Volleyball Fans Flock to 63rd Open – Laguna Beach Independent Newspaper

Pro-players Crabb, Rosenthal win the Contest

By Amy Orr, Special to the Independent

Under cloudy skies, more than 500 fans packed the boardwalk at Main Beach to watch the finals of the annual Laguna Open, a two-day sand volleyball tournament. After 62 matches, a field of 64 players had been narrowed to four men: Ed Ratledge, Eric Zaun, Trevor Crabb, and Sean Rosenthal.

After a set from partner Trevor Crabb (center), Sean Rosenthal (left) looks for an opening in the block by Ed Ratledge (right) during the finals of the Laguna Open on Sunday, June 4.

?Trevor Crabb (center) tries to avoid a block by Ed Ratledge. Crabb?s partner Sean Rosenthal (right) crouches and waits for a deflection?


A $5,000 cash prize was on the line, but these athletes were playing for more than money. They were playing for the love of the sport. And they were happy to be in Laguna Beach.

?The community really gets involved here in Laguna,? said Zaun, a 23-year old player who recently moved to California from New Jersey. ?There are lots of fans at every game, which makes it fun.? Zaun and Ratledge have been partners since February.

Ramzi Sliheet of Laguna Niguel sat in court-side seats for hours with his wife Natalie. ?We watched some games yesterday and had to come back to see what would happen today,? he said.

North Laguna resident Jim Reese said, ?it?s a great competition and it?s on the beach. What more do you need to say??

The tournament organized by director Kirk Morgan, now in his sixth year, is part of the Malibu-based California Beach Volleyball Association. He is gratified by the community?s support, though recreation supervisor Adam Gufarotti says the city?s role getting the courts and equipment ready is the easy part. ?The real work is done by Kirk and his wife Landi and their team of volunteers. They do a tremendous job.?

Morgan?s dedication shows with a blossoming list of sponsors whose contributions allow the event to continue growing and attracting top athletes. ?This year we have the deepest field of talent since I?ve been here. It?s the best tournament since the big money days of the AVP tour,? he said, referring to the Association of Volleyball Professionals, whose three-year Miller beer contract for $4.5 million in prize money in 1988 pumped up contests.

This year?s sponsors include: the Ballesteros Realty Group, CBVA, the City of Laguna Beach, Lindy Dado, the Deck on Laguna Beach, Everything Laguna, First Bank, High Brew Coffee, Krysti Higuchi, Hobie Sports, iFinance Mortgage, the Inn at Laguna, Dave Kamena, Mago Hot Sauce, Push Play Agency, Rado, SkyLoft, Stan Shuster, Tatra Tea, Tommy Bahamas, Troy Lee Designs, and the Wine Caterers.

Spectators at the Laguna Open on Sunday, June 4, watch as Mark Burik launches a jump serve at the team of Mike Brunsting and Chase Frishman. Photos by Amy Orr.

Spectators at the Laguna Open on Sunday, June 4, watch as Mark Burik launches a jump serve at the team of Mike Brunsting and Chase Frishman. Photos by Amy Orr.

With the limited sand space at Main Beach, Laguna can no longer host enormous competitions like other beach cities. Nevertheless, Morgan is proud to carry on the tradition of the Laguna Open, which celebrated its 63rd year on the sand.

Despite the size constraints, Main Beach has a lot to offer. The sand is soft, the courts are flat, and the waves are only steps away. Laguna?s own Dusty Dvorak, a graduate of LBHS, setter for the 1984 Olympic gold medal volleyball team, and member of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame, played in the Open in 1989.

?This is my first time playing in the Laguna Open. It?s a great event and I?m stoked to be here,? said Sean Rosenthal, a 36-year-old with fifth place finishes in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games. Rosenthal entered the tournament with Trevor Crabb, 27, a 2014 graduate of Cal State Long Beach. Both athletes now live in Redondo Beach and are in their first year of playing together.

?Laguna is an awesome tournament. There?s always a nice crowd and lots of camaraderie between the players. It?s a great local event,? said Crabb.

