Sunday, October 24, 2004

Dreams are in the dirt


Motocross teen keeps winning, goal to turn pro
Click here to e-mail Colleen Kane
A quick tour of Amelia Middle School student Justin Weeks' house will tell you he's no ordinary 14-year-old.

Start at one of the garages, where more than 15 of Justin's motorcycles sit in rows. Head to the backyard, where leaves cover the mud left by skidding around on his bikes.

Go into his father's office, where photos hang of Justin on a motorcycle at 3 years old, where hundreds of motorcycle models adorn one wall and where a black box stored by the desk contains Justin's contracts, as thick as a book.

ALL THUMBS

Thumbs up

Ben Roethlisberger

The Miami University product is treating NFL defenses as if they were Ball State. The Steelers rookie has the fourth-best quarterback rating in the loop (100.1), behind three stiffs named Culpepper (127), Manning (114.1) and McNabb (103.5). And Saturday night, he returned to Oxford to watch his old club.

Colerain

Kerry Coombs' club is blazing, ranked fifth by USA Today and Friday winning its 57th straight Greater Miami Conference game. Still, getting out of the Southwest district in the first two rounds of the playoffs won't be easy.

Marvin Lewis

Gotta give the man credit. If he can remain this positive after watching the Browns game, he's definitely the right man for this rebuilding job.

The Red Sox

Chad Johnson should have sent the Pepto-Bismol to Chowd nation for what they went through in their epic victory over the Evil Empire. How devoted are those fans? The TV ratings in the Boston area were higher than those of both the Patriots' Super Bowl victories. Wow.

Thumbs down

The BCS

It took all of one week for there to be a controversy, with the Miami Hurricanes ranked ahead of Oklahoma, despite trailing in both human polls. Let the complaining begin, which at this point, sure seems to be the way the powers-that-be like it.

Rashad McCants

The North Carolina hoops star isn't too fond of the full ride he's gotten for his skills. He said last week his requirements at UNC made it like being in jail. For the love of Marty Brennaman.

The Buckeyes

A must-win game against Indiana? For the love of John Cooper.

Boxing

It seems reports of a big event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the "Rumble in the Jungle" simply aren't true. We're going to have to do without a Laila Ali-Jacqui Frazier bout. (Guess we'll have to simply remember Muhammad Ali's stunning knockout of Joe Frazier in Zaire on Oct. 30, 1974.)

--Mike Ball

And then enter Justin's bedroom and you'll see them - all of his trophies, some so big they come up to the chest of his 5-foot-6 frame, all gleaming and arranged on the dressers and floor. He has so many awards that they take up half of his bedroom and part of another room, so many that he leaves the smallest trophies at the race tracks now.

No, Justin's not your ordinary teenager. He's one with a dream that he's driving closer to every day - and even without a license, he's driving better than most adults.

Weeks is one of the best motocross and supercross racers in the country for his age group. He has placed first in at least one event at 20 races this year. He placed sixth and 14th in races at the Loretta Lynn's National Championship in August - a qualify-only event that groups about 40 of the best racers in the country. And he's getting ready for what he hopes is a top-five finish at the Mini Olympics in Florida during Thanksgiving week.

His goal is to turn pro when he becomes eligible at 16 and to "win as many championships as I can" in the meantime, Justin said.

"He just has a natural ability," Justin's father, Richard Weeks, said. "Any athletic activity he tries he's good at. ... But he didn't want to do anything but race."

Justin, whose entire family is into racing, entered his first race in kindergarten at the urging of a friend.

"When I was 8, I did the biggest jump around here, (a 50-footer at Dirt Country). I saw my brother do it and I got jealous and did it," Justin said. "My dad tried grabbing the back of the bike."

"But he took off," Richard said.

"Then I started doing it every day, all day," Justin said.

By age 11, he got an offer to be sponsored by Kawasaki, which gives him bikes, parts allowances and technical support. He gets clothes, like the Thor T-shirt he displayed Wednesday as he gave the tour of his house, and riding gear from his many other sponsors.

