Area Sports...

June 20, 2001


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Jefferson golf enthusiast becomes PCS-certified Class A Clubmaker
Jefferson's John Segars has been named a certified Class A Clubmaker by the Professional Clubmakers' Society, according to a press release from the PCS this week.
Segars, a 1983 graduate of Jackson County Comprehensive High School, earned the recognition after successful completion of a written examination and a demanding skills test.
"It was a pretty hard little process," Segars said earlier this week. "It was a little trying. There were about 300 questions on the written test, and a skills test." As part of the skills test, Segars said the PCS sent him club components to be assembled to its specifications. After completion of the assembly, the clubs were inspected by a PCS representative and certified as acceptable.
According to Segars, there are approximately 700 to 800 certified Class A Clubmakers in the world, and only 15 in Georgia. Prior to Segars' certification, the nearest to the Jackson County area was in Cumming.
The PCS "is an international, independent, non-profit organization that exists solely to support clubmakers," according to the release. Certified members may be located by calling the PCS at (800) 548-6094.
Segars, a regular at Eagle Greens at Sandy Creek Golf Course, also worked at the recent Bellsouth Classic in the Rifle Shaft tour support van, operated by David Southworth, also a Class A Clubmaker.




Father and son both victorious on eve of Father's Day
It couldn't have been scripted any better for two Maysville residents. The father is a former late model driver and NASCAR regional champion who recently decided to come out of retirement after a four-year hiatus. The son is an up-and-coming driver who has enjoyed success in the truck series.
Saturday night, both won together for the first time in back-to-back 50-lap feature events at Lanier National Speedway, just hours before Father's Day.
Mike Love started on the pole for the 50-lap Budweiser Pro Late Model race, but knew his main competition would come from row three. Tony Bennett and Shane Chastain posted the fastest qualifying laps, but Bennett rolled a six on the inversion dice afterward.
Love was solid for the first 35 laps, at times leading by 10 car-lengths. Chastain and Bennett gradually began reeling in the No. 25 Chevrolet, but Love masterfully blocked Chastain's low-side advances lap after lap.
On lap 41, Chastain tried the high side, and managed to slip past the cagey veteran. One-half lap later, Chastain's ride slipped up the banking in turn one and clobbered the outside retaining wall coming off turn two. Love and Bennett both motored past, as Chastain limped on to pit road and finished 14th.
"I was running on the outside and I was trying to clear Mike," Chastain said after the race. "Up in the high groove, the car was pushing a little, so I just got back in the gas a little too quick. When I did, I just got into the loose marbles and headed straight out to the wall." Remarkably, the race stayed under green.
With two laps left, Bennett had a run on Love, but could not make it hold. On the final lap, the two popular drivers brought the crowd to its feet, racing door-to-door down the backstretch and across the finish line. Love's margin of victory was a mere three feet.
Love's first thoughts in victory lane were not of the close finish, but rather of his son.
"This is the first time Joey and I have won on the same night together, so that's pretty cool," the elder Love said.
Joey Love fought off Lula's Mike Davidson over the final 10 laps of the Akins of Winder Pro Truck event. Davidson nearly cleared Love twice in the closing laps, only to lose his advantage and see Love regain the edge. Points leader George Williams Jr. finished a solid third.
"It's really amazing," Joey said at the end of the night's events. "When we first got here today, I didn't even imagine I'd win, but I lucked up and won and he did, too. I've always wanted us to win on the same night, and with it being on Father's Day, it couldn't have been any better."
Kevin Stephens returned to dominant form by outpacing the field in the Simpson's Trucking and Grading Sportsman division.
Curt Britt outran Steve Hill and Thomas Ross to claim the Sunoco Ministock victory. Britt announced that he's giving all his winnings during the month of June to Rhubarb Jones' March Across Georgia charity.
Notes ­ The X-Karz makes its 2001 Lanier debut this Saturday, along with the regular NASCAR Weekly Racing Series program . . . The PARTS Pro Trucks return to Lanier for a 100-lapper June 30 . . . Double points are on the line for all divisions Wednesday, July 4. The evening will conclude with 100 laps from the Budweiser Pro Late Models and a spectacular fireworks display . . . Suites are available for rental at the speedway . . . The Lanier Legends return to action this Friday.




Summer Hoops For Commerce Tigers
The Commerce Tigers' basketball team has been competing against area teams in a summer schedule that is more about practice than competition. "Football lasts so long that we try to get the basics out of the way in the summer. We want to spend more time practicing," Coach Rex Gregg said.
The team played eight games last week after one week of practice.
"I am a little more optimistic than I was one month ago," said Gregg. "We are coming off four outstanding years and are having to rebuild. We haven't had to rebuild since 1992."
The team will have five seniors playing, but only three of the seniors have any playing experience. "Two played a good bit, two have no experience at all," Gregg said.
The team will also have one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen.
"I've been really proud of the underclassman. I thought they played really well. We need a little more from the seniors," Gregg said. Ten players are going to the basketball camp June 23-25 at Clemson University. "We'll leave a couple of spots for kids on vacation or ones that just couldn't be out here (this summer). Ten is a good working number."
The seniors who will play for Commerce next season are Rob Brown, a wing player, Vonte' Reed and Dustin Martin a 6' 4" post player, Scott White a 6' post player and 6'3" Adam Bagwell.
The Junior on the team is 5' 11" Brandon Jennings.
Casha Daniels, a 6' post or wing player and David Evans a 5'9" point guard are the Sophomores.
The Freshmen are 6'4" wing and post player Tyson Randolph and 6' Nick Slayton.




