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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
One of the things long-distance runners like about their sport is that improving a place or two in the order of finish can be as gratifying to sloggers back in the ruck as winning can be for the stars. Thus, 39-year-old Steve Nordberg of Stevensville, Mich., competing in one of those triathlons (swimming, cycling and running legs) at La Porte, Ind. this summer, came into the final leg—the running phase—far behind but still full of hope, because running is his forte.
He had lost ground, or water, in the swim and had barely held his own in cycling ("I passed maybe 25 people, but another 25 passed me"). Now, though, he had improved his position maybe 50 places, and 100 yards from the finish he found he still had a chance to catch one more rival. "He was about my age," says Nordberg, "so I got inspired, mounted a ferocious sprint and outleaned him at the tape." Nordberg's gallant spurt improved his finishing position from 69th to 68th, reward enough for the true amateur—most of the time.
At La Porte, however, there was a joker. Trophies were given only to the top three finishers; everyone else was in a kind of raffle, with numbers corresponding to their finishing positions picked for various goodies. The grand prize for the also-rans was a $50 bond from a La Porte bank, and the winning number was—never mind the envelope—69.
Next year, says winner/loser Nordberg, he'll train for the marathon again, but this time not quite as hard.
THE BATTLE OF CLEVELAND
While the ineptly managed Cleveland Cavaliers have sunk to the NBA depths, another basketball team in that city, the Cleveland State University Vikings, has been flying high. To dramatize the difference, Merle Levin, Cleveland State's sports information director, mischievously poses the following question: In the last two years, which of the two teams has had the most first-round picks in the NBA college draft?
Well, O.K., college teams have their players taken in the draft, NBA teams do the taking. That understood, however, there's no question that the Vikings have, in a sense, showed up the Cavaliers in the NBA draft. Cleveland State's Franklin Edwards was a first-round choice of the 76ers' last year, and another Viking star, Darren Tillis, was taken in the first round by the Celtics this year. The Cavs, meanwhile, have just one first-rounder to show for those two drafts, Boston College's John Bagley, whom they landed this year. The 1981 draft? The Cavs traded away their first-round pick, just as they had improvidently done in both 1977 and 1979.
QUID PRO (SO TO SPEAK) QUO
Tufts University of Medford, Mass. is hardly known to college football fans in other parts of the country, except for those few whose esoteric knowledge includes the fact that the school's nickname, the Jumbos, came about because years ago Tufts acquired the stuffed skin of PT Barnum's famous 19th-century elephant. (There are also the purveyors of heavy humor who like to say that Tufts is the only college named for a movie actor, one of the many Sonny Tufts jokes in vogue some years ago.)