When seconds count: Inside NASCAR’s crazy competitive pit road

first_imgThe race is hours away but pit road is humming already. Over-the-wall guys hustle to get their stalls ready. Tire changers check their air guns. Tire carriers align their Goodyears just so. Jackmen make sure their jacks are safely out of sight.With NASCAR’s stage racing offering more chances to win points, those pit crew athletes’ performances have become more important than ever. It used to be that a bad pit stop in the middle of a race cost a team only track position, but that could be made up later. Now a bad mid-race pit stop can cost a team points, too, especially close to the end of a stage.If that adds pressure, there is no evidence of it. The atmosphere along pit road at Michigan International Speedway is like a massive outdoor locker room that smells like oil and rubber instead of sweat and Ben Gay. To listen to pit crew members talk to each other is to learn that nobody is good at anything, ever, which is the same as it ever was.Rowdy Harrell shows off his Alabama football rings, including three national championship rings.Rowdy Harrell, the No. 88 team’s rear tire carrier, stands near the wall. He holds a tire that he eventually will put on the rear of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car. He grips it by wrapping his fingers around the only spoke on the wheel that lines up with a lug nut hole. He grabs every tire that way every time, because that helps him aim the five holes on the rim at the five studs on the car.He dabs sweat off of his glistening forehead. His face will be behind a mask when he goes over the wall later today, when it will be even hotter than it already is. He wears the mask because one day at practice two years ago, a lug nut hit him on his left lower eyelid and left him bruised. An inch higher, and he might have been blinded. “They’re moving twice as fast as a helicopter rotor spins. It’s a little hulk of steel. If it touches you, it’s cutting you,” he says.He finished the stop with his eyes closed. After that, he started wearing a luger’s helmet with a full-face shield. So many lug nuts have pinged off the mask that he no longer flinches when they do. That’s important because if he flinches, he’ll be slower slamming the new tire in place, and if he’s slower slamming the new tire in place, he’ll be out of a job. Harrell seems to revel in how ridiculous this is: NASCAR pit road is so competitive he has had to learn to not react when a lug nut moving twice as fast as a helicopter blade flies at his face.RELATED: At home on the mounds with Rowdy Harrell‘Pit crewing is a symphony’Like many pit crew members, Harrell played sports in college. He won three national championships as a linebacker for the Alabama Crimson Tide, graduated in spring of 2013, joined Hendrick Motorsports, and the following February won the Daytona 500 as a member of Earnhardt Jr.’s team.Hendrick Motorsports hiring Andy “Papa” Papathanassiou as a pit coach in 1992 helped usher in a new way of thinking. A former football player at Stanford, Papathanassiou, now Hendrick’s director of human performance, came into NASCAR knowing nothing about the sport, an advantage because he wasn’t beholden to pre-existing biases to do things the way they had always been done. The first time he saw a pit stop, he thought it looked like a sports play. That observation led to a revolution in how pit road operates. A pit stop changed from a mechanical event to an athletic one.The fact pit road is overrun with athletes from other sports is well-known and well-documented. But it is not very well understood. The use of that term — athletes — is slightly misleading, as it’s not necessarily their athletic skills that make them valuable.Athleticism is, of course, a nice foundation to build upon, and an uncoordinated schlub is not going to become an elite pit crew member. But blazing speed, massive strength and catch-a-fly-with-chopsticks hand-eye coordination, while certainly attractive, are not prerequisites for success.An example: It’s good for a tire changer to have short-burst speed so that he gets to the other side of the car and back in as little time as possible. But that’s two sprints of six or seven steps at a time. The difference between the best and the worst times among the elite teams is not large. Even if a particular tire changer is super-fast, it doesn’t matter unless the rest of the team is that fast, too, because an over-the-wall team is only as good as its worst member.Pit crew members work out at Joe Gibbs Racing’s gym.This is an important distinction between pit crews and teams in every other sport. In football, the running back can make up for a bad offensive line by making defenders miss. A pit road team with a blazing fast tire changer gains no advantage from that because however quickly he gets done, the driver still has to wait for the rest of the team to finish before he can leave. In this way, a pit road team is more like a musical group than another sports team. “Pit crewing is a symphony,” says Derrell Edwards, jackman for the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevy driven by Paul Menard. “Everything has to be in sync for it to sound good.”RELATED: JGR’s push for excellence extends to pit crewsBetween the earsSo many athletes are on pit road because of the mental acuity and character traits athletes bring with them. “It comes down to what kind of head do they have on their shoulders?” says Scott Bowen, human performance manager at Roush Fenway Racing and former tire carrier. “How do they react when things don’t go as planned?”Five hundred mile races are very occasionally won and far more often lost based on the six inches between pit crew members’ ears. They must