Goodbye, Mary Lou

ATHENS, Greece — The 20-year wait is over. America has its new Mary Lou, and her name is Carly Patterson.

The 16-year-old Patterson beat Russian superstar Svetlana Khorkina to give the United States another Olympic all-around champion Thursday night. She closed with a dazzling routine on the floor to win gymnastics’ premier event.

Tigers soccer team No. 6 in Big 12 poll

The Missouri soccer team is ranked sixth in the Big 12 Conference preseason coaches’ poll. The Tigers’ Melissa Peabody, a senior forward, and Elyse Nikonchuk, a sophomore midfielder, were named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team.

Texas A&M is the top ranked team, earning 10 first-place votes. Texas was ranked second, and Colorado third.

Error by Rolen leads to loss

ST. LOUIS — Scott Rolen’s second error of the game allowed the go-ahead run to score in the 10th inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 on Thursday night.

Reggie Sanders tied it at 2 in the ninth with a two-out homer off Pittsburgh closer Jose Mesa.

Voters to get say on stadium funding

CLAYTON — St. Louis County voters will decide in November a ballot proposal designed to prohibit the county from helping to fund the new downtown ballpark for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Stadium opponents turned in enough signatures to guarantee a charter amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot aimed at preventing the county from spending public money on the new Busch Stadium, under construction adjacent to the current ballpark and scheduled to open in 2006. Election officials certified the validity of the signatures on Wednesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Hamm’s golden comeback

ATHENS, Greece — Paul Hamm ought to get two gold medals for this performance.

With his medal hopes all but gone after he hit the judges’ table on his vault landing, Hamm performed two of the most spectacular routines of his career to win the men’s all-around gymnastics title by the closest Olympics margin ever.

Report: Jackson facing charges

Missouri’s Darrell Jackson, a promising freshman quarterback, is facing undisclosed juvenile charges in the St. Louis County Family Court, according to a report on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Web site.

Jackson missed Wednesday’s morning practice but returned for the afternoon workout.

Four seeking MU kicker’s job

Chase Patton and Van Alexander garnered most of the headlines when they joined the Missouri Tigers after starring at Rock Bridge. However, Scott Russell, another Bruins graduate, might have the best chance to see playing time his freshman season.

Russell, a freshman walk-on, is part of a four-man competition to replace another former Rock Bridge walk-on kicker, Mike Matheny.

MU’s defense leaves little room to run

After serving as a weak spot for Gary Pinkel’s first three Missouri teams, the defense has improved and during Tuesday’s first preseason scrimmage sent a message it wants to dominate.

“The No. 2 defense looked good, but the No. 1 defense played dominant and they should be,” Pinkel said. “They are all back and in fact, I think we improved against the run with the No. 1 defense.”

Walker, Cards slam Reds

ST. LOUIS — Larry Walker keeps helping the St. Louis Cardinals win.

Tony Womack scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk from Danny Graves in the eighth inning and Walker hit the next pitch for a grand slam in a 7-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

Tarnished silver

ATHENS, Greece — The mistakes were so minor, the kind of errors only judges see.

Carly Patterson’s foot grazed the lower of the uneven bars. Courtney Kupets’ twirl ended here instead of there. Mohini Bhardwaj had an itty-bitty wobble on the beam.

U.S. hangs on to edge Greece

ATHENS, Greece — Tim Duncan had fouled out, Allen Iverson was playing with a broken thumb, and Greece had passed the ball inside with a chance to pull within two points with 18 seconds left.

Lamar Odom defended the play perfectly, holding his hand steady and high and getting a piece of Dimitris Pipanikoulaou’s layup attempt. Odom, playing despite severe dehydration, rebounded the miss, was fouled and made two free throws to lock up the U.S. team’s 77-71 victory Tuesday night in its second game of the Olympics.

TE Rucker receptive to motivation

Whenever Martin Rucker needs motivation for his dream to make the National Football League, he knows whom to call.

Rucker, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound redshirt freshman tight end at Missouri, is the brother of Mike Rucker, a star defensive end for the Carolina Panthers. Rucker said his older brother’s success benefits his work ethic and pursuit of the same goal.

Edwards making move to fast lane

For someone used to traveling at speeds about 160 mph, Carl Edwards never thought he would get so far so fast.

Edwards, a Columbia native, will make his Nextel Cup debut in the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Sunday.

Tiger seniors eager to set tempo

The seniors on the Missouri football team aren’t fooling around this preseason.

After Sunday’s practice, the seniors weren’t satisfied with the team’s effort. They met and decided it was up to them to create a better practice environment.

Flipping over silver

ATHENS, Greece — Blaine Wilson paced like an expectant father. Teammate Guard Young sat calmly, scribbling numbers on a piece of paper. Morgan Hamm bounced like a boxer during warm-ups.

Nervous? Naturally. After two decades and too many disappointments to count, the Americans were down to one routine on the high bar Monday to determine whether they would be in the medals ceremony . . . or watch it again.

Harvey seeks old feats with foot

Last spring was painful in many ways for fourth-year punter Brock Harvey.

Harvey, Missouri’s starting punter the past two seasons, had surgery on his right, kicking foot after last season that forced him to miss the spring training period.

Punting game up in air

Senior punter Brock Harvey has had to answer the same question a lot this summer: Why was the punting game inconsistent last season?

“It was a combination of things,” Harvey said. “If it was one thing, I probably could have fixed it. A lot of it was mental and mechanic-wise and just getting comfortable behind the line. I can’t pinpoint things.”

McDonald edges Sanders for title

David McDonald might be known for his distance off the tee, but his short game won him his second straight Kiwanis Columbia Championship against nine-time winner Dee Sanders.

McDonald shot a 67 on Sunday to bring him to a 208 total and a five-stroke win against Sanders. Jim Starr was third at 217.

Mavericks finish Windy City sweep

It took extra innings, but the Mid-Missouri Mavericks got their series sweep.

The Mavericks completed the four-game sweep of the Windy City ThunderBolts, winning 7-6 in 12 innings at Taylor Stadium on Sunday.

Focused on history

ATHENS, Greece — Michael Phelps wasn’t taking any chances.

The night before, he fired up by watching the movie “Miracle.” While on deck at the Olympic pool, he had Eminem’s “’Till I Collapse” blaring in his headphones. Before climbing atop the starting block, he stared down the 50-meter strip of water.