Published: Jun 08, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Jun 06, 2011 10:15 PM
Roses to Kent Pecora, a former student athlete at Chapel Hill High School, who last week won the NCAA Div. III national championship in the steeplechase.
Pecora, a senior at Dickinson College, broke out of a cluster of five runners heading into the last lap of the 3,000-yard race and pulled away to finish alone in front. He finished in 8:51.85, a school and conference record, and the eighth-fastest time in NCAA Div. III history.
Perhaps most remarkable, Pecora became the national champion just one year after failing to even qualify for the title meet. He said watching the championship race from the stands last year motivated him to experience it from a much more exciting vantage point this year. In the end, he saw what every competitive runner hopes to see in front of him: nobody.
Roses to the local law enforcement and animal control officers who responded to the appearance of a black bear in Chapel Hill last month by calmly monitoring its visit and keeping it and everybody else safe until the bruin ambled on, heading for parts unknown.
There have been a spate of bears seen in Piedmont urban areas this spring.
Wildlife officials agree that the best thing to do in such situations, unless the bear is acting aggressively, is nothing. The bears usually are passing through, and in general the idea is to let them pass undisturbed.
That doesn't always happen. Durham police killed a bear in 2001, and just last week a bear was shot and killed after it wandered onto a runway at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
When started golfers at Finley Golf Course saw, of all things, a bear moseying along the No. 3 fairway and alerted officials, the officers who responded tried to keep tabs on the creature, primarily to try to prevent it from wandering into traffic.
They succeeded, and the bear moved on, headed, we presume, for greener pastures.
Roses to Drew Breithaupt, a senior at UNC, who launched an impressive project called Autism Outreach when he was just a freshman.
Breithaupt's sister has autism, but she lives in Louisiana. He started Autism Outreach, he said, as "my way of coping with not doing stuff with her."
Among the organization's programs is a monthly event called Sunday Fundays, which invites families to bring their children with autism to play with the UNC students who serve as Autism Outreach volunteers.
The families say their kids love the sessions. One young participant, Joshua Weinzimmer, 5, agreed: "I love to go to the university," he said. "That's where the big kids go to school and play."
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