be resilient, solve problems on the fly, work well on a team and have the ability to practice the same tasks over and over again. Those are skills athletes have honed in stick-and-ball sports for years before they try out for a pit road position.Pit crews train year-round, and yet their weekly time “on the field” is measured in seconds. Even a closer in baseball and kicker in football see more action than that. Pit road teams spend far more time working on their flexibility, agility and explosiveness than they do actually pitting cars.The ability to stay focused and not get bored or distracted is a skill, and a person who doesn’t have it won’t last on a pit crew. Pit crew members also must be able to shake off bad pit stops because another stop will be coming soon, and they can’t spend that time wallowing in self-pity, anger or, worse, fear of screwing up the next one, too. Pit crew members must be confident they will succeed in the next stop even after they have failed.“It’s the guys who can handle the pressure and do it over and over and over again who are the best,” says Trent Cherry, pit road coach for Penske and author of Money Stop: The Pressure on Pit Road Has Never Been Greater. “We have guys who played in the NFL who are average pit road guys. And we have guys who barely made their high school team who are great pit road guys.”Shaun Peet, a former jackman, is Chip Ganassi Racing’s pit road coach.Shaun Peet, pit road coach for Chip Ganassi Racing and former jackman, says he doesn’t take athleticism into account at all when he’s scouting for talent. He looks for integrity and work ethic first and figures with proper training, he can turn anybody with those traits into a good pit crew member.Peet and Mike Metcalf, his fellow coach and gas man for Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevy, jokingly call themselves, “The Department of Unrealistic Expectations” with the slogan, “Failure’s Coming!” because setting as a goal changing four tires and filling a car with gas in 10 seconds every time is to guarantee failure.Always watchingPerhaps the greatest sign of how competitive pit road has gotten is the investment teams put into the success of their over-the-wall crew. Teams regularly recruit the best at each position — think of a five-star high school quarterback — and once acquired, outfit them with trainers, full gyms at their race shops and travel for more than 30 events per yearSome teams hold tryouts to find new talent. Most develop pit road team members by starting them out in lower levels, the same way drivers work their way up. The competition for the fastest pit crew members is fierce, and it’s common for one team to poach from another.All of that is well known. What is not is how teams collect information about which crew members to recruit. At every track, teams affix video cameras to pit boxes and fences and whatever else they can find and point them at opposing pit stalls to record their pit stops. They do this because nobody produces stats related to pit crew members. Teams create those stats themselves by watching their videos. When a pit road coach or crew chief needs a new crew member and wants to hire someone from another team, he identifies candidates by consulting the stats his team created via their video library.And gets entertained in the process.“Sooner or later someone will notice there’s a Go Pro pointed in their direction,” says Hendrick’s Papathanassiou. “Guys on other teams will finish their pit stop and go up to your camera and give it a thumbs-up. You don’t want to be a big butthole about it. But if you know the guys on the other team, it doesn’t turn into fisticuffs, usually.”The video cameras and TV coverage ensure there are no secrets on pit road. If a team discovered a new trick to shave fractions of seconds off of their time, that new trick would be unique to them for one weekend, maximum, after which every other team would copy the new technique. The cameras are perfectly legal, a logical by-product of NASCAR’s policy to have open air garages and pit roads.In addition to being filmed by opponents, each Monster Energy Series team has multiple cameras recording itself on each pit stop. Coaches study the tape frame by frame, looking for the smallest inconsistencies to improve. This is often done literally seconds after a pit stop ends. Teams across all sports study film. But they don’t break their plays down into fractions of seconds like NASCAR pit crews do.A breakdown in secondsEvery team starts pit stops the same way: When the driver hits the line one stall down, the jackman, front tire changer and front tire carrier jump off the wall and run across the pit box in front of the car. The rear tire carrier and rear tire changer wait and run behind the car. Once on the other side of the car, the tire changers quickly squat down onto their haunches, a maneuver made possible, in some cases, by weekly yoga sessions.Mike Metcalf coaches Chip Ganassi Racing pit crew members at the team’s facility. Photo by NASCAR Digital MediaRELATED: Inside a Chip Ganassi Racing team’s pit crew practiceThe clock starts ticking the instant the car stops. The times that follow come from Chip Ganassi Racing and were verified as within the margin of error by several other teams.From the time the car stops, the front tire changer has 0.2 seconds to hit the first lug nut. The front-tire changer is expected to remove all five lug nuts in 1.0 seconds. The rear tire changer has a bit longer — up to 0.9 seconds — to make the first hit because the car is usually moving away from him. Once he hits the first one, he also has one second to remove all five.In the meantime, the jackman has 1.2 seconds from the time the car stops to slide the jack onto the