Remember the story a couple of weeks ago about the men's and women's cross country teams of Eastern Montana University showing up at a regional championship meet a week ahead of time? Well, the "durable dozen" made the 900-mile return trip to Fargo, N.D., a week later and competed well but did not qualify for the NCAA Division II title run.
"The attending publicity did help out, though," relates Farrell Stewart of the school's athletic department. "The coach has got a lot of calls from prospective runners who didn't even know we have track and cross country."
The date of the meet was changed after many years and the only way anyone knew of the switch was by noting it on the application.
* The Arena will be packed next Tuesday when Martina Navratilova and Jennifer Capriati come to town to play in Pam Shriver's Cystic Fibrosis charity event. "There's about a thousand tickets left," reports Shriver, who's in New York this week working the Virginia Slims Championship final Sunday for ABC. The preliminary rounds are on Home Teams Sports nightly.
* College hoops have barely started and already we have the bTC captain for our all-name team. He's Ernest Nzigamusabo, a 6-foot-9 sophomore for Minnesota hailing from Bugumbura, Burundi, Africa. They're calling him "Ziggy" for short, the N being silent.
* Penn State doesn't officially enter the Big Ten until the 1993 season and, as a result, it concludes its bachelorhood days with a pretty flimsy slate, starting out with Cincinnati, Temple, Eastern Michigan, Maryland and Rutgers next fall. If the Nittany Lions aren't riding near the top of the polls by then, something will be dramatically amiss.
* There's a lad out in southern California named David Dotson who ran for a state-record 507 yards recently. He has averaged 373 yards and five rushing scores per game behind an offensive line averaging 245 pounds. They say recruiters have to pick up a number once they arrive at the city limits.
* With Michigan and Ohio State all set for their annual bash Saturday (ABC), this is an appropriate time to point out that among the top "name" rivalries in college football, the Buckeyes and Wolverines have provided the smallest point differential over the last 20 years. Their number reads 6.7 points while Miami-Florida State reads 13.6 and Army-Navy 16.2.
* That's a huge break HBO and the fight fans of Atlanta fell heir to when Italian heavyweight Francesco Damiani turned an ankle the other day. An Evander Holyfield vs. substituting Bert Cooper slugfest for the former's title is much more appealing than a jab-flicking Damiani setting an Olympic record for running backward.
* A gent writing to the Los Angeles Times pointed out, "Darryl Strawberry bats .265 with 28 homers and is touted as the Dodgers' franchise while Dave Winfield bats .282 with 28 homers and is released by the Angels." Yeah, what gives?
* Obviously, the old gang was sitting around with nothing else to do the other day, so they dreamed up the Roller Hockey International League (good seats still available). We speak, of course, of Dennis Murphy of World Hockey Association fame and Larry King, Billie Jean's ex and founder of World Team Tennis. Late for the meeting, probably, were Gary Davidson and Mike O'Hara, originators of all those other now-you-see-them-now-you-don't leagues.
* With a whopping three victories in their first 20 games, the San Jose Sharks have all but assured the trying days of the Washington Capitals in their first year (8-67-5 in 1974) will live on in NHL annals.
* The men's tennis tour produced another one of those rags-to-riches stories earlier this month when Christian Minussi won the $250,000 Banespa Open in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Minussi failed to make the 32-man draw in a qualifying tourney, but slipped in as a "lucky loser" and proceeded to best a field that included Emilio and Javier Sanchez, Thomas Muster, Alberto Mancini and Martin Jaite, terrific clay-courters all.
* College basketball fans who have been around for a while probably will recall that before 1914, possession of the basketball went to the team that touched it first after the ball went out of bounds. Players used to conduct a mad scramble in and among the spectators and, next to a guy who could stick it from 20 feet, teams were constantly on the lookout for a roughneck who could get to the ball first. Wouldn't it make for a night of great entertainment if the rule was still on the books?
* One of the great features of the Ballpark with the 23-Letter Name downtown is the noticeable lack of foul territory. This is a plus, of course, because foul popups might be the most uninteresting and dispiriting element of the game.