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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Turner Gill

(Born August 13, 1962) -- There are two places where you won’t hear anything bad about Turner Gill. One is in Nebraska. The other is in Buffalo.

Gill grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, and was an excellent all-around athlete. In fact he was a high draft pick out of high school by the Chicago White Sox. Owner Bill Veeck couldn’t sign Gill drew to a dispute over $5,000, and Gill headed to Nebraska to play football.

He saw a little playing time as a true freshman at quarterback in 1980, and was put into action for the second half of a 1981 game against Auburn. Gill led the Cornhuskers to victory, and Nebraska ran through the rest of the Big Eight season unbeaten. It was more of the same in the next two years, as Gill had a 28-2 record as a starter for the Huskers.

Gill went into coaching from there, first at Nebraska. He landed a job with the Green Bay Packers as director of player development, and thus it was a surprise when he was hired as the head coach at the University at Buffalo in Dec. 2005. In his third year, the Bulls won a conference championship and played in their first-ever bowl game.

Gill stayed one more year, and then left for Kansas. He spent two years there before losing his job with a 5-19 record. Gill landed at Liberty University.

--- Budd Bailey

Sunday live from the Glen: Ambrose wins after zany, crazy last lap of Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen

Marcos Ambrose celebrates his second straight Cup win at the Glen in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
Good morning from Watkins Glen International. It's race day and it's always key for reporters to get in the infield early.

Our entrance to the infield has us go under the track at just about the end of the Esses. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)10:15 a.m. We're just setting up for the day. Larry Ott and I are talking about possible approaches for coverage in the race.

Larry, as always, is catching up with Western New York natives in NASCAR. Old friend Rodney Fetters, a longtime crew member, is now part of Marcos Ambrose's crew team and he might have a very special day.

Thankfully, weather should not be a factor (knock on wood) -- as it's been recently. The race has been rained out twice in the last three years. It's a sunny day right now. There are rain showers in the forecast, but the chance of precipitation is at 30 percent. 

Otherwise we are using the time to budget our coverage of tomorrow's first day of high school football practice. I'm also trying to check in on the gold medal hoops game online (the media center TVs are on ESPN) but there is a good deal off buf ... fer ... ing.

Today's trophy was designed by the Corning Museum of Glass. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)10:59 a.m. A press conference in the media center presented the trophy that will be awarded to today's winner. It's fittingly been made at the Corning Museum of Glass.

It's a pretty cool item. The stone at the bottom is from the Finger Lakes region (it's actually called "glenstone"), and the clear glass cylinder-type deal is meant to reflect the gorges and waterfalls of the region. It has a baby-blue tinge, which is representative of the track's trademark baby blue guardrails. The shape of the interior of the glass is the shape of the track.

I'll take a picture of it after the press conference is complete (click on the photo for a jumbo-sized picture where you can get a good look of the track design).

It really is a neat trophy when you see it up close. The shape of the track is represented inside the glass, and the trophy's look kind of changes when you look at it from different angles. There were several artists involved in its production. 

11:26 a.m. Come race time, we'll be keeping track of things in the window below. 

I'll be using it as my running notes for the race and I'll flow my tweets as well as some other useful Twitter feeds through.

1 p.m. Here we go: Click below:

Myself and Larry will have several stories on today's race in Monday's paper.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Todd Marchant

(Born August 12, 1973) -- It’s an amusing coincidence - two of the best hockey players to come out of Western New York celebrate birthdays on back-to-back days. Today, it’s Todd Marchant’s turn.

Marchant wasn’t quite as good a prospect as Miller was. He came out of Williamsville East High School and landed at Clarkson University for college hockey. The forward was drafted by the Rangers in 1993.

Marchant only got one game in as a Ranger, as he was traded to the Oilers for Craig MacTavish. That started a nine-year run in Edmonton. Marchant had the thrill of any player’s lifetime when he scored a Game Seven goal in overtime to knock the Dallas Stars out of the playoffs. He scored three short-handed goals in that particular playoff season.

Marchant landed in Columbus in 2003, where he spent a little more than a season. Then it was on to Anaheim. Marchant missed part of the 2006-07 season, but came back for some of the playoffs. That worked out well - the Ducks won the Stanley Cup that year.

Marchant retired after a fine 17-year career in 2011. He still works in Anaheim’s front office.