jackbolt, crank the jackhandle once, and lift that 3,500-pound car skyward.Once the tire is ripped off, the tire carriers have 0.9 seconds to slam the new tire into place. The changers then have 1.0 seconds to tighten all five lug nuts. The jackman drops the car when the last lug nuts on both the front and rear tires are tight (which he discerns by watching and listening), then he has 3.8 seconds to run around to the other side and lift the car again.As all of that is happening, the gas man — carrying what Peet calls “a 100-pound bomb” on his shoulder — has 0.3 seconds from when the car stops to when the nozzle of the can is supposed to be inserted into the car. He pours gas in for 5.0 seconds, then disengages the can, throws it to the wall, and grabs the second can. That transition is supposed to take 2.4 seconds.When the left side tires are being bolted on, the jackman watches and listens for both changers to tighten their five lug nuts. On some teams, the rear tire carrier uses a hand signal to alert the jackman that the rear tire changer is done. When the changers have secured all five lug nuts on both tires, the jackman drops the car, and the driver speeds off.As complicated as that sounds, it’s even worse because there are so many details that can go wrong. Changers miss lug nuts. Guns jam. Tires bounce away. Rear tire carriers slip on lug nuts or spilled gas. Drivers slide through pit boxes or stop too close to the wall. Cars are dropped too soon or not soon enough.Jonathan Ferrey | Getty ImagesOn top of all the things the pit crew can do wrong and get blamed for, sometimes they take heat for miscues completely out of their control. An offshoot of the hyper-competition on pit road is that there’s always someone to blame, even when there isn’t. Cherry says one of his toughest jobs is figuring out when a tire changer is telling the truth about his air gun malfunctioning and when he’s using that as an excuse.Or consider the final run of the 2017 Daytona 500. In the last pit stop, gas man Mike Metcalf poured every last drop he could into Kyle Larson’s gas tank. There was, Metcalf says, no room left in the tank to hold any more gas.As Larson peeled out of pit road, the No. 42 team crunched the numbers. The math of how much gas the tank carries, how much gas the engine uses and how many miles were left in the race added up to it was going to be close. Very, very close. And somehow that became Metcalf’s responsibility, even though the only thing he could control — filling the tank — he had done exactly as he was supposed to.As the end of the race approached — with Larson in contention — Metcalf was nervous enough on his own because he wanted to win the Daytona 500 and didn’t know if he would. On top of that, he had to deal with inane questions. “Mikey, are we going to make it? Are we good? Is it full? How full was it? Really full? Barely full? Was it a little bit over full? Or was it a lot full?”Metcalf laughs as he tells this story. It’s funny now … almost. Not even close then. “I’m like, why are we having this conversation?”Larson was leading when he ran out of gas coming out of Turn 2 of the final lap. That means the tank needed to be roughly 32 ounces larger (and full of that much more gas) for Larson to have not run out. But as every gas man knows, if the driver runs out, it’s not the driver’s fault for being too hard on the gas, it’s not the engineers’ fault for not designing a more efficient motor, it’s not the crew chief’s fault for figuring the numbers wrong. It’s the gas man’s fault for not putting 21 gallons of gas into a 20-gallon tank. The Richard Childress Racing No. 27 pit crew goes to work. Photo by Sarah Crabill | Getty Images What’s next?Its name is Lolo Jones. It weighs “20-something” pounds, has a long aluminum handle and can lift a stock car with one crank. “That’s my baby,” says Edwards, the No. 27 team’s jackman, and he means the jack, not the Olympic sprinter it’s named after. Edwards takes special care to make sure Jones’ maintenance is up to date so that when he slams the jack under the car, it lifts it high and fast. Edwards has a backup jack, too: Her name is Kim Kardashian. (Edwards doesn’t name them, he just uses them.)Very few people know exactly what’s going on inside air guns and jacks, which are like the drills and jacks you have in your garage in the same way the Chevy in your garage is like the one Earnhardt Jr. races. Even the guys using them don’t really know, and unless they have engineering degrees, they probably wouldn’t understand anyway.Pit stops have arguably reached the point where, without an advance in equipment, humans will not get markedly faster, so teams instead focus on consistency. A team would rather have five 11-second stops than four 10s and a 15, especially if the 15 was the last stop of the race.Cherry, a former tire carrier, poses a hypothetical question: If a team could choose the best training — speed, strength, conditioning, injury rehab, etc. — or the best gun, which would it take? “I guarantee you 100 percent of the coaches would say, ‘Give me the gun,’ ” he says. “That’s what’s changed the face of the sport is the equipment. The people have gotten bigger, stronger and faster, too. It’s a race between human performance and equipment. As soon as one catches up to the other, the next surpasses it.”And teams aren’t just looking to optimize pit guns and jacks. “There’s all kinds of crazy stuff that’s been on my list forever,” Papathanassiou says. “Pit crews are only hustling in one direction. Why not have shoes that are purposely designed to turn left for a front tire changer, to turn right for a rear tire changer?”Why not, indeed?And as soon as one team has high-banked shoes, they all will.last_img read more

