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K-HEART SPORTS - WEDNESDAY - 06/25/14 - MORNING EDITION

The Minot Vistas continued their long stretch of games as they played in Devils Lake yesterday....

    MINOT, ND - The Minot Vistas continued their long stretch of games as they played in Devils Lake yesterday.  Today they are in Bismarck.

American Legion Baseball
 Class AA
    Minot Vistas 14, Devils Lake 0
    Minot Vistas 6, Devils Lake 5

    Grand Forks 9, Mandan Chiefs 7
    Grand Forks 2, Mandan Chiefs 1


 Class Junior
    Minot Metros 13, Williston Oilers 1
    Minot Metros 13, Williston Oilers 3 (5)


 Class A
    Watford City 6, Velva 4
    Watford City 4, Velva 1


 Class B
    Surrey 5, Renville County 3

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    BISMARCK, ND - Ryan Blees looked down a demanding, painful, stressful road as he approached last summer's USA Wrestling Junior Nationals. And he didn't know the half of it.  Although the task proved to be even more daunting than he'd imagined, he prevailed, capturing the 152-pound Freestyle Championship at the Fargodome. Making Blees' triumph even more impressive was his age. His senior year at Bismarck High School lay ahead.

    That feat earned Blees the Non-School Athlete of the Year Award presented annually by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. In separate voting, University of Nebraska gymnast Emily Wong won the NDAPSSA's Dakota Award for the second time.

    "I had a lot of hopes and dreams and a determination to do something ... but I wouldn't have expected it to happen like it did," Blees said in retrospect. "I had so many tough matches leading up to the finals.

    "The way it played out was much more intense and meaningful than I would have ever thought it could be prior to the tournament. The grind made all the pain and all the work that much more worthwhile."

    Blees' 10-match road to the championship was littered with obstacles.

    "I think every match I was down at the beginning," he said.

    The championship match against Minnesotan Jake Short severely tested his mental toughness. Down 9-2 in the early going, he rallied to win 12-9.

    "That required lots of heart. That was a win-win for me," Blees said.

    Blees, who finished with a high school career record of 250-25 and four state championships, was simply not accustomed to seven-point deficits.

    "It was definitely unfamiliar, but something was driving me," he said. "... My coaches said 'keep on him. Keep pounding on him and he's going to get tired.' You've got to wrestle the full six minutes, possibly more. I had that drilled into me by my coaches."

    Blees' triumph at the Fargodome paid immediate dividends. It put him squarely in the sights of the nation's premier collegiate wrestling programs.

    Following a whirlwind recruiting process, he went with Oklahoma State during the early signing period. He's currently at OSU attending summer school and preparing for the wrestling season.

    "It's not a particularly fun summer, but it's for my improvement. I don't want to be overwhelmed that first week in the fall," he said. "... Wrestling is a job now, but a fun one."

    Part of his training regimen is aimed at defending his junior national title in July at the Fargodome.

    "Junior nationals are coming up and I'll be wrestling in that, but I'm training through that almost and focusing on the goal of an NCAA championship down the road," he said.

    Other finalists for the non-school athlete award were Ty Breuer of Mandan, rodeo, and Jordan Scherer, West Fargo wrestling.

 

Dakota Award

    Good athletes leave behind memories. Great athletes leave behind records. Elite athletes leave behind legacies.  Meet University of Nebraska senior Emily Wong, who capped her final season by winning the 2014 AAI award, also known as the Heisman Trophy of gymnastics.

    Wong, a native of Grand Forks, is the recipient of the Dakota Award, which is presented annually by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. The award is given to North Dakota natives who excel in sports outside of the state.

    Dan Kendig, Nebraska's head gymnastics coach, summarizes Wong's impact in a story he shared with the Daily Nebraskan.  Kendig said he recently talked to a former Nebraska assistant who coached Wong for a year.

    "When he's out recruiting, he says, 'I'm out recruiting for the next Emily Wong,'" Kendig said. "I hope we have more like her. She's an absolutely amazing young lady, that she can turn a negative like that, or a challenge like that into a positive - it's amazing."

    The challenge to which Kendig refers is the death of Wong's father, John, in October at age 57. He died suddenly of a stroke.  Wong returned to Grand Forks when her father was stricken and also stayed for a sister's wedding.

    "I went home for two weeks. ... We were still in (gymnastics) preseason and stuff, so it wasn't that I had to be perfect when I got back," she said.

