Wrestler sidelined by injury no more

first_imgThe senior wrestler continues to study the subject. Gifford wrote about his experience and witnessing live surgeries at Antelope Valley Hospital for a class project. He has stood next to doctors during at least two orthopedic surgeries since his injury. Gifford’s plans include attending medical school at the University of Utah after graduating from BYU. But before that, he will serve on a two-year mission as part of his Mormon faith. Gifford is not sure where his mission will take him but before leaving he plans to attend Antelope Valley College for one semester. “To tell you the truth, my future in wrestling, I can say I don’t want to pursue it that much,” Gifford said. “Maybe if there’s a perfect opportunity I might take hold of it.” With a recovered knee and his first full healthy season, Gifford’s first priority is helping the host Bulldogs win today’s Div. V dual meet championship that begins at 11 a.m. Coach Michael Young’s team will take on Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates in first-round competition. Then he will begin to think about the Northern Division individual championship tournament to be held Feb. 16 and 17 at Pacifica High in Oxnard. Highland, which earned a berth in the Section championship after clinching its 13th league title in 15 years, was eliminated by eventual champion Royal of Simi Valley in the quarterfinals last season. Young said Gifford will be an integral part to a winning formula with his 38-12 record that includes 25 pins. He had two key pins in a first-round win against Kaiser of Fontana in last year’s dual meet championship. “Ryan is a very intense, workmanlike kid,” Young said. “He starts a job and he gets to it. He’s the type of kid you want to have on your side in a tough situation.” Gifford has earned his teammates’ and opponents’ respect for being a leader and for his work ethic on and off the mat. “(Gifford) is a tough kid,” said Trevor Leach, who coaches Quartz Hill, which takes on Canyon Springs of San Bernardino in the first round of today’s dual meet tournament. “He’s in a good position to scare other wrestlers. He’s helped my kids be able to handle good wrestlers like him after facing him.” Teammates like Mike Larkin, the Bulldogs’ 152-pound division league champion, and Chad Ellis, the 189-pound champion, took notice of Gifford’s toughness and integrity during rehabbing his knee. “Ryan and I use each other to get better,” said Larkin, who has the team’s best record at 40-12. “He’s my rival on the mat in practice. “He’s a tough guy. Even with his knee hurt I would find him lifting weights. Just having that one person that has me always thinking of another way to take him down has done nothing but helped me improve my game.” Ellis, a junior, wants to take on a leadership role next season the same as Gifford has done this year. Gifford credits much of his work ethic and leadership role to former Highland standout and friend Steve Frehn, now a wrestler at Stanford. Frehn was the school’s first Section titlelist in seven years before taking the 145-pound championship in 2005. “(Frehn) is definitely the cornerstone of my career,” Gifford said. “He’s the one that made it all happen for me. Since he once told me he wrestled everyone as if he was wrestling a champion, I do the same.” Gifford also learned to trust his instinct and regain confidence in his knee from Frehn. “I’d go into every single match thinking my knee might pop out again,” Gifford said. “I had to fight through that. Halfway throughout the season I felt more comfortable, more secure about my knee. It’s actually now the strongest knee.” ivan.orozco@dailynews.com (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Gifford was already being bothered by his knee from a slight injury that lingered from his sophomore season in which he reached CIF tournament but didn’t finish. He said he had felt the knee pop out in the past and was able to fix it, but not this time. Gifford was upset. “I’ve never had a full tournament of CIF individuals and I never had the chance to see how far I can actually go.” Despite putting an end to his season goals and putting the sport he loves on ice, the injury led to Gifford’s interest in wanting to become an orthopedic surgeon. The Bulldogs’ 160-pound category Golden League runner-up has developed an itch to learn about surgical and rehabilitation procedures after completing his work to recovery during this off-season. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” Gifford said. “But I wasn’t sure in what field.” PALMDALE – Ryan Gifford’s injury temporarily shelved his passion and created another. The Highland of Palmdale wrestler’s junior season abruptly ended with a knee injury during practice a day before last year’s Southern Section’s individual tournament. Gifford spent the next day on a hospital bed after undergoing surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right knee instead of competing for a berth in the Master’s meet. “I was wrestling a coach from Little Rock High School and I went to do a move, he grabbed my leg and I just felt my knee go completely out,” Gifford said. “It came out of place and it wouldn’t pop back into place.” last_img read more

