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Hawaii Sports

Mariota fully taking part in drills

Titans quarterback, entering third NFL season, suffered broken leg in December
By TERESA M. WALKER
The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Marcus Mariota insists he feels fine and is fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered in December. That’s not stopping the Tennessee Titans from giving the 23-year-old quarterback from Honolulu as much protection as possible.
As the Titans kicked off training camp Saturday, Mariota took part in team drills after being limited to individual and 7-on-7 passing work during the offseason.
Fans eager to see Mariota really take off running likely will have to wait until the season opener Sept. 10 against the Oakland Raiders.
Delanie Walker sums up the Titans’ concerns, even though the veteran tight end says he can’t tell watching that Mariota ever broke his leg.
“Every play I’m asking him, ‘Are you good?’ ” Walker said. “He’s like, ‘I’m straight.’ ‘OK, I’m just making sure. I can’t tell.’ And I know he’s a fighter, and he probably wouldn’t say nothing if he didn’t feel good. That’s why I’m always checking on (him) like, ‘You good?’ At the end of the day, he’s out there making the throws, running around, so I feel like if he says he’s good, he’s 100 percent.”
Mariota had his second NFL season come to an end Dec. 24 when he broke his right leg in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He arrived in this year’s camp at 218 pounds, about six pounds lighter than last season, and said he couldn’t be happier to be back at work.
“When we left in June, I was in a good spot,” Mariota said. “But I think I got better every day, and to be able to be out here today and to run around and do some of the things the coaches wanted me to do felt really good.”
Mariota passed for 3,426 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 15 games last year, and ran for 349 yards and two scores. This season, he will have some new targets.
Corey Davis, the first wide receiver taken in this year’s draft, at No. 5 overall, agreed to terms Saturday. He was the last draft pick to get his contract wrapped up.
“It’s huge. Huge,” Mariota said of getting Davis into camp.
The Titans also signed veteran Eric Decker after the offseason program ended in June, and Mariota started building chemistry with Decker a couple of weeks ago when several receivers joined the quarterback working out around Nashville. Davis, busy with a wedding, missed out.
“He’s savvy,” Mariota said of Decker, who has three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in a seven-year career spent with the Denver Broncos and New York Jets. “He understands routes. He understands how to find ways to get open, create separation, so I think the way he was able to come out today and make some plays says a lot about him. And again, we’re excited.”

Categories
Iowa Sports

Preece breaks through in Newton

By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
NEWTON — Ryan Preece had waited his whole career for a chance to race in a car as strong as the No. 20 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing.
Preece then went out and proved what he could do with top-notch equipment.
The 26-year-old Preece survived a green-white-checkered finish to win the NASCAR Xfinity race Saturday at Iowa Speedway for his first career victory.
Preece, running the second of a two-race deal with the powerhouse JGR team, started from the pole and held off Kyle Benjamin on three restarts in the final 17 laps.
Preece, the Connecticut driver who is a regular in the lower-division NASCAR Whelen Modified series, crossed the start-finish line less than a car-length ahead of Benjamin.
“To be honest with you, I believed in myself enough to do it,” Preece said of using his Xfinity budget for just two races. “It is very risky. I had multiple people in the business tell me that it was a little (riskier) than they would do.”
The 19-year-old Benjamin was a career-best second, followed by Brian Scott, Brennan Poole and rookie Cole Custer.
William Byron, who began a streak of three wins in five races at Iowa last month, finished ninth and Justin Allgaier was 20th after leading 106 laps.
Preece finished 17th in the series a year ago, with only one top-10 in 33 starts.
For this season, Preece went back to the Modified series — where he won a title four years ago — while striking a deal with JGR to run twice in one of the best cars in the series.
Preece was second to Cup star Kyle Busch in New Hampshire in his first shot with the No. 20 car.
On Saturday, he held off Benjamin to make his season-long gamble pay off.
“I knew what I felt like I had to do to get attention, to make noise, and I felt like these two races were my shot,” Preece said.
It was an encouraging finish for Benjamin, who started on the front row for the fourth time in as many races but finished above 16th for the first time.
“I’m really happy to finish second — I really needed that,” Benjamin said. “But to be as close as we were to winning, it kind of hurts. It makes you think about what you could have done better.
It was another gamble, by Allgaier earlier in the race, which helped put Preece and Benjamin in position for their thrilling finish.
Allgaier won the second stage and was leading when he decided to stay out on a caution about 75 laps from the finish.
The rest of the contenders went in for fresh tires and Allgaier’s No. 7 car, on old tires, quickly fell back while Preece grabbed the lead.
The hope for Allgaier was that a caution would allow him to put on a new set of tires, and thus have the advantage for the finish.
The yellow flag came too late though, as Allgaier was forced to pit for fuel just a few laps before Sam Hornish Jr. drew a caution.
Preece, who spent much of the race battling Allgaier for first, led 141 laps.