--- Budd Bailey

Saturday live from the Glen: Montoya takes Sprint Cup pole; Edwards wins Nationwide race; Team Sahlen's moving to Daytona Prototype in 2013

Carl Edwards and his crew celebrate in victory lane. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
Hello from Watkins Glen International after the always-nice drive down Seneca Lake to the famed road course. 

11:30 a.m. Settling in after I nearly gave myself a heart attack by thinking I forgot my power cord. Whew. 

Nationwide qualifying for this afternoon's Zippo 200 concluded just after I arrived.

Sam Hornish has claimed the pole with a lap of 72.027 seconds (122.454 mph). He was followed by Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Old Glen friend Ron Fellows, the Toronto native who has won several times here, qualified 15th in the fittingly-sponsored Canadian Tire Chevrolet.

The 18th annual Zippo 200 is scheduled to start at 2:15 p.m.

11:40 a.m. Qualifying is underway for the Sprint Cup Series.

Co-owners Joe Sahlen and Joe Nonnamaker (right) pose by the sketches of the 2013 Team Sahlen's Daytona Prototypes (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

11:50 a.m. Travis Kvapil doinks his No. 93 front-first into the guardrail in Turn 11. 

12:11 p.m.: An announcement in the media center by Team Sahlen's, which celebrated by offering cupcakes to media members (never a bad idea, of course): 

Sahlen's will be sponsoring a Daytona Prototype team for the 2013 Grand-Am season, which is a step up from what has been its participation in the GT Class. 

The press conference opened with Team Sahlen's giving props to the U.S. Olympic women's soccer team as well as the Western New York Flash for its third straight title this year. Joe Sahlen is the owner of the WNY Flash.

"It's a graduation," Joe Sahlen said of the move up to Daytona Prototypes. "It's going to be a challenge, but that's what being competitive [is about]. This challenge presented itself. That's part of the human condition. Trying to be the best you can be."

1:05 p.m. With 10 drivers remaining in qualifying (which had the top speeds in practice), Juan Pablo Montoya is atop the chart, followed by Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. Among the final 10 is Kyle Busch, who had the top speed in this morning's practice.

1:29 p.m. Qualifying is complete. 

Montoya wins the pole, followed by Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and defending champion Marcos Ambrose. 

2:20 p.m. The Zippo 200 will start in a few moments. Kyle Busch being moved to the back for "unapproved adjustments."

2:40 p.m. The ZIppo 200 starts and on the very first lap, Ryan Truex slides through the grass on the inside of Turn One and he returned to the track to cause some serious front-end damage to Danica Patrick's familiar green car. Her hood was popped up after serious impact to the front. She headed tot he pits and her team did some quick repair, banging down the sheet metal and affixing some duct tape to the hood. Media center doesn't think that tape might hold for too long.

Soon after, Danica goes to the garage. Apparently too much damage to continue. 

3:01 p.m. Hornish held the lead until Keselowski made a bold move entering the Inner Loop. Coming out of the backstretch, Keselowski got in the grass as they made the first quick right-hander to slip by Hornish. Can't remember that move being made too many times here, like that on the grass. You see out-breaking entering the Inner Loop, or passing as cars exit, and you see cars on the grass there.

With Truex's mishap in Turn One, we've seen cars off track here in spots we usually don't. 

3:33 p.m. With one pit stop having cycled through, Keselowski still holds the lead as we approach the halfway point. We're through 36 of 82 laps and Keselowski has more than a 5-second lead on Carl Edwards. There has only been one caution so far (knock on wood).

3:34 p.m. I should have actually knocked on wood instead of just typing it. Hard crash brings out the yellow. Alex Kennedy in the No. 87 Toyota seems to have his car flattened after an incident through the Esses, apparently with the No. 3 of Austin Dillon. 

3:45 p.m. The race goes green -- and past halfway -- and while Keselowski holds his lead, Kyle Busch is turning heads on the track and in the crowd as he has worked his way to second. That's after he started at the back of the pack. He made a groovy pass exiting the backstretch and into the Inner Loop, swooping to the inside lane and passing two cars as they were three-wide for a moment. Great stuff. 

3:56 p.m. Keselowski in for his second and likely final pit stop. Kyle Busch assumed the lead for a lap -- with 51 of 82 complete, then came to the pits with several other key cars.