That camaraderie was evident during the final match of the weekend. Rosenthal and Crabb won the first game with a decisive score of 21-15. Ratledge and Zaun battled back for a 21-18 victory in game two. Game three was crucial, but the mood was light.

With a slim 8-5 lead, Rosenthal smiled and launched a skyball serve at his opponents. It was a silly, risky move, but the crowd loved it. Throughout the game, the players teased each other across the net.

Points were scored by both sides, but Ratledge and Zaun were unable to close the gap. Rosenthal and Crabb finished the game with a 15-11 win. They were awarded gold medals and the tournament title.

But all four players were smiling when it was over. And so were the fans.


Tires are the trickiest aspect of Formula One, Lance Stroll says – Montreal Gazette

When you?re a driver in today?s Formula One, your life is all about tires.

Nobody knows this more than Canadian rookie Lance Stroll, who readily admits that the Pirelli boots on his Williams race car continue to be his Achilles heel as he navigates his first F1 season.

?It?s been the trickiest thing for me. You have to adapt your driving style so the tires are happy,? said Stroll dressed in a short-sleeved Williams team shirt, dark grey knee length shorts and running shoes.

?There have been weekends where it?s been very easy to get the tires operating and I am just able to focus on driving and I have the consistent grip that I want every lap in every session. On other weekends, you just never know when the grip is going to come to you ? it could be on the second lap, fourth lap, sixth lap ? and those have been the weekends that I have struggled most.?

Essentially, drivers must keep the Pirelli tires in an elusive Goldilocks zone to get the most grip out of the rubber. Get them too hot or too cold, and the car can be seconds per lap slower than it should be.

That?s a long way from Stroll?s previous series ? European Formula 3 ? where the less sensitive, more consistent tires offered predictable grip and performance all the time.

?In F3, for example, where I come from, the tire is very consistent all the time. It?s just very forgiving, it?s very easy, you can slide the tire, you can do whatever you want, and then just focus on driving,? said Force India driver Sergio Perez, who is known in the paddock for his skill at getting the most out of his rubber.

?I?m finding it hard to know what?s going on with these (F1) tires. All the time, they are very different. Depending on which track, they work very different. Having them in the window to having them over the window, it?s a very little margin. So, certainly tires are something that rookies might find a little bit harder than experienced drivers.?

In fact, the 18-year-old from Montreal may have chosen one of the toughest years to join Formula One, with faster cornering, more demanding 2017 cars that are only quick when the tires stay within a small heat window. According to Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean, drivers have to keep the rubber within four to five degrees Celsius of the optimum temperature or they go nowhere.

Even three-time champion Lewis Hamilton, who is considered one of the elite drivers in F1, has floundered at times this season. In the last race in Monaco, the Mercedes driver qualified 14th ? 11 spots behind teammate Valtteri Bottas ? and finished the race seventh. Bottas was fourth.

?When our car is in the tire window, it?s a rocket. When it?s a couple of degrees out of the window, or even worse, the front and rear are disconnected, it?s undriveable,? said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

?I think Lance deserves much more credit than he has been given lately. He has come into the sport when the cars are very difficult to drive against very experienced drivers. I think we need to give him time: He?s an intelligent boy who has proven he can drive cars fast, so let?s see where we are in 12 months.?

Lance Stroll makes a pit stop during practice session at the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Friday June 9, 2017.

Allen McInnis /


Stroll has loads of help behind him, including intricate data from the countless sensors on the car that are crunched by the team?s technical partner Avanade. The technology company delivers real time, corner-by-corner tire pressure, temperature, and load analysis that helps the team figure out how the drivers can adjust their approach to get the rubber working at its peak. Williams believes it is at the forefront with this technology, but so far it hasn?t given Stroll an edge.

While the slow start has been unsatisfying for Stroll, the good news is that he has the opportunity to score his first career F1 points at home on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The Catch-22 is the fact that Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is only used once a year for racing and will make getting the most from the tires even more important.

