Gardner's shoes a hot item

Something that caught my attention recently was two-time Olympic medalist Rulon Gardner auctioning off his shoes he wore at last summer's Olympics in Athens, Greece, on ebay.

Gardner is the younger brother of Dr. Gerri Gardner, a local cardiologist who is a member of Sierra Nevada Cardiology Associates and works at Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

Gardner ended up winning a bronze medal at last year's Olympics in Greco-Roman wrestling and after the match, he left his shoes on the mat, a tradition symbolizing a wrestler's retirement.

On the day that Gardner left his shoes on the mat, Appeal Managing Editor Barry Smith joked that he was going to leave his shoes in the middle of the newsroom when he decided to retire. I once suggested that I wear my lucky socks for an entire week, but for some reason the newsroom didn't like that idea.

I first became familiar with the tradition of a wrestler leaving his shoes on the mat to symbolize his retirement when I worked for the newspaper in Porterville, Calif., and covered Porterville's Tim Vanni.

Vanni was a two-time Olympian, finishing fourth in 1988 and fifth in 1992. He made one last attempt to to qualify for the Olympics in 1996. Vanni was a popular figure within the wrestling community. After he was eliminated, he received a standing ovation when he left his shoes on the mat in an emotional scene much like the one Gardner went through last summer.

Part of the proceeds from the sale of Gardner's shoes went to USA Wrestling for the development of heavyweight wrestlers.

Gardner's autobiography "Never Stop Pushing" is also out and in an event in which he'll appear in Denver next week, the book will be on sale for $20, with $5 from each sale going to Hurricane Katrina relief.

Gardner is best known for upsetting Russia's Alexander Karelin for the gold in the 2000 Olympics in an upset that is considered to be on the same level as the U.S. hockey team's win over the Soviet Union in 1980.

It's known as the "Miracle on the Mat." Last year, Disney made the movie "Miracle," an excellent story of the 1980 U.S. hockey team's run to gold. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before Gardner's life is chronicled in a movie and "Miracle on the Mat" would be a fitting title.


The Carson High football team will be trying to end a somewhat embarrassing streak when it hosts Douglas at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Never before had Douglas won three straight games in the series until last year when the Tigers routed the Senators 41-0. Until last season, the Tigers had never won more than two straight against CHS. Douglas has become the dominant team in the series in recent years, winning in 2002 and also rolled to victory in 2003 (37-7).

Carson still holds a 38-16-2 edge in the series, but since 1990, Douglas holds an 8-7 lead. The change in fortunes in the series obviously has to do with demographics and the growth of Douglas County over the last 15 years.

I'm not too familiar with the history of the series and I'm sure others may have more memorable games, but one of the better games in the series came in 1997 when the Senators beat Douglas 35-30.

Other than the 2003 team, that 1997 Douglas team is arguably one of the best in recent memory and the 1997 Senator team is one of Carson's best in recent memory. Among those featured in the game were two players who went on to play in the Pac 10 in Carson's Paul Glass (Arizona State) and the Tigers' Chris Griffith (UCLA).


Another area that could cause debate is the Sierra Nevada Media Poll rankings. This week's rankings appear on B3 in the Appeal. For the record my vote in this week's football rankings went like this:

1. McQueen; 2. Spring Creek; 3. Spanish Springs; 4. Reed; 5. Reno; 6. Hug; 7. Manogue; 8. Carson; 9. Douglas; 10. Galena. You can take my vote with a grain of salt, because I don't know any more than any one else when it comes to ranking the Northern high school teams. It's still way too early in the season for me to pick up a read really on who should be ranked where. I'm pretty much guessing for the most part.

But this week's game between Douglas and Carson will go a long way in deciding how close our Sierra Nevada Media group is on the mark as the Tigers are No. 6 and the Senators are No. 8.

This may be a first, but I'm actually going to bash our own poll when it comes to girls soccer, although maybe I don't have that right since I really don't even know enough to cast a vote, yet. I'm still trying to figure out how Elko is ranked No. 3 and Carson is No. 5 when the Senators have won this season 7-2 at Elko.

Admittedly this shows how arbitrary rankings are and how sometimes those of us who vote may not have all the information we need.


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