The USOC has arranged for Arizona track coaches Fred Harvey, Sheldon Blockburger, James Li and Craig Carter to spend the London Olympics at an east London University dormitory during the 2012 Games.
The coaches' compound is about 10 minutes from the Olympic village, where UA-affiliated Olympians Georganne Moline, Brigetta Barrett, Jill Camarena-Williams, Julie Labonte and Bernard Lagat will be lodged for about three weeks.
Li has been in Germany, coaching Lagat. Carter, Harvey and Blockburger leave later this week. The UA is picking up their expenses.
Former UA track coach Dave Murray, who spent last week in Flagstaff coaching Team USA marathoner Abdi Abdirahman, will not be in London. He declined Abdirahman's offer to pay his expenses.
"Abdi is prepared and healthy," Murray said. "It wouldn't serve any purpose for me to stand on a street corner in London to get a glimpse of him for 20 seconds."
Abdirahman left Saturday for a three-day camp in Birmingham, Ala., with USA Track and Field. The ex-Arizona All-American runs on the final day of the Olympics, Aug. 12.
Harvey returned from the U.S. Olympic trials with more to do than getting Moline, a 400-meter hurdler, prepared for London. He also helped qualify 16 Tucsonans for the USATF Junior Olympics National Championships that begin Tuesday in Baltimore.
Harvey's busy schedule is a reflection on the growth and national prominence of Arizona's track organization, which is now a top-10 program.
Among those that Harvey's Tucson Elite Track program will send to Baltimore is Salpointe sophomore Michaela Crunkleton-Wilson, who is ranked No. 1 nationally in both the 100- and 200-meter races for pre-college female sprinters. Also ranked No. 1 entering the meet is Mountain View High freshman Justice Summerset, a 6-foot-8-inch high jumper.
"Fred's just amazing; his work ethic is crazy," said Blockburger, the UA's jumps coach. "He does all of his college stuff, then he spends two or three nights a week at the track coaching his Elite squad. After a long season like we've had, I'm ready to go fishing or something for a week. Fred goes back to the track."
While Harvey flies to London, his wife, Janet, and ex-UA All-America hurdler Michelle Johnson Skog will coach the 16 Tucson Elite athletes in Baltimore.
14-year-old makes waves
Sister of Olympian Leverenz helps Ford Aquatics win title
Sahuaro High grad Caitlin Leverenz has been working out with the USA Swimming contingent in Vichy, France, for a week. Arriving in London on Monday, she'll swim the 200 individual medley and the 400 IM at the Olympics.
Her 14-year-old sister, Brianna Leverenz, plans to be at the Olympics with her family. Brianna had her coming-out party as a competitive swimmer at the Arizona State championships last week in Phoenix.
The Rincon/University sophomore, part of the state champion Ford Aquatics club team coached by Johno Fergusson, won the 400 freestyle. Brianna also was second in the 1,500 freestyle and third in the 200 free, mostly against girls four to six years older. Ironwood Ridge senior Sara Borendame, back from the Olympic trials, swept state titles in the 50, 100 and 200 breast stroke.
The Ford Aquatics team was impressive, winning the team title by almost 500 points. Another name to keep in mind for future USA Swimming teams is Catalina Foothills sophomore Matt Lujan; he won the 100 and 200 backstroke.
"Matt is an incredible talent," said Fergusson. "He has a gift for water; I would keep an eye out for him having a serious go at the 2016 Olympic trials."
NCAA title keeps paying off as Lopez lands 3 top recruits
A month after winning the national championship, UA baseball coach Andy Lopez has impressively begun to rebuild his roster with three elite-level recruiting commitments, led by San Diego Vista High pitcher Billy Roth, who hit .414 for the nation's No. 8-ranked team last year and finished 9-1 as a pitcher with an 0.92 ERA. Roth is part of the USA Baseball 16-U national team. Denver Legend High third baseman Bobby Dalbec, who had been offered a scholarship by Oregon, chose Arizona. He hit .444 for Colorado's state runner-up this season. Loreauville, La., lefty Evan Hebert, a top-100 recruit, also committed to Arizona. … UA junior outfielder Johnny Field completed his 12-game stint with the USA Baseball National Collegiate team Saturday by hitting .262, which included six games against the Cuban national team and five more in the Netherlands. … Trevor Crowe, who led Arizona to the 2004 College World Series, was released by the Cleveland Indians last week. At 28, his career marred by injuries, Crowe was then signed to a minor-league contract by the Los Angeles Angels. He was the No. 14 overall pick in the 2005 draft and has a career batting average of .245 in the majors. … Lopez's future recruiting radar might include Chicago lefty and Tucson native Cory Wright, son of three-time CDO baseball coach and ex-UA player Phil Wright. Cory, who told his dad that pitching for Arizona is his "ultimate dream," led his squad to the Perfect Game 15-U championship game last week in Florida. He pitched 10 scoreless innings. He has three years of high school baseball remaining at St. Charles in suburban Chicago.
