March 01 , 2007


Big Bear hug for Lovie, Ravens let go of Lewis

Lovie Smith

Associated Press/Michael Conroy
Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith signed a four-year contract extension through the 2011 season on Wednesday.

By The Associated Press
The Chicago Bears decided Lovie Smith was the right coach to lead the team into the next decade — with hopefully a few more Super Bowl appearances.
A week after Smith’s agent said negotiations were so stalled the coach would probably leave after the 2007 season, the Bears signed Smith to a four-year contract extension through 2011 on Wednesday.
The lowest-paid coach in the NFL last season at $1.35 million when he led the Bears to the Super Bowl, Smith’s deal will average about $4.7 million per season over five years. He’ll make $22 million in new money and the total value of the five years is $23.45 million, the Chicago Tribune reported. Smith was scheduled to make $1.45 million this season in the final year of his initial four-year contract.
The deal was announced by the team Wednesday night, as was an extension through 2013 for general manager Jerry Angelo.
Smith, the 2005 NFL coach of the year, led the Bears to a 15-4 record and their first NFC championship in more than two decades last season before they lost 29-17 to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.
In Baltimore, Jamal Lewis, whose 2,066 yards rushing in 2003 were second most in NFL history, was cut by the Ravens.
He was one of several players released as teams maneuvered to find salary cap space before the free-agent period starts Friday. However, the Ravens said they are still attempting to re-sign Lewis.
Among the other players cut were Cincinnati linebacker Brian Simmons; Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson, a 15-year veteran; and wide receiver Eric Moulds, who played for Houston last season after 10 years as a standout with Buffalo.
Washington finished restructuring Mark Brunell’s contract, creating more space under the salary cap while ensuring he will return to the team next season.
Dallas re-signed Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar to a five-year, $8.5 million contract that includes a $2.5 million signing bonus. He led the NFL with a 48.2-yard average, the best in the NFL since 1963. He was also the first Cowboys punter to make the Pro Bowl since Ron Widby in 1971.
Buffalo re-signed running back Shaud Williams and secured the rights to defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove and Tim Anderson by tendering both one-year contract offers.
The 27-year-old Lewis, the NFL’s offensive player of the year after his big season, slipped in recent years and rushed for 1,132 yards last season with just a 3.6 average. His problems were due to injuries and perhaps to a term in prison in the 2005 offseason after pleading guilty to using a cell phone to set up a drug buy.
Releasing Lewis, who carried a salary-cap figure of $11.6 million, creates $8.3 million in cap room. Baltimore is now roughly $11.3 million under the league salary cap limit of $109 million.
General manager Ozzie Newsome said the team continues to talk with Lewis’ agent, Mitch Frankel, about bringing him back at a lower price.
“There has been good dialogue,” Newsome said. “Jamal has been a significant contributor to us in the last seven seasons. It’s our hope to have him back with the Ravens.”