Mary V. Rivera

first_imgMary V. Rivera, 78, of Groves, passed away on Saturday, December 12, 2020 at the Medical Center of Southeast Texas in Port Arthur.Mary was born on December 24, 1941 in Edna Texas to Florentina and Elias Vasquez.She resided in Port Arthur since 1979 and was a retired housekeeping supervisor for St. Mary’s hospital in Port Arthur.Mary was a member of Landmark Pentecostal Church in Port Neches for many years. Services will be conducted at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, December 30, 2020, at Landmark United Pentecostal Church in Port Neches, Texas.Burial will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Groves, Texas.In lieu of flowers “Memorial Contributions” can be made to https://gofund.me/352cd6c5. She loved to laugh, enjoyed cooking, playing card games with family and friends and Sunday’s with her church.But most of all she loved her family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren who she spoiled but also taught them direction.Mary is survived by her husband, Mike Rivera, Sr. of Groves; daughters, Belinda Trevino of Dover, Delaware, and Michelle Rivera and her husband Hugo Ceja of Groves; her son, Mike Rivera, Jr. of Groves; siblings, Joe Vasquez, Robert Vasquez, Pedro Vasquez, Raymond Vasquez, Isabell Garcia, Antonia Fuentes and Florentina Padierna; grandchildren, Arielle Vazquez (Alex), Brittani Colon (Chris), HugoCeja (Katlyn), Patricia Ceja, and Jose Ceja; great grandchildren, Aryana Vazquez, Leo Ceja and Owen Ceja. Mary is preceded in death byher parents; siblings, John Vasquez, Jerry Vasquez, Elias Vasquez, Jesse Vasquez, Alonzo Vasquez and Irene Bertrand.A visitation will take place from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 29, 2020, at Grammier-Oberle Funeral Home in Port Arthur.last_img read more

Second Cannondale Chief Executive Officer resigns

first_imgCanondale Sports Group (GSG) has lost its second Chief Executive Officer in 2008. Dorel Industries has confirmed that Jeff Frehner, President and CEO of Cannondale, is leaving the company for family reasons. Robert Baird Jr, President of Dorel’s Recreational/Leisure segment, will oversee operations until a replacement is named.”We are sorry to see Jeff leave,” Baird said. “As the former president of Madison, Wisconsin based Pacific Cycle, Jeff and his family have developed strong roots in that community. He has found it difficult to accommodate an extensive business travel schedule and the need to be physically present in Bethel, Connecticut, headquarters of the Cannondale Sports Group.”Montreal based Dorel Industries owns Cannondale, alongside the Schwinn, GT, Mongoose and Sugoi bicycle brands. Matt Mannelly, Frehner’s predecessor, left Canondale on 29 July following almost three years in the position.Frehner had quickly risen through the ranks at Pacific Cycle, firstly as General Counsel in 2002 before taking over from founder Chris Hornung in December 2006. Pacific acquired Mongoose in 2000, Schwinn and GT in 2001, and was itself acquired by Dorel in January 2004. Dorel acquired Cannondale and Sugoi in February 2008 for US$200 million.“There is an excellent, highly energized senior management team in place at CSG. Business at the division has never been better. We have a clear plan, and are committed to being the partner of choice for the independent bike dealer,” Baird concluded.www.cannondale.com Relatedlast_img read more

Elite triathlete inspires local schoolchildren ahead of British Triathlon Mixed Relay…

first_img Related Local hero, Sophie Coldwell, visited Greenfields Community School in Nottingham today (Wednesday 24 May) to share her top sporting tips with the pupils, 100 days before the British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup prepares to bring the city of Nottingham to life on Saturday 2 September.Fresh from her return from Japan, where the 22-year-old managed a strong fourth place at the ITU World Triathlon Series event in Yokohama, Coldwell returned to her home city to put the children through their paces. Now based at the Loughborough Triathlon Performance Centre, she helped lead a PE session, before allowing the youngsters the first glimpse of the official cup that will be presented live on BBC One in just over three months’ time.Coldwell said “I’m so excited at the prospect of competing in the city I grew up in. The British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup will be a showcase of the top British and international triathletes and I can’t wait to be part of it.“It’s been great to come and meet the pupils today and answer their questions about triathlon and how I got started in the sport. I hope they’ve been inspired to come along and watch in September and, who knows, there could be a budding triathlete amongst them.”The fast and furious event is set to feature 20 triathlon quartets made up of two men and two women, each completing a short course triathlon before ‘tagging’ their teammate to do the same.An expected crowd of 20,000 spectators and a live BBC One television audience will follow the action as some of the world’s best race around Victoria Embankment and Trent Bridge in this dynamic and exciting format of the sport.The format, whilst relatively new to spectators in Great Britain, is well-known overseas, with British and English national teams having won World and Commonwealth titles. The decision to include Mixed Relay within the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is set to be made in July.Jack Buckner, CEO at British Triathlon, said “Our British triathletes have already experienced great success this year and we can’t wait to display the huge amount of sporting talent we have in an exciting new racing format in the heart of the city.“Nottingham is a fantastic location for the event to make its debut and I know the city will get well behind the British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup by coming down to support in September.”Cllr Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council, added “With 100 days to go, we’re really starting to feel the excitement for this major event coming to the city. We are proud to host these high calibre athletes. I would urge the public to grab a grandstand ticket if they haven’t done so already and support our local talent. There are also chances to take part in the mass participation event.”The British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup Nottingham will be supported by the City of Nottingham. The mass participation event, organised by OSB Events and aimed at novice participants, offers an opportunity to experience closed roads racing alongside the River Trent on Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment and takes place just hours before the elite stars take to the course.Fans can also capture the very best of the elite action by securing a spot in the grandstand, overlooking the finish line and the thrilling athlete-changeover point. Tickets start at £10 (plus booking fee) and are available via See Tickets.www.britishtriathlon.org/mixedrelaycupwww.osbevents.com/events/triathlon/city-of-nottingham-triathlonlast_img read more

