Big Ten, here we come: ASU hockey team opens season at Michigan

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Hockey Preview, 457 words.
  • Photo available

By Ethan Greni
Cronkite News

TEMPE – We’ll never know what might have been for the 2020 Arizona State men’s hockey team.

Ranked No. 13 on March 4, the Sun Devils, with a 22-11-3 record and seven wins in their last nine games, looked poised to make their second straight NCAA Tournament.

That changed a week later, when the NCAA canceled the tournament due to COVID-19.

Continue reading “Big Ten, here we come: ASU hockey team opens season at Michigan”

Arizona State football game against California remains in doubt

  • Slug: Sports-ASU California Football, 1,331 words.
  • Photo available

By Nick Hedges
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Just two days before Arizona State is scheduled to host California in a Pac-12 football game, the status of the contest is still in question. The game could take place Saturday or Sunday, or not at all.

Cal, who had one player test positive earlier this month, has been fighting local COVID-19 protocols in Berkeley to try and put together a roster capable of playing the game.

For most Pac-12 schools, a solitary positive wouldn’t lead to a game’s cancellation, but strict protocols in Berkeley have forced Cal into a difficult situation. Continue reading “Arizona State football game against California remains in doubt”

Native American Basketball Invitational returns in 2021 after ‘devastating’ decision to cancel

  • Slug: Sports-NABI Returns 2024, 826 words.
  • Photo available

By Averi Roberts
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – After a one-year absence because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Native American Basketball Invitational will return in July, showcasing indigenous basketball players from across the U.S., Canada and New Zealand at venues around the Valley.

The championship games will take place at the newly renovated downtown arena of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.

The decision to cancel the 2020 tournament crushed organizers. Continue reading “Native American Basketball Invitational returns in 2021 after ‘devastating’ decision to cancel”

Despite ‘eerie’ vibe, NASCAR Championship Weekend a hit with drivers, fans

  • Slug: Sports-NASCAR COVID ERA, 1,059 words.
  • Photo available

By Amna Suhan
Cronkite News

AVONDALE — Before this year, NASCAR crowned Cup champions in Miami, home of sunny skies and crowded beaches. This year the crown jewel of the series finished in the desert, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phoenix Raceway played host to its first championship weekend by implementing safety protocols that included a limited number of fans, masks requirements, temperature checks and social distancing.

Jim Campbell, who represented Chevrolet and Chase Elliott’s winning car, said it was great to see fans in the stands for Sunday’s season finale.
“I’ll tell you when Chase got to the lead it was fun to see the reaction from the stands,” Campbell said. “There were a lot of Chase Elliott fans out there today.” Continue reading “Despite ‘eerie’ vibe, NASCAR Championship Weekend a hit with drivers, fans”

New field, new challenges await Sun Devils after delay of women’s soccer season

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Women’s Soccer, 1,331 words.
  • Photo available

By Aaron Bradley James
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – New field. New season. New outlook.

With a newly renovated soccer facility and a dynamic mix of new and returning players, the Arizona State women’s soccer team appears ready to make a rapid improvement in 2021 and beyond.

When the Sun Devils restart play next year, they will do so in new physical surroundings, and possibly on the other side the ongoing global pandemic. Continue reading “New field, new challenges await Sun Devils after delay of women’s soccer season”

‘Not sure I could have dreamt that any better’: Elliott wins Cup Series Championship

  • Slug: Sports-NASCAR Chase Elliott, 938 words.
  • File photo available

By Cole Cusumano
Cronkite News

AVONDALE – It was a significant day in the racing world, as fan-favorite Chase Elliott became a NASCAR Cup Series Champion for the first time at Phoenix Raceway. In just his fifth full-time season, the 24-year-old became the youngest driver to achieve the prestigious honor since the legend he took over for, Jeff Gordon, in 1995.

Initially primed to start first in Sunday’s Season Finale 500, Elliott was met with adversity before the drop of the green flag, when his car failed pre-race inspection twice, forcing him to start from the rear of the field. While this may have made the task at hand more difficult, overcoming it wasn’t unheard of in NASCAR’s storied history.

In fact, Elliott’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson, not only secured his legendary seventh Championship in this fashion in 2016, but he won the race as well. Continue reading “‘Not sure I could have dreamt that any better’: Elliott wins Cup Series Championship”

Rising through the ranks: Developmental drivers take next leap at Championship Weekend

  • Slug: Sports-NASCAR Developmental Drivers, 938 words.
  • Photo available

By Cole Cusumano
Cronkite News

AVONDALE – Phoenix Raceway received its highly anticipated time in the spotlight with NASCAR’s Championship Weekend. This was the first time the sanctioning body held the prestigious honors outside of Homestead-Miami Speedway in 19 years and the on-track product did not disappoint.

