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At the Mike: US Track and Field Championships next week
Antanas Kavaliauskas
At the Mike - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

The summer heat is upon us. With the summer beginning to hit full-stride that means it’s time for wheat harvest and national track championships.

The United States Track and Field Championships will be held next week from June 25-28 in Eugene, Ore. As usual the event will feature some former Barton Community College athletes.

Headlining the list will be Tyson Gay. The former Cougar has run a US best 9.88 in the 100m this season and is also in the top 10 in the 200m with a 20.22. The 9.88 is the third fastest in the world this year.

Aleec Harris will vie for the 110m hurdle gold taking the third best US time of the season to Titletown USA as Eugene has dubbed itself. Harris has ran a 13.14. It is the fifth fastest time in the world. The top US time is 12.99 by Ronnie Ash with Aries Merritt second at 13.12.

For the women veteran LaShauntea Moore, a former Olympian will vie to compete in the 100m. She currently has a time of 11.34 and has declared for the event.

Latosha Wallace has also declared in the 400m hurdles and her time of 57.22 has been accepted but like Moore she will need to see if that time is good enough to earn her a spot in the field.

Both Moore and Wallace have a good chance to earn those spots.

Other nations will be holding their national championships as well that will include triple jumper Leevan Sands in the Bahamas and sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown in Jamaica among others.

While on the subject of track I hope everyone had a chance to read the feature I wrote in Friday’s paper on the NJCAA triple jump competition from 2002.

It set off quite a conversation on Facebook among former Barton track stars and those that knew the trio of jumpers. Among the posts was a thank you from LeJuan Simon’s widow, Dechelle Mack Simon, for honoring her late husband and the other jumpers. It was quite humbling.

The Friday features on some of the past great moments at Barton have been fun to write. I still have a few more of them to go so stay tuned.

Here is an update on some former basketball players fans might remember.

Ebi Ere: A second team All-American in 2001 and still playing professionally 13 years later. Ere, a US-born Nigerian, played for the Nigerian National team in the 2006 FIBA World Championship. He played some NBA Summer League but has spent nearly his entire pro career overseas. Ere was the runner-up for MVP of the NBL in Australia in 2008. His team, the Sydney Kings, won the NBL title in 2007.

After leaving Australia he played in Italy and Spain. He has been in Puerto Rico the last three years and currently plays for the Vaqueros de Bayamon.

JP Batista: Another second team All-American, Batista has played overseas since 2006. He started in Lithuania where he played for a couple of seasons before a one-season stop in Latvia. He spent six seasons with the Le Mans Sarthe in France and most recently signed a 2-year deal with Limoges CSP in France. He averaged double figures in five of the seven seasons in France with a high of 14.1 in 2011-12 for Le Mans.

Batista has played for the Brazilian National Team on numerous occasions winning gold medals three times – the 2007 Pan Am Games, the 2009 FIBA Americas Championships, and the 2010 South American Championships.

Antanas Kavaliauskas: Kavaliauskas has become a star in his native Lithuania. He has played there since graduating from Texas A&M. Kavaliauskas has won a pair of championships, been a 2-time all-star and just this past season was the MVP of the Lithuanian Basketball League. His team, Lietuvous Rytas finished second.

Kavaliauskas played for Lithuania in the 2012 Olympics where the team went 2-3 in group play.

Nykia Williams: Williams has been playing overseas as well, playing in Finland, Tunisia, France and Japan. Williams played most recently with the Saitama Broncos in Japan, where he averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds a game last season as the starting center.

Antowine Lamb: Lamb is perhaps an unlikely former player to still be playing overseas. But he found a home in Nicaragua playing for the Managua Tigers to start his pro days. He currently is the starting power forward for the BCKE Wallabies in Switzerland.

These are just a few of the athletes still playing basketball beyond Barton.

Here’s to a safe and prosperous wheat harvest season for all farmers and to everyone driving in Barton County and around the area.