After 4 years of rigorous athletics and academics, SM Northwest grad looks forward to summer of fun before college

first_imgAfter graduating from SM Northwest Thursday, Jacob Ramirez is ready for a summer of travel and time outdoors.The plan all along had been to head out of state.“That was kind of my thing,” said Jacob Ramirez. “I would tell everyone I’m getting out of Kansas for college.”But as high school went on and college application deadlines neared, Ramirez’s thinking started to shift. An aficionado of live music, he loved being close to Kansas City and its concert venues. A devoted outdoorsman, he loved being able to head out into the country and go fishing.And when K-State offered him full tuition, the appeal of staying in the Sunflower State grew even greater.Now, with Thursday’s graduation ceremony — and four daunting AP tests — behind him, Ramirez is looking forward to a summer of fun. A member of the Cougars varsity baseball team, he’ll be headed to Lawrence next Thursday for the opening-round game of the state tourney, where they’ll face the top seeded squad from Blue Valley.When state is over, he’ll turn his attention to travel. First to Denver, where he’s got tickets to see Kenny Chesney in concert. Then to Minnesota, where he’ll camp with a friend’s family and then hopefully head up to the boundary waters for more fishing.After four years of rigorous academics and nearly year-round baseball, Ramirez says he’s looking forward to enjoying the summer. But he won’t be sad when it’s time to head to Manhattan, where he plans to study engineering.“I’m ready,” he said. “I’m ready for college. It’s exciting to be starting the next thing.”last_img read more

Briefly Noted: Jewish Community Center’s Youth triathlon set for June 30

first_imgJewish Community Center hosting annual youth triathlon. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City is hosting its annual Youth Triathlon on Sunday, June 30. The triathlon is a chance for youth from age 4 to 17 to compete, with food, music and a medal provided for every participant. The triathlon will take place at the Jewish Community Campus, 5801 W. 115th St., Overland Park, and the grounds of the Sprint campus nearby. The competition begins at 7:30 a.m. Participation fees are $25 for Tri for Tots (ages 4-5); $35 per individual/$90 per team. Participants and their parents can attend a pre-race orientation session at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, in the Social Hall of the Jewish Community Campus. Registration is at thejkc.org/youthtri. For more information, contact Erika Aanestad at 913-327-4693.SM East grad Molly Ross named Big 12 Rowing Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year at K-State. Kansas State women’s rowing senior and Shawnee Mission East grad Molly Ross was named the Big 12 Rowing Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year. She is the third member of K-State Rowing to earn the award. A Westwood resident, Ross is pursuing her doctorate degree in nuclear engineering, after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from K-State in 2017. In 2017, Ross earned the Kansas State University Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department Outstanding Senior Award, and has also been named to the First Team Academic All-Big 12 in four consecutive seasons. She earned Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar-Athlete recognition last year.Shawnee calling artists to create permanent sculpture in German sister city. The city of Shawnee is planning to send a local artist/sculptor to represent it on a trip to sister city Erfurt, Germany, next year. The artist/sculptor will create a sculpture that will be permanently installed in Erfurt. The sculptor will participate in a two-week workshop in summer 2020 with sculptor’s from each of Erfurt’s 10 other sister cities. The chosen artists will be paid roughly $1,100 to create sculptures in preparation of Germany’s Federal Horticultural Show in 2021. Applications and pictures of previous works can be sent to [email protected] The contest will close Aug. 1.last_img read more