He spends most of his weeknights working out or riding, and many of his weekends on the road. His father sometimes will pick him up from school on Friday and drive straight to a race, arriving back in Ohio for school Monday morning. Justin does homework and writes journals on the way.

Justin's mother, Linda, doesn't always accompany her son to the track, however. After watching her two older sons suffer injuries, she prefers to watch from home.

Justin has endured three broken arms and "a bunch of broken thumbs," but that's not about to stop him. He recently switched from 85 and 100 class bikes to 250s, which Richard said is like "getting out of a Volkswagen into a Corvette."

For Justin, it's just an added gear to get him to his dream a little more quickly.

Jeff Mundstock / Bridgetown

Mundstock described himself as "a fish out of water" in his first year or so of driving on the KOIL (Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana Legends) Tour.

"I didn't have a clue. I was pretty lost," Mundstock said. "It was just learning and getting a feel for the car when you drive it. I still don't know a whole lot."

But he knows enough to land at the top of his division in just his third year of driving. The 22-year-old Mundstock finished second this season in the KOIL Tour's semi-pro division points standings, claimed the Ohio state points title and ended 27th out of 653 drivers across the United States.

The season is the fulfillment of a childhood dream that Mundstock couldn't pursue until he got out of college and started working full time at Jaguar of Cincinnati in 2002. Next year, he'll move up to KOIL's pro division, with the ultimate goal of gaining more sponsors and racing sprint cars. But he has one more goal this year.

Mundstock has finished second in 10 races this year but has never claimed a championship, a "running joke around the track" this season. He'll try for that elusive win Saturday at Kentucky Speedway in the "Halloween Havoc" 100-lap race.

Queen City Racquet / Women's 3.5 and Mixed doubles 7.0

Betty Applegate sure knows how to pick 'em.

Applegate, of Fairfield, is the captain of both Queen City Racquet Club teams that advanced past the USTA/Midwest USA League Sectional Championships. Both teams won the district, state and sectional championships in their division this year to qualify for the national tournaments.

"I think I did a really good job of picking people," Applegate said. "I always have it in my mind at the local tournaments. Whenever I see new talent, I ask if they're interested in playing."

The QCR Women's 3.5 team, made of 13 mostly local women ages 27-62, placed second overall at the 3.5 Adult National Championships Oct. 8-10. They went 4-1 over the weekend, losing only in the finals to a team from Puerto Rico.

"We did so awesome. It's so rare for a Cincinnati team to just win districts," Applegate said.

The QCR Mixed Doubles 7.0 team will play in the Lincoln Mixed Doubles Eastern Regional Championship in Memphis, Tenn., Nov. 12-14.

U-13 NK United Cobras

This Northern Kentucky team of boys from Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties united to win the Kohl's Best of the Midwest U13 Elite division tournament Sept. 18-19. The Cobras went 4-1 over the weekend and beat Mockingbird 92 White 2-1 for the championship. Team members are: Alex Etienne, Chris Steinkamp, Kenny Klump, Garrett Justice, Evan Koking, Alexx Bernard, Dakota Beerman, Trevor Jarvis, Michael Huffmyer, Aaron Stephens, Trey Evans, Cole Little, Tyler Stewart, Matt McDonald, Cody Neises, Jason Lewis and coach Doug Millay.




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Photos of Saturday's game (Online exclusive!)
As usual, Hoosiers are cure for Bucks
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RedHawks rush to victory
Even on bad day, Tigers too much for UK
Top 25 games: Gators' loss puts Zook's job in jeopardy
No. 25 Lions up record to 7-0

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Bezold living his dream as NKU basketball coach
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West adjusts for his second NBA season
Patzwald stands by his longtime dream
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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
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Hamilton's Hodges Div. I medalist
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Sycamore, St. Xavier win boys' titles
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