Sunday, July 18, 2004

Top of the 2nd

Good Sports

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The flags are small, 14 inches by 18 inches, hand-sewn by a tailor. Hours before his expedition, Matt Brennan, his wife, Susan, and their 5-year-old daughter, Madeline, flatten the material to affix letters and numbers. They spell the mountain's name, the year, and finally, the most important part.

For Blake.

Brennan, 43, would move mountains for his 4-year-old son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder - but he climbs them instead. When Blake was diagnosed, the Loveland Excavating, Inc. CEO did some soul searching.

"I sat back and asked myself, 'Where am I going in life? What am I doing in the future?' " said Brennan, a University of Cincinnati grad. "I told my wife I wanted to take a mountaineering course."

That decision has evolved into a goal achieved by fewer than 100 people worldwide: To ascend the highest point in each of the seven continents.

He's doing it to raise funds for the Cincinnati Center for Autism, a nonprofit organization he founded in October 2003, and the Kelly O'Leary Center for Developmental Disabilities at Children's Hospital.

Brennan has posed with flags atop Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro and Europe's Mount Elbrus. He was 700 feet short of the Aconcagua's South American peak before turning back because of fatigue, and his sights are set on Mount McKinley (North America), Mount Vincent (Antarctica) and Mount Kosciuszko (Australia).

Next is Everest. With childhood friend Andy Politz of Columbus, Brennan and two teammates will attempt to climb the Asian giant in roughly 76 days, starting in March.

Among his equipment is oxygen, photos of his four children and the flag. Brennan hopes to generate $1 million for autism by joining 1,400 others who have reached the summit's 29,035-foot elevation.

Although his family often asks questions, Brennan said making strides for ASD and having a sense of achievement outweigh potential dangers.

"There's no other sport out there that involves potentially walking by dead people," Brennan said.

Besides sunburn, unbearable temperatures and no cloud protection, there is always potential for avalanches. Politz, 44, said the pressure makes breathing equivalent to severe emphysema. He climbed to the summit of Everest in 1991.

"(To breathe), you can turn around and go back down the hill. People with autism can't. People with emphysema can't," Politz said. "In my mind, it's far harder to live life than climb a hill."

Brennan walks, bikes, lifts weights and runs 15 to 20 hours weekly for Everest. After climbing four mountains in Ecuador and attempting three of the seven summits in one year, he thinks he's ready.

"I don't need to climb Mount Everest, but I need to do something lasting for kids and parents and families saddled with ASD," Brennan said. "I'm doing it to raise awareness."

Visit for expedition and sponsorship details.

Morgan Burgess / Lebanon

This 10-year-old skateboarder is following the Mobile Skatepark Series across the country. When the tour started at Sawyer Point in May, Burgess placed second in the amateur street contest for kids aged 12 and under. He traveled to Washington D.C. over July 4 and was second in the vert contest. He heads to Buffalo, N.Y. July 30 for vert and street contests and in August is going to the final MSS stop in California. "I really like skateboarding and I asked my dad (Todd) if I could do this, and he said yes," said Burgess, a fourth-grader. Between street and vert, Burgess said his favorite has to be vert, where he soars on ramps 13 feet high. "It's a rush," he said.

Trevor Holtgrave / Amelia

The 1996 Amelia grad and Ft. Wayne, Ind. resident is headed to Melbourne, Australia as a defender on the deaf men's national soccer team. The United States received an automatic berth to the 2005 Deaflympics, the Olympics for hearing-impaired athletes, and its squad leaves for Canberra, Australia, Dec. 26. A University of Cincinnati grad, Holtgrave has played for Queen City Soccer Club, Cincinnati Classics Soccer Club, University of Cincinnati Spring League, and Team Catennacio, an amateur Cincinnati club. Holtgrave, a teammate of Carlisle's Joel Gross, has been on the national team since 2002. He wears hearing aids when not playing and said via email that he's most excited about playing "with and against the best deaf soccer players in the world."