4:03 p.m. The caution is out after a couple of exciting laps in which Edwards got into the back of Kyle Busch, and then Joey Logano, the latter contact which caused Logano to spin out in Turn 11 coming back to the front stretch. He made a nice save amid a cloud of smoke and continued on. 

The monitors show Miguel Paludo, Justin Allgaier, Jeremy Clements and Mike Wallace leading after 57 laps, but we believe they still have to pit. Keselowski is listed fifth behind them, with Kasey Kahne, Hornish and Kyle Busch next. Looks like a fun battle ahead. 

Cars come to pit, some of those lead cars indeed head in. 

4:13 p.m. Whoa, what a move by Busch on the restart. He was on the inside, positioned behind Kahne, and he flat-out juked around him. Keselowski was on the outside and accelerated to keep the lead.

With 20 laps to go, Keselowski leads Kyle Busch, Edwards, Hornish and Kahne. 

4:23 p.m. Caution is out after Cole Whitt sustains heavy damage after a run-in entering the Inner Loop. 

Nearly at the same time, Hornish and Kyle Busch had quite the battle. Hornish appeared to knock Busch off-course heading into Turn 10, but Busch somehow regained control, got back on track and maintained position on Hornish. They are third and fourth, resepectively, right now. Keselowski leads with Edwards second with 69 laps down in the 82-lap event.

The restart should be fun, but Keselowski has shown he has been too much to deal with all day. We'll see. 

4:30 p.m. Caution continues. With the top three all Cup guys, you might see Edwards trying to bump his way to the front ... you might see Kyle extremely aggressive -- because there is nothing to lose for those guys. Hornish is in the points race and is a good spot. 

4:34 p.m. Awesome move by Edwards, who powers by Keselowski coming out of Turn One and entering the Esses.

4:39 p.m. More awesome stuff from Edwards, who fends off Keselowski to power ahead of him up the Esses again. 

Keselowski slightly clipped Edwards heading into Turn 11, and the two went side-by-side down the frontstretch. Keselowski couldn't hold on out of Turn One, and Edwards again powered ahead. Shortly thereafter, Austin Dillon drew a caution flag after he was contacted in the rear left and sheet metal went flying. 

Edwards shown as the leader after 77 of 82 laps. 

4:49 p.m. Basically a green-white-checkered here.

4:52 p.m. Edwards held off a try by several on the restart, then fended off a strong run by Keselowski near start-finish, then was comfortably ahead for the final lap. 

Carl Edwards wins the Zippo 200. 

The top 10: Edwards, Keselowski, Hornish, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Fellows, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott. 

It was Edwards' first Nationwide start of the season. Not a bad result, huh? 

It is the 38th Nationwide victory of his career, which breaks a tie with Kevin Harvick to put Edwards third all-time.

9:35 p.m. Late update as we depart the media center after a long day. 

In Saturday night’s Grand-Am Continental Tire 200, the No. 8 Daytona Prototype driven by Ryan Datziel and Lucas Luhr won the race by .817 seconds. The GT Class was won by the No. 94 of Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana and Billy Johnson. The Team Sahlen cars finished sixth, ninth and 10th among the GTs.

* * * 

We'll be back tomorrow reporting live during the big race.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Aaron Miller

(Born August 11, 1971) -- People who follow hockey somewhat casually probably didn’t realize what a good, solid player Aaron Miller was in his career. But we did here in Western New York.

Miller was born in Buffalo and played for St. Francis High School and the Niagara Scenics while growing up. That earned him a scholarship to the University of Vermont. Before that, though, he was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1989, but opted to play college hockey. Miller was one of Vermont’s all-time top players.

While at Vermont, Miller was traded to the Quebec Nordiques in a deal that sent Joe Cirella to New York. The defenseman spent most of the 1993-94 season in the minors, but did get one game in the big leagues under his belt.

Miller arrived in the NHL for good in 1996, although the Nordiques moved to Colorado, and stayed with that franchise until 2002. He spent six years with the Kings and one with the Cancuks after leaving the Avalanche.