    While the unexpected loss of her father was overwhelming, Wong said she never considered sitting out the gymnastics season. She was determined to make something of the season in her father's memory.

    "I knew my dad would have wanted me to continue. ... I dedicated the season to him and that gave me the motivation to continue this year," she said.

    And what a season it turned out to be. In the regular season she took all-around honors in 10 meets, won 32 event titles and scored a 10.0 in floor exercise.

    On the conference level, Wong was named the Big Ten gymnast of the year after claiming five gymnast of the week awards. She was awarded the Big Ten medal of honor and the Big Ten Wayne Duke postgraduate scholarship.

    At the NCAA national championships she earned first-team All-American honors by placing fifth in all-around and eighth in floor exercise. She garnered recognition as a second-team All-American in the uneven bars and balance beam. She completed her Nebraska career as an 11-time All-American.

    Nebraska placed sixth in the team competition, a finish that Wong said was highly rewarding.

    "The team didn't go to nationals my junior year ... so this year the goal was to get the team to nationals. And we got to the Super Six, so that was even more of an accomplishment," she said.

    Wong's classroom performance has resulted in an array of academic awards. She's twice been a CoSIDA academic All-American, second team in 2013 and first team this year. She's been an academic all-conference performer three times, a scholastic All-American three times and a conference distinguished scholar twice.

    The AAI award, however, was something special for the much-decorated Wong. Voted on by the nation's head gymnastics coaches, is based on athleticism, academics and civic responsibility.

    She was one of six AAI Award finalists presented at the national championships at Birmingham, Ala, in April.

    "I was just happy to be up there with the best college gymnasts," she said. "It was a complete shock to win. It was humbling and exciting."

    Wong said her gymnastics career has prepared her well for the future. She expects to earn a bachelor's degree in December and hopes to continue her education in physical therapy.

    "I've learned character, hard work, and discipline during my college gymnastics career. And gymnastics is definitely team-oriented," she said. "... I know what I need to do to be successful not only in gymnastics but outside gymnastics."

    Wong won her first Dakota Award in 2012, sharing the honor with Colorado basketball player Austin Dufault and Oregon track standout Laura Roesler.

    Joining Wong as finalists for the Dakota Award this year were Jess Herauf, Minnesota track, and Laura Roesler, Oregon track. Roesler was the Dakota Award winner in 2013.

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     ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Mike Trout hit a tiebreaking two-run homer after Los Angeles and Minnesota exchanged five-run innings, and the Angels beat the Twins 8-6 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.
 
     C.J. Wilson barely navigated through five innings and left with the lead after allowing six runs and nine hits, including back-to-back home runs for the second time in his last three starts. The left-hander, who came in 5-0 with a 1.58 ERA in his previous six outings at Angel Stadium, blew a 5-0 lead in the second before Trout hit his 17th homer in the bottom half.
 
     Trout's homer was Los Angeles' last hit until David Freese's one-out single in the sixth. The Twins got a run closer in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by former Angels slugger Kendrys Morales, but Joe Smith got three outs for his sixth save to help end Minnesota's season-best four-game winning streak.
 
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     MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Twins will have two minor-league prospects playing in the Futures Game that leads off the All-Star events at Target Field next month. Right-handed pitcher Jose Berrios and first baseman Kennys Vargas will both play for the World team. Berrios was drafted with the 32nd overall pick by the Twins in 2012. Vargas signed with the Twins in 2009.
 
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     MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota Timberwolves President Flip Saunders says his phone hasn't stopped ringing as the NBA draft approaches. Saunders is a popular man because it's well known that star forward Kevin Love is available for the right offer. Saunders says trade talks in general are "at a feeding frenzy" before tomorrow night's draft.
 
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     UNDATED (AP) - Clayton Kershaw followed his first career no-hitter with another gem as the Los Angeles Dodgers earned a 2-0 shutout in Kansas City.  Kershaw's bid to become the second pitcher in major league history to toss back-to-back no-hitters ended when Eric Hosmer hit a one-out single in the bottom of the first. The lefty scattered six hits over eight innings to help the Dodgers bounce back from Monday's loss to the Royals.
 
     Justin Turner led off the game with a triple before scoring the winning run on an RBI grounder by Adrian Gonzalez. Andre Ethier added a run-scoring single in the ninth.  The Royals wasted a nice outing by Danny Duffy, who allowed just a run and four hits in six innings.
 
