Fernley’s McElroy to compete in X Games | NevadaAppeal.com

Fernley’s McElroy to compete in X Games

Charles Whisnand column

A broken back and leg would be enough to end the careers of most athletes. But it just made Fernley’s Drake McElroy more determined.

A 20-year-old McElroy has come back from the setback he suffered last year to make it to X Games VIII, which are being held in Philadelphia. The 1999 Fernley High graduate will begin competition today in the moto-X freestyle event.

McElroy is also expected to compete in the moto-X big air event and is considered to be a serious medal threat at this year’s X Games.

McElroy injured himself last year when he miscaculated a jump over a sand dune during the Blue Torch TV tour that’s featured on the Fox Sports network.

“I over jumped a dune,” McElroy said. “It really wasn’t difficult to come back. It just makes you mad because you have to sit there for four months.”

McElroy said he considers himself to be stronger in freestyle than in big air. Freestyle is done over a motocross-style course in which riders do as many as 15-16 tricks in the air on their jumps. Big air is all or nothing — a jump high in the air in which the rider does the best trick possible.

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“I do all my tricks big and have smooth consistent rounds,” said McElroy about freestyle. “I do better where you have to be consistent.

“I pretty much do every trick there is. I kind of map everything out where I’m going to do it.”

The key is to do two of the most difficult tricks in a row, but not to miss on any other jumps, McElroy said.

“You have to try to do the hardest tricks back to back, but still make them all,” he said. “Big air is just like one jump — you just have to hang it all out.”

McElroy has been riding motorcycles ever since he was four years old and has quickly become a rising star as a relative newcomer in moto X competition.

THANKS TO MEN IN BLUE

Thanks to five of Carson City’s finest Little League umpires, the games were indeed able to go on during district and state tournaments this summer.

Little League all-star play began with the district Renegade (9-10-year-olds) and Hooligan (11-12) tournaments on June 25 in Reno. Then came the district 9-10 and 11-12-year-old tournaments in Carson City and finally, the state Little League Tournament was held in Gardnerville.

Five Carson City umpires did games in a three tournaments: Jeff Smyth, Mike Peterson, Will Bumgardener, Brandon Block and Marc Preston.

Because of a shortage of qualified umpires, those five were pressed into extra duty.

“Games had to be covered,” said Bumgardener, who is the chief of Carson City Little League umpires. “A couple of us did quite a few games.

“A couple did more than their fair share, especially those of us in Carson City who picked up the slack. We made sure we had the games covered so the kids could play. One way or another, we got it covered.”

Peterson worked every day of all three tournaments, with the only breaks coming during one day when games were rained out in the district tournament at Carson City and the three days between the district and state tournaments. In all the tournaments ran from June 25 to July 24.

One of the biggest challenges came on July 6, the first day of the district tournament in Carson City. But both teams in the losers bracket in the Renegade and Hooligan tournaments won, also forcing championship games in Reno on the same day. Bumgardener and Peterson worked three games on that day, traveling from Carson City to Reno.

“It was great not to have to drive to Reno after that,” Bumgardener said. “That might have been the hardest day. That took its toll on us.”

Not to mention the 100-plus degree temperatures during much of the tournament play.

Complicating matters for the state tournament was that there were divisions ranging from ages 9-16. On the opening weekend, Bumgardener umpired seven games in two days.

“We had to improvise,” he said. “We had to get the job done. It was either that or get dad out of the stands.”

In addition, Preston umpired on top of his duties as a coach in the Hooligan tournament.

“It was a lot of fun and very rewarding,” Bumgardener said. “I had a great time doing it. Now that I’ve got the wind back in me, I’m ready to go again.”

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.