Halftime performer Red Panda’s unicycle stolen from San Fran airport

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 6:09 PM

The most amazing halftime act in basketball

The 7-foot unicycle used by Rong Niu, the acrobat who performs as Red Panda at halftime shows at basketball games, was stolen from San Francisco International Airport last week.

Pat Figley of Farallon Entertainment, and is Niu’s agent, has offered a $2,000 award for the unicycle. 

“She’s heartbroken, Figley told KTVU-TV in Oakland. “It’s like her baby was kidnapped, she’s had that unicycle for 30 years.” 

Niu was waiting for her unicycle at the the luggage pickup, saw the bag from a distance, but said it appeared someone grabbed it before she could. Figley said someone may have taken the bag by mistake. 

Red Panda performs at UD Arena(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Figley told KTVU-TV that Niu is back on the road on a backup unicycle, but has had difficulties performing with it. The unicycle that was stolen was custom built for her, while the backup wasn’t. 

San Mateo County Sheriff’s Cargo and Task Force is reviewing surveillance video from the airport. 

Dayton Daily News award-winning columnist Tom Archdeacon  wrote a feature about Niu less than a week ago.

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Wayne sprints to Division I boys regional track title

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 11:26 AM


            Wayne teammates Justin Harris (left) and Zarik Brown celebrate after they helped win the 1,600-meter relay and clinch the team title over Centerville at Friday’s Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED
Wayne teammates Justin Harris (left) and Zarik Brown celebrate after they helped win the 1,600-meter relay and clinch the team title over Centerville at Friday’s Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED

Zarik Brown was walking near the podium next to the Wayne High School track Friday night when his teammate Joel Craig turned around and said, “You’re so loud over there.”

Brown just smiled. The four medals clanging around his neck were making all the noise. But not as much noise as Brown and his Wayne teammates made at the Division I regional. The Warriors won their eighth regional title and first since 2012 on the legs of Brown, Justin Harris, two relay teams and Craig, the shot put champion.

“(Friday) was one of their best efforts of the year and we’re peaking at the right time,” said longtime Wayne coach Mike Fernandez.

» PHOTO GALLERY: D-I regional track and field at Wayne

»RELATED: Milton-Union senior makes final state push

Harris and Brown, both juniors, will compete in four events at next weekend’s state meet at Ohio State as will Springfield sprinter and long jumper Quincy Scott. Wayne will try to add an outdoor team title to the indoor title they won earlier this year.

Harris won the 110-meter hurdles (14.13) and the 300 hurdles (37.61), denying runner-up Joshua Byars-Mason of Trotwood-Madison in both races.

“It was a pretty good day overall,” Harris said. “I should be dropping more times coming into the state meet, so I feel good coming into next week.”

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»REGIONAL TRACK: “It’s all about moving on”

Brown and Scott raced each other to the finish three times. Scott won the 100 (10.80) and Brown was second (10.86). Brown won the 200 (21.31) and Scott was runner-up (21.61). They ran anchor in the 400 relay and Wayne’s team of Jaden Roberts, Diante Lesperance, Harris and Brown (41.69) held off runner-up Springfield.

“It really pushes me to go to my max,” Brown said of his races against Scott. “Every meet we see each other we know it’s going to be tough. We usually end up PR’ing a lot.”

»IT’S A RECORD: Lakota East flash passes mark that stood since 1990

»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track at Wayne

The race for the team title was completed (Wayne 83, Centerville 68, Springfield 41) in the 4x400 relay. Wayne’s team of Harris, Davontae McKee, Lucas Houk and Brown won (3:17.90) and Centerville was third.

“The fours, they call it a man’s race, so you gotta finish it through all the way,” Harris said. “I love the 400.”

So does Brown. He took the baton for the last leg in fourth place and started to gain ground immediately.

“That’s his best race, and the irony is I took him out of the open 400 because I needed him for the 4x400, 200, 4x100 and 100,” said Fernandez, who made that decision to maximize team points. “Our goal is to see if we can win next week as a team.”

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Craig will be a big part of that effort. He won the shot put (56-0.25). His finished seventh at state last year at 56-11.5.

“I know I’ve got way more energy in my body,” said Craig, who also placed fifth in discus. . “I’ve been practicing for it, I’ve been wanting it, I’ve been thirsty, I’ve been hungry, I’m going to get it.”

Wayne will also be represented in the girls meet by Taylor Robertson and the 400 relay. Robertson placed second in the long jump and fourth in pole vault.

»OHSAA: No more stacking teams

Beavercreek sophomore Eileen Yang won her second regional pole vault title (12-4). She placed ninth at state last year.

“Last year’s regionals I was kind of a nervous wreck and pacing a lot and breathing really hard,” she said. “This year I got used to it and it was familiar territory because I practice here a lot.”

Troy sophomore Lenea Browder won the discus (149-2) to go with her runner-up shot put finish on Wednesday.

“I did not imagine coming in my freshman year doing it and then my sophomore year doing so much better,” Browder said. “This has been truly a blessing. I’m so happy and I’m so thankful.”

