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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Gopher Band Hits Sour Note in Herky Number

December 16, 1997|JULIE CART

The pride and excitement generated at the University of Iowa by its participation in the Sun Bowl at El Paso on New Year's Eve have been tempered by the news of a horrific injury that could affect the football team's chances against Arizona State:

The head of Herky the Hawk, the school mascot, was badly damaged by rough-housing Minnesota band members and has been sent out of state for repairs, leaving fans in Iowa City mascotless.

The plucky mascot was injured in a melee as the Hawkeyes defeated Minnesota on Nov. 22. The two Iowa students who take turns portraying the stout bird said the trouble began in the third quarter, when Minnesota band members picked up the mascot and rammed his head into the goal post. The student was not injured but Herky's bulbous head was cracked.

The fourth-quarter Herky reported that trouble flared again after he threw a cup of water at some Minnesota musicians who had been playing Herky's head as a drum.

Bandsmen charged Herky, tackled him from behind and, in the ensuing wrestling match, further cracked and chipped the 40-year-old cheer-bird's head.

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Add Herky: The Iowa students who portray the mascot were quick to note that the incident was more a random, senseless act than indicative of usual mascot behavior.

"Goldie Gopher was very nice to us," one said. "We had been to camp with him last summer."

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Trivia time: What is the real first name of Kansas City Wizard striker Digital Takawira?

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Surprise, surprise: Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka was the surprise silver medalist in the women's 200 meters at this year's World Championship track meet.

Imagine the surprise of Sri Lankan military officials when--as they made plans to invite the national heroine to be the guest of honor at a military function--they discovered she was an army deserter.

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G.I. Joe: Speaking of armies, impetuous tennis player Goran Ivanisevic may find himself in Croatia's if he doesn't settle his feud with the Croatian Tennis Federation.

Ivanisevic has often clashed with the federation over the administration of the Davis Cup team. Fed up with lower-level functionaries, Ivanisevic took his complaint to Franjo Tudjman, president of Croatia.

Ever the hard liner, Tudjman gave Ivanisevic his marching orders: Play Davis Cup or expect to be drafted.

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Trivia answer: Vitalis.

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And finally: At last, an event we can put our weight behind. The Clydesdale Open will be held next month at Cincinnati, a doubles-only tennis tournament in which each team must weigh a combined minimum of 425 pounds.

Roy Emerson, who has won more Grand Slam event titles than any other man, told Tennis magazine he loves the event.

"It's fantastic," he said. "Where else can you see huge masses of blubber rolling all over a tennis court?"

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