Morning Sun
  • NFL star David to visit Pittsburg Saturday

  • The Horses of Hope Riding Centers and MAC Fitness are hosting a free True Grit Challenge Kickoff event from 3:30-5:30 p.m., Saturday, at MAC Fitness.

    The True Grit Challenge is part of a program to encourage fitness among people of all ages and abilities.

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  • The Horses of Hope Riding Centers and MAC Fitness are hosting a free True Grit Challenge Kickoff event from 3:30-5:30 p.m., Saturday, at MAC Fitness.
    The True Grit Challenge is part of a program to encourage fitness among people of all ages and abilities.
    Attendants may take part in an autograph session with former Fort Scott Community College, former Nebraska and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer linebacker Lavonte David.
    Initially not highly recruited after high school, David went on to become the 58th selection (second round) of the 2012 NFL Draft and proved himself one of the top NFL rookies his first season.
    David (6-foot-1, 233 pounds born in Miami, Fla.) finished his rookie season with a team-high 139 tackles (112 solo, 27 assist), 2.0 quarterback sacks and one interception.
    David started in all 16 games for the 7-9 Buccaneers. He recorded 16 stops against Oakland (Tampa Bay single-game rookie record), 14 against Washington and 14 against San Diego. He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November.
    The linebacker played on winning teams at every stop during his rise to the professional ranks: Miami Northwestern High School (back-to-back state titles, 2006-2007), FSCC (national runner-up, 2009) and Nebraska.
    David established a Nebraska single-season tackles record with 152 and he joined Jerry Murtaugh (1970), Ed Stewart (1994), Carlos Polk (2000), Trev Alberts (1993), Travis Hill (1992) and Broderick Thomas (1987, 1988) as All-American linebackers during the school’s rich football tradition.
    Central in the event will be former Pittsburg State and former Arena Football defensive lineman Aaron McConnell, owner of MAC Fitness.
    McConnell was a four-time All-American footballer at Pitt State (2000-2003) and won his only national championship in cheerleading (2001). He recorded 64 tackles, 27.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks in 2001, 49 tackles, 12.0 TFL and 4.5 sacks in 2002, and 56 tackles, 25.0 TFL and 7.5 sacks in 2003.
    McConnell played seven years in the AFL before returning to Pittsburg to start his own business. He’s also known for his Pitt State football radio duties alongside play-by-play man Eddie Lomshek on KKOW.
    Participants on Saturday will meet other college football players and will take part in other high-energy activities.
    The True Grit Challenge will be on April 20, with a 5K, mile and half-mile relay.
    Royals Caravan
    The Royals Caravan will stop next week in Joplin (3-4 p.m., Monday, at Vintage Stock inside Northpark Mall) and Fort Scott (5:30-6:30 p.m., Monday, at Walmart Supercenter). Cable One and KKOW host the Caravan in Joplin; KOMB/KMDO hosts in Fort Scott.
    Kansas City Royals scheduled to participate: pitchers Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy and Will Smith, Royals Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Leonard, broadcaster Steve Physioc and mascot Sluggerrr.
    Chen, a 14-year MLB veteran born in Panama City, finished his 2012 season with a 11-14 record and a 5.07 ERA. He made 34 starts, tossing 191.2 innings and striking out a career-high 140 batters. Chen led the Royals in wins.
    Page 2 of 2 - Chen recently made news for his decision to play for China in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, becoming the first MLB player to play for China. He played for Panama, his country of birth, in 2009. Chen’s family fled China amidst political instability.
    Smith had a 6-9 mark and a 5.32 ERA last season and Duffy finished 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA.
    Leonard, a second round selection of the Royals in the 1972 Amateur Draft, played all 12 of his big league seasons in Kansas City.
    His 144 career wins included three 20-win seasons (20 in 1977, 21 in 1978, 20 in 1980) and two additional seasons with at least 15 wins.
    Leonard placed fourth in the 1977 AL Cy Young and seventh in 1978. He finished behind winner Sparky Lyle of the New York Yankees, Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles and Nolan Ryan of the California Angels in 1977. Leonard tied for seventh in 1978 with five other pitchers, including Royal teammates Larry Gura and Paul Splittorff. Splittorff won 19 and Gura finished 16-4 in 1978 for the AL West champions.
    His career was cut short by knee injuries and Leonard retired after the 1986 season with a career record of 144-106, as well as a 3.70 ERA and 1,323 strikeouts over 2,187 innings pitched.
    Physioc, a 1977 graduate of Kansas State, has made several different stops during his broadcasting career — Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, ESPN (MLB, college basketball, college football), San Diego Padres, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Rams, Vancouver Grizzlies, Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals, working on both TV and radio.
    Youth basketball
    The Frontenac Booster Club will be hosting a youth basketball tournament on Saturday, Feb. 16.
    The tournament will be for boys and girls, third-sixth grade. The entry fee will be $125 by Feb. 7 and $150 after Feb. 9, and it guarantees three games. Space will be limited to the first six teams paid in each division. First and second place teams receive medals with a maximum of 10 per team.
    For more information, please contact Doug Barto at 620-249-0900 or e-mail him at dbarto@usd250.org.

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