Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Badger State Games will go onWisconsin Sports
-- Wisconsin’s Olympic-style sports festival will continue. The visitors’ bureau in Wausau has purchased the branding rights to the Badger State Games. And they plan on holding a scaled-down winter sports festival in Wausau next February, plus the Summer Games in the Fox Valley for at least the next three years.
WAUSAU - Wisconsin’s Olympic-style sports festival will continue. The visitors’ bureau in Wausau has purchased the branding rights to the Badger State Games. And they plan on holding a scaled-down winter sports festival in Wausau next February, plus the Summer Games in the Fox Valley for at least the next three years.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Sports Development Corporation said it would end the Games after a quarter century due to a lack of sponsorships and declining participation. Next February’s Winter Games will have seven events instead of the previous 19 – and because of arena commitments, hockey will not be one of next year’s sports. Darien Schaefer, head of the Wausau-Central Wisconsin Convention-and-Visitors Bureau, said the “core events” would be featured for now, and more sports could be added later on if facilities are available and there’s enough interest shown.
NFL.com says rookie Christian Ponder will start at quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, when they host the unbeaten Green Bay Packers. Ponder was the Vikings’ first-round draft choice in April, and was the 12th overall pick. He saw his first regular season action in Sunday night’s Minnesota 29-point loss at Chicago. Ponder completed 9-of-17 passes in mop-up duty for 99 yards. The Packers said yesterday they would prepare for both Ponder and veteran Donovan McNabb. Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier had said he would announce his choice tomorrow.
Green Bay Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy says defensive end Mike Neal is still part of the team’s plans for the second half of the season. The second-year pro had surgery just over a month ago to remove loose cartilage from his left knee. That’s after he failed to respond to treatment which followed a training camp injury from mid-August. Neal planted his left foot the wrong way during a non-contact drill. The Packers had counted on Neal to provide at least some help at the defensive end spot vacated by Cullen Jenkins when he left for Philadelphia as a free agent. But now, the earliest he could return to the practice is in two weeks after the Packers’ bye. And it could be mid-November before Neal actually plays in a game for Green Bay. McCarthy says everyone responds differently to injuries – and he would hope Neal could be back. He didn’t play much in his rookie season, either, due to injuries. The coach said Neal is explosive off the ball, and he could be a boost to Green Bay’s pass-rushing efforts. The Packers have 15 sacks this year, but only four have come from the defensive line.
One of the Milwaukee Brewers’ two first-round draft choices from this year will pitch in the Arizona Fall League after all. Left-hander Jeb Bradley had been scrapped after he suffered a groin injury. But the Brewers said the injury was minor, and they want Bradley to get some innings in. He’ll replace Tyler Thornburg, who was originally named to replace Bradley last month. Bradley will pitch tonight for the Peoria Javelinas. He was the 15th overall draft pick from Georgia Tech. In other Brewers’ personnel news, outfielder Brandon Boggs is becoming a free agent. He batted .158 in two stints with Milwaukee early this season, with two homers and a pair of RBI’s. Boggs was sent down to Triple-“A” Nashville in May, where he hit .241 in 94 games with nine homers and 38 RBI’s.
The University of Wisconsin might not see Michigan State defensive end William Gholston when the two teams play on Saturday night in East Lansing. The sophomore could face a suspension either by the school or the Big Ten Conference, after a pair of personal fouls in last Saturday’s win by the Spartans over Michigan. In the first incident, Gholston grabbed and twisted the face mask of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson right as he was still on the ground after being tackled. In the second incident, Gholston was penalized 15 yards for punching Wolverines’ left tackle Taylor Lewan after Lewan had held him to the ground. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has not commented. Michigan State says it’s reviewing whatever pictures and video it can obtain. The Big Ten says their review must be finished by tomorrow.
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said today he would not be against expanding the conference, to improve what he calls the league’s prominence in basketball. Marinatto said the Big East is quote, “built around basketball” – and league officials will talk at some point about possible expansions which improve the conference in that regard. The Big East is losing basketball powerhouses Pitt and Syracuse. But Marquette says it remains committed to the conference, at least for now. Marinatto said the league’s main priority at the moment is not to lose any more football teams. It will have eight with the loss of Syracuse and Pitt – and he said Big East schools would find a way to expand to 12 teams even without the two departing schools.
Ben Hertrampf of UW-La Crosse, Joe Mleziva of Stevens Point, and David Goodman of Eau Claire are the WIAC’s football players-of-the-week. Hertrampf, a sophomore running back, rushed for a career-high 206 yards and three touchdowns in La Crosse’s 10-point loss to Eau Claire last Saturday. Mleziva, a senior safety, intercepted a pass and ran it back 18 yards for a touchdown in Stevens Point’s 31-10 victory over River Falls. Goodman, a senior, received the league’s special teams’ honor. He blocked a punt and caught a nine-yard pass on a fake point in Eau Claire’s victory.
The WIAC also recognized Tim Nelson of Stout and Christy Cazzola of Oshkosh in cross country – Logan Fye of Whitewater and James Pike of Oshkosh in men’s soccer – Emily Gerber of Whitewater and Sagan Pizzingrilli of La Crosse in women’s soccer – Jackie Vitale of Whitewater in women’s singles tennis – and Taylor Heltne and Katie Gillman of Eau Claire in doubles’ tennis.
Charlie Mann of Lawrence University in Appleton is the men’s soccer defensive player-of-the-week in the Midwest Conference. Mann, a sophomore, helped the middle of the Lawrence defense win a pair of key games – a shutout of Ripon, and an overtime win over Beloit. Logan Simpson of Monmouth was the honored player on offense. In women’s soccer, Mallory Koula of Lawrence was named the Midwest’s top player on offense. Koula, a senior forward, set the Lawrence career goals’ record with 56. She had four goals against Beloit, three of them within a span of just 42 seconds which broke an NCAA Division III record. Corey Hanson of Illinois College was the top women’s player on defense.
Josh Williams of Edgewood College has been named the men’s cross country runner-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Conference. Williams was the league’s top finisher in the Brooks Invitational at UW-Oshkosh last weekend. He finished 47th among over 400 runners, with a time of 25:59. Genesis Cerrato of Rockford College is the top female runner.