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Sports briefs for Jan. 9, 2014

By Staff and Wire Reports, Special to the BDN

Maine U-19 indoor field hockey team qualifies for nationals

The Under-19 Maine Majestix Black field hockey team qualified for the National Indoor Championships in Richmond, Va., Feb. 28-March 2 by virtue of a fifth-place finish in the New England Regional qualifying tournament in South Hadley, Mass. last weekend.

The Majestix went 4-2-1 in the 27-team tournament and the top 11 teams qualified for the nationals.

The games are 30 minutes long and involve four field players and a goalie. They are played on a 40-meter-by-20 meter surface. Teams from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were also involved along with teams from the New England states.

Brian Bernatchez, who coached last year’s Majestix team to a fourth-place finish in the national tournament, was again the coach and his players included Winslow High School’s Bethany Winkin, Mackenzie Winslow and Brooke Haskell; Mount View of Thorndike’s Kersey Boulay, Scarborough’s Maddy Dobecki, Skowhegan’s Rylie Blanchet, Messalonskee of Oakland’s Ally Leighton and Dexter’s Kolby Kain.

All of them are juniors except Winkin, who is a senior, and Kain, who is a sophomore.

The team will continue to train twice a week at the Alfond Youth Center in Waterville and will also play in a number of tournaments to prepare for the nationals.

Penn State to name Franklin head coach

James Franklin is expected to be named head coach at Penn State.

CBS Sports reported Franklin would replace Bill O’Brien, who was hired as Houston Texans head coach after two seasons at Penn State.

Franklin, 41, took Vanderbilt to three consecutive postseason appearances.

Franklin talked to Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams on Thursday and told him he had not accepted the Penn State job but that he would talk with Williams later, the Commodores AD told CBSSports.com.

Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, has been mentioned as a candidate for a number of high-profile openings after guiding the Commodores to 24 wins over the past three seasons.

Indians: No plans to phase out Chief Wahoo

The Cleveland Indians on Thursday denied reports the team is looking to phase out the Chief Wahoo logo, but acknowledged the logo being used by Major League Baseball might change.

Curtis Danburg, the Indians’ director of communications, said the club is not looking to phase out the Chief Wahoo logo anytime soon, Cleveland.com reported.

Native Americans and supporters have protested for many years the use of the Cleveland Indians team name and the Chief Wahoo logo, which shows an Indian with bright red skin, an exaggerated smile and a feather in his hair.

Danburg was a guest on Thursday’s Sport Insider on Cleveland.com and clarified the recent news of the Indians changing the use of their logos.

Chief Wahoo has been the symbol of the Indians since the 1940s.

Tigers’ Verlander has successful core muscle surgery

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander underwent successful core muscle repair surgery, the team announced Thursday.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Bill Meyers in Philadelphia.

Verlander sustained an injury at the end of December while performing his offseason conditioning program. He will undergo physical rehabilitation for the next six weeks and will be re-evaluated at the end of that time. The nature and extent of the injury are unclear.

Verlander, 31 next month, went 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA in 34 starts and 218 1/3 innings last season.

James, Durant lead All-Star balloting

LeBron James of the Miami Heat and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder lead their respective conferences, and are separated by only 21,854 votes, after the third returns of the NBA All-Star balloting.

James, the top overall vote-getter with 1,076,063 votes, is followed in the Eastern Conference by the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George. Durant (1,054,209) is followed in the Western Conference by the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.

The 63rd NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans Arena will be on Sunday, Feb. 16.

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