Five chasing state meet dreams

Purple Lions trio, Marathon pair open up Friday on Albany mats

Staff Writer

Friday will be the final step in three outstanding high school wrestling careers.
For five years, Dryden High seniors Anthony Jerome and Rex Hollenbeck have dreamed of competing against the best high school wrestlers in the state. It is the same dream that Marathon Central senior Tyler Malmberg has had for four years.
This will be the first, and only, trip to the New York State Division I High School Wrestling Championships for this local trio while Purple Lion junior Tony Clarke also makes his first ever trip to the state tournament.
Ironically, the youngest member of the local contingent in Division I competition, Marathon sophomore Devon Brown, is making his second trip to the Times Union Center in Albany. Brown reached the state tournament in 2005 as an eighth-grader and placed fifth at 96 pounds in Division II.
All five are team leaders and well respected in wrestling circles.
Malmberg and Hollenbeck advance to the state tournament as Section 4 champions. Malmberg posted a 10-2 decision over Brandon Ketchum in the championship match at 125 pounds while Hollenbeck scored a 7-4 decision over Derek Jones to claim the 160-pound title.
Jerome, Clarke and Brown did not win Section 4 titles this year, but they were all benefactors of the newest rules change in order to fill every bracket with 16 wrestlers. At-large bids were awarded to eliminate any first-round byes based on overall record this season, plus current and previous sectional finishes. All three have been solid in sectional competition throughout their careers, plus Brown did have the benefit of his previous state tournament appearance to aid in his selection. Jerome (130) and Brown (119) were runners-up in sectional competition while Clarke (215) took third this year.
Brown (24-2 in 2006-2007, 96-8 career) will face Jamie Franco, a sophomore from Monroe-Woodbury in Section 9, in the first round.
“Devon had a setback in the Section 4 finals, but, with the new at-large entries, he was given a gift,” said Marathon coach Jamie Bush. “Now he has to make the most of it. Devon is more than capable and should overcome that setback and win this weekend. He has put a lot of time into preparing for this part of the season, now he just needs to stay focused and make it happen. A top-three State finish would be great for Devon this season.”
Malmberg (38-5, 134-42) will meet junior Shane Strumwasser from Massapequa in Section 8 in his first-round match.
“Tyler set his goals high and worked all season to make it happen,” said Bush. “He did it and has been the backbone of this years team. We could count on Tyler to score the team six points in duals and be on the podium at tournaments. He is by far the most improved four-year wrestler that Marathon has had in school history. He is what Marathon strives to achieve with our athletes. He works hard in school and on the mat and volunteers in our community. The college he signs with will be receiving an all-round class act. He will be missed by our team and our teachers. I credit a lot of this to his parents, Eric and Sue, but most of all Tyler for all his hard work. Thanks for all you have done this season. Now make it happen one more time.”
Dryden has not had a wrestler in the state tournament since 1981 when Randy Simmons was a Section 4 champion at 105 pounds. The only other Purple Lion to reach the state meet was two-time Section 4 champion Doug Smith in 1964 and 1965. Smith was the unlimited weight-class state champion in 1965.
Jerome (30-6, 127-34) will face senior powerhouse Kevin Smith from Mexico of Section 3 in the first round.
Hollenbeck (27-6, 120-53) will meet senior Matt Dimichiel from Whitesboro in Section 3 in the first round.
Clarke ((32-2, 87-24) will take on senior Maciej Jochym from Herricks in Section 8 in the first round.




Red Dragon Sair seeks second title

The quest for a second consecutive NCAA Division III wrestling title begins Friday morning for SUNY Cortland senior Stef Sair.
When the two-day event at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, Iowa, gets underway, Sair will not the only Red Dragon with championship ambitions.
Cortland will have a half dozen wrestlers in action, including sophomore 141-pounder Paul LeBlanc — who will be looking to better his fourth place finish a year ago.
Brother and fellow sophomore Treavor LeBlanc at 174 pounds, junior Phil Archer at 197 pounds, junior Zack Bogardus at 165 pounds and freshman Dave Colagiovanni at 125 pounds will also be taking to the mats for the Red Dragons.
The first session starts at 11 a.m. Friday, leading up to Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship round. Loras College is the official host to the tournament.
Cortland finished sixth as a team last year, and is ranked fifth in the most recent NCAA Division III team poll. Wartburg College in Iowa is the nation’s top-ranked squad.
Sair will be looking to repeat in a different weight class. A year ago, be decisioned Scott Kaufman of Warburg 9-8 in the finals at 174 pounds.
This season Sair is ranked third nationally at 184 pounds, the two-time All-American having posted a 19-2 record that included winning the Empire State Wrestling Conference title two weekends ago. Sair beat sixth ranked Brett Giehl of Brockport 14-7 in the ESWC title match.
Sair has a 77-13 career-record with the Red Dragons, with a dozen pins. And this comes after doubling up as the starting safety on the SUNY Cortland football squad, which has limited his pre-season work with the squad and Coach Brad Bruhn.
Ranked ahead of Sair at 184 pounds are Jason Lulloff (25-3) of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Roman Djourmessi (30-1) of Wartburg.