Leading off today:
Commitment. It's a fairly large word -- and an even bigger obligation.
And it's become a hot topic in the past few days.
On Thursday, the Democrat and Chronicle reported that Rush-Henrietta sensation Sammy Watson has brought her senior track and field season to a close with two meets -- the Section 5 meet of champions and the state meet -- to go.
Watson, who recently ended the biggest Division I women's track recruiting battle of the year by committing to Texas A&M, has opted to run at the Boost Boston Games this weekend as a means to hopefully get as far as the IAAF World Championships in the 800 meters later this year.
The best she can reasonably hope for at the U.S. championships is probably third place, which could still qualify her for the IAAF meet in London -- if she has met the qualifying standard. But time is running out, and the reality is that Watson isn't going to get pushed hard enough by a high school field to break the 2:01 barrier.
Watson missed the Section 5 championships last weekend in order to race in Eugene, Ore., where she fell just short of the 2:01 standard. Her decision to race at the Prefontaine Classic raised a few eyebrows but not many, especially because Rush-Henrietta won the team title with plenty of points to spare.
There's no official team scoring at the remaining high school meets and there's also not much left for Watson to accomplish at the state championships after having pulled off a mind-boggling 400/1,500 double -- twice.
So there may be people ready to criticize her decision to chase the qualifying time in open meets, but she's pretty much off the hook as far as the issue of commitment goes unless someone wants to argue that she should be anchoring a 1,600 or 3,200 relay (with only a marginal shot of winning) at states.
She's been a points machine for years for the Royal Comets. She's earned the right to aim for London.
The development with Watson came to light not long after Tuesday's CHSAA state softball championship game in which Moore Catholic defeated St. Anthony's 8-0. As we noted in a previous blog, St. Anthony's with without four seniors who opted to attend their prom instead.
Charlie De Biase Jr. of The Advance had some additional details in a column Thursday, including:
• The scheduled date for the semifinals/final doubleheader had been known since January.
• Tuesday's games were moved up by several hours so that the title game would start at 2 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. in order to help out St. Anthony's.
• St. Anthony's was left with just nine players for the championship game.
De Biase, who has been writing about high school sports as long as I have, took a strong stand in his column, saying he was "flabbergasted" over how often players skip a big game in order to their prom.
He was cautious to note that he didn't want to make St. Anthony's his target; the Friars were merely the latest instance of the situation popping up, and Moore Catholic was so dominating Tuesday that it quite likely wouldn't have mattered whether St. Anthony's was at full strength.
"The point is," he wrote, "how do you let your teammates down? How do you put in hours of blood, sweat and tears, from, in essence, September until the end of May, only to tell your coaches and teammates 'getting to the prom on time is more important to me than helping you win the championship?'
"Where's the guilt? Where's the loyalty? I just don't get it."
The column is worth a read both for what De Biase wrote and for the reader comments beneath the story.
Speaking of predicaments: I'm not sure there was a great way for Section 10 to determine its representatives in the NYSPHSAA boys lacrosse tournament, but there was probably at least one better option.
Section 10 has seven lacrosse-playing schools, and six have enrollments that place them in Class D. The seventh is Massena, which lost in the sectional semifinals last week to finish with a 10-8 record.
There certainly was precedent around the state to let Massena, as the only Class C option, move on to the state tournament. Some sections have done that even for teams was far inferior records; Queensbury hockey got into the state tournament that way four seasons ago despite a 5-15-1 record.
For whatever reason, Section 10 opted to not go in that direction, which is fine. But what happened this week made for an interesting situation.
On Tuesday, St. Lawrence defeated Canton 13-12 for the sectional championship, and both teams landed berths in the state tournament. What makes it interesting, however, is that St. Lawrence was assigned to the state Class D tournament and Canton was bumped up to Class C.
On its face, Canton was more worthy of a place in the postseason than Massena -- finishing with a better record and beating the Red Raiders twice during the season.
Nevertheless, it makes me a little squeamish to have the inferior finalist (Canton did lose to St. Lawrence in all three meetings this season) bumped up to a class that's more difficult in theory and in reality -- Cold Spring Harbor, Jamesville-DeWitt and Shoreham-Wading River would all be a handful for even the best Class B squads in New York.