It's a lesson taught over and over again in sports - one that only sometimes takes hold: If you're sitting on a lead, don't get cocky.
And with just a few weeks to go before the end of this year's Blade Stock Market Game, leader Kathy Ansted of Holland still sounds humble despite a massive lead over her nearest two competitors.
"We've only got one month to go, and anything could happen. I never count on anything till it's all over," Ms. Ansted said yesterday after being told that she held a lead of more than $23,000 over her nearest competitor. "I'm leery of the stock market all the time. We'll just cross our fingers."
Nearly 700 contestants began the stock contest in January with hypothetical portfolios made up of two New York Stock Exchange and two Nasdaq stocks that were worth at least $3 a share, by Dec. 31, 2008. They divided an imaginary $40,000 evenly among the four stock picks.
Ms. Ansted's $144,386 portfolio includes Russian mining and steel producer Mechel OAO ADS, Cana-dian mining firm Teck Resources Ltd., and solar firms Solarfun Power Holdings and Ascent Solar Technologies. For the year, the portfolio is up 261 percent.
Her next closest competitors are Susan and Eleanore Darmofal, sisters-in-law in Toledo whose second-place and third-place portfolios at the end of November were valued at $120,813 and $116,945, respectively.
"She's got those two stocks that have been absolutely lights out for her. I'm not sure anybody's going to be able to catch her at this point," said Scott Anderson, a financial adviser at the Toledo office of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which is a contest co-sponsor and tabulator of the monthly results.
Mr. Anderson said about 85 percent of contestants were in the black for the year.
The Blade's Business News desk's randomly selected portfolio is 467th at $46,232, up 16 percent.
The top portfolio at year's end wins $200 and a trip to Chicago, Toronto, or Tampa, courtesy of contest co-sponsor Central Travel of Toledo. Second place gets $300, and third place gets $200.
Other contest leaders and their portfolio values are: Aaron Howell, Tiffin, $109,397; Ivan Finney, Sylvania, $105,518; Jim Spotts, Petersburg, $105,186; George Gusses, Toledo, $99,880; Marlene Farkas, Toledo, $96,638; Peter Genot, Sylvania, $94,853, and John Shavalier, St. Clair Shores, Mich., $93,984.
Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: