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Bryce Miller’s 3 for 3: Impact of Big Ten’s 9-game football schedule – Lolo Jones and cause worth supporting

[ 0 ] April 29, 2013 |

The 3 for 3 blog tackles Big Ten tacklers, perspective on Lolo and a cause worth supporting …

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1: BIG TEN SHAKEUP — Sorting the recent shuffles in Big Ten football — the conference created two new divisions (2014) and is moving to a nine-game conference schedule (2016) — comes down to one thing.

College. Football. Playoff.

Adding a conference game will increase the strength of schedule for all teams in the Big Ten, as they’re forced to shed a potentially weaker non-conference game to make it happen.

The reason: College football big-wigs have been clear that strength of schedule will be a major driver in a new system that determines which teams suit up when the four-team, big-money playoffs begins in 2014.

The Big Ten is far from alone, though. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the conference will join the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC as football groups set to play nine-game schedules by the time it shifts. The Sentinel adds that “officials in the Southeastern Conference have debated the idea of going to a nine-conference schedule especially with the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri in 2012.”

It probably doesn’t hurt, either, that it will guarantee an extra, higher-interest conference game to include in television packages.

Iowa, for its part, has said it plans to protect its annual non-conference meeting against rival Iowa State — but the future of games with lower-division Northern Iowa remain in doubt, a move Panthers athletic director Troy Dannen called “potentially devastating.”

What do you think?

And now that the Big Ten is moving to two geographic, east-west divisions …

 

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2. LOLO JONES FINISH FAR FROM REASON FOR PANIC — Finishing fourth in Saturday’s special invitations 100-meter hurdles at the Drake Relays in no way signals elevated cause for concern for Lolo Jones.

The top four finishers ran under 12.80 seconds — strong for early in the outdoor season — and Jones left Drake Stadium healthy, which she hasn’t been able to do in years as she recovered from spinal surgery and hamstring injuries.

Jones said the strain of obligations, public reaction to her Drake results have drained much of the fun out of Relays week — but the weekend needs to be placed in context.

Other competitors likely are farther head of Jones in terms of training, because she competed in the sport of bobsled during the winter.

Jones also implemented a new, seven-step approach to the first hurdle — the only elite-level American believed to be using the technique — for just the second time in a live race.

Competing in bobsled provided a brain respite, but also impacted normal, early-season workouts.

“It’s a nice mental break, but it doesn’t help you build any hurdle rhythm,” said Dennis Shaver, coach at Louisiana State University who coaches Jones at the elite level. “So we’re significantly behind — but it’s not about being ready in April.

“It’s about being healthy in April and building momentum for the season.”

Jones, the former star at LSU and Des Moines Roosevelt who competed in the 2008 and ’12 Olympics, said juggling two sports and a unique approach to her season has benefits.

“It’s a lot on my plate, but I love it,” she said.

Added Jones, who won a World Cup bobsled event during the winter season: “It (bobsled) really invigorated me and refreshed me in ways I had no clue I needed refreshed in.”

Here’s Jones during a silver-medal run at Lake Placid, N.Y., in 2012:

Here’s Jones after her Drake Relays race on Saturday:

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3. SUPPORT A GREAT CAUSE — Last October, I wrote about Adam Duerfeldt, a former Des Moines-area athlete who played baseball at Central College — and was inspired to commit his life to cancer research after the death of high school friend.

On May 25, a fundraised honoring the friend who died from pancreatic cancer will take place.

The annual Tim Heggan Baseball Classic and Walk for Water is scheduled at Ankeny Centennial High School. The Timothy Yates Heggen Foundation has raised $30,000 for a safe-water project in the Tanzanian village of Miembani and has donated another $10,000 for cancer research at Johns Hopkins University.

The foundation also has awarded scholarships and provided meals for low-income students. To read more about the foundation, go … HERE.

The fundraised honors Heggen, who died in 2002. To learn more about how Heggen inspired people — and the special bond between the two high school friends, here’s the column:

 

Headline: A tribute to a friend that keeps on giving

(Death of childhood pal inspires man to devote life to cancer research.)

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The friendship began and blossomed as millions do during sun-drenched summers across America — with two boys playing Little League Baseball.

Adam was the catcher. Tim, the pitcher. The biggest worries in those days centered on the next out, the next game, or maybe a postgame trip to the concession stand.

Then life threw a curveball.

Then another.

And, just when they thought they’d weathered all they could handle, one more.

