Portland Press Herald sports writer Steve Craig has been named this year’s winner of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Print Media Award.

Steve Craig

Craig, 59, has been a Press Herald staff writer since 2012. His primary focus is high school sports coverage, and in the past year he has written extensively about the challenges of resuming sports during the coronavirus pandemic.

The award was announced Thursday during a virtual awards ceremony. Among others receiving recognition from the MIAAA were: Jim Churchill of SportsNet Maine, Electronic Media Award; Brewer Athletic Director David Utterback, NIAAA State Award of Merit; Poland Athletic Director Don King, Keith Lancaster Professional Development Award; Edward Little swimming coach Scott Morrison and Fryeburg Academy Nordic skiing coach John Weston, Lawrence LaBrie Distinguished Service Awards; Rick Sinclair of Hermon Middle-High, Excellence in Middle Level Athletic Administration; Kelsy Ross of North Yarmouth Academy, Past Presidents’ Rising Star Award; Tim Spear of Gorham, Leadership Award; Bunky Dow of Mt. Desert Island, Martin E. Ryan, CMAA, Award of Excellence; and Rich Buzzell of Marshwood, Bob Lahey Athletic Administrator of the Year.

It was also announced that Thornton Academy Athletic Director Gary Stevens has been honored by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association with its Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence, the national organization’s highest annual award. Stevens is the second winner from Maine, following Susan Robbins of Yarmouth in 2016.

TENNIS

FRENCH OPEN: For the second year in a row, the traditional French Open schedule is being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers of the clay-court Grand Slam tennis tournament said they will push back the start of this season’s event by one week because of surging virus cases in France.

“This postponement will give us a little more time to improve the health situation and should allow us to optimize our chances of welcoming spectators at Roland Garros,” said Gilles Moretton, president of the French tennis federation. “Whether for the fans, the players or the atmosphere, crowd presence is essential to the tournament, the first international sporting event of the spring.”

The French Open was scheduled to start on May 23, but first-round matches will now get underway on May 30.

Last year’s tournament was pushed back to September because of the pandemic, with crowds limited to 1,000 per day.

The delay will have a knock-on effect on the grass-court season, but not Wimbledon.

Tennis authorities lengthened the gap between the French Open final and the start of Wimbledon to three weeks in 2015, giving players extra time to get used to the fastest surface in the game. But because of the delay announced Thursday, the season will be reduced to two weeks plus Wimbledon.

Wimbledon was canceled last year because of the pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament wasn’t played.

VOLVO CAR OPEN: Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens reached the quarterfinals in Charleston, South Carolina, her first time advancing this far in a tournament since the French Open in 2019.

Stephens ousted Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-3, 6-4. She’ll play for a spot in the semifinals against Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova, who topped Kurumi Nara of Japan, 6-0, 6-3, in the season’s first clay-court event.

COLLEGES

MEN’S HOCKEY: Nolan Walker scored on a redirection with 53.2 seconds left and St. Cloud State held off Minnesota State 5-4 in Pittsburgh to advance to the program’s first national championship game.

ROAD RACING

BOSTON MARATHON: Native Americans in Massachusetts are calling on the organizers of the Boston Marathon to move the already rescheduled date for the storied race because it now conflicts with a day meant to commemorate the contributions of Indigenous peoples.

The Indigenous Peoples Day Committee in the Boston suburb of Newton said its first planned celebration of the Oct. 11 holiday has to be canceled because of the marathon’s new date.

The Boston Athletic Association announced in January that the 125th edition of the marathon would be pushed back from its traditional April running to Oct. 11, assuming road races are allowed to take place under Massachusetts’ COVID-19 restrictions by then.

But Newton’s Indigenous Peoples Day group complains the new day undercuts a day reserved for recognizing the contributions of native peoples, past and present.

“Unfortunately, the Boston Athletic Association has decided that Indigenous Peoples Day is a ‘side’ holiday that can be usurped,” the committee said in a recently launched online petition. “By doing this, they are perpetuating the myth that Indigenous peoples are part of the past and irrelevant.”