Peach State back in action Saturday
A week after operations were temporarily suspended by track owners, engines will fire once again at Peach State Speedway Saturday, for a special Fan Appreciation Night.
Grandstand gates open at 5 p.m., and a special admission price of $5 per person has been set for the event. Children 12 and under will be admitted at no charge. The track's weekly ARA series will be running, including the mini stocks, modified mini stocks, super stocks and pure stocks. Racing is set to begin at 8 p.m.
TEMPORARY SUSPENSION
Track operators John Huffman and Dr. Jim Kasin made the decision to temporarily suspend operations last week after confusion over last week's scheduled American Racing Association All-Star event and concerns about ongoing financial problems at the track. Peach State Race Management of Fayetteville actually owns the track, but Huffman and Kasin's Southcorp Properties currently holds a lease to the property.
"We had a lot of confusion as far as promoting it, and on the part of the drivers. It was originally scheduled to be at Franklin County [Virginia], and some of the drivers apparently thought it was still going to be there. I wasn't going to walk in to a tower of Babel, with this thing not being well coordinated, so we went ahead and canceled the event."
As for the financial situation, Huffman said Peach State was among three other tracks owned by Southcorp that had also been temporarily shut down last week. The others were Lonesome Pine, Tri-County and Friendship.
"In the middle of running six tracks, you don't always have time to sit down and think clearly," Huffman said. "What we're doing at each of those tracks is not working . . . there are all kinds of things we're looking at to try to make those tracks successful." Southcorp also owns Hickory Speedway and Montgomery Speedway. Huffman indicated that both of those tracks consistently show a profit.
FUTURE PLANS?
As for the long-term situation at Peach State, Huffman was unsure of what the future may hold for the Dry Pond speedway.
"Ever since we bought Peach State, I've heard over and over that it's a special event track, not a weekly track. After two years, we haven't put together a successful weekly program yet. We're losing three to five thousand dollars every time we open the gates down there."
Huffman blamed the track's financial woes on a lack of available sponsors, drivers and marketing opportunities.
"Marketing and sponsorship is virtually non-existent down there, and we can't attract enough drivers to put on a good show."
Huffman indicated that he and Kasin are considering a number of possibilities, from continuing the current local racing series on a bi-weekly basis to opening only for special events such as the Southern All-Stars and Hooters Pro Cup. Huffman indicated that the local racing divisions would likely only be discontinued as a last resort.
"We've got some very good, loyal drivers at Peach State who are there week after week. Their biggest fear is that we're going to shut down the weekly series and they're not going to have a home to race. On my end, I'm still fighting for the weekly program."
TUESDAY UPDATE
As of Tuesday, sources with Peach State Speedway indicated that the track would likely begin running the local series on a bi-weekly basis, as Huffman previously indicated might be the case. However, Mainstreet Newspapers has not yet received confirmation of that decision from Southcorp Properties.


Westbrook continues to mature with Indians despite shuffle
Despite the jet lag Jake Westbrook may be experiencing from being shipped back and forth from AAA Buffalo to Cleveland, the former Raider continues to be sharp against Major League foes-when he gets the chance.
Already in his third stint with the Cleveland Indians this season, Westbrook, who was called up once again Friday from the minors, posted two more quality relief appearances over the weekend during Cleveland's road interleague series against Pittsburgh.
The 23-year-old right-hander, who is currently filling injured Indian reliever Paul Shuely's spot, worked two innings Friday, surrendering a hit while allowing no runs in the Indians' 6-3 loss to the Pirates.
Westbrook then worked two more innings a night later in relief of Jaret Wright in a 6-4 loss, surrendering a single run and two hits in two innings of work.
The pitcher also proved to have a handle on his control, throwing 41 pitches in the two games, registering 30 for strikes.
It now may become hard to keep sending the former Raider standout down.
Westbrook, who made his Major League debut just over a year ago with the New York Yankees, has now worked in five games this year in his three stops with Cleveland, posting a solid 3.38 ERA in 13 innings pitched with 10 strikeouts and only three walks.
Furthermore, the quality appearances are becoming more consistent.
His impressive weekend outings come after the strongest showing of his young big league career on June 4, a day before being sent down to AAA to make room for Indian reliever Steve Woodard. In the appearance Westbrook worked 4.1 innings of relief surrendering no runs, three hits and two walks while striking out a career-high six batters.
Westbrook's first tour of duty in the majors came April 10-21, making one appearance in which he tossed three innings and surrendering an earned run against the White Sox.
Despite the working in relief for the 40-26 second-place Cleveland club, the Westbrook is being groomed as a starter, a role which the pitcher has proven effective in while in AAA in between his stints in the big leagues.
In eight starts with Buffalo, he has compiled a 6-1 record with a 2.44 ERA in 44 innings pitched.


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