First, Adam Duerfeldt’s father suffered a massive stroke that hospitalized him for nine months. Rick Heggen, the team’s coach and Tim’s father, stepped in to steady Adam during a difficult time that left a young boy’s mind spinning in hundreds of directions.

Then, Rick was badly burned in a fire, spending two months in a coma.

“This is where Adam showed his true colors,” said Jan Kuhl, Rick’s ex-wife and Tim’s mother “When Adam found out, he immediately came to the hospital to be there for Tim and I.

“And he’s really been with us ever since.”

Duerfeldt liked to say that the families were “2-0″ after the pair of dire medical situations they’d survived — together.

In May 2001, the families were tested yet again.

Duerfeldt remembers shaking hands with Ankeny players after his Urbandale team had split a high school baseball doubleheader. A friend pulled him aside to tell him Tim, now an 18-year-old junior and his Little League battery mate a decade before, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

The moment grew fuzzy. Urbandale coach Denny Barton gave his postgame speech — but not a single word managed to pierce Duerfeldt’s haze.

Tim had to undergo a nine-hour medical procedure that removed portions of multiple organs, leaving his stomach the size of a walnut, with doctors estimating the chances of simply surviving the surgery at 50 percent.

Duerfeldt, a teenager with equal talents on the baseball diamond and in the classroom, decided to make a promise to his friend. He told Tim he would work tirelessly to attack cancers like the one ravaging the insides of an otherwise handsome, smile-soaked, caring young man.

Kuhl said her family initially was told Tim might have only two weeks to live, but he survived 14 months.

Duerfeldt often recalls July 3, 2002 — the day he lost a friend, but resolved more than ever to keep his word.

“Yeah, I remember it…” said Duerfeldt, now 28, as the other end of the phone suddenly hangs in silence. “Sorry … trying to keep myself composed. I came home from a baseball game my senior year and took a shower.

“Mom met me at the top of the stairs and told me Tim had died.”

Duerfeldt decided to join the baseball team at Central College, where he played catcher and eventually became team captain and MVP —marking a “T” in the dirt in front of home plate every game.

The promise was far from derailed, though.

Duerfeldt moved from Iowa to the University of Kansas, where he earned a fellowship to study medicinal chemistry and earned his Ph.D. last year. Another fellowship followed — this one at the prestigious Boger Laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

Now, Duerfeldt works to improve cancer-fighting drugs in suburban San Diego.

Duerfeldt returns to Iowa when he can to support the Timothy Yates Heggen Foundation. The group uses merchandise and food sales from an annual softball tournament and other functions to fund projects like the $30,000 clean-water system purchased for a village in the African nation of Tanzania.

To Duerfeldt (on Twitter HERE), it’s really what he learned from Tim: Care about other people. Work hard. Don’t give up.

Those lessons were sharpened while playing baseball at Central, as well.

“It definitely helps you prepare,” he said. “It’s being competitive. You want to be the best, no matter what you do. It’s working together. In science, collaboration is a necessity. You have to work with others, and share information. Most of all, it teaches you to keep going.

“In baseball, if you succeed (as a hitter) three out of 10 times you’re a Hall of Famer. In other sports, three out of 10 isn’t good enough.

“In science, there’s a lot of failure. Baseball taught me to take the good with the bad and keep going. You have slumps and you work hard to break out of those slumps.”

What’s clear to Kuhl now: A friendship and a promise changed the course of a man’s life.

“I truly think he gave up a career in baseball to do this,” Kuhl said of Duerfeldt, who set nine school records while at Central. “Adam was good enough to play in the minor leagues, but he’s always cared so much about people. That’s just the kind of person he is.”

How far would you go to keep a promise?

How many years would you devote to do it?

How many miles would you travel?

Would you give your life to it?

“He’s just an amazing person,” Kuhl said.

Even though the transplanted Iowan wades through a maze of complex questions about medicinal chemistry on a near daily basis, one knocks him off balance in ways that only the chemistry of the heart can.

If Tim were alive today, what would he say to you?

“I’ve thought about that a lot,” said Duerfeldt, stalling for a few seconds as he wrestled with emotions that, in moments like this, still feel fresh. “I would hope he’d say, I guess, that he’s proud.”

A promise made — now, all these years later, is a promise kept.

Who wouldn’t be proud of that?

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One more time: To find out ways to get involved, visit the Facebook page … HERE.

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Follow on Twitter: @Bryce_A_Miller

Category: Big Ten, Hawkeye news, Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Bryce Miller: View author profile.

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