Sports briefs 4/23/05

Saturday, April 23, 2005

College

* Georgia stumbled into the NCAA women's gymnastics championships. The GymDogs regained their footing in time for another title.

Georgia won its sixth championship Friday night, ending UCLA's two-year reign and rebounding with a flourish from a nightmarish regional that had the GymDogs at the bottom of the 12 qualifying teams.

Freshman Katie Heenan scored 9.95s on the vault and beam and finished with a season-high all-around score of 39.725 to lead Georgia.

Cycling

* Brian Vandborg of Denmark won the fourth stage of the Tour de Georgia on Friday, holding off the Lance Armstrong-led Discovery Channel team on a 133-mile course that took the cyclists over peaks stretching as high as 3,260 feet and through a harrowing thunderstorm.

Floyd Landis kept the yellow jersey as the overall race leader for the second day in a row, though he'll face a tough challenge keeping it today on the climb to 4,787-foot Brasstown Bald -- the highest point in Georgia.

Armstrong cruised across the line in seventh place. While he moved up one spot to eighth in the overall standings, he remained 1 minute, 42 seconds behind Landis.

The race ends Sunday in Atlanta's northern suburbs, where Armstrong crossed the line as the winner a year ago.

Football

* Darrell Jackson, a freshman who withdrew from classes at Missouri and left the football team in August, pleaded guilty Friday to five counts of statutory sodomy.

Jackson, 19, admitted in St. Louis County Circuit Court that he had molested a child five times from August 2000 to April 2004. The child was 8 years old when the molestation began, STLtoday.com, the Web site of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reported.

Judge Larry Kendrick set sentencing for June 9.

Motorsports

* The big news Friday at Phoenix International Raceway was that Ryan Newman did not win the pole position for the NASCAR Nextel Cup race.

That honor went instead to Jeff Gordon, who posted a speed of 133.675 mph in beating out reigning series champion Kurt Busch's 133.254. Those two will start on the front row today in the inaugural Subway Fresh 500 -- the first of two races this season at PIR.

Tennis

* Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated reigning French Open champion Gaston Gaudio 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the Open Seat Godo, the second consecutive tournament in which he has reached the semis.

Ferrero will meet Russia's Nikolay Davydenko in today's semis. Davydenko defeated Belarus' Max Mirnyi 6-4, 6-4.

The other semifinal has eighth-seeded Rafael Nadal of Spain playing Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. Nadal, who won last week at Monte Carlo, advanced when Agustin Calleri of Argentina retired with a back injury while trailing 6-2, 3-0.

* Sebastien Grosjean took advantage of Andre Agassi's serving troubles and snapped a string of seven straight losses to top 10 opponents with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 upset on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships.

Top-seeded Andy Roddick powered his way into the semifinals earlier Friday, closing a 6-4, 6-1 win over Luis Horna with four straight aces.

In another quarterfinal, Jurgen Melzer eliminated defending champion Tommy Haas 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

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