Christopher Wuensch, CWuensch@ExplorerNews.com
If inclement weather is the great equalizer, then, it could be argued, family is the ultimate motivator. Such was the case Oct. 14 at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy as family trumped both Hayden High School and the driving wind and rain of a cold autumn night storm.
While senior running back Dallas Howell was busy entertaining a large family contingent, one that braved the weather for homecoming at the Class 2A school, with two rushing touchdowns, Zach Abrams was using some motivation of his own.
The senior registered four sacks in the Lions 14-7 win over previously undefeated Hayden to extend its own unblemished season. Pusch Ridge (7-0) shut down the Lobos for the final three quarters thanks in large part to Abrams who was a fixture in the Hayden backfield. But don't ask Abrams how many sacks he garnered.
"This game was so intense I didn't even pay attention," said a soaked Abrams after the win.
Abrams' father, Eric, was in attendance, but then again, his father is always hanging around the school: He's the school's principal. Catching the end of the game, however, was Abrams' brother Alex, who arrived in town midway through the fourth quarter, just in time to see his not-so-little brother earn a sack and a rush of Hayden quarterback Robert Garcia. The pressure forced Garcia to toss a game-ending interception to none other than Howell.
"My brother was here and that pumped me up so much," said Abrams about his brother, a Marine stationed at Fort Pendleton in California. Alex is no stranger to the gridiron. He played his high school football across the street at Canyon Del Oro High School, where he was a free safety.
Pusch Ridge head coach David Brittain took notice of Abrams' dominance on defense and couldn't wait to check out the game's final numbers.
"He must have caused a lot of negative yardage out there tonight," said the coach.
The Lions will put its undefeated record on the line Oct. 21, traveling to face another undefeated team in Ray High School.
The text messages started bouncing off satellites and arriving on the cell phones of those tracking Jennifer Lynn and Karin Bivins through the 27th Annual Ironman Triathlon World Championship at 10 a.m., Arizona time. They continued at random times throughout Oct. 15, the last one arriving long after the folks on the mainland went to bed.
Those not on Hawaii's big island could follow the Northwest residents' progress via text messaging once the athletes passed strategically placed check points, thanks to a chip placed on the athlete's bibs.
The last one clocked in minutes before 3 a.m. It belonged to Lynn, a 32-year-old Marana mother of three, who beat the 17-hour deadline by less than four minutes. You're not considered an Ironman if you finish over 17 hours.
Lynn finished the 140.6 mile, three-part race (swim, bike, and run) in 16 hours, 56 minutes and 21 seconds. Among the 1,743 athletes that competed in the Hawaiian triathlon, only 1,688 earned the right to call themselves true Ironmen. Lynn finished No. 1,687 overall.
Karin Bivins, 61, finished roughly an hour-and-a-half earlier than Lynn, clocking in at 15 hours, 30 minutes and 10 seconds. The SaddleBrooke resident and part-time training partner of Lynn's finished twelfth overall in the women 60-64 age group.
Faris Al Sultan, 27, of Munich, Germany won the event in 8 hours, 14 minutes, 17 seconds. Other Tucson finishers included Mimi Ford, 11 hours, 46 minutes, 56 seconds; and Susy Bacal, 12 hours, 17 minutes, 26 seconds.
Women's Pro Football
The Tucson Wildfire is making preparations for its inaugural season in the National Women's Football Association. Last year the Wildfire, a woman's full-contact, tackle football team, made its debut in the Independent Women's Football League, finishing with four wins in nine games. This year the team is making the move to the NWFA and is looking for players. Tryouts will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 28; 7 a.m. Oct. 29 and 30; 6 p.m. on Nov. 2; and 7 a.m. Nov. 5 and 6. Go online to www.tucsonwildfirefootball.com for more information.