News, Notes & Rumors – July 16
Chase in China.
West Virginia basketball player Chase Harler is currently participating with a group of all-stars in series of games in China.
A junior from Moundsville, W.Va., Harler is playing eight games in 11 days in China for Team Ohio. The 10-man basketball squad features a variety of players. Some like Harler are current college players, while several are recent college graduates and a couple others have just completed their high school careers and are headed to prep schools this fall.
The competition in China won’t be exclusively against squads from the host country. Harler’s Team Ohio will play games against not only clubs from China but also Germany, Bosnia, Iran and Lithuania. In his first three games on the tour, Harler had 28 points and seven rebounds against Lithuania, 21 points against China and seven points vs. Bosnia.
Harler is the only Mountaineer participating in an all-star tour this summer, but in the past Juwan Staten, Jevon Carter, Beetle Bolden, Da’Sean Butler and others have spent a week or two overseas playing with a U.S.-based squad against foreign competition.
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Throughout the history of intercollegiate athletics, coaches and administrators have been interested in what student-athletes do with their bodies. In recent years they’ve also focused more and more on what food those athletes put in to their body to fuel the engine.
West Virginia University is one of those that is paying a lot of attention to nutrition lately. The WVU athletic department employed its first full-time nutritionist, Nettie Freshour, in 2013, and then it hired a second, Bethany Pennock, last fall.
But a change is underway in West Virginia’s sports nutrition program. Freshour has taken a teaching position with WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, and Pennock is looking for a new position at another school.
In their places, the Mountaineer athletic department has hired Taylor Lile and Sina King.
A graduate of Loughborough University in England, Lile previously worked as a nutritionist at the University of Oklahoma, Clemson University and the University of Oregon, as well as with the Dallas Cowboys. Her main responsibility at WVU will be focusing on the nutritional needs of the Mountaineer football team.
With Lile concentrating on football, King will oversee the dietary needs for West Virginia’s Olympic sports student-athletes. A native of Waterford, Ohio, King was a basketball player at the University of Akron (2012-15), finishing her career with 1,495 points. She was the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year her senior season. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Akron in 2014, a master’s at UA in exercise physiology in 2015 and then a second master’s from WVU in nutritional sciences in 2017.
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Two West Virginia alums are on Major League Baseball rosters as that season hits the all-star break.
Jedd Gyorko is currently hitting .252 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Morgantown native is now in his sixth year in the Majors, having spent the first three years of his career in San Diego and the past three with St. Louis.
A native of Harrison (W.Va.) County and graduate of Bridgeport High, Musgrave got his first Major League opportunity with the Colorado Rockies this past April and has remained part of the team’s bullpen ever since. He’s pitched in 20 games, all in relief, and has a 1-3 record and an ERA or 4.76.
Besides those two Major Leaguers, 18 other former Mountaineers are playing baseball in the minor leagues. Four of those (Michael Grove, B.J. Myers, Jimmy Galusky and Kyle Gray) are new to the pro baseball this year, having just been drafted this past June. The others have various levels of experience. Five of those are playing at the AA level – Corey Walter (Midland), John Means (Bowie), Ryan McBroom (Trenton), Billy Fleming (Trenton) and Brock Dykxhoorn (Corpus Christi). Six are at the A level – Chad Donato (Quad Cities), Kyle Gray (Staten Island), Garrett Hope (Great Lakes), B.J. Myers (Hudson Valley), John Polunius (San Jose) and Blake Smith (Inland Empire). Jimmy Galusky is in the Rookie League with Great Falls, and Michael Grove, a recent second-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers, has not been assigned yet as he continue to rehab from a shoulder surgery that forced him to miss WVU’s 2018 season. Five other former Mountaineers are playing for independent league teams – Nate Antone (Joliet), Kyle Davis (Southern Illinois), K.C. Huth (Cleburne), Jackson Sigman (Wichita) and Trevon Simms (Normal).
In addition, the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things, which is an independent team in the Frontier League, feature a player with West Virginia roots. The son of former Mountaineer football player Mike Collins (1990-93), Roman Collins was born in Charleston but moved at a young age to the Minneapolis, Minn., area, where he became a football and baseball star at Maple Grove High School. Roman decided to pursue baseball in college, and that path took him to Des Moines Area Community College for two years and Florida Atlantic for one. The outfielder was a fifth-round pick by Kansas City in the 2015 MLB Draft, and spent three years in Royals’ farm system. He was released by K.C. this past spring, but quickly scooped up by the Wild Things. In 51 games with Washington, Collins is batting .288 with six home runs, 42 RBIs, 37 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Not only is Roman’s father from West Virginia, as Mike is a native of Huntington, but his mother, Betsy (Reep) Collins, is from Bridgeport. Betsy is a managing director for enterprise sales for UPS in Minneapolis, and Mike sells insurance for Amerisure.
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The College Football Playoff (CFP) has extended its agreements withthe Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to host CFP games for six more years. That extends the relationship between the bowl games and the CFP through 2026.
The three bowl games will host a CFP game every year during the six-year period: the semifinals twice, and other games assigned by the CFP selection committee four times. The Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls were previously announced as semifinals hosts on a rotating basis through 2026.
The semifinals schedule for the next eight seasons is as follows:
2018-19 – Cotton and Orange Bowls
2019-20 – Fiesta and Peach Bowls
2020-21 – Rose and Sugar Bowls
2021-22 – Cotton and Orange Bowls
2022-23 – Fiesta and Peach Bowls
2023-24 – Rose and Sugar Bowls
2024-25 – Cotton and Orange Bowls
2025-26 – Fiesta and Peach Bowls
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The Mountaineers have a new quarterback for the future, though they are going to have to wait until 2035 to get him on the field.
WVU offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Jake Spavital and his wife Mehgan (Morris) welcomed the birth of their new son on July 12.
Checking in at 7 pounds and 4 ounces and 21 inches long, Landyn Zachary Spavital, is the second child for Jake and Mehgan, joining sister Madison Grace Spavital in the growing family.