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National Sports West Virginia Sports

Gardner’s walk-off single leads Yankees past Rays 5-4

By Charles O’Brien
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — This latest hit by Brett Gardner produced another walkoff win for the New York Yankees — without any mishaps, either.
Gardner hit an RBI single with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, sending the AL East leaders over the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 for their sixth straight win.
“Makes me feel good,” Gardner said. “It’s an exciting win for us — a very important game against a tough opponent.”
Gardner won the series opener against the Rays on Thursday night with an 11th-inning home run. That sparked a wild celebration at home plate, and Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge was accidentally hit by Gardner’s helmet and lost half of his front left tooth.
A day after Judge went to the dentist for a fix, he steered clear this time, instead pouring Gatorade on Gardner and nimbly avoiding the happy group.
Chase Headley and Gary Sanchez hit long home runs for New York. The contending Rays lost their sixth straight game at Yankee Stadium.
“That team is on fire right now,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “Seems like a lot of things are going their way. They’re in such a good spot right now as a club.”
With the game 4-all, Brad Boxberger (2-3) walked Headley to lead off the ninth, and pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury stole second.
Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch and Ronald Torreyes tried to put down a sacrifice bunt, but instead reached first to load the bases when infielders Adeiny Hechavarria and Tim Beckham miscommunicated on a ground ball for the second time in the series.
Cash brought in newly acquired left-hander Dan Jennings to face the lefty-hitting Gardner. On an 0-1 pitch, Gardner grounded a ball past the Tampa Bay infield to score the winning run.
“When we needed the huge hit, he got it for us,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.
Aroldis Chapman (4-1) worked around a pair of baserunners in the ninth to earn the victory. The hard-throwing closer threw 11 of his 13 pitches over 100 mph to earn his second win of the series. He’s allowed just two hits and struck out six over his last five innings.
Lucas Duda homered for the second straight game since being traded from the New York Mets to the Rays. He had an early sacrifice, and tied it at 4 with a homer off David Robertson in the eighth.
Peter Bourjos and Steven Souza Jr. also hit home runs for Tampa Bay, which fell for the eighth time in their last 10 games.
Headley snapped a 124 at-bat homerless streak with a pinch-hit, two-run drive that gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead. He connected off Segio Romo, making Headley 6 for 12 lifetime against the reliever.
Rays starter Blake Snell allowed three runs over 5 1-3 innings. He is 0-6 this season and hasn’t won in 14 starts since being the Yankees last Sept. 22.
TRAINER’S ROOM
Rays: 1B Logan Morrison was held out of the lineup for the second straight game (bruised left heel), but singled as a pinch-hitter. Pitcher Austin Pruitt pinch ran for Morrison.
Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius appeared to have been injured on Souza Jr.’s ninth-inning stolen base. Gregorius was attempting a backhanded tag when Souza arrived at the same time, dislodging the ball. After doubling over in pain, Gregorius was checked by the New York medical staff and remained in the game, but was charged with an error on the play.
UP NEXT
Jake Faria (5-1, 2.67 ERA) opposes Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.92 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale. Faria will be the first visiting rookie to start in the Bronx on his birthday since Jason Hammel defeated Andy Pettitte on Sept. 2, 2007. Faria turns 24.
INFUSING POWER
Duda became the second player in Tampa Bay history to homer in each of his first two games. Elijah Dukes did it in 2007.