Although he was nine months old when the infamous Wall of Champions got its name, Stroll is keenly aware of the reputation of the barrier at the exit to the final chicane. In 1999, world champions Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Canada?s Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the wall and out of the Canadian Grand Prix race. One memory Stroll wants to avoid is joining their ranks.

?The track will improve a lot throughout the weekend and it?s definitely one of those places when you get more confident you need to know when it?s the right time to risk and push in that area,? Stroll said.

?It?s tricky and I am going to build up to it. You just have to be on top of it.?

He also needs to be on top of media, especially during his home Grand Prix. Stroll completed about half a dozen late afternoon TV interviews in a row on Thursday afternoon before sitting down with the Montreal Gazette. All the duties outside the car are simply another new challenge and part of the job of being an F1 driver, Stroll said.

Despite the tire trouble, a bigger spotlight and an often hugely critical media, he scoffed at the suggestion that the additional pressure of life in F1 is too much for his 18-year-old shoulders.

?I guess you can say that, but I have to accept that I am 18 and I have to learn certain things and gain experience in certain areas before I can achieve my best performance and be the best driver I can be,? he said.

?I love what I am doing ? there are shitty days where I don?t like what I do ? it?s not only right now that I am living the dream but it?s been the last 10 years. I have had this opportunity to go on a journey and experience the ride of racing cars, of different championships around the world, go-karts, F3, F4, and now F1. It?s been so amazing to be able to experience that. There have been bad days, good days and it?s been a great ride.?


Straight-A NASCAR driver has his high school graduation at Texas Motor Speedway – For The Win

NASCAR truck driver Noah Gragson hit our radar earlier this week when he was dared to eat a huge glob of wasabi ? and instantly regretted it ? but his week definitely picked up after that.

The 18-year-old received his high school diploma at Texas Motor Speedway before the Camping World Truck Series winstaronlinegaming.com 400 on Friday, where he won his first pole for the race. Graduation ceremonies at race tracks are a relatively recent NASCAR tradition for young drivers, including now-Cup Series driver Erik Jones and current XFINITY Series driver Cole Custer.

Gragson wore his fire suit and shoes under his cap and gown as he received his diploma from Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gragson had a traditional high school experience for two years before finishing his studies online.

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One of his former teachers at (Bishop) Gorman high school), Sharon Olson, became crew chief of his online studies. She tutored him and helped him pass on the high side ? the very high side. Gragson said he aced his online finals, getting A?s from the start of the grid to the back.

After getting his diploma, Gragson finished the winstaronlinegaming.com 400 in seventh place.

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Feeling the fever for FSU baseball ahead of Super Regionals – WCTV

By: Erin Lisch
June 9, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Excitement is reaching a fever pitch in Tallahassee as FSU Baseball’s Super Regional match-up with Sam Houston State kicks off Saturday.

Locals are gearing up for the big weekend series, and seating in the grandstands is already sold out.

Many say there’s been a curse over the Noles, who are heading to their 16th appearance in a Super Regional without ever winning it all. Others say, this year could be a game changer.

Florida State Baseball caught fire at the end of the season, winning six games in a row.

Head coach Mike Martin said, ?Things started happening, guys started believing.”

Fans started believing too.

One FSU fan said, “All together, 1- 9, it’s just a really good line up, and the pitching has been coming around and it’s been fun to watch.”

With a new infield installed for the game, fans are hoping the Noles keep playing the same way.

Avid FSU baseball fan Curtis Marschall said, “I’m real excited. I saw 46 innings of baseball this weekend, and I’m ready to watch another 18, hopefully with a sweep.”

Watching FSU play for years, Fletcher Dilmore said, “My mom’s kind of a bad luck charm, so I asked her to stay home for this series. I also asked her not to attend the College World Series if we make it that far, and I’m pretty confident about it.”

Number 11 gives kudos to Sam Houston State on pitching, defense, and base running.

“It’s an impressive team,? said Coach Martin.

But some fans are not impressed with the spelling of their nickname.