Before a new NASCAR Cup Series Champion was crowned in Sunday’s season finale, the sport’s lower divisions were celebrated and the developmental drivers ascended their way through the ranks. All of these young drivers competing for their future and livelihood in NASCAR delivered an impressive racing product in their respected series, earning their titles of “Champion.” Continue reading “Rising through the ranks: Developmental drivers take next leap at Championship Weekend”

Room and cardboard: ASU will fill up Sun Devil Stadium with fan, celebrity cutouts

By Staff
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – If fans look a little, well, stiff at Saturday’s Arizona State game, don’t be alarmed.

They’re not real.

The Pacific-12 Conference’s decision to allow only family members to attend football games this season prompted the university to follow the lead of professional teams by allowing fans to buy cardboard cutouts of themselves and loved ones. Continue reading “Room and cardboard: ASU will fill up Sun Devil Stadium with fan, celebrity cutouts”

Monday Morning Sun Devil: USC finish shows ASU how much work it has to do

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Football Follow, 830 words.
  • Photos available

By Christian Babcock
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The name of the game in college football is recruiting.

When players can choose where to play instead of teams selecting them in a draft, talent accumulation is the most important component to having a team that can hang with the best in the country.

Arizona State is not there yet. It’s getting there. But a four-minute stretch in the fourth quarter showed how far the Sun Devils have to go. Continue reading “Monday Morning Sun Devil: USC finish shows ASU how much work it has to do”

Arizona’s football opener against Utah canceled due to COVID-19

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Football Canceled, 457 words.
  • Photos available

By Nick Hedges
Cronkite News

Arizona’s season-opening football game against Utah has been canceled, the Pac-12 announced Friday.

The decision to cancel Saturday’s game came after positive COVID-19 tests on Utah’s roster forced them below the required number of available scholarship players, according to a Pac-12 statement.

It is the second Pac-12 game to be canceled in as many days. Washington and California will not play this weekend after contact tracing forced many Cal players into quarantine. Continue reading “Arizona’s football opener against Utah canceled due to COVID-19”

The final lap: dissecting the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway

  • Slug: Sports-Final Race, 1,355 words.
  • Photos available

By Cole Cusumano
Cronkite News

A racing season marked by tragedy with a deadly wreck at the Daytona 500 and the challenges of COVID-19 has since gone on to become an overwhelming success. There was a historical stretch of dominance between two of the sport’s best, some of the most competitive racing in years and the revelation that NASCAR could adapt to an ever-changing climate by implementing progressive strides.

And it all comes to an end in the inaugural championship event this Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.

Joey Logano was the first driver to advance to the Championship 4 with an unlikely victory at Kansas Speedway that proved to be the difference-maker in deciding the title contenders. Chase Elliott, a two-time most popular driver, put on a clinic in the semifinal race at Martinsville Speedway and put himself in a position that’s eluded him since joining the Cup Series. Continue reading “The final lap: dissecting the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway”

From mullets to memories: Arizona pair embraces playing for upstart Coastal Carolina

  • Slug: Sports-Coastal Arizona, 1,263 words.
  • Photos available

By Nick Hedges
Cronkite News

More than 2,000 miles separate the desertous areas of Phoenix and Tucson and the humid South Carolina coast.

However, for Arizona natives Derick Bush and CJ Schrimpf, the long trip has been well worth it. After starring for local high schools and junior colleges, the two moved to Conway, South Carolina, to play football at Coastal Carolina University, a school that is probably best known in Arizona for beating UArizona baseball in the 2016 College World Series.

Until this year, the football program there was not best known for its play, but rather its trademark teal-colored field turf that was installed in 2015. Continue reading “From mullets to memories: Arizona pair embraces playing for upstart Coastal Carolina”

Against the stream: Live sports return to TV, but not everyone is watching

  • Slug: Sports-Sports Viewership, 814 words.
  • Photos available

By Frida Mata
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Watching sports has always been one of America’s favorite pastimes. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced games and leagues to temporarily shutter, the country seemed to collectively ache.

So when live sports finally returned in a rush, fans should have been ecstatic. But the plummeting television ratings tell a different story.

“After three months of no sports whatsoever, the NBA, MLB and NHL all turned the taps back on at the same time, and for the fan, it was like being asked to drink out of a firehose,” said Anthony Crupi, Sportico sports media reporter. Continue reading “Against the stream: Live sports return to TV, but not everyone is watching”

Work the vroom: Arizona represented behind the scenes within NASCAR

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona NASCAR Behind Scenes, 2172 words.
  • Photos available

By Christopher Howley and Cole Cusumano
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A Guinness Book of World Records holder. A clothing brand owner. A 24-year-old living the dream. These are a few of the titles highlighting NASCAR crew members representing Arizona.