The BAA didn’t directly address the complaints, but said Thursday that the new date was selected in close coordination with the eight cities and towns along the marathon route. Those communities include Newton as well as Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston.

“During the date selection process, the Boston Athletic Association regularly met with representatives from the eight cities and towns for feedback and guidance on potential dates and collaboratively selected Monday, October 11,” the organization said in a statement. “We will continue working with city and town officials, as well as with organizations planning events during the October 9–11 weekend.”

SOCCER

EUROPA LEAGUE: Arsenal conceded a goal in injury time to draw 1-1 with Slavia Prague in the first leg of their quarterfinal, while Manchester United won 2-0 at Granada.

Roma came from behind to win 2-1 at Ajax, and Villarreal won 1-0 at Dinamo Zagreb.

UEFA HAS TOLD match officials it is unacceptable and undignified to seek autographs from players, after a referee’s assistant asked Erling Haaland to sign red and yellow cards after Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League game at Manchester City.

UEFA’s chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti wrote to refereeing teams after the incident in the tunnel in Manchester on Tuesday night was caught on camera as the players left the field following Dortmund’s 2-1 loss.

“UEFA has strived to get you respected as much as the players and you have helped with that by looking the part: athletic, commanding, respectful and professional,” Rosetti wrote Wednesday in correspondence first reported by British broadcaster Sky Sports and verified by UEFA. “If you want to be respected as much as the players, why would you ask for their autograph or their shirt? Do they ask you for the same? This is simply unacceptable, this is a matter of dignity and don’t forget about the number of TV cameras at UEFA matches – they catch everything.”

It was later reported in his native Romania that Octavian Sovre, the referee’s assistant at City, wanted the signed cards to raise funds for an autism center.

BRAZIL STADIUM: The historic Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro will not be renamed after Pelé.

State governor Claudio Castro on Thursday vetoed a divisive proposal passed by the state legislature to honor the three-time World Cup winner by calling it the “King Pelé Stadium.”

The stadium, which hosted the 2014 World Cup final and opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics, will keep its official name of Estadio Jornalista Mario Filho, after the Brazilian sportswriter credited with the idea to build the stadium for the 1950 World Cup.

However, it is widely just called the Maracanã, after the Rio neighborhood it’s located in.

The veto comes after the proposal had been widely criticized and Castro said even the lawmaker behind the bill, André Ceciliano, had asked him to scrap the idea.

AUTO RACING:

INDYCAR: JR Hildebrand has a new team and an old-fashioned look for this year’s Indianapolis 500. On Thursday, A.J. Foyt Racing announced it had hired the California native to drive the No. 1 ABC Supply Chevrolet as the team’s fourth driver in IndyCar’s biggest race. And the candy apple red nose, trimmed with black stripes over a white body may look awfully familiar to longtime race fans.

It’s the same paint scheme Foyt used to claim the first of his record-tying four 500 victories in 1961.

“At my age, I don’t get too excited anymore, but I’m thrilled to see this car painted like my ’61 car,” the 86-year-old team owner said in a statement released by the team. “That win was so special because it was my dream just to be good enough to make the race. To win it three years later, well, I was thrilled to death about it. They were all sweet victories but to win that first one after where I came from, it was unbelievable.”

The No. 1 actually belongs to the defending series champion, New Zealand’s Scott Dixon who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing. But the team owner is lending the number to Foyt this May, making he throwback car possible. Hildebrand’s crew will honor the victory, too, by wearing uniforms modeled after the 1961 crew, headed by George Bignotti who helped steer a record seven cars reach victory lane.

FORMULA ONE: Nico Hulkenberg has joined Aston Martin as its reserve driver for this season, the Formula One team said Thursday.

The 33-year-old German drove in two races for the team last season when it was called Racing Point, replacing Sergio Perez and then Lance Stroll after they tested positive for the coronavirus.

Aston Martin’s drivers this year are Stroll and four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.


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