When the United States needed a good defensive defenseman, Miller always answered the call. He played in several international tournaments, and won a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Attfield, Johnny V highlight Spa Hall of fame induction

By Gene Kershner

We’re back from the Jersey Shore and a successful trip to Monmouth Park and the Haskell, won by Bob Baffert for a record sixth time with the promising colt, Paynter. The Travers field is starting to shape up and hopefully the Haskell winner will be a participant. Today, Todd Pletcher announced that Gemologist will not run in the Travers. Dr. Kendall Hansen is pointing his white thoroughbred, Hansen, to the Midsummer Derby after a disappointing fourth place finish in the West Virginia Derby. Alpha, the Jim Dandy winner, executed a sharp workout on Thursday morning and will look to sweep this year’s big 3-year-old stakes at the Spa. We’ll keep an eye out for potential contenders over the next two weeks.

The National Museum of Racing will conduct its annual Hall of Fame inductions on Friday morning at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion adjacent to Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs. Tom Durkin, the race announcer for the New York Racing Association (NYRA), will serve as the master of ceremonies.

The 2012 class includes the Toronto-based trainer Roger Attfield, who was inducted on his first ballot, has trained a record eight Queen’s Plate winners and has been voted Canada’s champion trainer eight times. He was the winning trainer of last year’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf race with Perfect Shirl at odds of 27-1, who was ridden that day by fellow inductee John Velazquez.  Ironically, they combined for a win at the Spa on Monday afternoon in the Waya Stakes with Kissable.

When I spoke with Attfield at the Prince of Wales draw in Fort Erie last month, he was extremely excited to be inducted along with Velazquez, a rider he has used extensively when he ventures down into the states. He will have former Woodbine CEO David Willmot present him during the ceremonies.

In addition to his Plate victories, he has trained three Canadian Triple Crown winners (With Approval, Izvestia and Peteski), and five Prince of Wales champions along his career.  In addition, eight horses he has conditioned have earned Canadian Horse of the Year honors.  He was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 1999.

The many other stakes races he has won in the United States include the Wood Memorial, Flower Bowl, Shadwell Turf Mile, Maker’s Mark Mile, Elkhorn, Yellow Ribbon, Orchid and Carter Handicap. He has saddled over 1,700 career victories and has purse winnings of over $90 million since 1972.

Velazquez enters the Hall after winning more than 4,800 career races and earning in excess of $268 million of purse monies. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in 2004 and 2005 and has won 22 riding titles at NYRA tracks, in addition to nine Breeders’ Cup victories.  He won Triple Crown races on Animal Kingdom (2011 Kentucky Derby), Union Rags (2012 Belmont) and Rags to Riches (2007 Belmont) and his other major victories include wins in the Travers, Alabama, Champagne, Sanford, Personal Ensign, Whitney, King’s Bishop, Hollywood Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

Velazquez was also honored to be inducted along with Attfield. “To be inducted at the same time with Roger, who is an amazing trainer, an amazing person to be around…I’m very thankful we get to be inducted at the same time. It’s a great thrill to have him there with me.”

Trainer Robert Wheeler, jockey Anthony Hamilton and racehorses Ghostzapper and Planet will join Attfield and Johnny V in this year’s induction.  The induction will also be available at 10:30 a.m. through a live stream on the Museum’s website and radio coverage will be provided by Horse Racing Radio Network.

The feature race at Saratoga on Friday is the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year olds to be raced on the inner turf course at 1-1/16 miles. Daddy Nose Best (2-1), the Post Time Derby selection will try his second straight turf race for trainer Steve Asmussen with meet leading jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard.

We’ll try to beat him with a Kitten’s Joy colt Csaba, being ridden by top turf jockey Julien Leparoux in his second career turf start. He finished a decent third in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream after being bumped at the start by two decent 3-year olds, Howe Great and Dullahan.

The Lukas entry also looks interesting with Optimizer (1A) finally looking like he is running on his preferred surface after a solid effort in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby. Skyring won on the Preakness undercard and finished third by a neck in the Grade 3 American Derby against formidable foes.

Post Time Outlook – Grade 2 National Museum Hall of Fame S. (Race 9):

1 – Csaba

2 – Lukas Entry

3 – Daddy Nose Best

Good luck and let’s go cash some tickets!

Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer and handicapper who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.

 

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Marcus Foligno

(Born August 10, 1991) -- Like father, like son. The Sabres can only hope that will be true for players named Foligno.

Mike Foligno was a very good player for the Sabres in the late 1980s. He was traded to the Maple Leafs in December 1990, so Marcus was on the way at the time of the deal. Even so, Marcus showed his loyalty to Buffalo when he was born here the following summer.

