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Little-known skater takes 1st at nationals

Staff, news services

OMAHA, Neb. – Little-known Max Aaron won his first title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday and helped knock down three-time champion Jeremy Abbott to the last step on the podium. With two quadruple jumps and an arsenal’s worth of other tricks in his “West Side Story” program, don’t count the 20-year-old upstart out at the world championships in March, either.

“I kind of thought in the back of my mind he could be the national champion,” coach Tom Zakrajsek said. “There are so many great men and you never know how they’re going to skate or how it’s going to be judged. I did think he gave a performance today – when you give a performance like that, it’s worthy of a national title.

“He skated into the title, which is kind of a nice way to earn it.”

Aaron screamed and shook his fists when he finished his program, then slid across the ice giving a Tiger Woods-like fist pump. (He was wearing red, appropriately, and it was Sunday.)

“The goals I had coming into this event were just to complete two clean programs. I didn’t think of ever medaling,” Aaron said. “But I knew if I completed the programs the way I know I can do them, I knew I could be up there.”

Aaron won the free skate in a rout to jump from fourth to first, and finished with 255 points overall, almost four better than Ross Miner.

Abbott, who had won three of the last four U.S. titles, dropped to third after a disappointing and flawed free skate. The Americans can only send two men to the world championships, so Abbott will have to watch and hope Aaron and Miner do well enough to get an extra spot for the Sochi Olympics.


Ganassi team wins 24-hour race

Scott Pruett tied Hurley Haywood’s record of five Rolex 24 at Daytona victories Sunday, helping Chip Ganassi Racing return to Victory Lane in the prestigious sports car race. Three-time defending Grand-Am champions Pruett and Memo Rojas, along with NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya and IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball teamed to beat the VelocityWW team by almost 22 seconds.


Catcher’s daughter, 5 months old, dies

The 5-month-old daughter of New York Mets catcher Landon Powell died. The family said on its Facebook page that Izzy Powell died Friday night of an immune disease that attacked her liver and bone marrow.


Northrop senior on verge of 2nd place

Northrop senior guard Bryson Scott is only four points away from becoming the second all-time leading scorer in Fort Wayne history. Scott has 1,820 career points, just three behind former Elmhurst standout James Hardy’s 1,823. Current Ohio State star and former Bishop Luers star Deshaun Thomas is out of reach in first place with 3,018 points.


Tight end commits to Notre Dame

Durham Smythe, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound tight end from Belton (Texas) High School, announced that he orally committed to Notre Dame on his Twitter account. Smythe is the second tight end, joining already enrolled Mike Heuerman, in the recruiting class and is the 23rd member of the Irish’s 2013 class. He is rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and 247Sports, and he has a three-star rating from Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Churubusco RB picks Saint Francis

Churubusco senior running back Jason Nicodemus announced on his Facebook page his commitment to play at Saint Francis. Nicodemus rushed for 2,252 yards and 30 touchdowns last year for the Eagles.


US open to return to Winged Foot

The U.S. Golf Association will announce today that the West Course at Winged Foot will be host to the 2020 U.S. Open. Only two other courses – Oakmont and Baltusrol – will have held the national championship more times. The most recent trip to Winged Foot, in 2006, was memorable for all the wrong reasons – not for Geoff Ogilvy winning with a superb up-and-down from below the 18th green, but for Phil Mickelson blowing his best chance ever to win the U.S. Open.


2 hospitalized at Winter X Games

Two slope-style skiers were taken off the course on a sled in a crash-marred event at Winter X in Aspen, Colo. Rose Battersby of New Zealand suffered a lumbar spine fracture during a wipeout in practice. She was transferred to Denver for more evaluation but was moving and had feeling in all extremities, according to X Games officials. On her third and final run, Ashley Battersby, who’s not related to Rose, crashed on the course and slid into the retaining fence. Battersby was taken to a hospital with a knee injury.

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