Centerville senior Andrew Craig won the 800 to return to state, where he placed fourth last year. Miamisburg senior Jason Hubbard won the high jump (6-7).

»RELATED: D-I baseball sectional photo gallery

• Minster won four events, including a distance sweep by Emma Watcke, to win the girls team title in the D-III regional at Troy’s Memorial Stadium on Friday, 85-60 over runner-up Columbus Grove.

A sophomore, Watcke placed first in the 1600 (5:01.59) and followed that with a win in the 3200 (11:13.08). Also winning for the Wildcats on Friday was jnior Madeline Magoto in the 800 (2:16.73).

»RELATED: Senior basketball standout a one-season wonder

Minster added seconds in the 4x400 relay and senior Grace Butler in the pole vault. On Wednesday, Minster won the 4x800 relay (9:25.32).

Waynesfield-Goshen won the boys D-III team title, edging Fort Loramie 72-66.

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Chaminade Julienne baseball earns second straight trip to state

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:59 PM

Highlights: Chaminade Julienne beats CHCA in regional final

The goal for the Chaminade Julienne baseball team ever since it walked off the field at Huntington Park last June was to earn another chance to play for the state championship.

Last winter, in the weight room at the high school, the Eagles kept track of how many days remained until they would get the chance.

"They had a board in there, and they had a countdown," CJ coach Mike Barhorst said. "It was 78 or 80 days or whatever when we started it."

» PHOTOS: CJ vs. CHCA

On Friday before a Division II regional championship game against Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Barhorst reminded them of the countdown.

"One day left until we make it to Huntington," Barhorst said.

The Eagles really have to wait another week, but after beating CHCA 5-4 at Mason High School, they will get the chance to avenge that 4-0 loss to Tallmadge in the state title game, and this time, Tallmadge will be opponent in the semifinals. The teams play at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus.

The other state semifinal in Division II will pit Circleville against Wapakoneta or Ontario, who play their regional final at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Tallmadge beat Canfield 17-0 on Friday to win its regional. Chaminade Julienne didn't have quite the same easy night. For the second straight day, it experienced a dramatic seventh inning in Mason.

» REGIONAL SEMIFINAL: CJ wins on walk-off singleGame photos | CHCA routs Ross

The Eagles gave up a game-tying run to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the top of the seventh inning Thursday before winning the regional semifinal on a walk-off single by Sebastian Gongora in the bottom of the inning. This time, after scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error, CJ had a 5-2 lead entering the seventh.

Nick Wissman walked the lead-off batter but then struck out the next two batters. After another walk, CHCA’s Lucas Rotello doubled to left field, scoring two runs.

With the tying run on second, however, Wissman got a groundout to second baseman A.J. Solomon to end the game.

“With a three-run lead, I thought we were going to be in pretty good shape, and then the next thing you know ...,” Barhorst said. “I had a lot of confidence Nick was going to get out of that, but it’s a little too close for comfort.”

Wissman took over in the sixth inning after five solid innings by Gongora, who struck out four and allowed two earned runs. Wissman retired the side in order in the sixth and earned the save in the seventh.

“Sebastian didn’t have his breaking ball early on, but he was still fighting through with his fastball and making good pitches,” Barhorst said. “Nick came in, and I kind of wanted to change things up. I didn’t want to give them another look at Sebastian just in case they started figuring him out. Just to change their view a little bit, I brought in the right-hander, throwing a little harder. It worked out.”

Chaminade Julienne fell behind early for the second straight day but didn’t trail for long. Ryan Peltier hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game.

“We gave them that one run in the first inning on another error,” Peltier said. “I watched a ball go by and was expecting fastball. I hopped on it and let it fly.”

» REGIONAL TRACK: Northwestern takes two of top three spots in discus

In the second inning, Chaminade Julienne took a 3-1 lead. A single by David Ernst scored Solomon. A double by Ben Thomas scored Ernst.

Chaminade Julienne had chances to extend the lead in the next three innings, stranding a total of eight runners and leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth.

In the sixth, Andrew Simones and Peltier walked to lead off the inning. Wissman put down a sacrifice bunt, and the catcher threw the ball past first base, allowing two runs to score as CJ extended its lead to 5-2. It needed both runs to earn its second straight trip to Columbus.

“We wanted to get back,” Peltier said. “We knew we had the team to get back. We just had to take it game by game.”

       

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Sampen gem carries Wright State into Horizon League tournament final

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:30 PM

Caleb Sampen takes no-hitter into seventh

Wright State coach Jeff Mercer used an unusual, yet thoroughly accurate word to describe his slight-framed starting pitcher Friday afternoon.

“That guy’s a monster,” Mercer said of Caleb Sampen after the lanky, 185-pound sophomore took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the winners bracket final of the Horizon League tournament.

Sampen lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh on a solid single to left, but WSU had a double-digit lead by then, well on its way to a 10-1 triumph of UIC at Nischwitz Stadium.

