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Sunday, June 18, 2017: Chmiel, Harris continue NY reign in distance races

   Leading off today: Saratoga's Kelsey Chmiel wired the field Saturday in winning the two-mile run at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at Greensboro, N.C.

   Arriving the morning of the race after taking exams Friday in Saratoga, Chmiel broke the school and Section 2 record with a time of 10:10.44 while holding off Olivia Theis of Lansing (Mich.) Catholic (10:14.34) and Corning's Jessica Lawson (10:22.65). Blood had run 10:10.73 in 2004.

   "I wanted to go out fast and see if I could hold on," Chmiel told The Daily Gazette. "I felt her [Theis] coming."

   Lawson had won the 5,000 meters on Friday, and New York extended its dominance in the distaff distance races as North Rockland senior Alexandra Harris won the 2,000 steeplechase as part of a sweep of the top six places by athletes from the Empire state.

   Harris' time of 6:45.32 was comfortably ahead of Shoreham-Wading River senior Peyton Capes-Davis (6:50.30).

   In relay action, Paige Keefers anchored in 2:05 as West Babylon (3:52.33) fought off Shenendehowa (3:55.10) in the sprint medley relay. And Shoreham-Wading River earned first in the 3,200 relay in 8:51.43, with Ward Melville third (9:05.41). Northport won the boys 3,200 relay in 7:37.42.

   Reunited: As we were putting together some reference material for the upcoming football season, word came along that Lyons would once again take players from Sodus into its football program after a one-year hiatus from the arrangement. The boost in the BEDS number will be enough to push Lyons up to Class C.

   The news triggered a few recollections and thoughts:

   (1) My memory doesn't go back far enough to recall Sodus ever fielding its own football team, though I'm sure it was possible. The twist on the Lyons/Sodus combination is that, with BEDS figures of 183 and 246 respectively, Sodus is actually the larger of the two districts.

   Steve Grandin of the New York State Sportswriters Association was playing around with numbers this spring and came up with the list of largest NYSPHSAA schools (by 2017-18 BEDS data, not including charters) that didn't have a football team:

School Sec. BEDS
Cohoes 2 401
Integrated Arts and Tech 5 390
Salmon River 10 336
Northeastern Clinton 7 323
Catskill 2 312
North Salem 1 295
Fallsburg 9 284
Greenville 2 277
Keio Academy 1 264
North Rose-Wolcott 5 262
Addison 5 259
Sodus 5 246
Williamson 5 245
Mayfield 2 222
Solomon Schechter 1 222
Red Creek 5 217
Schoharie 2 209
Galway 2 202
Maple Hill 2 202
Middleburgh 2 200

   Fallsburg fielded its own team in 2016 and Cohoes as recently as 2015.

   Obviously, Sodus now comes off the list, but Sections 2 and 5 remain heavily represented.

   (2) The discussion of sports mergers reminds me that the subject is likely to make the agenda for new month's NYSPHSAA Central Committee meetings in Clayton. It's probably going to be a close call, but there's a pretty good possibility that delegates from the 11 sections are going to make the rules for calculating enrollment less friendly for some combined programs.

   (3) For what it's worth, arrangements like Lyons and Sodus in football are not the target of the initiative to change the combined programs rules. Their combined teams went 4-4 in 2014 and 6-3 in 2015, and then Lyons was 4-4 last fall. So there's no expectation that this will create a "super team."

   Rather, it's more about the reality of sliding enrollments. As recently as the 2011-12 school year, Lyons had a BEDS figure of 238 and Sodus was at 294. And Sodus was already struggling so much at that point that it was unable to field a boys basketball team just seven seasons after capturing a NYSPHSAA Class C championship.

   That's not to say Lyons doesn't have some proud football heritage, including Section 5 championships in 2002 and 2003. In '03, Lyons was part of a piece of first-ever feat that Steve believes has not been repeated since: The Cambridge team from that season played three state semifinalists -- beat Lyons in the regular season and


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  • Tuckahoe in the Eastern semifinal before losing to Onondaga in the finals at the Carrier Dome.

       NYSPHSAA accolades: The New York State Public High School Athletic Association handed out some awards last week to wrap up the current school year.

       The Sportsmanship Promotion Banner Award was shared by West Genesee and Columbia. The honor recognizes schools that have developed sportsmanship initiatives for by students, coaches, spectators and communities.

       Columbia, which has won the award outright or shared it five straight years, raised more than $5,000 for ovarian cancer research at its 15th annual Teal Ribbon Night, and the basketball team raised nearly $3,000 for Coaches vs. Cancer.

       West Genesee's sportsmanship initiatives included greeting opposing teams as they entered their school and honoring the visiting team's players on senior night.

       The Community Service Challenge Award went to Akron in a vote by the NYSPHSAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which is comprised of athlete representatives from each of the 11 sections and three student leaders.

       Akron's varsity softball team created a program called "Just Donate It!" In 2016, the squad collected 7,500 pounds of used softball equipment to be shipped to the Dominican Republic. Akron student-athletes visited Bani, D.R., for three days in January to distribute the equipment and teach the game of softball to 60 players and coaches.

       Return trips are planned for 2018 and 2019 with a focus on athletic footwear, first aid training and installing a water filtration system.

       School bore ... uh, board: Superintendent Scott Martzloff had the good sense to say no, but that didn't stop the Williamsville school board -- where hardball politics is an unofficial sport -- from ramming through a dubious decision.

       Martzloff, the center on the McQuaid team that won the NYSPHSAA Class A basketball championship in 1988, has been the district superintendent for less than six years. But the new athletic complex at Williamsville North is slated to be named for him after outgoing board member Michael Schmidt unexpectedly proposed naming honors for facilities at three high schools as part of a $27 million project.

       The Buffalo News reported the rest of the board was caught off guard by the proposal but nevertheless OK'd the naming honors for Martzloff and longtime ADs James Rusin (Williamsville East) and Kevin Lester (Williamsville South).

       "I appreciate your nomination but I don't belong in that list," Martzloff told the board. "I haven't been here nearly long enough, done nearly enough to deserve even consideration, let alone having something named for me."

       Extra points: New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director Steve Timko, 72, will retire effective Dec. 31. Timko was hired by the NJSIAA in 2001 and has beed the executive director since 2006.

       The NJSIAA executive committee will conduct the search for a replacement, with the successor likely to be nominated early this fall.

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