Categories
National Sports West Virginia Sports

Beltre 1 hit from 3,000 after 4th-inning single for Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adrian Beltre had a single for his 2,999th career hit leading off the fourth inning of the Texas Rangers’ game Saturday night against Baltimore.
That grounder through the left side of the infield in his second at-bat of the game put him within one hit of becoming the 31st player in the major league to reach 3,000 career hits. The 38-year-old third baseman would be the first player born in the Dominican Republic to do that.
Beltre, in his 20th big league season, had nine hits in the first four games of the homestand before Saturday night. This is his seventh season in Texas after previously playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox.
A five-time Gold Glove third baseman, Beltre got loud cheers from a crowd anticipating history when he had a couple of assists in the first inning before his first at-bat when he grounded out. He got a loud ovation each time he was introduced when coming to bat in his 2,770th major league game.
The only other active player in the 3,000-hit club is Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who was 23rd on the all-time list with 3,060 hits going into Saturday night.

Categories
National Sports West Virginia Sports

Jaguars’ Bortles throws 5 interceptions in camp practice

By Mark Long
AP Sports Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw five interceptions in practice Saturday night, quite possibly his worst training camp outing in four years.
Bortles was picked off three times in 11-on-11 drills and twice more in 7-on-7 work. His awful night came under the lights and during Jacksonville’s first practice in full pads. The stands were at full capacity, too, as the Jaguars opened practice only to season-ticket holders.
No one watching this one — except maybe Jacksonville’s defenders — could have felt good afterward.
“I think any time someone doesn’t perform to what you want to do, you’re concerned about it,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “He’s not the only one, you know what I’m saying, that’s out there. There’s some good things.”
Marrone said he would need to review practice video before deciding how many of the interceptions were Bortles’ fault.
“We’re going to go and talk about that as coaches,” he said. “We haven’t talked to the player yet about that, so we’ll go ahead and look at it and, again, continue to get better. Going to want to go back there and look at it from a different view and see what he was thinking and see what was going on.”
Bortles attempted 22 passes in 11-on-11 drills, and ended up with three interceptions. Former Dallas and Miami cornerback Tyler Patmon picked off Bortles twice, and linebacker Telvin Smith got another that he returned for a touchdown. Safety Tashaun Gipson and linebacker Josh McNary got theirs in 7-on-7 work.
The Jaguars have shown strong for Bortles publicly despite a subpar season in 2016. The former UCF standout threw for 3,905 yards, with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, in his third season. It was a step back after throwing for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2015. He has been sacked a whopping 140 times in three years and has the most turnovers (63) of any player during that span.
Nonetheless, Jacksonville exercised the fifth-year option in his rookie contract in May. General manager Dave Caldwell and Marrone decided Bortles needed more help, so they drafted bruising running back Leonard Fournette fourth overall, choose massive left tackle Cam Robinson in the second round and added speedy Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook in the fourth. They also traded for two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert in March.
Bortles, meanwhile, spent a big chunk of the offseason working on his mechanics in California in hopes of improving his accuracy and efficiency.
He was sharp the first two days of camp, but reverted to his turnover-prone ways Saturday.
Marrone said he didn’t say anything to Bortles during his struggles, opting to let him try to work it out.
“If I’ve got to do that now, then we’re going to be in trouble,” Marrone said.