Minnesota takes fourth at Big Tens

first_imgMinnesota takes fourth at Big TensYuen Kobayashi won the 1,650-yard freestyle for the second straight year. Krista TheisFebruary 12, 2007Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintThe Minnesota women’s swimming and diving team walked away from this year’s Big Ten Championships with new school records, Big Ten titles and a few invitations to the NCAA Championships.The 21st-ranked Gophers finished the three-day event in fourth place behind No. 8 Indiana, No. 10 Michigan and No. 15 Penn State. They did, however, beat unranked Purdue, Northwestern and Ohio State, which coach Kelly Kremer thought would be their biggest competition for fifth place.“Going into the meet I thought it was going to be really hard to place above fifth just because of the teams that were in front of us,” Kremer said. “But when everything was said and done I was really, really pleased that we were able to finish in fourth place.”Kremer said he also thinks it will put the Gophers in a position to have more people go to the NCAA Championship meet than they originally thought.Along with the overall team success, Minnesota had quite a few impressive individual performances.During Thursday’s preliminaries, sophomore Stacy Busack automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.75.Later, sophomore Erin Holtmeyer, junior Roxane Akradi and senior Jennifer Hasling joined Busack in claiming a new school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay when they touched the wall in 1:31.12.Sophomore Christine Jennings took home her first Big Ten title this weekend when she won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:43.74. Her time also qualified her for the NCAA Championship meet in March.Kremer said he was proud of Jennings’ performance at the Big Ten meet.“That was her first individual championship and that was a really important swim for her and the team,” Kremer said. “She was one of our two individual Big Ten champions and did an outstanding job for us.”Right behind Jennings in the event was sophomore Yuen Kobayashi who took second with her season-best time of 4:44.31. Jennings said she enjoys racing her teammate because they push each other.“That’s a really fun event to swim with Yuen,” she said. “Our goal is to swim together and hopefully get a 1-2. We’re teammates and that’s kind of our thing in the 500; to be that 1-2 punch and do it for the team.”Kobayashi later had success when she won the 1,650-yard freestyle, breaking her own school record and setting a personal best time of 16:08.59. Kobayashi won the event last year and was excited to be able to defend her title.“It feels great,” she said. “It has been a rough meet for me, so I just came in here and did what I could. It is great to have a gold medal.”The Gophers’ 800-yard freestyle relay of sophomores Kobayashi, Jennings, Meredith McCarthy and Jenny Shaughnessy also took home a title and guaranteed themselves spots at the NCAA Championships with a time of 7:11.87.Kremer said he was looking forward to this event and knew the women would do well.“Our 800 free relay really did an outstanding job on the second night by defending their title,” Kremer said. “That was certainly one of the highlights of the meet for our team.”In platform diving action Minnesota was lead by senior captain Holly Jakits. Jakits placed fifth overall adding 14 more points to the team total.At the conclusion of the meet, the All-Big Ten First Team was announced and it included four Gophers swimmers.Kobayashi was named to the team for the second year after her performance in the 1,650-yard freestyle and 800-yard freestyle relay. Jennings was honored for the 500-yard freestyle and 800-yard freestyle relay. McCarthy and Shaughnessy rounded up the list as a part of the 800-yard freestyle relay.last_img read more

Studies Find That Gossip Isn’t Just Loose Talk

first_imgThe New York Times: GOSSIP. Almost all of us do it, most of us are embarrassed about it, and sometimes, to our horror, we get caught.But not all gossip is bad, and, in fact, gossip can be useful in maintaining social norms and keeping people in line.Maybe it sounds as if I’m just trying to rationalize the desire to sometimes spread a few juicy bits of information, but recent research looks at the good side of gossip.First, the definition of gossip is fairly neutral. As Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford who has written widely about gossip, notes, the word gossip originally just meant chatting with one’s “godsibs,” or the peer equivalent of godparents — in other words, people you were particularly close to.In more modern terms, Timothy Hallett, associate professor in the Indiana University sociology department, defined it as “the unsanctioned evaluative talk about people who aren’t present.”Read the whole story: The New York Times More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

