Sunday, March 14, 2004

Teen finds groove as skater, excels on international stage


Jordan Brauninger/FORT MITCHELL

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At 8 years old, Jordan Brauninger was stunned and disappointed to learn he had been cut from his club hockey team. Now he wonders if it was meant to be.

Brauninger, 17, skated his way to a bronze medal in the International Skating Union's Junior World Championships in The Hague, Netherlands, March 1-6 in performances co-coach Stephanie Miller called "some of the best programs of his life."

"I was ecstatic with my placement," said Brauninger, who skated to Kenny G's Summertime in the short program and the theme music from the movie Patton in the long program. "I couldn't have skated much better at all. I'm really happy with how I did."

Brauninger trains under Miller and Ted Masdea at the Northern Kentucky Ice Center in Crescent Springs. A member of the Northern Kentucky Skating Club and the United States Figure Skating Association, Brauninger earned his first of seven gold medals in the 1998 Junior Olympics.

Next up: Olympics, Milan, Italy, 2006.

"At least I'd like to qualify," Brauninger said. "I've got to learn to do at least one quad, and make everything else better first."

If that doesn't work out, he wouldn't mind racing Formula One cars instead. Brauninger's penchant for trying new things led to his post-hockey love of figure skating: He watched Sergei Grinkov, Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi in a local show and was hooked.

The transition between sports was tough, Brauninger said, though it bore little resemblance to the movie The Cutting Edge (in which a pro hockey player teams with a figure skater to win Olympic gold).

"I'd say it was a little bit harder than that," Brauninger said, laughing.

He alternates four-hour daily ice workouts with stretching, running, jump rotations and fitness classes. Though he competes as a Senior male, he'll stay on the Junior Grand Prix circuit until he is age-eligible (over 19) for the senior tour.

That is, unless Formula One calls first.

"I like to drive kinda fast," Brauninger said. "I'm not sure exactly why, but I'd just like to try it."

H.S. BOWLING TEAMS/FAIRFIELD, OAK HILLS

Cincinnati high school bowlers swept the 2004 Ohio High School Bowling Conference state championships March 6, with the Fairfield girls and Oak Hills boys winning inaugural team titles at Rainbow Lanes in Columbus.

Oak Hills' Eric Abner placed third in the boys' competition with a three-game total of 660. Teammate Troy Toelke and St. Xavier's Stefan McIntyre tied for fourth (659), and Oak Hills' Kyle Wilson was sixth (652). Hamilton's Corey Combs was ninth with 630.

Seton's Amy Corbin was third overall (655) in the girls' individual race, while Fairfield's Tracy Klapper was ninth (606) and Amanda Hardwick was 10th (603).

In Ohio, 260 schools offer either club- or school-sponsored bowling, OHSBC commissioner Greg Coulles said. When the OHSBC was started four years ago, only 125 teams existed.

"It's the fastest-growing sport in the history of Ohio," Coulles said.

To be recognized by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, 150 high schools must sponsor teams. Coulles estimates the OHSBC is more than halfway there, with deep pockets of bowling communities in southwest and northeast areas of the state.

St. PIUS GIRLS' BASKETBALL /EDGEWOOD, KY.

These seventh-graders not only won six tournaments and two league championships, but they finished the season with a school-best 38-0 record.

Coached by Travis French, the team won the Holy Cross/Blessed Sacrament League and the Kenton County Public Schools League. Though the team won by an average of 17 points, its stellar defense was the secret to its success.

French said the season's end couldn't have been better - there are eight girls on the team, and the team won eight tournament trophies. "Everyone got to take one home," French said. "It was awesome. I couldn't have planned it any other way."

The team members are Meredith Chell, Tori Hausfeld, Sarah Klensch, Molly Meyers, Anna Noll, Amanda Nutini, Annie Wehry and Elizabeth Williams.




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