wait to get back out and start covering some baseball and softball games.

Track, tennis, swimming and golf are good, too. But since baseball and softball previews appeared this week in The Tribune, the question is timely...

Who are the best baseball and softball teams in the county right now? I haven't seen enough of them to guess. So I'm asking you.

Can San Luis Obispo baseball and new coach Casey Candale recover from the loss of six All-County starters and get back in contention? Can Templeton softball keep it rolling in the Southern Section? What about Atascadero? Nipomo? Arroyo Grande?

Before I get out there and really start digging in, handicap the teams for me. Who should I watch out for?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Simko's anonymous savior

In Thursday's edition of The Tribune, read about Todd Simko, the Arroyo Grande High baseball player who suffered a broken neck and a crushed throwing hand in a devastating car crash.

In less than a year, Simko is back on the field for the Eagles — and getting significant playing time.

As is the case with a lot of lengthy newspaper stories, some additional info was left out. It happens. Here's where I can go back and share some more.

Todd and friend Sean Simpson were speeding on Corbett Canyon Road when the car Todd was driving flipped and crashed, trapping his arm under the wreckage.

Here's the part that didn't get into the paper, and where you blog readers may be able to help.

An off-duty emergency doctor was riding a bicycle when he came upon the wreck and prevented Todd from being moved — an eventual life-saving move considering doctors later told Todd he might have been paralyzed or killed had his neck shifted a minimum of two millimeters.

"He kind of took control of the situation," Todd said. "(Other witnesses) were afraid that the car was going to explode and be caught in the fire."

The Simkos were very thankful of the off-duty doctor and his efforts to protect Todd. Only one problem: They couldn't thank him in person.

None of the Simkos were at the wreck site and amidst a cataclysmic family tragedy, it's kind of hard to follow up on everything. So the doctor's identity remains a mystery.

"I don't know what his name is actually," Todd's mom, Linda, said when asked for it. "He was an angel in disguise, which is basically what I call him."

So, if you know this doctor — or are this doctor — leave a message. I'm sure the Simkos would be grateful. (And I'll be glad to know the blog is reaching the medical community. Maybe it'll get me a better co-pay next time I have doctor's appointment.)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Who's your Player of the Year?

One of the most stressful assignments I have in any given year is picking a Player of the Year and accompanying All-County team for any given sport.

The biggest debate between players often is this: Statistics versus success.

Let's take County Player of the Year for example. In general, there are two types of candidates. The best player on the best team. Or the player with the most impressive stats.

It makes my job easier if those candidates are the same person. Think Derrick Jasper in '05 and '06 and Hannah Donaghe this past season.

But when those people aren't one in the same, The Tribune (me in this case) has to make a subjective choice. I know what my criteria is. What I'd like to know is yours. The Readers. San Luis Obispo County.

We're talking about your players of the year here. Who would you like to see represent you for all eternity?

The most valuable player of the team with the best record? Or an impressive stat compiler from a less decorated team?