“Going in I knew they were a very well-pitched, well-coached team so it was going to be a pitchers’ duel,” Sampen said. “So we talked about mixing early all of my pitches and getting everything in the zone. Just make them beat you. Being able to throw all my pitches for strikes was probably the biggest thing today.”

›› Butler grad comes up big as WSU wins tourney opener

Sampen (5-0) allowed just one baserunner through 5.2 innings, but he issued back-to-back walks and hit a batter to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate. But Sampen got UIC cleanup hitter Scott Ota to ground into an inning-ending force out to keep his no-hitter intact.

“Caleb Sampen was absolutely tremendous,” Mercer said. “He’s a guy you can really rely on, and he showed up today. Great players are tough and competitive, they love the spotlight and they love to be in the big moment, and Caleb’s that guy to a T.”

After Sampen got out of his only jam in the top of the sixth, the WSU offense scored six runs with two outs to blow things open with a 10-0 lead that marked the fifth consecutive game the Raiders have scored in double figures.

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“We know we’re capable of, and we had good at-bats all day,” said WSU No. 9 hitter Zach Weatherford, who was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

Weatherford’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth was the first hit of the game sparked the four-run frame.

Then his RBI bunt single with two outs in the sixth started the six-run onslaught.

“The call came from the dugout because the third baseman was back, and I just trusted it and put it down,” Weatherford said.

UIC manager Mike Dee, still stewing from a missed call a few minutes earlier on a pickoff throw to third base that would have ended the inning, earned an ejection just seconds after walking out to question whether Weatherford beat the throw at the first.

›› WSU offense in high gear

The Raiders added five more runs after the ejection on two-run singles by JD Orr and pinch-hitter Alex Alders and an RBI single by Peyton Burdick.

“We hammered balls the few innings and had nothing to show for it,” Mercer said. “Finally the competitiveness of our at-bats kind of wore on them and our ability to take balls and make (UIC starter Charle Cerny) be in the zone. And as good as he is, he eventually kind of lost feel.”

UIC scored its lone run on a play that put a scare into the WSU dugout. With the bases loaded and two outs, Raiders first baseman Gabe Snyder — the Horizon League Player of the Year — made a diving catch in foul territory in shallow right field and nearly threw out UIC’s Joshua Figueroa at the plate after he tagged up.

›› Snyder named Horizon League Player of the Year

Snyder hurt his left arm on the dive and had to come out of the game, but Mercer said he didn’t think the injury was serious.

“He just slammed the inside of his elbow and hopefully he just kind of hyper-extended it and kind of hit the funny bone,” Mercer said. “I almost yelled ‘don’t catch it.’ I didn’t care about that. We’re up by 10 runs. But players want to make plays. So you can’t take that competitiveness out of them.

“It was a great catch, but I just want to keep the best player maybe in program history healthy,” he added.

WSU goes into Saturday’s 12 p.m. game against the winner of the UIC-Milwaukee game needing to win one of two games to claim the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.

If the UIC-Milwaukee winner beats Wright State in the first game Saturday, there will be a winner-take-all final at 4.

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Hunter Greene reaches another milestone in latest Dayton Dragons start

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 8:44 PM

Highlights of Dragons 2-1 win Thursday night

Mark Thursday night as another step forward in Hunter Greene’s development. 

Many, many steps remain, but the talent is tantalizing for the 2017 first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds. 

In his eighth start for the Dayton Dragons, the righty struck out six and walked two. He allowed four hits, including a home run with one out in the top of the fifth inning by Lake County’s Tyler Friis. 

RELATED: What should the Reds do with Scooter Gennett and Matt Harvey? 

After Oscar Gonzalez singled to right, Greene’s night was done. 

He threw a career-high 73 pitches, 50 for strikes. 

He pitched into the fifth inning for the first time in his professional career but is still looking for his first win. He left trailing 1-0. 

Greene hit triple digits with his fastball multiple times, and the Captains rarely made hard contact. 

Aside from Friis’ home run, a high fly that hit off the top of the wall, Will Benson got the best swing on Greene, socking one to centerfielder Stuart Fairchild to start the second inning. 

Jose Vicente followed Benson’s laser by slapping a single through the hole on the left side, and Greene found himself in trouble when Dragons second baseman Jeter Downs threw away a potential double-play ball off the bat of Jose Medina. 

With runners on the corners and one out, Greene bore down, striking out Jonathan Laureano looking before blowing away Miguel Eladio with three straight fastballs, the last of which was measured at 101 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun. 

Greene also stranded two in the third inning when JJ Berardi singled and Nolan Jones walked ahead of Benson, the first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians two years ago. 

He got the heater three times in a row, taking it for a strike before back-to-back swings and misses to end the inning. 

After three straight poor outings, Greene has been strong in two of his last three, and he credited making better use of scouting reports and a more consistent routine. 

Cincinnati Reds prospect Hunter Greene overcame some adversity to turn in one of his best starts yet in Dayton.

On May 12, Green shut out Peoria over four innings, walking none and striking out five while giving up just two hits. 

A week later, Greene gave up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 3.1 innings against Great Lakes. 

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