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Digest (Jan. 22): Weston Hamilton a finalist for Eclipse Awards

While an Eclipse Award was far from anyone's mind when Glorious Empire finished sixth in his seasonal debut at Laurel Park last April, Weston Hamilton had but one goal when 2018 began – to bring the cherished bronze trophy home to Maryland. Their paths will converge when the 48th annual ceremony is held for the seventh straight year Thursday at Gulfstream Park, as both Hamilton and Glorious Empire are among the favorites to be named champions in their respective divisions. Hamilton, 20, led all apprentice riders with 862 starts, 118 wins and $3.43 million in purse earnings in 2018, riding with the bug through Dec. 21. He is joined as a finalist by California-based Edgar Morales and Reylu Gutierrez, who rode briefly at Laurel in the fall. "It's an honor and it is a blessing and it's a dream come true. I've been chomping on the bit all year and trying to do my best and get the job done as much as we could. Being a finalist is just amazing, and it's breathtaking just being able to go to Florida," Hamilton said. "Win it or not, it's a great opportunity and just a blessing to be able to go. I've never even been to Florida before. It's going to be a good trip, man. I got a bunch of family going. It's going to be crazy. It's going to be a real adrenaline rush for sure. I'm so ready. I'm ready to go." Youngest son of journeyman rider Steve Hamilton, a winner of nearly 1,400 races also based at Laurel and currently working his way back from a back ailment, Wes Hamilton is attempting to become the 11th Maryland-based rider to win the Eclipse as top apprentice – a group led by Hall of Famers Chris McCarron (1974) and Kent Desormeaux (1987) – and the first since Victor Carrasco in 2013. Matt Schera's Glorious Empire joins Expert Eye and sprinter Stormy Liberal as Eclipse finalists in the male turf category. British-bred Expert Eye won the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) in his only North American start last year, while Stormy Liberal won four of seven starts, two in graded-stakes, capped by the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Glorious Empire won three graded-stakes in 2018 – the Sword Dancer (G1) and Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga and the Fort Lauderdale (G2) Dec. 15 at Gulfstream, a field where all 13 horses were graded-stakes winners, five of them in Grade 1 company.

Arena football

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AFL approves new teamto compete in Atlantic City

The Arena Football League has approved a new team to play in Atlantic City, N.J. The league announced Tuesday the as-yet unnamed expansion team will play in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. Fans will be asked to help name the team during a public vote. The deal is subject to the negotiation of a contract between the league and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The team's operating management group, TSE, includes former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, Eagles and St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil, former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston , and former Saints and Green Bay Packers guard Jahri Evans . The group also owns Arena League franchises in Philadelphia and Albany. The league plans to have six teams when its season starts in April. It now has five, including the Baltimore Birgade and the Washington Valor.

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Colleges

Loyola Md. guard Kosteckaearns Jesuit hoops honor

Loyola Maryland's Andrew Kostecka picked up another national award on Tuesday, earnring National Jesuit Player of the Week from the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight. Kostecka also was named the Lou Henson National Player of the Week, an award given to the top mid-major performer, and he earned his third Patriot League Player of the Week recognition of 2018-19. Last week, Kostecka propelled the Greyhounds to a pair of overtime victories against Boston University and at Holy Cross. Kostecka averaged 27.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game against the Terriers and Crusaders. This year, Kostecka leads the Patriot League in points (20.4) and steals (2.2) per game.

Baseball: Salisbury senior infielder Jack Barry (Reservoir) received honorable mention D3baseball.com preseason All-America honors at third base. Barry led all Sea Gulls in 2018 with eight home runs, 13 doubles, 57 runs, 50 runs batted in, and a .413 batting average in 180 at-bats. His average and RBI totals also ranked second in the Capital Athletic Conference last season. ... Coppin State was picked to defend its crown and win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference North title by College Baseball Newspaper.

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Men's swimming: Salisbury senior Peter Moyer (Pallotti) earned Capital Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week honors. Moyer collected five individual victories in Salisbury's previous four meets, helping lead the team to a 3-1 record.

Field hockey: Maryland announced a six-player recruiting class for 2019 — Isabella Bressler (Leesport, Pa.), Christina Calandra (Manchester, Mass.), Emma DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa), Maddie Gaughan (Hummelstown, Pa.), Megan Munley (Broadneck) and Sam Zywna (Virginia Beach, Va.).

— From Sun staff and news services

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