Dad eventually became a coach in Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League, and Marcus wound up there as well. He played for the Wolves for four seasons, improving all along the way. Foligno finished 2010-11 with 59 points in 47 games.

The Sabres had been watching him since drafting Marcus 104th overall in 2009. They signed him to a contract in May, 2011.

Foligno was good when he started the season in Rochester. When he got a chance to play in Buffalo, he excelled. The forward had 13 points in 14 games at the end of last season. It looks as if Marcus has a chance to be a big part of the Sabres’ future.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Down the stretch

This isn't a bad time to check up on the News' Runner of the Year standings. We've got some new faces at the top, according to the statistics compiled by Buffalorunners.com.

The men's race is as close as it's been in years. Vasilis Kariolis is in the lead, but such runners as Jim Park and Chris Walters are right behind. And everyone in the top 10 is a couple of wins or so away from taking the lead potentially.

On the women's side, it looks as if Allison Carr is going to have trouble defending her title. Jennifer Koeppel-Acker is having a heck of a year, and certainly will be tough to catch with only five races to go.

Jeff at buffalorunners.com also does the race calendar. Here's what is coming up in the week ahead:

* Cosumel 5K, 153 Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo, 7 p.m. Friday, 913-7115.

* Dunkirk Lakefront 5K Race, Memorial Park in Dunkirk, 9 a.m. Saturday.

* MSMH River Run 5K, 145 N. 4th St. in Lewiston, 9 a.m. Saturday, 298-2249.

* Erie County Fair 5K, Fairgrounds in Hamburg, 9 a.m. Saturday, 649-3000. This year's race will start and end on the race track. Do not bet on me to win, place or show.

* Christin Padasak Memorial - Autism Awareness 5K, 393 North St. in Springville, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 949-4072.

* Stephen's Cross-Country Run, 6K, Long Point State Park in Bemus Point, 9 a.m. Sunday, 488-0788.

And worth a mention is the 26th annual running of the Moonlight Run in Williamsville on Wednesday night. That's a lot of runs in the dusk.

One other non-race event is coming up -- the Brooks Cavalcade of Curiosities bus is coming to Fleet Feet at 2290 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo on Monday. The double-decker bus visits from 3 to 8 p.m.

-- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Yuri Khmylev

(Born August 9, 1964) -- No matter how you spelled his name, Yuri Khmylev was a good hockey player.

The Russian native really had two different careers. He played 11 years for the Soviet Wings, and made a good impact on the international level as well. The forward won a World Junior title in 1984, world championships in 1986 and 1989, and a gold medal at the Olympics in 1992.

Khmylev was drafted in the fifth round by the Sabres in 1992. He was about to turn 28. In other words, this wasn’t a typical rookie. He scored 20 goals in his first season and 27 more the following year. Khmylev often played on a line with Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny.

Late in the 1995-96 season, the veteran went to St. Louis in a trade. Buffalo picked up a draft choice that turned into Maxim Afinogenov eventually. Khmylev only played in nine more games in the NHL after that trade.

 

 

He went back to Buffalo after retirement and works for the Sabres as a scout. His daughter, Olga, is a top college tennis player. Maybe she’ll make this space some day.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Bill Hewitt

(Born August 8, 1944) -- The Buffalo Braves went through a few players during the 1972-73 season. They were in the midst of their third straight season in which they didn’t win more than 22 games in any one of them. Bill Hewitt was one of those players, at least in the third of the seasons.

Hewitt’s career looked like it might be a promising one. He came out of the University of Southern California in 1968 as a first-round draft choice. Hewitt, a 6-foot-7 forward, didn’t even have to move when he finished college to enter the workforce. He was drafted by the Lakers.

Hewitt played in 75 games as a rookie in Los Angeles. He averaged about seven points and four rebounds a game for the Lakers. Hewitt’s numbers were down a bit when the Lakers opted to improve their roster in a trade. Hewitt and a third-round draft pick were shipped to Detroit for Happy Hairston.

Hewitt stayed with the Pistons until the fall of 1972. He was put on the waivers, and claimed by the Braves. Hewitt played in 73 games in Buffalo and averaged a little less than five points per game for a team that only won 21 games.

The forward was waived in training camp by the Braves in the fall of 1973. He was out of the NBA for a year before getting one last year in with the Bulls.

--- Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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