Cobras / Northern Kentucky

The Northern Kentucky United Cobras '91, a girls' U-12 select soccer team, won the 2004 Kentucky State Cup in Louisville, June 13. The State Cup is held annually and is open to every soccer team in the state. The Cobras went 5-0-0 with 15 goals scored by 8 different players, and allowed zero goals en route to the title. Its players, which hail from Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties, are (kneeling) Katie Russo, Kaysie Worley, Emily Sarros, Shelbi Benzinger, Courtney Clark, Abby Felthaus, Tory Schwartz; (standing) coach Dave Russo, Ally Westling, Jordan Zumdick, Jessie Russo, Lindsey O'Donnell, Torrie Lange, Sarah Goetz, Jenna Hilgefort, assistant coach Jen Meiners.

Weekly online poll


Which is your favorite local annual event?
A. Western & Southern Financial Group Masters tennis
B. Mobile Skatepark Series
C. NASCAR Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway
D. Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park
E. Kroger Classic Champions Tour golf at TPC at River's Bend

Go to Cincinnati.Com, Keyword: Sports poll, to vote; results will be published next Sunday on this page.

LAST WEEK'S QUESTION: Who do you think has a better chance of making the NCAA Tournament next season: Sean Miller's Xavier Musketeers or Thad Matta's Ohio State Buckeyes? (1,931 replies)


54.2 percent Sean Miller's Xavier Musketeers
45.8 percent Thad Matta's Ohio State Buckeyes

All thumbs

Thumbs up

1. Lance Armstrong

He's making a move for a sixth consecutive Tour de France victory despite former winner Greg LeMond joining the French media in accusing him of being on drugs.

2. Minor-league baseball

It is on pace to break the all-time attendance record, set in 1949. Attendance through June was 21,078,293, putting the minors on pace to break the mark of 39,782,717.


Wow, a fight between the pit crews of Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne. Now you can watch for more than just wrecks.

3. Kenyon Martin

The hard-playing former Bearcat turned four solid seasons in New Jersey into a seven-year deal with Denver.

Thumbs down

1. The BALCO four

Four U.S. track and field athletes entered the Olympic Trials facing possible lifetime bans after being cited in the doping scandal. All four - Tim Montgomery, Alvin Harrison, Michelle Collins and Chryste Gaines - failed to earn Olympic berths. Hmmmm.

2. The BCS

After creating this to reduce the human factor in creating a national championship, the coaches and media now dominate the process.

3. Bob Feller

He says Muhammad Ali shouldn't have been an honored guest at the All-Star Game because the boxer "changed his name and changed his religion so he wouldn't have to serve his country." Guess Feller is tired of ripping Pete Rose.

4. The Lakers

Is that soap opera over yet?

---Mike Ball

Say what?

"It's good news for all of baseball that Bud Selig is considering staying on as commissioner beyond his present contract."

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner

As team turns corner, hopes and sales soar
Bengals' new look scores even before season starts
Take a VR tour of a Bengals luxury suite
Desktop wallpaper

Reds: Dunn's HR saves day
Photos of Saturday's game
LHP Claussen seems to be ripe for callup
Club puts Griffey on gag order
Reds chatter

500 homers or 300 wins?
Cardinals' Womack brings success
Scott Rolen: Halfway to Cooperstown?
Injuries never far from discussion
Workout encouraging for Chicago's Prior
Devil Rays release 40-year-old McGriff
NL: Maddux's 297th comes on shutout
AL: Tejada goes 3-for-4 as O's defeat Rays
AAA: Louisville 4, Syracuse 2

Journey has made Pilgrim stronger
Scouts at college coaches' service
Summer, AAU coaches can make profit
Jones reunited with his biggest critic - Shaq
Clay upsets Pappas to win trials decathlon

Annual favorites will try to extend dominance today

Unlikely Yank leads British
Mickelson's under-control style paying off
Tiger back in majors title hunt
James, Pate enter Kroger Classic

Expectations for Athens less than Olympian
USADA on lookout for steroids
U.S. track team, hurt by doping, still a powerhouse
2004 Summer Olympics schedule
Olympics guide, multimedia

Armstrong wins stage; Tour title in sight
Tour De France photos, maps, multimedia

Top of the 2nd
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Quick chat with ... Boxing's Chris Webb
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Sports digest
Sports today on TV, radio

Which is your favorite local annual event?