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In 1996 Jenny Spangler was surprise winner U.S. Olympic Trials women’s marathon. The longtime resident Laek Villis shown above breaking

In 1996, Jenny Spangler was the surprise winner of the U.S. Olympic Trials in the women’s marathon. The longtime resident of Laek Villa is shown above breaking the tape a winner. At left is Craig Leon, grandson of Lake County coaching legend Larry Leon. Craig will compete in the 2016 Olympic Trials in the men’s marathon. | FILE PHOTOS

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Updated: December 29, 2013 2:13AM



Random thoughts from someone who’s so old, he can remember looking to purchase a car and hoping that the model being eyed had an AM radio in it because many of the models on the market had no radio at all. FM radio? There was no need for it. Everything you wanted to listen to — music, news, sports – was readily available on the AM dial.

In late 2015, the U.S. Olympic Committee will hold its Olympics Trials marathon to determine who will represent this country in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 4-21, 2016 (these are the Games that Chicago wanted to host).

Among the runners in the field that day will be Craig Leon, who is the grandson of Lake County coaching legend Larry Leon and the son of Libertyville High School 1970’s basketball great Bobby Leon.

Craig, 28 years old, finished 14th in the 26.2-mile Chicago marathon earlier this month, but he was the third U.S. runner to finish.

American Dathan Ritzenheim was fifth in 2;09.45; Matt Tegenkamp was 10th in 2:12.28; and Leon, who lives in Eugene, Ore., was 14th in 2:13.54.

Those three times happen to be the fastest run this year by American marathoners — a statistic somewhat skewed because not all marathon courses are equally difficult. Chicago, for example, always produces fast times, while Boston’s marathon never does (flat course vs. hilly course is the main issue).

Still, Ritzenheim, Tegenkamp and Leon have all been invited to compete in the Olympic Trials which will be held in either Los Angeles, Houston or Cincinnati in late 2015. In order to compete in the Trials, a runner has to complete a marathon in under 2:15 after Aug. 13, 2013.

Followers of distance running will remember that in early 1996, Jenny Spangler won the U.S. Olympic Trials in the women’s marathon and earned a spot on the U.S. team for the Games which were held in Atlanta.

Spangler, a longtime resident of Lake Villa who still is active as a runner in local races, couldn’t duplicate her Trials magic on the huge Olympic stage and was a DNF in the Olympic marathon.

It’s been 45 years since the last Andy Griffith Show was taped for TV viewing. Yet, that show somehow stands the test of time, and there are people today who aren’t even 45 years old who enjoy watching the reruns and get a kick out of the show’s cast of character (Barney Fife, Opie, Gomer and Goober Pyle, Otis Campbell, Aunt Bee, etc.).

In contrast, you are hereby challenged to watch one episode of the All in the Family TV show and to count the number of times you shake your head and think to yourself, “I can’t believe they said that on TV,” or “I can’t believe anybody once thought that was funny.”

People always talk about how the world has changed so much with the internet and twitter and facebook and smartphones. But it’s not just technology that’s evolved. It’s people’s attitudes and beliefs.

And, yes, it’s nice to think we’re changing for the better, even if we still have a phone on the end table that has a tangly cord attached to a receiver, and another cord that plugs into a phone jack in the wall.

The start of the NBA season had the Bulls playing in Miami on Tuesday night, and with LeBron James playing for the Heat, it brought to mind the 15 minutes of unwanted fame that fell upon a local kid more than 10 years ago.

Between his junior and senior years of high school, LeBron was playing on the AAU travel circuit when he broke his wrist when he fell to the floor after being accidentally undercut while soaring to the bucket for a dunk during a basketball game in the Chicago area.

The kid who committed the foul was C.J. Walleck, then of Grant High School. The game literally was stopped after that accident, not out of concern for LeBron, but out of concern for Walleck’s safety. That’s how big LeBron James was before he was even a senior in high school.

LeBron, of course, never played college hoops, as he went from high school straight to the NBA. Walleck went to Rockford College where he played some baseball. Now 30, Walleck still lives in the Ingleside/Fox Lake area.

There aren’t a lot of things we all can agree on, but two of them are that the price of just about everything is too high, and that construction crews on road-improvement projects work too slowly.

Here’s another: The experts on the internet are the young.

With that thought in mind, riddle me this: What do you think dinner-table conversation is like at the White House when 15-year-old Malia Ann and 12-year-old Natasha weigh in on the boondoggle that is their father’s Affordable Care Act that has failed so miserably and completely on the internet?

Libertyville High School grad and current Army sophomore quarterback A.J. Schurr hasn’t played in a game in more than a month due to an ankle injury.

Army’s team is 3-5 on the season and Kelvin White has taken over the signal-calling for the Black Knights. When the season started, Schurr was getting a lot of work under center. But then came the injury.

■ Now that we are heading toward winter-like temperatures, let the record show that the Carmel High winter hat that covers this ever-graying head of hair is being worn with a lot of pride.

Last Friday, Carmel’s football team ended its season with a huge upset win, 24-21 over highly-regarded Notre Dame of Niles, which has a star running back (Chris James, 36 carries, 243 yards, 3 TDs).

The win gave Carmel one of its worst won-loss records at 2-7. But the point is this: With nothing tangible to play for and facing a strong opponent, the Carmel kids didn’t pack it in or mail it in, or refuse to practice hard in the cold and dark last week.

They did everything they needed to do to be successful. And though success isn’t always measured in wins and losses, last week it was.

When Carmel is back on top next fall, remember this win over Notre Dame. The senior class doesn’t have a league title to wrap its arms around, but it will be able to say that this was the turning point in heading the program back toward the top.



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