More short stuff
In setback for Cats, swimmer Denninghoff opts to transfer
Eric Hansen's Arizona swimming program suffered a significant loss last week when Sabino High School grad Sarah Denninghoff, a junior-to-be, announced she will transfer, possibly to BYU. Denninghoff is an 11-time All-American at Arizona and reached the semifinals at the Olympic trials, finishing 15th in the 200 backstroke. … Rincon/University High grad Michael Thompson took a risk by flying to England for the British Open without a spot in the field. He was the second alternate. He got that spot when Russ Cochran withdrew a few hours before Thursday's start. Alas, Thompson missed the cut. … UA sophomore Alex McMahon, an Ironwood Ridge grad, is having the type of summer that should impress new UA golf coach Jim Anderson. McMahon qualified for the U.S. Amateur last week in San Francisco, getting one of three spots in a 120-man field. McMahon earlier this month qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links, although he failed to advance to the match play finals. … The Gallery Golf Club will play host to the Arizona Amateur July 30 through Aug. 4, the state's top golf competition. The field includes McMahon and most of Tucson's young guns, Ben Esparza, Ricky Lee, Derek Laporte, Ian Patterson, Logan France and Billy Flower. Tucson City Amateur champ Grant Cesarek is also entered. Tucson's David McDaniel, who won the Arizona Amateur in 2009, will not play. He has turned pro; two weeks ago, he earned $4,000 by shooting 68-68-64 to win the Sedona Open.
Raptors give Santa Rita grad Stoglin limited playing time
In his first crack at NBA competition, Santa Rita grad Terrell Stoglin was given limited playing time by the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Summer League. Stoglin scored 13 points in five games, playing just 35 minutes overall. … Tucson High senior-to-be Antonio Rosales, a 6-4, 270-pound offensive lineman, has committed to play football at San Diego State. He was recruited by ex-THS lineman Osia Lewis, who is an SDSU assistant coach. … From the where-are-they-now file: pitcher Craig Giola, who was 15-5 for Arizona's 1976 national championship team, is the national director, sales accounts, for Rust-Oleum. He lives in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. Giola pitched in Italy for three years after the '76 World Series. … Salpointe Catholic grad Dan Slania, a sophomore pitcher at Notre Dame, was the Cape Cod League Pitcher of the Week last week. He saved two games for Cotuit, striking out six in relief. Slania is being challenged as Cape Cod's top closer by UA World Series star Konner Wade, who is being used strictly in relief by Wareham. Wade has allowed one run in 9 2/3 relief innings this season. Both were named to the Cape Cod All-Star team Saturday. Slania has 28 strikeouts in 20 innings and leads the league with seven saves.
My two cents
Fans are losers when UA cuts back media access to teams
Sean Miller has held two full practice sessions with his 2012-13 basketball team as it prepares for next month's exhibition game junket to the Bahamas. Yet the only thing he has said - and will say publicly - came via his Twitter message: "The day of us playing a 6-7 center, a 6-6 power forward and a 6-3 small forward are over."
The UA said that its interpretation of NCAA bylaw 22.214.171.124.2 prohibits any discussion of the preparation for its Bahamas exhibitions.
That's unfortunate because there would be no more anticipated news story in this town than having Miller describe how new point guard Mark Lyons is fitting in, and how freshmen bigs Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett have performed.
The UA's interpretation of 126.96.36.199.2 errs on the side of caution; I read it and thought it would be allowable for Miller to talk about his new roster.
I don't think this is the UA's way of controlling the message, not yet, although that's unmistakably (and regrettably) the future of college sports. Greg Byrne's athletic department is transmitting its own news, online, with a predictably favorable slant.
Further, the UA announced that Rich Rodriguez's first football training camp will limit media access to the first 30 minutes of practice. That's unprecedented and disconcerting. Even the controlling John Mackovic and paranoid Mike Stoops opened all training camp sessions to the media.
It's all a harmless exercise, anyway. The media simply want to become familiar with names and faces and establish a base for reporting. There are no spies filming schemes and formations. Closing practices merely serves to create an awkward relationship.
The loser? Joe Fan will now get less insight, and the young men who play football and basketball at Arizona will likely view the media as unwelcome adversaries. It's all so unnecessary.