Orioles

Celski, Gehring win national short track titles

Celski, Gehring win national short track titles

KEARNS, Utah (AP) A year ago, JR Celski barely could get to the start line at the U. S. short track speedskating championships because of a painfully swollen broken ankle suffered at a World Cup event in Japan.

Now Celski is good as gold, with a national championship to add to his list of accomplishments during this record-setting season.

His wins in the 500, 1,500 and 3,000 along with a fifth-place finish in the 1,000 helped him lock up the national title Saturday. Lana Gehring won the women's title with wins in every event the past two days.

Both earned spots for the U.S. in the final two World Cups of the season and a chance to compete in the world championships in Hungary in March.

Jeff Simon, Travis Jayner, Chris Creveling, Ed Alvarez and Kyle Carr round out the men's World Cup team, while Jessica Smith, Alyson Dudek, Emily Scott, Sarah Chen and Kimberly Derrick complete the women's. Alvarez qualified for his first World Cup team.

``It was hard not to compete (in this event last year), but it was the right thing to do. I honestly couldn't have skated because it was so painful,'' Celski said of the broken ankle and torn ligaments. ``It was so swollen, I'm surprised I could fit it into my boot.''

He laced up just so he'd be allowed to compete in the relays at the 2012 worlds - not defend his individual title.

Coming into nationals this year, he still wasn't sure he'd be able to compete after suffering a concussion two weeks ago at a World Cup in Japan. He fell in the semifinals of the 1,500, slid into the boards and had his knee pop straight back at him into his eye socket.

``Same place, same rink, so I was worried about being able to get back in time for this one,'' Celski said.

``I never really dealt with a head injury before and from what the doctors said, the only thing to really cure a concussion was rest. I trained and rested. Those were the only things I focused on,'' he said.

Considering the injury he is most remembered for, this one was almost minor.

He had survived a life-threatening high-speed crash at the U.S. trials leading up to the 2010 Vancouver Games, needing 60 stitches to close a six-inch wide-by-two-inch-deep gash where a skate impacted his right thigh.

Still, he made sure the concussion symptoms were pretty much gone before he laced up this week.

``I was really relieved to be able to skate,'' said Celski, who has been a beast on the World Cup circuit and clocked the first-ever sub-40 time in the 500 this fall.

Now, after taking care of business at the Utah Olympic Oval, it's time for a little R&R before training begins in earnest for the stretch run.

He is headed home to Seattle to take in Sunday's Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers game in a battle of NFC West playoff contenders.

``I'm a loyal fan in heart and it's just like ride or die for me,'' Celski said of the Seahawks. ``I'm with them until the end.''

He's also excited about the next World Cup, Feb. 1-3 in Sochi, Russia - site of the 2014 Winter Games.

``It's always good to go and test the waters,'' Celski said. ``We went to Vancouver at the end of 2008 and got to skate at the (site) that was going to be the Olympics. So it was really cool just to see that, experience that and know what you're going to get yourself into.''

The same might be said for two-time Olympian Guy Thibault, who now takes over as head coach of a team that because of scandal had been as fractured as Celski's ankle.

Some athletes continue to have their own coaches, including Gehring, who is back working with Jae Su Chun at a Salt Lake City rink even though he has been suspended and resigned as U.S. coach.

The arrangement (he technically is volunteering as a coach but is allowed into the stands at Utah Olympic Oval like any other spectator) has worked well for Gehring, who said her performances the previous few months weren't ``world worthy.''

She's intent on changing that the next three months and going forward to the Sochi Games.

``I broke down more times this season than I have my entire life,'' Gehring said of the emotions dealing with the controversy and previous poor results. ``It was realizing what I had was gone, things I took for granted. It changed me. I'm such a different athlete, a different person in general.''

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Orioles Roundup: Trey Mancini stays hot in 8-4 home loss to Blue Jays

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Orioles Roundup: Trey Mancini stays hot in 8-4 home loss to Blue Jays

In a fitting tribute to most games this season in Baltimore, Trey Mancini had a terrific day at the plate, but the pitching staff allowed too many home runs and the O's ended up losing.

Here's everything you need to know about the Orioles.

