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Thursday, January 6, 2000

Swimmers end break at Stockton

PECOS, Jan. 6, 2000 -- The holiday break comes to an end this weekend for the Pecos Eagles swim team, and they'll face most of the teams who'll be at regionals next month in the Fort Stockton Invitational.

Coach Terri Morse said diving will be at 6 p.m. Friday, while the swimming finals start on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Fort Stockton High School pool, which will also be the site of the District 2-4A meet on Jan. 28-29.

Pecos has been off since the Seminole Invitational in mid-December, but Morse said most of her team has been attending workouts during the holidays.

"We really had a good turnout during Christmas. We had one or two sick for a day or so, but basically, we had a really good turnout," she said. "There were a couple that were out of town, but they worked out where they were."

All of Pecos' district rivals will be at the meet, along with Abilene Wylie, Odessa High and Odessa Permian, and six El Paso schools _ Bowie, Burges, Del Valle, Parkland, Riverside and Ysleta. The boys have beaten all those schools so far this season, while the girls will continue to chase Monahans for top honors in their division.

"Only Odessa and Permian don't factor in for us as far as the regional swim meet, along with Del Valle," Morse said of the three Class 5A schools. She added that the most interesting race of the day figures to be the 100-yard butterfly.

"There are two guys ahead of Tye (Edwards) in the race, and one of them (Omar Alba of El Paso Ysleta) beat him out there," at the Border Invitational in early December. Both Alba and Parkland's Isaac Pepper are seeded ahead of Edwards in the event.

"I feel like Tye has gotten in some good workouts, and realized where he made his mistakes and will be able to beat them. If not, I think he can still beat them at regionals, which he'll have to do if he wants to go to state."

Overall, Morse said most of her swimmers would be in the same races they competed in before the Christmas break. "A couple of individuals may swim different things in Lubbock (next week) the won't swim in Fort Stockton. Some because of their qualifying times and some because I'm not sure where I'll put them when we get to district."

Smith seeks better breaks in rematch

AP Sports Writer
IRVING, Texas, Jan. 6, 2000 - Emmitt Smith was inspired by the death of his childhood idol the last time he played Minnesota. This time, he'll be motivated by the pursuit of the Super Bowl.

Smith revealed Wednesday that when the Dallas Cowboys played the Vikings on Nov. 8, he dedicated his game to the memory of Walter Payton, who died a week before.

Smith would've made Sweetness proud, running for 140 yards and two touchdowns in just 1 1/2 quarters as Dallas took a 17-0 lead. He left with a broken hand, and the Cowboys ended up losing 27-17.

Dallas returns to the Metrodome on Sunday for a first-round playoff game. Smith expects to have another big game, but for different reasons.

"My mindset every week is to go out and perform, but that particular night was just a special moment for me," Smith said. "Now, this is a special moment, too, but in a different light."

Smith missed only one game because of his broken hand, but a strained groin limited him to one carry in another game. Still, he finished the season with 1,397 yards - 8 shy of the NFC lead and his best since 1995.

For his career, Smith has 13,963 yards, third on the career list. He's 2,764 yards from breaking Payton's record.

"I lost an individual that I had looked at his personal accomplishments in life as well as in the game of football," Smith said. "I think any player who cares anything about the game of football understands who he was, what he stood for and what he did for the game."

Payton died at age 45 on Nov. 1, exactly a week before the Cowboys played the Vikings on a Monday night. The NFL announced that all stadiums that weekend would have a moment of silence, and Smith began planning his own personal tribute.

When it was time for the fans who usually fill the Metrodome with deafening cheers to stand quietly, Smith played out in his mind a scene he'd been planning for days.

"I draped his jersey, 34, on my back, gave him honor and said, `Let me go play now,"' Smith said. "It was just a moment, a moment that I wanted to lift him up and say, `Thank you, thank you for what you've done."'

Smith ran for 49 yards in the first quarter against the Vikings, but it only led to two missed field goals. Two carries later, Payton's spirit took over.

Smith took a handoff at the Cowboys' 37, went off right guard and charged 63 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. He got past the final defender, Kenny Wright, with a stiff-arm to the face.

The Vikings fumbled the kickoff and Dallas recovered at the Minnesota 24. Smith got the ball again and he scored without being touched.

Then he went into the locker room for X-rays, and his night was over, leaving him wondering whether he might've broken his career-best 237 yards, or even Payton's NFL record of 275, which he set against the Vikings.

"God saw it fit that this hand be broken that particular day. And that's that," Smith said. "If it was meant for me to be out there and do more than I did, I probably would have never broken my hand."

Meanwhile, cornerbacks Kevin Smith and Kevin Mathis returned to practice for the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday and may be able to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

"I don't know how much they'll be able to contribute Sunday, but it was good to have them on the field and for them to stay on the field," coach Chan Gailey said. "We'll see how they feel tomorrow."

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Pecos Enterprise
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