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Friday, May 2, 2003

Rocky golfers headed to nationals The women's golf team at Rocky Mountain College, ranked sixth nationally, has received an at-large berth to the ninth annual NAIA championship tournament in Florida.

The 23-school tournament will be held May 13-16 at Pine Lakes Country Club in Palm Coast, Fla. This will be the Lady Bears' fifth straight appearance at nationals.

Rocky, coached by Randy Northrop, placed 10th at nationals last year.

The 15 at-large berths were determined by the final NAIA poll, which was released on Thursday.

Rocky placed second behind No. 2-ranked British Columbia at the Region I tournament in Missoula earlier this week.

At nationals, the competition will include 72 holes. Monday, May 12 has been set aside for a practice round.

Frontier honors RMC's Hamilton Sara Hamilton of Rocky Mountain College has been selected as the Frontier Conference's women's golfer of the week.

Hamilton, a senior from Rapid City, S.D., shot a 54-hole total of 237 in finishing second at the NAIA Region I tournament earlier this week in Missoula.

She will be making her fourth appearance with the Lady Bears at the NAIA national tournament, set for May 13-16 in Palm Coast, Fla.

Free tickets for MSU-B, Rocky grads Any member of the graduation class of 2003 from both Rocky Mountain College and Montana State-Billings will be admitted free to Saturday's Billings Outlaws vs. Wyoming Cavalry football game with proof of graduation.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Metra.

MSU-B soccer adds 2 players Montana State-Billings women's soccer coach Don Trentham has announced the signing of Michelle Kinzer of Butte and Kendal Blanc of Lehi, Utah.

Kinzer, a 2001 graduate of Butte High School, played one year at Jamestown College, N.D. As a high school senior, Kinzer was the most valuable player on both her high school team and her club team. She also earned all-conference honors and was third in goals scored among Class AA players.

Blanc is a senior at Lehi High School where she earned all-state honors as a junior and senior as a center midfielder. As a senior, she was named her team's most valuable player and most inspirational player after helping Lehi to back-to-back regional championships.

Toughman contest canceled The Original Toughman Competition scheduled for Thursday and tonight at the Babcock Theater in Billings has been canceled.

Only 10 fighters showed up for Thursday's weigh-ins, prompting event organizers to cancel.

Fans who purchased advance tickets can get refunds at the Alberta Bair Theater ticket office.

Bees throws 6 TDs in Buffalo loss AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Quarterback Bob Bees passed for six touchdowns Thursday night in Buffalo's 50-48 loss to Detroit in Arena Football League play.

Bees, a former Rocky Mountain College QB, was making his second start for Buffalo. He completed 18 of 29 passes for 238 yards and no interceptions.

The Destroyers dropped to 5-9. Buffalo plays at home against the New York Dragons on May 11.

MSU set to host Big Sky track BOZEMAN — Montana State still plans to play host to the Big Sky Conference track and field championships May 14-17, despite the fact that work on the new outdoor track and field complex is behind schedule.

The track is in good shape but the infield, where the throwers compete, has been soggy because of rain showers in March and April.

The wet ground held up crews planning to put sod on the infield.

"Although we're at the mercy of the weather, at this point we'll put in whatever work is necessary to get it done," said associate athletic director Dan Davies, who is in charge of getting the field ready.

Blakeley rolls 300 at Sunset Jim Blakeley bowled his third career 300 game while competing in the Thursday Nite Mixed League at Sunset Lanes.

Blakeley carries a 212 average. His 300 game was followed by games of 221 and 230 for a 751 series.

It was his second 700 series of the night for his Western Office team, which was participating in a six-game playoff. Blakeley earlier rolled a 245, 204 and 257 for a 706.

Big Sky Region rodeos under way MISSOULA — The last two regular-season college rodeos of the Big Sky Region both play out here this weekend, and the men and women's teams from Montana State have healthy leads in the championship races.

The University of Montana rodeo began Thursday night with the short go this afternoon. The final rodeo has performances Saturday and Sunday.

