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The University of Utah football team broke the hearts of Ute fans — again — by losing three of its last four games after teasing us with earlier victories that brought visions of the Pac-12 championship game dancing in our heads.

The U.'s men's basketball team brought us back down to earth by losing to Butler — its first stiff competition — after beating a bunch of patsies to start the season.

Utah's great women's gymnastic squad gets close to the summit of glory each year, only to fall just short.

But there are nonathletic competitions in the college world that most fans know little about but are exciting to some.

I've written about the annual Latin competition featuring teams from Utah, Brigham Young University and Utah State, but that doesn't do long-suffering Ute fans much good since the Cougars usually whip us.

Now, there is something for U. fans to be proud of — and it involves international competition.

The Utes finished second among 14 universities from around the world in — get this — computer programming.

And while the University of Science and Technology of China took top honors, the U. bested two other teams from China, as well as squads from Germany, Taiwan, Singapore and Colombia.

There were five other competitors from the United States, including a combined team from Boston University, the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, another combo from Northeastern University and Auburn and one from Texas and Texas State.

The 2016 Supercomputing Student Cluster Competition, which was held last month in Salt Lake City, involves the designing of tightly connected computer networks by the team members, who then, with a cluster of computers, take a problem and solve it in the shortest time possible.

The winning Chinese team edged out Utah, 88.5 points to 86 points.

The U. team members were Mark Baranowski, Braden Caywood, Hannah Eyre, Janaan Lake, Kevin Parker and Kincaid Savoie. They were coached by Hari Sundar and Mary Hall through a special topics course this semester.

So take that, BYU.

New retire-Hatch effort • The GoFundMe website is a place where individuals and organizations solicit contributions for varoius causes — save the elephants, preserve the environment or whatever.

But on GoFundMe's "Giving Tuesday" site this week, a different kind of solicitation was made.

Gene Whitmore, a political science professor at Salt Lake Community College, set up a GoFundMe page to collect contributions to help persuade Sen. Orrin Hatch not to run for an eighth term in 2018.

"It's a great time to join the effort to convince Orrin Hatch that he should retire at the end of his term," Whitmore wrote. "Every amount helps."

Whitmore said he appreciates the 82-year-old Hatch's service the past 40 years, "but it's time for new blood. Nobody should be in public office for life."

Hatch said during his 2012 re-election campaign that this would be his last term. But he has since said he might run again in 2018 to push through tax reform.

Whitmore, who like Hatch is a Republican, ran for the Salt Lake County Commission in 1994, losing to incumbent Democrat Randy Horiuchi.

Whitmore says he has gotten "a couple of small donations" so far. He hopes to use the money to run newspaper and radio ads urging Hatch to retire.

Christmas spirit • Former Salt Lake City Schools Superintendent Don Thomas was driving to his home in the Old Farm planned community complex near 3900 South and 700 East on Tuesday when he noticed an elderly man lying in the street with a small dog sitting nearby.

Thomas, who is 90, tried to get the man to his feet, but they both fell down. A younger, rather large man, according to Thomas, walked up and helped them both up, but the gentleman Thomas had tried to assist couldn't stay on his feet.

Thomas was about to call 911 when a woman drove up and said she knew the man and would take him home. The younger man carried him to the woman's car and offered to go with her to get him home safely, but she said there were people there who could take care of it.

She drove off and the younger man went on his way. Thomas, to his chagrin, did not get the names of the good Samaritans.

But the episode reminded him of what Christmastime is all about.