Blogfather Note (yes I am finally embracing the moniker which a community member threw out at me last year):
This year Matt and John have stepped up huge on our "non revenue / Olympic sport coverage". The depth with which they cover things like track and wrestling set Bull Run apart from most other college fan sites. We saw that focus pay off when Bull Run was all over John Jones bringing home UB's first D1 national championship.
Now it pays off as the Pan American games kick off. We have three UB athletes performing and they fittingly each fall under a sport one of us has focused on. Matt on Jon Jones in the shot put, John on wrestler Nate Rose, and myself on Tom Murphy and baseball.
I may have done baseball and hockey in the past but it was Matt who really started the Olympic sports push and John who brought thorough wrestling coverage to this site. I thank them both for making Bull Run a more complete place for UB sports fans.
It's fitting that in a year which finds the Pan-American games just a few hours from Buffalo that New York State's largest university is sending three athletes to the quadrennial competition. Two will represent the United States of America while a third will participate for Trinidad and Tobago.
The Pan-American Sports Organization is an international organization which represents the current 41 National Olympic Committees of the North American and South American continents. It is affiliated with the International Olympic Committee and serves as the continental association of the Americas. Like the Olympics, the Games are contested every four year, and this month will be in Toronto after Guadalajara hosted the 2011 edition.
Two UB alumni and one incoming athlete will be in Toronto:
Tom Murphy - Baseball, Team USA
Until 2020 Pan American Baseball will be about the highest level of international baseball played. Since the IOC dumped the sport back in 2005 it's lost the visibility of the world stage. This year Major League Baseball cleared minor league players for the games and that brought UB's Thomas Murphy, a 2012 alumnus, to the games.
Murphy owns the UB records for single season home runs, and career slugging percentage. His name is also found among the top ten all time at many positions. He is arguably the best Bull of the modern era. It's for that reason Colorado picked up Murphy in the third round of the draft. It was the highest selection of a UB baseball player since Peter Grimm was picked up in 1983.
Murphy is considered to be a very promising prospect in the Colorado system, he currently playing for the AA New Britian Rock Cats. He is tops among the AA teams in the Eastern League with 13 home runs.
It's likely that the catcher would be at the AAA level if not for a shoulder injury which cut his season short last year.
He was going to be battling with Eric Fryer, who was catching for AAA Rochester before being called up to the Twins. Now it seems that Murphy has the inside track to start for team USA.
In 2011 the Americans lost the championship game to Canada but still came home with Silver. It's hard to know how things will shake out this season with the addition of professional players, albeit minor league players. In recent years nearly half of all minor league players were from or in Latin America. Those players have not before had access to the Pan Am games.
Team USA starts competition on July 11th against Puerto Rico at 3:30
John Jones - Shot Put, Team USA
Aa you know from our earlier coverage of Jones' work at USATF Nationals, the Pan-Am games are a bit of a consolation to the IAAF World Championships, which Jones missed by one spot. Here, however, he's got a good chance of a strong finish, perhaps as the top American. In 2011 Noah Bryant had the best finish of any American, coming in 6th place with a throw of 19.23. Jones' top marks from each of his last two competitions would have been good for the silver medal, and his MAC Championship throw still would have been good for bronze.
This year, it's tough to know how Jones will stack up, since your guess is as good as mine as to who's in the fiels. Even the official website doesn't have entry lists posted.
The shot put finals are scheduled for July 21st at 6:00 pm.
Nate Rose - Wrestling - 97 KG, Trinidad and Tobago
Rose is the only one of the three Bulls to represent in Toronto that will actually be suiting up for the blue and white this coming year, and he's actually the youngest, as he hasn't even started his UB wrestling career yet. Rose qualified for the games by reaching the bronze match at the Pan-American Championships after beating Marcos Bonnet of Puerto Rico.
Rose will be competing in the freestyle events at 97 kilos, and if the field of wrestlers are similar to that of the Pan-American Championships where Rose won in the repechage round to reach one of the bronze matches then he could have an outside shot at pulling some upsets. Although the exact field isn't set, the countries to watch would be the United States and Cuba who have traditionally dominated at the games. Wrestling is a fun sport where any guy can upset the favorites in any given match, so Rose will be a name to watch.
Rose is the pride of his native Trinidad and Tobago as one of the nation's top wrestlers; he is the first wrestler from the nation to qualify in some time, and will look to be the country's first ever medalist in wrestling.
Rose will take to the mat on July 18th.