Categories
National Sports

Lots of tickets remain for Mayweather-McGregor — at a price

By Tim Dahlberg
AP Boxing Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It’s supposed to be the hottest ticket in sports.
So far, though, fans aren’t exactly storming the box office to buy tickets for Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s fight next month with Conor McGregor.
A check online Saturday revealed hundreds — even thousands — of seats still available from Ticketmaster at the T-Mobile arena for the Aug. 26 fight. There are so many open seats that fans with enough room left on their credit cards can buy six tickets together in 162 different spots throughout the arena
That might be because of the astronomical prices set by promoters — the cheapest original tickets on Ticketmaster have a face value of $3,500. Or maybe fans are just waiting for the right time to buy, hoping the price will go down.
Either way, promoter Leonard Ellerbe isn’t terribly concerned. He says the fight will not only sell out, but break records for the richest gate.
“We’re very excited and very happy with ticket sales so far,” Ellerbe told The Associated Press “We’re well on our way to smashing our own record which transcended the sport.”
That record was a $72,198,500 gate set by Mayweather in his 2015 fight with Manny Pacquiao. That live gate was more than three times bigger than any previous boxing gate.
Still, five days after tickets first went on sale, seats throughout the arena are widely available. They are not, however, for anyone a little light in the wallet.
Prices start at $3,500 — plus another $300 or so for buyer fees — and climb to $10,000 near the ring. There are “platinum” seats that go for as much as $14,995.
The resale market is nearly as pricey. At Seatgeek.com the get-in price is around $2,000 — for one of the few seats that originally sold at $500 — and the median listing price is about $7,000.
There seems to be sticker shock in the marketplace.
“There’s fairly little sales going on in general,” said Chris Leyden, a content analyst for SeatGeek.com. “I think a lot of it has to do with where prices are now. I think people are a little uncomfortable paying this much or maybe even more.”
The situation is much the same at StubHub, where demand for tickets is lower than it was at the same time before Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao two years ago.
“We’re not necessarily seeing demand levels for the fight yet,” said Johnna Hoff, a StubHub spokeswoman. “The encouraging part is people are buying some tickets.”
A UFC spokeswoman did not return calls for comment. Ticketmaster replied to an email by saying it will “decline to comment at this time.”
Any sign of slow ticket sales would undercut the argument by promoters that the fight might be the richest of all time, topping the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout that grossed some $600 million.
Joris Drayer, a ticketing expert and professor of sports business at Temple, said high prices are likely limiting the market. Drayer said by the time fans spend money on travel and hotels in Las Vegas they would easily be over $10,000 for two tickets, making the pay-per-view a more attractive option.
Drayer also said some of the smaller resellers who might have bought tickets in the past are likely on the sidelines because the tickets are so expensive that it will be harder to flip them for a profit.
“This is the challenge when pricing a one-of-a-kind type of event. No one knows what the demand will be,” Drayer said in an email. “In this case, it seems the promoters overestimated what people would be willing to pay — and how many of those people willing (to) pay thousands would actually attend the event.”
The four city promotional tour the two fighters went on attracted large crowds, but fans for the most part got in free. Promoters are also expecting huge pay-per-view sales at $99.95 apiece that could rival the 4.6 million sold for Mayweather-Pacquiao.
The demand for the fight is being driven largely by UFC fans, who tend to be younger than boxing fans and may not have pockets quite as deep.
Another sign that demand may be lacking — hotel prices for the weekend of the fight. There are still plenty of rooms available online in the $300 to $400 range, including several hotels operated by MGM Grand, which owns the T-Mobile arena.

Categories
National Sports

All-Pro Aaron Donald does not report to Rams training camp

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams have started training camp with everybody except their best player.
Defensive lineman Aaron Donald did not report to camp Friday while seeking a new contract from the Rams, who have spent months in negotiations with their two-time All-Pro.
General manager Les Snead intends to continue negotiations on a contract extension with Donald, who didn’t join his veteran teammates when they checked in at UC Irvine for the first weekend of practice.
The fourth-year pro also skipped several weeks of offseason workouts while his agent worked on a new deal that will make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid players. Snead repeatedly has said he thought the Rams were close to a deal with Donald, but the talks still haven’t concluded.
“Today is no different than yesterday or this spring,” Snead said after the first day of team meetings. “Aaron’s play speaks for itself. That’s the reason we want to make him a Ram a long time. Today doesn’t change that urgency at all.”
Snead wouldn’t say whether the Rams will fine Donald up to $40,000 per day when practice begins Saturday.
Donald still has two years left on his contract, making his negotiations more complicated. He is scheduled to earn just $3.2 million this season and $6.9 million in his fifth-year option in 2018.
The Rams also could theoretically keep Donald with the franchise tag for an additional three seasons, but the Rams have repeatedly acknowledged Donald deserves more as arguably the NFL’s best interior lineman.
“We respect Aaron a lot … and we’re trying to deal with this situation, and we want to deal with it,” Snead said. “We feel like Aaron has earned the right to become a Ram (for) a long time, and to be paid a little more.”
Snead wasn’t shocked when Donald didn’t show up, but the GM was hopeful Donald would decide to join his teammates and rookie coach Sean McVay, who already addressed the absence of the Rams’ best player in team meetings. Snead and Donald spoke earlier in the day, the GM said.
“We knew this was a potential possibility for us, and we’re constantly going through trying to get a solution to this,” McVay said. “We all know he’s a great player. I think his resume speaks for itself, but in the NFL, adversity is inevitable, and we’ve got to be ready to handle that as a team.”
Donald is one of the best defensive players in football, making the last two All-Pro teams and three consecutive Pro Bowls as a disruptive pass-rusher and run-stopper. He also hasn’t missed a game in his three seasons in St. Louis and Los Angeles, racking up 28 sacks in his career and tying for the NFL lead last season in tackles for loss.
His absence could be a disruption for the Rams, who likely need all the practice time they can get after making few significant personnel additions to a team rebuilding from a 4-12 record in 2016, its 13th consecutive non-winning campaign.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and a new coaching staff are installing a 3-4 defensive scheme, although it might not require major changes to Donald’s playing style. Donald’s versatile skills make him a nightmare for offenses, usually requiring multiple blockers to handle the 6-foot powerhouse.
Donald’s teammates weren’t sure when he’ll join them as they reported to the dorms on the Irvine campus that will be their home for the next three weeks. Robert Quinn, who is likely to move from defensive end to outside linebacker in the 3-4, doesn’t think Donald’s absence is a distraction.
“Even during OTAs, guys didn’t let it become a problem,” Quinn said. “We know it’s hard. We know he wants to be here. My college coach told me, he said, ‘Make plays, get paid,’ so it kind of balances itself out. Aaron has a great heart. He loves playing football. He’s just going through a tough little situation right now. Like I said, the guys have his back, and once he finally decides to come out here, we’d love to see his face.”

