News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 13, 2008

Hughes News and Views: Tidbits from all avenues of sports world

By David Hughes

TERRE HAUTE — Wake the kids and family pets because it’s time for another installment of “A Bunch of Unrelated Sports Stuff That Needs to Get in the Newspaper Before It’s Too Late.”

• March is too early to assess how the Terre Haute Action Track’s new promotional group — known as DHK Promotions LLC and consisting of Brian Dorsett, Mike King and Davey Hamilton — might fare in bringing fans back to the once-popular half-mile dirt oval.

But I know one thing already. It’s nice to have promoters who will return a reporter’s phone call, promoters who will actually try to publicize their events, promoters who won’t tell a reporter “don’t ever call me on this number again.”

Anyone familiar with the previous Action Track promoter, Dave Allison, might agree that he was

possibly the worst promoter in the history of promotions.

Back to the present group, I’ve known Brian and Mike for years and I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Davey, but I wish all three the best in returning fan interest at the track back to its glory days (or at least close to it).

n Remember Jason Irving? He’s the bench-press specialist and Clinton resident whom I wrote about last fall.

He also happens to be a dwarf.

Anyway, the 34-year-old Irving e-mailed a while back to update me on a couple of his overseas accomplishments in January.

Competing in the U.K. Open at Cardiff, Wales, Irving won the men’s 132-pound championship by bench-pressing 375 pounds.

For the British Paralympics qualifying meet at Stoke Mandeville, England, he dieted off a few pounds from his solid 4-foot-9 frame and won the 123-pound class by benching a European-record 365 pounds.

Irving figures he’ll probably be ranked No. 4 in the 123-pound class in the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games at Beijing.

“I think there’s room for improvement,” he said. “I’m certainly looking for a 400-pound bench press come September.”

Irving’s career-best bench press is 396 pounds.

• Turning to basketball, dunks are not kept as an official statistic for a lot of boys high school teams. But at Terre Haute South, coach Mike Saylor can’t help but brag on high-flying senior Zach Odum.

The older of South’s Odum brothers slammed home 39 dunks during the 2007-08 season. That’s considered an unofficial South record, Saylor mentioned.

The 6-foot-2 Odum posted 12 of his dunks during a wild mid-February weekend when he had six each against Evansville North and Rockville.

• On a belated sad note, former Terre Haute South basketball player Brad Blocker died Feb. 22 at Reno, Nev., following a skiing accident at Lake Tahoe.

Blocker, 48, was a sophomore reserve guard on the 1975-76 South team that lost to Jeffersonville in the Evansville Semistate championship game in Roberts Stadium. The Braves finished 18-9 under then-coach Gordon Neff.

Blocker’s family moved out of Terre Haute following the ‘75-76 season and he ended up graduating from Woodside High School in California in 1978. After that, Blocker played junior varsity basketball at UCLA.

An attorney in Portola Valley, Calif., at the time of his death, Blocker is survived by his wife, Denise; two teen-age daughters, Lauren and Jessica; and one teen-age son, Ryan.

• On a brighter note, future NBA star Greg Oden continues to show his loyalty by mentioning Terre Haute and his departed best friend, Travis Smith, seemingly every opportunity he gets.

On the Web site, which supports mentoring programs in Oregon, the injured Portland Trail Blazers’ rookie recalls the support he received from Mike Conley Sr. during his high school years in Indianapolis and from Jimmy Smith, Travis’ father, while he grew up playing at the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club.

“We lost Travis to a tragic car accident in 2007,” Oden said in his posted message. “I want to honor my friend by making his father proud of me by giving back and living my life the right way.”

In the next paragraph, Oden encourages Oregon men to “help kids the way Mr. Smith and Mr. Conley helped me.”

As Jimmy Smith said in a recent e-mail to me, “The NBA needs more Greg Odens!”

• Finishing up with a tennis item, Tribune-Star assistant city editor John D. Wright is listed 17th among men’s 50-and-over singles players by the U.S. Tennis Association, according to its 2007 year-end rankings.

In addition, the 52-year-old Wright and Phil Dubsky of Geneva, Ohio, are ranked No. 5 in men’s 50-and-over doubles by the USTA.

Wright is the only Indiana player listed in the top 100 for men’s 50-and-over singles.

In 2007, Wright played in six USTA singles tournaments. Last August in Philadelphia, he reached the Round of 16 (out of 90 players) in the national 50-and-over grass-court championships.

Also last year, Wright and Dubsky combined to win men’s 50-and-over doubles tournaments in Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.