Other Sports

Sports briefs: Nov. 29

Kentucky junior libero Stephanie Klefot led the Southeastern Conference with 4.75 digs per set.
Kentucky junior libero Stephanie Klefot led the Southeastern Conference with 4.75 digs per set.

Volleyball

Kentucky's Klefot repeats as SEC's libero of the year

Kentucky volleyball junior Stephanie Klefot was named the Southeastern Conference's libero of the year for the second straight season. Six Wildcats earned All-SEC honors, including Ann Armes, who was named co-scholar athlete of the year.

Klefot was joined by junior Christine Hartmann and sophomore Whitney Billings on the All-SEC first team. Junior Ashley Frazier earned All-SEC second-team honors, and Lauren O'Conner was named to the All-SEC freshman team.

Klefot is the third player in school history to earn a player of the year honor twice in a career, joining former defensive specialist Jenni Casper and setter Sarah Rumely.

Klefot, an Assumption graduate, led the conference with 4.75 digs per set. She also ranked among the league leaders with 29 service aces for the season.

The Wildcats will open play in their seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance with a match against Dayton at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in College Station, Texas.

NASCAR

Stewart's hiring of Addington official

Tony Stewart made a decision to fire crew chief Darian Grubb, and winning the NASCAR championship didn't change his mind.

Grubb was officially replaced Monday, eight days after guiding Stewart to the Sprint Cup title. Steve Addington, who quit as Kurt Busch's crew chief last week, takes over immediately — and begins work as Stewart and Grubb head to Las Vegas to begin the championship celebration.

"I know Steve well, and I know how he goes about setting up a race car," said Stewart, who worked with Addington from 2005 through 2008 during his time at Joe Gibbs Racing.

"My comfort level with him is already strong. He balances the technical part of our sport with the real-world experiences we get at the track, and that will allow for a smooth transition as we prepare to defend our title in 2012."

Grubb was told midway through the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship that he was going to be let go at the end of the season. He won't stay off the market long: Rick Hendrick said Monday he's offered Grubb an engineering position with Hendrick Motorsports, where Grubb was before he became Stewart's crew chief in 2009.

Hendrick said he was surprised Grubb was let go.

"I think the dye was cast before the Chase, and then they had the Chase, they had the success, and they won it, but it was something they just didn't want to go back on," Hendrick said. "Darian is a very smart guy, and he's entertaining a lot of offers out there.

"I hope Darian ends up with us. I think he would help our organization a lot, but I'm not sure — if he wants to be a crew chief, we don't have that spot."

Addington has won 16 races as a crew chief, all with brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch.

"Tony and I are a lot alike, and we're able to push each other," Addington said. "He expects a lot, and he knows a lot. His talent behind the wheel is obvious, but his ability to motivate and get everyone to believe that whatever goal they set is attainable is something every crew chief wants, and I plan to make the most of it."

■ Richard Childress Racing hired Drew Blickensderfer as crew chief for Jeff Burton. Blickensderfer replaces Luke Lambert, who had been working on an interim basis with Burton and will now be moved to a new position at RCR. Blickensderfer spent nearly a decade with Roush Fenway Racing and led David Ragan to his first career victory this season at Daytona in July.

Horse racing

Ultimate Eagle victorious at Hollywood

A day after winning the Citation Handicap with the favorite Jeranimo, trainer Mike Pender and owner B.J. Wright completed a weekend stakes double Sunday night with long-shot Ultimate Eagle in the $250,000 Hollywood Derby. Ridden by Martin Pedroza, Ultimate Eagle led all the way and won by three-quarters of a length, covering 11/4 miles on the turf in 2:01.43.

It was the fourth straight victory and first Grade I win for Ultimate Eagle, purchased by Wright and Pender for just $70,000 as a 2-year-old. The colt was so weak and sickly at first that even that seemed too high a price.

"It's miraculous considering where this horse came from," Pender said. "He had colic as a 2-year-old and was basically pronounced dead on the table. Somehow, by an act of God, he was brought back to life."

Ultimate Eagle, a Kentucky-bred son of Mizzen Mast, was no better than third in his first three starts but has blossomed since switching to the turf and earning his maiden win in July. He went off at 14-1 Sunday, six weeks after he led all the way to win the Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita as a 34-1 shot.

Outdoors

Kentucky's bear season opens Dec. 10

Opening day of Kentucky's bear season will arrive earlier this year. On Dec. 10, hunters can participate in a two-day quota hunt for black bears in Harlan, Letcher and Pike counties.

"This year, the hunt occurs on the second weekend in December, rather than the third weekend as it has since 2009," said Steven Dobey, bear program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "Hopefully, this earlier date will avoid overlap with early-season snow storms and increase hunter success."

The hunt is open to any Kentucky resident who purchases an over-the-counter bear permit. Unless exempt, a person must also possess a valid Kentucky annual hunting license.

The quota harvest is limited to 10 bears total or five female bears, whichever limit hunters reach first.

The last word

Some think Coach Rex Ryan must be carrying a rabbit's foot or a horseshoe in his pocket after the Jets escaped with a 28-24 win over the Bills on Sunday. Ryan said:

"You know what, and I've said it for three years now. I don't care if I'm the luckiest coach in the league. That's great. As long as we win, that's fine with me. But it is f unny how if we make a mistake, we're horrible. 'Oh, they're terrible.' That could be bad luck there, too. But if we make a play, 'Oh, we're just lucky.' ... I hope karma is with us. I hope we continue to be lucky, and we'll take that. The old saying, 'I'd rather be lucky than good.' I'd rather be both, and I think we are."

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