Categories
National Sports

MLB plans Asian, England games for ‘19, ‘20

By Ronald Blum
AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball plans to start the 2019 and 2020 seasons in Asia and play regular-season games in England in June of both years.
The collective bargaining agreement reached in November was finalized and sent to the clubs Friday, and it contains a schedule for international play through 2021 along with how much extra money each player will receive for making the trips.
“Playing major league games abroad is critically important to growing the game internationally, and we are very pleased that the parties were able to agree on a very comprehensive international play plan in bargaining,” MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said in an email to The Associated Press.
The agreement calls for the season opener to be played in Asia in 2018 and 2020 and specifies Japan for 2019. However, plans have not progressed for a 2018 Asian opener and those games are now unlikely, according to a baseball official familiar with the planning. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no statement was authorized.
A two-game series between Cleveland and Minnesota in San Juan, Puerto Rico, already has been announced for next April 17-18, and the agreement calls for an additional series in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic in May 2020.
“I think it’s probably been in the works for a while for MLB to try to find out how to expand on the international and global market,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You try to market your product the best way you can into the most expansive areas you can. … The fact we were able to pique enough interest in fan bases from parts maybe we never would have imagined a decade or two ago can only be good for the game.”
Series in Mexico are planned for each April from 2018-21 and for May 2019 and 2021.
London’s Olympic Stadium, West Ham’s Premier League home, has been looked at as a possible venue for the games in Britain, and the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are the most likely teams for 2019.
“Despite the challenges games played outside of the 30 major league ballparks present during the season, players understand and appreciate the value in growing the game and its ever-increasing base of fans in different parts of the world,” union spokesman Greg Bouris said. “As such, they are willing to do their part during the term of this agreement.”
The NFL has played regular-season games in London since 2007 and has expanded to four games there next season, when it also will play in Mexico City for the second straight year. The NBA has held regular-season games in Japan, London and Mexico City since 1990, and NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant of the champion Golden State Warriors is currently in India as an ambassador supporting the sport’s growth.
“Sharing my love of basketball with thousands of boys and girls across India was an unbelievable experience,” said Durant, who along with 3,459 Indian children set a Guinness World Record for the largest basketball lesson ever with some participating via satellite.
Baseball players will receive an extra $60,000 each for regular-season trips to Asia or England, and an additional $15,000 for trips to Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Each event can be one, two or three games.
No games in Australia are in the works during the five-year deal, which began this season.
The deal calls for spring training trips in the next three years: two Mexico series in 2018, Mexico and either Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic in 2019 and one Mexico series in 2020. Players receive an extra $5,000 for each international spring training series.
Post-World Series tours are planned for Japan in 2018 and 2020, and Asia or Mexico in 2019. Players get $100,000 for postseason All-Star trips to Japan, $50,000 for the rest of Asia and $25,000 for Mexico.
MLB opened its season at Monterrey, Mexico in 1999 (Colorado-San Diego); the Tokyo Dome in 2000 (Chicago Cubs-New York Mets), 2004 (Tampa Bay-Yankees), 2008 (Boston-Oakland) and 2012 (Seattle-Oakland); and at Sydney, Australia in 2014 (Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona).
It played additional regular-season games at Monterrey in 1996 (San Diego-Mets); and at San Juan in 2001 (Toronto-Texas), 2003-04 (a total of 43 Montreal home games and 2010 (Mets-Florida Marlins).
“Our trip to Japan in ‘12 was terrific,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “For us it was a bonding experience for a bunch of new guys that were together for the first time, and I think we were better for it when we left. Sometimes you have to look around and smell the flowers, too, and when you get a chance to go somewhere else, not only is it a business trip for you but you’re probably well served to look around and understand that you get a chance to go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go and it entertains a different type of crowd.”
Oakland infielder Adam Rosales played in that ‘12 opener in Tokyo.
“That was a really cool experience,” he said. “Obviously it’s a long trip, but it depends how they’re going to schedule it. It’s definitely a really good sign that it’s growing. I think they’re doing a good job, both the players’ union and MLB communicating. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been two good experiences for me, experiences that I’ll always talk about, tell my kids about.”
———
AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

