Junior Striders end of season race Tuesday

LONACONING — The Junior Striders end of season race will take place at Dan’s Mountain State Park near Lonaconing on Tuesday, July 16.

Registration will open at 5:30 p.m. followed by a one mile and two mile timed race. Winning male and female athletes in four age categories will receive medals.

There will be pizza and the pool will be available to all attending children and adults. The races are for elementary, middle and high school students.

For more information, contact Doug Baker at 301-697-0996.

W.Va. BOE to create 4 classes for hoops

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — High school basketball teams in West Virginia are being divided into four classes instead of three, creating a larger and longer state tournament for at least the next two years.

News outlets report the West Virginia Board of Education voted Wednesday to accept a Secondary School Activities Commission pilot program going into effect in the 2020-2021 school year.

The program uses a formula to group schools. Classifications will be determined 70% by school enrollment and 30% by location and socioeconomic status.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports supporters say the change could create more parity for rural schools. Opponents say the change could unfairly affect specific counties.

The pilot program adds eight teams to the state basketball tournament and an extra day for both boys’ and girls’ teams at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Oklahoma predicted to win Big 12 title

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma is the favorite to win another Big 12 football title, according to the conference’s preseason media poll released Wednesday.

The Sooners have won the league the last four years and 12 Big 12 championships overall. Oklahoma also made the College Football Playoff three of the past four seasons.

Texas was picked second by media covering the league. The top two teams will meet in the conference championship game on Dec. 7. The Longhorns lost to the Sooners in the title matchup in 2018.

Iowa State, TCU and Oklahoma State round out the top five picks.

The Big 12 will have four new head coaches in 2019 with Les Miles at Kansas, Chris Klieman at Kansas State, Matt Wells at Texas Tech and Neal Brown at West Virginia.

NFL adds 2 former players among new refs

NEW YORK (AP) — Two former NFL players are among the six new officials for the upcoming NFL season.

Field judge Nate Jones joins the NFL officiating staff from the Pac-12, following an eight-year pro career as a defensive back. Umpire Terry Killens was a linebacker during his seven NFL seasons before officiating in the American Athletic Conference.

The other first-year officials are side judges Dave Hawkshaw and Jimmy Russell, down judge Patrick Holt and line judge Tripp Sutter.

Referees Walt Coleman, John Parry and Pete Morelli retired after last season. Line judge Jeff Bergman, entering his 28th NFL season, is now the longest-serving official.

The roster also includes two other former NFL players. Back judge Steve Freeman was a defensive back for 13 seasons and down judge Phil McKinnely was an offensive lineman for seven years.

Freeman and his son, side judge Brad Freeman, are the only set of father-son officials active in the NFL. Referees Shawn Hochuli and Alex Kemp and line judge Walt Coleman IV also are the sons of former NFL referees. Additionally, three sets of brothers — Allen and Rusty Baynes, Jeff and Jerry Bergman, and Carl, Dino and Perry Paganelli — are on the 2019 roster.

Bucs’ Smith suspended 4 games by NFL

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancers.

Smith is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. He will be allowed to return to the team Sept. 30, after Tampa Bay’s Week 4 game at the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams.

“We are disappointed that Ryan will be unavailable for the first four games of the season,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “We do extensive training and education for our players regarding the league’s polices, but ultimately each individual is responsible for what they put in their bodies.”

Smith is entering his fourth NFL season with the Buccaneers. He was a fourth-round pick in 2016 by Tampa Bay.

White Sox extend netting to foul poles

CHICAGO (AP) — Work crews have begun extending the protective netting to the foul poles at Guaranteed Rate Field, a step the Chicago White Sox are taking following a couple of high-profile injuries this season.

The White Sox say the majority of the work should be completed Wednesday and the netting will be in place when the team returns home July 22 to host the Miami Marlins.

The White Sox became the first major league team to take the step after a liner by Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. struck a 4-year-old girl in Houston in May. A woman was hit by a foul ball off the bat of White Sox slugger Eloy Jiménez in Chicago on June 10.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said extending protective netting down foul lines is a ballpark-to-ballpark decision because of differing configurations. Major League Baseball mandated ahead of the 2018 season that netting extend to the far end of each dugout.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals are among the other teams that have announced they’ll extend netting.

NCAA charges NC State with violations

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has charged North Carolina State with four violations, accusing a former assistant coach of providing payments and benefits connected to the recruitment of one-and-done basketball player Dennis Smith Jr.

The school said Wednesday that its notice of allegations was received Tuesday, and now has 90 days to respond.

The notice includes four serious charges, with two that are potential top-level charges. The NCAA alleges that former assistant Orlando Early provided Smith and his associates approximately $46,700 in impermissible inducements and benefits — including $40,000 that a government witness testified he delivered to Early intended for Smith’s family.

Soccer star says stolen dog returned

LOS ANGELES (AP) — European soccer star Daniel Sturridge has been reunited with his beloved dog, a day after reporting it stolen from his Los Angeles home.

Sturridge said in an Instagram posting Wednesday that he and some friends retrieved his Pomeranian, Lucci, from a South Los Angeles home late Tuesday night.

He added: “Absolutely delighted. Can’t believe it!”

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