Odom going to give it a try

first_imgEL SEGUNDO – As if the questions about their second six-game losing streak of the season and their 36-point drubbing by Dallas weren’t enough, the Lakers also have to wonder just what player they will be getting back this week in Lamar Odom. Odom returned to the practice court Monday – along with forward Luke Walton – and is hopeful of playing Thursday at Denver. That would be less than two weeks after suffering a torn labrum that likely will require surgery after the season. There were positive reviews for both players, whose return undoubtedly will help stabilize a team that has lost 12 of its past 15 games. Whether Odom, though, will be an attacking player or one who is protecting his left shoulder remains to be seen. “I’m going to go out there and play at full throttle,” Odom said. When he is at his aggressive best, Odom is one of the NBA’s most dynamic players, capable of using his speed to take a bigger forward off the dribble or using his size to post up a smaller forward inside. When he is at his passive worst, Odom is largely a jump shooter who takes up residence on the perimeter. Far from putting up triple-double numbers, Odom sometimes goes long stretches without even touching the ball. Odom was the former before he injured his right knee in December and the latter after he returned. The Lakers won just six of 17 games with him back; Odom averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists but shot 41.7 percent. Now the question is which Odom will return for the final 18 games of the regular season. How Odom goes likely will determine whether the Lakers can make something out of this injury-ravaged season. Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis, who ran Monday’s practice while head coach Phil Jackson went to the dentist, acknowledged Odom would be putting himself in a position to aggravate his shoulder just by trying to secure a rebound. center_img “You put that shoulder in a situation where you’re reaching back and somebody grabs it, you know it’s going to hurt,” Rambis said. “So it’s something that he’s going to have to continue to fight through and play. “We hope, like he showed today, that he can play through that and he can block it out and be aggressive, and that’s what we need from him.” Odom has been vague about the state of his shoulder, although he reported no pain after practice. He would not commit to offseason surgery and said of his first day back: “I’m just taking my time. I’ll mix it up a little bit more (today).” Rambis said the Lakers forced Odom, who uses his left hand almost exclusively on the floor, to test his shoulder in practice by playing him at a wing spot instead of in the backcourt. “He was in rebounding, he was attacking the basket and he was getting inside,” Rambis said. “That let us know that at least at some point in time mentally, that he’s ready to go with that and ready to challenge his shoulder.” Walton, meanwhile, remained on track to return against Denver. He said he started feeling weakness in his injured right ankle only at the end of practice, after he had become fatigued from playing in three full-court games. The Lakers are 6-15 without Walton, not that he expected his return (along with Odom’s) to provide any guaranteed relief from the Lakers’ collective misery; their past three losses have come by an average of 24points. “It’s not that simple,” Walton said. “We’re not playing like a team right now. Just throwing guys back in there is not going to make it happen. It’ll help, because I think Lamar and I are both very unselfish players, but we’ve got to do it as a team. “We have to all start buying into the offense again, and our defense, we’re not even playing any defense. We’ve got to as a team come together and decide we want to start stopping people.” Rambis also provided some insight as to how Jackson is handling this horrifying stretch of losing. Jackson had suffered through only two five-game losing streaks as a head coach before this season. According to Rambis, Jackson told the Lakers after Sunday’s loss to Dallas that they still were looking at a favorable first-round matchup in the playoffs as long as they could recapture the spirit with which they played earlier this season. “We don’t know if we can beat those teams, but we can certainly challenge all of those teams and make it tough on them in the playoffs in a seven-game series,” Rambis said. “So he still has that confidence, he still has the belief in the team and the guys.” Also: The NBA assessed Kobe Bryant a flagrant foul type1 for an elbow he delivered to the head of Philadelphia’s Kyle Korver late in the first half of Friday’s loss. No foul was called on the play; Bryant was trying to dribble free for a shot. … Bryant and Brian Cook were excused from Monday’s practice. The Lakers played five-on-five with 40-something assistant coaches Brian Shaw and Craig Hodges on the floor. ross.siler@dailynews.com (818) 713-3610last_img read more