FLU NEWS SCAN: School opening and pandemic H1N1, adjuvanted vaccine in elderly, H5N1 in Indonesia’s pigs and poultry

first_imgAug 13, 2010Study: Return to school launched pandemic flu waveThe opening of schools in the fall of 2009 seemed to trigger the United States’ second wave of pandemic H1N1 flu, with outpatient visits for flu-like illnesses spiking about 14 days after students returned, researchers from the University of Washington reported yesterday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. To assess any relationship between return to school and flu activity, they looked at Google Flu Trends by state and national level, regional flu baselines, and public school opening dates across many localities and regions. Between Aug 9 and Sep 24, flu-like activity for all states exceeded baselines, and most of it was pandemic H1N1. Flu did not exceed state baselines before school opening dates, except in Minnesota. The authors concluded that understanding the relationship between school opening dates and pandemic influenza spread might be useful for future pandemic planning and that community mitigation efforts aimed at students before school starts may be a useful strategy to reduce the spread of the virus.Aug 12 J Infect Dis abstractAdjuvanted vaccine tests well in elderly A study from Belgium found that a single dose of adjuvanted pandemic H1N1 vaccine was effective and well tolerated in adults up to age 85 and that previous trivalent seasonal vaccination did not reduce its effectiveness. The researchers administered a monovalent H1N1 vaccine containing 3.75 micrograms of antigen and the oil-in-water adjuvant AS03A to healthy adults in two age-groups, 18 to 60 years and over 60 years. Antibody titers against H1N1 were measured after 1 dose, with half the patients then given another dose. Immune responses meeting European licensure criteria were noted in 97.5% and 87.4% of subjects in the younger and older age-groups, respectively, and these levels persisted whether or not subjects received the second dose. Previous vaccination against seasonal influenza within the preceding two flu seasons was associated with significantly lower mean antibody titers after both dosing schedules in 18- to 60-year-olds.Early-release Clin Infect Dis abstractPigs in Indonesia have asymptomatic H5N1 infectionsAn international team of researchers reports finding asymptomatic H5N1 avian influenza infections in pigs in Indonesia in 2005, 2006, and 2007, suggesting that the animals offer the virus an opportunity to adapt to mammals. The team sampled pigs in several areas of Indonesia during three rainy seasons: January and February 2005, October 2006 to February 2007, and November 2008 to April 2009, according to their early-release report in Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID). They found H5N1 viruses in 52 of 702 samples (7.4%). All the positive samples were collected in the first two seasons and came from areas where poultry outbreaks of H5N1 had occurred. None of the pigs showed signs of flu-like illness at the time of sample collection. A phylogenetic analysis showed that the viruses had been introduced into pigs in Indonesia on at least three occasions. The researchers also found one isolate that had the ability to recognize human-type virus receptors. “Our data suggest that pigs are at risk for infection during outbreaks of influenza virus A(H5N1) and can serve as intermediate hosts in which the virus can adapt to mammals,” they conclude.Early-release EID reportH5N1 widespread in Jakarta’s poultrySeventy percent of recent poultry feces samples tested in Jakarta were found to contain H5N1 viruses, according to a Jakarta Post report published today. The finding was reported by the head of the city’s Agriculture, Maritime, and Animal Husbandry Agency, who said thousands of samples were tested. She said the birds all appeared healthy. The story also said that poultry restrictions enacted by the city to control avian flu have been stalled because of widespread public criticism earlier this year. The law requires certificates for pet bird owners and limits poultry slaughterhouses to six areas on the city’s periphery.Aug 13 Jakarta Post storylast_img read more