Categories
North Dakota Sports

Dacotah Field beginning to look more like home for the NDSU soccer team

FARGO — For many, Dacotah Field is known as the former home of North Dakota State football. For the Bison women’s soccer team, it’s their current home, and has been since 2013. It’s beginning to look as such.
Dacotah Field recently received a makeover with the installation of a new FieldTurf surface last month. It’ll always have its football history, but it’s beginning to look more like home for the soccer team.  
“I think if there’s anything you can say about our current administration, it’s that they want to make sure every program is taken care of,” said Bison women’s soccer coach Mark Cook. “It shows Dacotah Field is our home field, and it’s BIson soccer stadium, as opposed to the old football stadium.”
The football team will still practice at Dacotah Field, as will plenty of other teams during the winter months when the inflatable bubble-dome is put over it, but he field was constructed mainly for soccer, seen in small details like numbers not being painted on the field.
“Football clearly still uses it, it’s our only lit field,” said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. “We want to make sure all our programs have great practice fields and facilities. Football still has landmarks, but it looks like a soccer field.”
The project took less than a month, wrapping up Monday, July 24, with the installation of the turf costing $350,000. A Bison logo was also put in the center of the field.
“It was a very plain field,” Larsen said. “There was no real colors, no markings, no logos, so it was important, with video streaming and televising the field, when people watch it, they know where they are.”
Cook stepped on the new turf for the first time on Tuesday, July 25. The softness was built for better soccer.
“It was a night-and-day difference,” Cook said. “It was much more forgiving, so the ball will bounce a lot. Your margin for error was much smaller (on the old turf). If you made a pass a yard away from a player then they couldn’t get to it because the turf was extremely hard and extremely fast. It’ll make for better soccer.”
Astroturf was first installed at Dacotah Field in 1975. The previous surface was installed in 2009 and the new surface is expected to have a lifespan of eight to 10 years.
“Our lease is for five years, so the lifespan should extend beyond the lease,” Larsen said. “If we maintain it the right way and monitor our traffic, we should get 8 to 10 years. We wanted to make sure the manufacturer knew about the bubble and the type of activity on it from football to soccer to golf to softball. They had a really clear understanding. We think we have a product to service our needs.”
Players will get to judge that soon. The soccer team will step on it for the first time at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2.
“When we step on the field next Wednesday the energy is going to be there,” Cook said. “It’s a brand new surface. Hopefully, it’s going to carry over into the regular season and help us win a lot of home games.”