Three things we learned from the Premier League weekend

first_imgLiverpool had a tricky-looking match on paper at Stamford Bridge but emerged unscathed, winning 2-1 to maintain their five-point gap at the top.But defeats for United and Tottenham, and a tough battle for Arsenal, who recovered to beat newly-promoted Aston Villa 3-2, showed the “Big Six” are not going to have things all their own way this season.Here, AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from the Premier League this weekend:Imperious City show hungerWere Manchester City losing their hunger after consecutive Premier League title triumphs?Bernardo Silva (left) scored a hat-trick as Manchester City beat Watford 8-0 © AFP / Oli SCARFFPep Guardiola did not appear especially worried after his side’s 3-2 defeat against Norwich last weekend, saying he still loved his team.They responded to his affection in emphatic fashion, pummelling Watford just four months after smashing them 6-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley.Bernardo Silva, who scored a hat-trick against Watford, said City had wanted to put on a show for their fans.“After the defeat at Norwich obviously we wanted to get the three points and give our fans a good performance,” Silva told Sky Sports.“We were unbelievable in the first 30 minutes, scored lots of goals and had control.”European champions Liverpool are setting a frightening standard as they go in search of their first top-flight English title since 1990 but City are not going to go away.New faces in top sixLeicester and West Ham proved their credentials in their bid to break the iron grip of the Premier League’s top six with victories over Tottenham and Manchester United.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United lost 2-0 to West Ham © AFP / Ian KINGTONBrendan Rodgers’s Leicester have now faced Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs in their opening six games and have more than held their own.Also, the stuttering form of the established powers behind Liverpool and Manchester City means there is little to fear for sides unused to the rarefied atmosphere at the top of the Premier League.United have now won just one of their past five league games, Tottenham have not won away in the Premier League since January and Chelsea are yet to taste victory at home under Frank Lampard.Leicester and West Ham hold a three-point lead over all three and are level with Arsenal, who battled to their first win in four league games at home to Aston Villa.Liverpool back up Alexander-Arnold’s trophy boastBacking his brash words with bold actions, Trent Alexander-Arnold emphasised why Liverpool are such a serious threat to Manchester City’s hopes of a third successive title.Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold © AFP / Ben STANSALLAlexander-Arnold previewed Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea on Sunday by declaring that Jurgen Klopp’s side are determined to become serial trophy winners.Not content with last season’s Champions League triumph, Alexander-Arnold said: “We don’t want to be remembered as that Liverpool team that only won the Champions League. We want to be the team that people can’t remember how many trophies we have won because we won so many.”That kind of talk can put pressure on a team if they are not made of the right stuff, but Alexander-Arnold walked the walk as his blistering first-half free-kick at Stamford Bridge put Liverpool on course for a sixth successive win that moved them five points clear of City at the top.0Shares0000(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League © AFP / Ben STANSALLLONDON, United Kingdom, Sep 22 – Liverpool beat Chelsea to preserve their perfect record and Manchester City romped to a record-breaking win but elsewhere it was far from business as usual during a dramatic Premier League weekend.City were imperious against Watford, 5-0 up within the first 18 minutes and just one goal shy of matching Manchester United’s Premier League record for the biggest margin of victory — 9-0 against Ipswich in 1995.last_img read more