Dilmore asks a member of the team,”Why do you spell Bearkats with a K?”

His response, “I just work here honestly.”

“Doesn’t make sense, and that’s one of the reasons Florida State’s going to win,” said Dilmore.

Mike Martin knows one thing is for sure, “It?s a game which anything can happen.”

The series is a best of three games, with thoughts of Omaha on everyone’s minds.

This is the first time FSU is hosting a Super Regional in four years.

If you would like to see the Noles on the diamond, single game tickets will go on sale tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m.

Click here for ticket information.

UFC star Ross Pearson will not quit fighting until MMA promotion visits Tyneside for chance to cheer up Sunderland fans – The Sun

I will never stop

Geordie ace has moved to made a dream move to Australia but admits to still missing the UK

UFC veteran Ross Pearson will not stop fighting until he stars on a show in his Tyneside home where even Sunderland fans could finally enjoy a Saturday.

The proud North East MMA star has swapped the UK for Australia for a new life with his Aussie octagon-girl wife but he admits to missing the comforts of home and longing for a big fight on his doorstep.

UFC star Ross Pearson married octagon-girl Kirstie Pearson and moved to Australia


UFC star Ross Pearson married octagon-girl Kirstie Pearson and moved to Australia

The Stadium of Light was a grim place last season, with the Mackems tumbling out of the Premier League and the owners desperate to flog the failing club.

Keep up to date with ALL the latest MMA news, gossip and rumours

But the British MMA star wants to cheer up the city and he will not give up until he gets the chance to shine ? but he might struggle to get enough tickets for all his family.

Pearson said: ?If 40,000 fans can turn up and watch Sunderland every week then I am sure they can turn up and watch me on a Saturday night.

?I have been trying to tell this to the UFC for 10 years the fighting scene in the North East is massive, it is what we are bred on, it is who we are.

Ross Pearson is fighting in New Zealand at the weekend

Ross Pearson is fighting in New Zealand at the weekend

Ross Pearson moved to Australia for his wife and they have a daughter


Ross Pearson moved to Australia for his wife and they have a daughter
SunSport’s full-length telephone interview with UFC star Ross Pearson

?We are blue-collar workers who enjoy a weekend and a good fight. That?s the type of people we are. The UFC would sell out over here in two minutes.

?Trying to get all my family into the event would be the only problem, I?d have 500 long-lost cousins and aunties and uncles who I have never seen in my life come out of the woodwork for tickets.

“I would love my last fight to be in Newcastle ? if I ever have a last fight ? it could take another 20 fights but I will never stop. I need to do it for my career.?

Pearson appears to live the dream life Down Under with stunning wife Kirstie. But he admits he is glued to his phone for the British humour he just can?t find in Oz.

The 32-year-old has made the short trip to New Zealand to fight in the early hours of Sunday morning where friends and family from back home will be able to watch him.

And he admits he?s glued to his phone much more than he should be as he keeps in touch with his gang back on Tyneside.

Pearson still misses the North East and wants a UFC show their before he retires

Per Haljestam

Pearson still misses the North East and wants a UFC show their before he retires

Pearson reckons the UFC would sell out in minutes if they visited Tyneside

Getty Images North America

Pearson reckons the UFC would sell out in minutes if they visited Tyneside

Ross Pearson was a trailblazer for British MMA

Zuffa LLC

Ross Pearson was a trailblazer for British MMA

Pearson reckons Sunderland fans would enjoy a night at his fight after a horror season

Getty Images AsiaPac

Pearson reckons Sunderland fans would enjoy a night at his fight after a horror season
Fighting Facts: Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson

Pearson said: ?I miss my family and the banter with my friends, I find myself texting and calling people a lot more ? I am on my phone much more than I should be.

?Although I have friends and family over here it is still not the same as the people that I have grown up with or gone into battle with.

?I haven?t built that friendship with anyone yet because I have only been over here for a year. I will never stop coming home, I will always class England as home but I am an Australian resident now.

?My family and my child are here, I want to be a good dad and set examples.?