Since NASCAR’s inception in 1948, perceptions have led many to believe organized stock car racing isn’t a sport. Sport, by definition, is an individual or team-wide execution of competition and camaraderie among athletes. Admittedly, it’s easy to get lost in the superstars behind the helmets, which is why the hundreds of men and women working countless hours behind the scenes are often overlooked across the sanctioning body.

The reality is the drivers who compete on the track are a direct representation of the hard work and dedication put in by the crew members. Without them, NASCAR wouldn’t be possible. Engineers, mechanics and area-specific specialists are just a few of the job titles in the vast departments of stock car racing. While these unrecognized talents mainly reside in the shops in North Carolina, they come from different parts of the globe.  Continue reading “Work the vroom: Arizona represented behind the scenes within NASCAR”

Arizona MMA prospects Logan, Fortune looking to secure victories on network event

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona MMA Preview, 806 words.
  • File photo available

By Chris Lopez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – In MMA, the word “prospect” is combat jargon for someone to keep an eye on. Bryce Logan and Tyrell Fortune will require both eyes on Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Fortune (8-1, 1 N.C.) is a former member of the U.S. national wrestling team and current Bellator heavyweight. He trains at Arizona Combat Sports in Tempe where the current Bellator heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader (27-6), also hones his skills.

The 30-year-old was on the fast track to face his stablemate. He started his career out undefeated at 8-0. Then in 2020, he was derailed by a knockout loss to Timothy Johnson (15-6) in February and in September he grabbed a no-contest after he kneed Jack May (11-6) in the groin during the first round. Continue reading “Arizona MMA prospects Logan, Fortune looking to secure victories on network event”

Finally: ASU set to begin play as delayed Pac-12 schedule could work to league’s advantage

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Football Finally, 540.
  • File photo available

By Ethan Greni
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Exactly 312 days.

That’s how much time will have passed since Arizona State’s last game when it takes the field Saturday against No. 20 USC.

No one in this program has ever experienced a season like this, so how can players and coaches prepare for it?

“Safety is paramount,” ASU football coach Herm Edwards said. “We have to be safe, we don’t have any wiggle room.” Continue reading “Finally: ASU set to begin play as delayed Pac-12 schedule could work to league’s advantage”

Contracts, obligations to international teams contributed to USL Championship title game cancellation

  • Slug: Sports-Rising Abrupt End, 380.
  • 1 photo and caption below.

By Edwin Perez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A COVID-19 outbreak among the Tampa Bay Rowdies wasn’t the only factor that led to cancellation of the USL Championship match between Phoenix Rising FC and the Rowdies.

Expiring contracts and commitments to international teams made rescheduling the game impractical, which also played a role in cutting short the Rising’s season.

The USL announced in a statement Saturday that the game between the Rising and the Tampa Bay Rowdies had been canceled because of safety issues, and USL president Jake Edwards said a simple postponement wouldn’t work because of the timing of the required quarantine and the potential for more infections.

Continue reading “Contracts, obligations to international teams contributed to USL Championship title game cancellation”

Halloween nightmare: Two Cardinals test positive for COVID-19

  • Slug: Sports-Cardinals Test Positive, 980.

By Rob Kleifield
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Amid an otherwise relaxing Halloween weekend, Kliff Kingsbury’s biggest scare proved to be breaking news on the virus front, not spooky costumes. And this time, it hit home hard.

Two Arizona players tested positive for COVID-19 during the team’s bye week, apparently including starting outside linebacker and homegrown product Devon Kennard, who revealed on Twitter that he had been infected.

Kingsbury did not identify the players who tested positive, but they will likely be placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list until they satisfy league protocols.

Continue reading “Halloween nightmare: Two Cardinals test positive for COVID-19”

Arizona collegiate athletes speak out on importance of voting

  • Slug: Sports-College Athletes Voting, 1,100.
  • Video available here.

By Cierra Luna
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Athletes are speaking up more than ever about social issues, often crossing a boundary between the field of play into the arena of politics that many tried to tip-toe in the past.

And as the 2020 election approached, college athletes across Arizona used their platform to encourage fellow students, members of their wider community and their teammates to jump in with both feet.

By voting.

Northern Arizona linebacker Tristen Vance took to one of sports’ biggest stages to deliver his message when he appeared during ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast of a game between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys in a campaign ad for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Continue reading “Arizona collegiate athletes speak out on importance of voting”

From national scrutiny to pandemic, Rising head to USL Championship after challenging season

  • Slug: Sports-Rising Surreal Season, 1,200 words
  • File photos available.

By Edwin Perez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – After a roller coaster season, Phoenix Rising FC will battle the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Sunday in the hope of winning its first USL title.

Reaching the championship game in St. Petersburg, Florida, was not an easy path for the Rising, who advanced by defeating El Paso 4-2 in penalty kicks on Saturday.

From suspensions to national scrutiny to a pandemic, the 2020 season had it all. Continue reading “From national scrutiny to pandemic, Rising head to USL Championship after challenging season”