Player Updates:

OF Trey Mancini hasn't slowed down at all for the Orioles, turning in a 4-for-4 night to tie his career high in hits. He's hitting .286 with 34 home runs during his breakout season.

OF Austin Hays enjoyed a banner night, hitting his first home run of the season and making one of the year's highlight catches, robbing a home run well over the centerfield wall.

SP Gabriel Ynoa allowed three runs in 6.1 innings. He didn't walk anyone and allowed just six hits, but he also only struck out one batter despite pitching into the seventh inning, and two of the hits allowed were home runs.

Injuries

RP Hunter Harvey, biceps, sidelined, day-to-day

RP Josh Rogers, elbow, 60-Day IL, out indefinitely 

SP Alex Cobb, back, 60-Day IL, 2020

Coming Up:

Friday, 9/20: Mariners at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Camden Yards

Saturday, 9/21: Mariners at Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Camden Yards

Sunday, 9/22: Mariners at Orioles, 1:05 p.m., Camden Yards

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Mystics take Game 2 and put Aces on brink of elimination

Mystics take Game 2 and put Aces on brink of elimination

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Mystics beat the Las Vegas Aces 103-91 in Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals on Thursday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Before Thursday's game, as she was accepting her second WNBA MVP award, Elena Delle Donne explained how she had learned in the four years since winning her first MVP trophy the importance of making her teammates better. That approach paid off in Game 2, as the Aces' defense swarmed to limit her to just 14 points, well below her 19.5-point average, and to 33.3 percent shooting.

Delle Donne made sure she was effective in other ways. She grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked two shots and used her length to eliminate passing lanes. Though she wasn't making shots, she created space for others by drawing Las Vegas' tallest defenders to the perimeter.

Delle Donne wasn't the star of the box score, but her approach and execution were pivotal in a Mystics win, one that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead as the five-game series shifts to the desert.

2. What many on the Mystics predicted entering the playoffs has come true through two games that Emma Meesseman would be a major difference-maker after she missed last year's postseason run that ended with a loss in the Finals. After dropping 27 points with 10 rebounds in Game 1, she was back throwing haymakers in Game 2, posting 30 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Meesseman (6-foot-4) isn't nearly as big as Aces center Liz Cambage (6-foot-8), yet she attacked the lane consistently to look for her shot and to set up others. She had a play midway through the second quarter where she spun around Cambage and finished through contact with her right hand for an and-1. It got many fans out of their seats and some emphatic fist pumps from Wizards guard Bradley Beal who was sitting behind the basket.

Meesseman's toughness and craft are perfect for postseason basketball. She can score inside and out and is a disruptive defender despite not being a major rim protector.

3. The Aces' defensive adjustment after Game 1 was clearly to take away the three-point shot. The Mystics made 11 threes on 28 attempts on Tuesday, but by halftime on Thursday had only seven shots and two makes. Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud had a combined two attempts.

Washington missed their first three shots from long range to open the second half before Meesseman got one to fall. The Mystics finished 8-for-20 (40 percent) from the perimeter.

4. Meesseman's contributions were crucial and the same for LaToya Sanders, who played well above her regular season level on offense in Game 2. She had eight points in the first nine minutes of the first quarter, more than her season scoring average (6.1). She had 17 points with six rebounds and two steals by the time it was over.

Sanders' main priority is defense and has been tasked with checking Cambage so far in this series. But she can affects games on offense as well and the Aces paid for forgetting that. They left her open on midrange shots and long twos, banking on her to miss because she rarely even attempts threes. Sanders, though, knocked them down and gave the Mystics an unexpected lift.

5. It was only the second game back for guard Kristi Toliver, who is still sporting a leg brace after missing over a month due to a right knee contusion and MCL strain. Though she has practiced and is now back in-game action, it will naturally take time for her to find a rhythm and to get back into game shape.

In Game 2, she showed some rust by getting into early foul trouble. She picked up her third foul late in the second quarter after just eight minutes of action. That forced head coach Mike Thibault to go deeper into his bench and give Shatori Walker-Kimbrough some playing time. Walker-Kimbrough did not play at all in Game 1.

Toliver was able to get going later on and ended up with 10 points and three assists, including a three late in the third quarter where she turned and cupped her ear to the crowd before it swished through the net.

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