     Elsewhere in the majors:
 
     - Ian Kinsler homered in the first at-bat of his return to Texas and J.D. Martinez had a tiebreaking two-run shot in Detroit's 8-2 win over the Rangers. Kinsler finished with three RBIs as the Tigers earned their fourth straight win while handing the Rangers their season-worst sixth consecutive loss.
 
     - Travis d'Arnaud hit a three-run homer, Curtis Granderson added a two-run blast and Chris Young delivered a pair of solo shots as the New York Mets ripped Oakland 10-1. Bartolo Colon silenced his former team, allowing only a first-inning run and four hits over eight frames to win his sixth straight decision.
 
     - Seattle has a five-game winning streak after Kyle Seager delivered a three-run homer and an RBI double in an 8-2 trouncing of Boston. The Mariners' bullpen worked 4 2/3 shutout innings after starter Erasmo Ramirez struggled.
 
     - Toronto coughed up a 6-0 lead before third baseman Yangervis Solarte threw away a grounder in the bottom of the ninth, allowing the winning run to score as the Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 7-6. Dioner Navarro slammed a three-run homer and Colby Rasmus added a two-run single before homers by Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts ignited the Yankees' comeback.
 
     - The White Sox's five-game skid is over after Gordon Beckham hit a solo homer and Alejandro De Aza added two RBIs in Chicago's 4-2 triumph at Baltimore. Jose Quintana looked good for seven innings, holding the Orioles to a run and six hits while striking out eight.
 
     - Justin Morneau had a big night in Colorado's 10-5 rout of St. Louis, going 3-for-5 with six RBIs. Morneau hit a three-run homer and Drew Stubbs added a solo shot as the Rockies ended a seven-game losing streak.
 
     - The Padres were 7-2 winners over the Giants in San Diego as Alexei Amarista had three this and three RBIs. Jesse Hahn struck out eight while limiting San Francisco to two runs and four hits in six innings.
 
     - Jake Arrieta took a perfect game into the seventh inning and Anthony Rizzo hit a tiebreaking solo homer as the Cubs topped Cincinnati 7-3 in Chicago. Arrieta is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his last five starts.
 
     - Russell Martin smacked a solo homer and Andrew McCutchen drove in two runs to lead Pittsburgh's offense in a 6-5 win at Tampa Bay, the Pirates' fourth consecutive victory. Jeff Locke gave up three runs over 7 1/3 innings for his first win of the year.
 
     - B.J. and Justin Upton both homered to lead Atlanta past Houston 3-2. It was the fourth time the brothers have homered in the same game as teammates, tying a major league record.
 
     - Washington beat Milwaukee 4-2 on Ryan Zimmerman's two-run blast in the 16th inning. The Brewers led 2-1 until Anthony Rendon smacked a solo homer in the eighth.
 
     - Philadelphia was a 7-4 winner against Miami as Marlon Byrd hit a two-run homer and Cody Asche poked a two-run double. David Buchanan gave up two runs in five innings for the win.
 
     - Aaron Hill's run-scoring single in the bottom of the 14th capped his two-RBI night and completed Arizona's 9-8 win over Cleveland. Carlos Santana put the Indians ahead with a two-run homer in the 11th, but David Peralta homered before the Diamondbacks tied it on Ender Inciarte's fourth hit of the game, an RBI single in the bottom half.
 
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     OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The College World Series finals have been stretched to the limit.  Virginia has forced a third and final game by trouncing Vanderbilt 7-2. Brandon Waddell limited Vanderbilt to five hits in his first nine-inning complete game. Kenny Towns and John La Prise drove in two runs apiece as part of the Cavaliers' 13-hit attack.  Game 3 is today at Omaha.
 
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     LAS VEGAS (AP) - Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby had his hands full as he left the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.  Crosby came away with the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, and the Ted Lindsay Award as the outstanding player in the league as voted by the players association. He already had earned the Art Ross Trophy as the league's scoring champion.
 
     Boston goalie Tuukka Rask won the Vezina Trophy, and Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron took his second Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. Chicago's Duncan Keith came away with his second Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.
 
     Colorado coach Patrick Roy won the Adams Award, while Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon became the youngest player to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.
 
     Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers took the Masterton Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. And the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play went to Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly.
 
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     BETHESDA, MD. (AP) - Tiger Woods says he fully expects to contend in this week's Quicken Loans National in his first competition since back surgery at the end of March.  Woods is hosting the event and his charity will benefit from it.   Woods says he is returning to competitive golf earlier than expected. The plan had called for a return at next month's British Open at Royal Liverpool.
 


   (Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

 

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