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NU alumns score big at gymnastics meet

A trio of Nevada Union graduates and current University of California-Davis gymnasts turned in prime-time performances in a 191.125-195.375 dual-meet win over Seattle-Pacific University Jan. 22.

Mei Ling Clark, who graduated from NU in 2002, won both the uneven bars (9.750) and individual all-around (34.400).

Tiffany Chan (’01) and Julia Richards (’03) finished first and second in the vault with scores of 9.750 and 9.600 respectively.

Clark also took third in the floor excercise at 9.626. Chan grabbed second in the balance beam (9.775).

Nicolai leads way for local gymnastics academy

Alexis Nicolai turned in fifth-place finishes in both the vault (9.325) and floor excercise (8.900) to pace Grass Valley’s Rising Starz Gymnastics Academy in fifth place overall in the Level 7 senior age group at the Far West Invitational in Fremont Jan. 24-25.

Caitlyn Davenport posted a seventh-place finish in the balance beam (8.575) en route to a 12th-place overall finish in the Level 7 senior age group at 33.475.

Stephanie Herron finished 11th in the Level 7 youth age group with a combined score of 35.500.

In Level 8, Gabriella Blaney posted a 32.475 in the junior age group’s all around.

Heather Plantenga turned in a 31.250 in the senior age group.

In Level 9, Samantha Brumfield had a 32.500 in the junior age group.

– The Union staff

Louisville’s Pitino takes medical leave of absence

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville coach Rick Pitino is taking an indefinite leave of absence to seek treatment for an undetermined medical condition that left him in agony.

“I have been in excruciating pain the last three or four games,” Pitino said Monday. “It’s getting worse day by day.”

Pitino, 51, said the pain in his left side was “urological related,” and that he had been dealing with it for four to five months. He said doctors have ruled out prostate cancer, but they have yet to determine what is causing Pitino pain.

Pitino said he first noticed the pain during a golf outing last summer. He said doctors first treated it as a muscle tear, but when it didn’t heal, they began looking for another cause.

“It’s gotten to the point where it’s gotten a little too painful to lead the type of coaching lifestyle I lead,” Pitino said. “We’ll take it from there.”

Phillips starts new job as Chargers’ D coordinator

SAN DIEGO – Well, son of a Bum, look who’s trying to revive the San Diego Chargers’ punchless defense.

Wade Phillips, a former head coach of two NFL teams, started work Monday as the Chargers’ defensive coordinator. It figures to be quite a challenge because San Diego’s defense has been one of the NFL’s worst for two straight years.

“It’s a big job, but that’s the nature of this game,” said Phillips, whose father, Bum, was head coach of the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. “All of them are big jobs. I think you just find out the strengths and weaknesses of the players, and play to their strengths.”

The defense certainly contributed to the Chargers finishing an NFL-worst 4-12 and clinching the top pick in April’s draft for the second time in four seasons.

Phillips was hired by coach Marty Schottenheimer on Jan. 16, then spent last week in Mobile, Ala., where the Chargers’ staff coached the South in the Senior Bowl.

Phillips started looking at game film on Monday to try to figure out what went wrong and why.

One of the things he’ll decide over the next several months is whether the Chargers will stick with their 4-3 defense or switch to a 3-4. He’s had success with both during his career, which included jobs as head coach of the Denver Broncos from 1993-94 and the Buffalo Bills from 1998-00.

“Really, personnel dictates what you do,” Phillips said. “There isn’t a big difference. I mean, everybody wants to say there’s a big difference. Actually, the end man on the line of scrimmage, if he puts his hand down it’s a 4-3, and if he doesn’t, it’s a 3-4. It’s really how you utilize your personnel, whatever front you’re playing.”

– The Associated Press

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