The annual Bull-O-Rama tonight has an added twist: saddle bronc riding between bull sessions. Dubbed "Bulls and Broncs," the new format should draw more attention, UM rodeo coach Kent Nordahl said.

The MSU men, the defending regional champions, lead the Big Sky with 2,617 points. Northwest College of Powell, Wyo., is second with 1,780. University of Montana men are in sixth place.

Montana State's women are tops with 1,555 points, and Montana has 945.

Legerski named UW women's coach LARAMIE, Wyo. — The University of Wyoming welcomed home one of its own Thursday, when officials announced the hiring of Rock Springs native Joe Legerski as the sixth Cowgirls basketball coach.

Legerski, a women's assistant coach at Utah the past 12 seasons, has strong ties to the Cowboy State.

The 45-year-old not only graduated from Wyoming in 1979 but was also an assistant coach for the Cowgirls from 1987-91. His wife, Jamie, played for the Cowgirls.

Legerski also was women's coach at Western Wyoming for one season, 1986-87, and coached two years at Rock Springs High School.

"This university has always held a special place in my life, and to have an opportunity to come back is a chance most do not receive," Legerski said. "The commitment to this program is at the highest level."

Legerski signed a five-year contract worth an estimated $200,000 a year that includes a buyout clause, UW athletic director Lee Moon said. Legerski replaces Cindy Fisher, a Cheyenne native who resigned last week after her fifth and most successful season to become an assistant at Nebraska.

Both Moon and UW President Philip Dubois praised Fisher for turning the program around in her tenure.

The Cowgirls had four consecutive losing seasons before posting an 18-12 record this past season and were invited to play in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The 18 wins were the most since the 1989-90 season.

"I think she did a great job in a difficult situation, building from the ground up," Moon said.

Legerski feels he can build upon that progress. A scout for Utah coach Elaine Elliott, Legerski said he already knows the Cowgirls well and is familiar with the Mountain West Conference.

"I can recruit here," Legerski said he told his wife while touring Wyoming's facilities. "We will get good players here. We will win here."

Legerski believes the Cowgirls could start fresh next season with the loss of seven players but also has faith in the remaining seven. He planned to speak to all players and their families Thursday night.

"The current players will fit into my motion offense well," he said.

Sophomore forward Kristen Lenhardt was excited by Legerski's attitude and the success of the Utah program he hails from. The Utes compiled a 254-96 record in his 12 years and won the Mountain West Conference last season with a 12-2 record.

"I think, just with his philosophy in mind, that we'll work hard and I think we're going to work hard for him," Lenhardt said. "I definitely think he can bring us to the next level."

Sophomore guard Ashley Elliott also liked what she saw when she met Legerski briefly Thursday morning.

"It seems like he has a lot of confidence and knows what he wants to do with the program. … We've come a long way. I hope he can build on it," she said.

Margie McDonald, Cowgirls coach from 1974-83, has known Legerski for years during her tenure as executive director of the High Country Athletic Conference and deputy commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference.

She described her colleague as a great teacher who is, first and foremost, loyal to his program.

"He has a sense of what makes players want to do well. And he's a people person, so he's a great recruiter," McDonald said.

Capshaw, Poppinga sign NFL deals ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — Two former high school stars from southwest Wyoming have signed NFL free-agent contracts.

Freddie Capshaw, who lettered four years as a punter for the Miami Hurricanes after a standout career at Rock Springs High School, has signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

Capshaw, an all-Big East Conference pick as a sophomore and junior, averaged 41.5 yards per punt in 45 games for the Hurricanes. His career net average was 37.6 yards and his longest was 61 yards.

This past season, he finished second in the conference with an average of 41.8 yards on 36 punts.

Capshaw, 5-foot-11, 189 pounds, was a member of Miami's 2001 national championship team. He graduated from Rock Springs High in 1998.

Casey Poppinga, who graduated from Evanston High in 1996, then played one year at Wyoming and three seasons at Utah State, agreed to a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Poppinga, 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, caught 34 passes during his three seasons with the Aggies, including 16 his senior year with an average of 8.4 yards per catch. He started 23 games for Utah State.