Categories
Iowa Headlines

Troubled trucking firm faces scrutiny

IOWA CITY (AP) — The trucking company linked to the recent deadly human smuggling case in Texas had promoted itself as an American success: a family firm whose hard-working drivers helped keep the U.S. economy running.
But behind that image was a cutthroat business that flouted federal laws for years, yet managed to stay afloat despite financial troubles and tangles with prosecutors, regulators and tax collectors, according to public records and interviews with former drivers.
Now, Pyle Transportation faces the biggest threat to its survival yet after one of its contract drivers was charged Monday in the deaths of 10 immigrants found in a sweltering Pyle trailer in San Antonio’s 100-degree heat. Investigators are scrutinizing Pyle’s claim that it knew nothing about an operation that federal authorities have described as sophisticated and possibly linked to a Mexican cartel. Federal regulators have launched an investigation into the company’s safety record.
The driver, 60-year-old James “Bear” Bradley Jr., has told investigators that he was unaware any immigrants were in the trailer, saying he heard their pleas after stopping Sunday at a Walmart to urinate. Investigators say dozens of immigrants were packed into the dark trailer after being smuggled across the border.
Company owner Brian Pyle has denied any knowledge of human smuggling, but declined to comment Monday on the company’s operations and did not return additional messages left Thursday seeking comment. On its website, which has since been taken down, Pyle Transportation advertised its fleet of high-end rigs and boasted of delivering refrigerated shipments of meat and produce on time to customers from its rural Iowa base. Playing upbeat music and flashing photos of smiling truckers, the site touted love of country, faith in God and the company’s slogan: “Keepin’ it Cool Since 1950.”
Yet former drivers told The Associated Press that the company routinely pushed them to violate federal safety rules. They say they were pressured to drive too many hours without rest, to falsify their logs to conceal those violations and to transport overweight loads on unrealistic deadlines. They said they faced retaliation if they complained and that Pyle refused to pay wages they were owed when they quit.
Two of Bradley’s former Pyle colleagues were stunned to learn about the deaths and struggling to understand what happened.
“Knowing Bear, the pieces don’t fit,” said Paul Terry, 68, of Denver. “I believe Bear was set up. He is a country boy and he don’t know that much. No way in the world could he orchestrate something like that. I will say that on my kids’ grave.”
Former driver Tim Moffitt said Thursday that he believed the company had to have some knowledge of the operation, calling it a good place to work only “if you don’t like rules.”
“They are always looking for ways to save money and make money,” said Moffitt, who has known Bradley for 30 years.
Brian Pyle told the AP on Monday that the company had sold the trailer and hired Bradley as a contractor to drive it to the border city of Brownsville, Texas, to deliver it to the buyer, whom he refused to identify. He showed a reporter what he said was a bill of sale dated May 10 that had no price.
Bradley told investigators he was unaware of the trailer’s contents, adding that he knew its refrigeration system didn’t work, according to the complaint against him. He described taking a looping route with stops in Laredo and San Antonio, several hours west of Brownsville.
Pyle said Bradley was given an address and told to deliver the trailer last Friday, disputing Bradley’s claim to investigators that he had been given neither a location nor a time to make the delivery.
The company’s relationship with Bradley was reflected on its now-defunct website, where he was pictured smiling with Pyle in its “Hall of Fame” of workers.
Pyle Transportation has long been an influential company in Schaller, a northwest Iowa town of 750 that doesn’t have a police officer. Residents say it was run by the late Don Pyle before facing troubles in the 1990s after it was passed to his son, Michael.
The son and his Pyle Truck Lines pleaded guilty in 2001 to falsifying Department of Transportation records and were put on probation. Michael Pyle’s children took control of the business a few years later when Pyle Transportation formed, but he remained involved. Michael Pyle declined comment, hanging up on a reporter who called Thursday.
The IRS alleged in 2015 that Pyle Transportation refused to pay employment and highway use taxes for years, racking up $150,000 in liabilities.
The company has also been ordered to pay penalties for falsifying records on drivers’ hours and has been operating with a “conditional” safety rating, meaning it had been out of compliance with regulations.
Bradley went to work for the company in 2010 in response to an internet ad, and later recruited Terry and Moffitt to join him, they recalled. Terry said at first they made good money delivering pork from Iowa slaughterhouses to Texas and returning with loads of produce and steel. But Terry and Moffitt left after employment disputes.
“They will run you to death and you have to falsify your logs to make it work,” said Terry, who according to court records has been unable to collect a $2,000 judgment for unpaid wages that he obtained after quitting in 2014.
Cody Winters, 29, of Charles City, Iowa, said he would be stunned if Pyle was complicit in smuggling even if the company was “crooked’ in other ways. He sued the company to collect $3,300 in unpaid wages after he was fired and left stranded at a truck stop in 2015.
“They appeal to drivers by keeping big Peterbilts to drive. But then you get there and it’s not good at all. It’s just a show,” he said. “I thought, ‘How is this place even staying in business?’”