Former Winthrop runner dies after auto accident

Matthew J. Kelleher, a 2003 Winthrop graduate and a former member of the men's cross country team, died Saturday morning from injuries suffered in an automobile accident near Atlanta.

Keller, 26, was a four-time All-Big South Conference selection in cross country (two years) and indoor and outdoor track. He helped lead the Eagles to conference cross country championships in 2000 and 2001.

"Matt will be sorely missed," Winthrop track and cross country coach Ben Paxton said. "His smile was as infectious as his attitude. He was part of our 'Florida 5' that placed all runners in the top 10 of the 2001 Big South Conference cross country championship. My heart goes out to his parents and family."

A native of Florida, Kelleher was the son of John and Charlyn Keller of Ocala. He graduated in 1999 from Bishop Moore High School in Orlando. He earned all-state honors in track and cross country. In addition to his athletic involvement at Winthrop, he was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity. At the time of his death, Keller was employed with Atlanta Light Bulb Company.

A memorial mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. today at Mary Our Queen Catholic Church in Norcross, Ga. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Make a Wish Foundation, 1230 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite E-40, Marietta, Ga., 30068, (888) 517-9474,, or 663 Harold Ave., Winter Park, Fla., 32789, (407) 622-4673,

Friends can also express online condolences at, the Web site of Crowell Brothers Funeral Home, Norcross, Ga., (770) 448-5757.

• OLYMPICS -- Al Oerter, the discus great who won gold medals in four straight Olympics to become one of track and field's biggest stars in the 1950s and '60s, died Monday of heart failure. He was 71.

Oerter died at a hospital near his Fort Myers Beach home, wife Cathy Oerter said. He dealt with high blood pressure since he was young and struggled with heart problems, she said.

• PRO BASKETBALL -- A jury indicated Monday that it believes New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden committed sexual harassment against a former team executive.

There was no official verdict, but the wording of a note to the judge by jurors makes it clear they have reached decisions on the key points of the $10 million lawsuit that has turned into a public relations disaster for the franchise.

Jurors reached a decision on eight of nine questions on the jury form. They were deadlocked on the one question, which asks whether Thomas should pay punitive damages. That question only becomes relevant if the jury of four women and three men first determines Thomas and Madison Square Garden committed harassment against Anucha Browne Sanders.

The judge sent the jury home for the day, asking the panel to deliberate Tuesday on the deadlocked question.

• COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL -- Winthrop's Shannon Sitzmann has been named the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Player of the Week in volleyball, while Chelsy Kimes of Coastal Carolina was tabbed the New Balance Freshman of the Week, the League announced.

Sitzmann, a junior from LeMars, Iowa, posted 33 kills, 4.71 kills per game, six blocks and a .394 hitting percentage as her Eagles went 2-0 in Big South action over the weekend. She got things going with 10 kills, three aces, three digs and one block as the Eagles downed Radford, 3-0.

The next day against Liberty, Sitzmann put down 23 kills, hit .477, notched five blocks and three digs as Winthrop picked up the 3-1 win over the Lady Flames. The two League wins pushed Winthrop in sole possession of first-place in the Big South standings.

• TENNIS -- Winthrop's Vinicius Bortolatto advanced four rounds into the Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Tennis Championships qualifying bracket.

In the pre-qualifying draw, Bortolatto received a bye in the first round and then won three matches in straight sets. He downed Purdue's Patrick Rose 6-2, 7-5, Xavier Barajas-Smith of Sacramento State 7-5, 7-5 and Jordan Delass of Sanford 6-4, 6-1.

Rodrigo Santos also participated in the tournament as he fell to Southern Methodist's Adolfo Solares 7-6, 2-6, 6-4 after receiving a bye in the first round.

Bortolatto played Cosmin Cotet of Texas Christian in the qualifying bracket first match at 1 p.m. Monday.