Leading off today:
Akron senior football player Johnny Fiebelkorn, a standout athlete who broke the school record for career wrestling victories last season, died early Saturday in a one-car crash in Alden.
Fiebelkorn, 17, was a backseat passenger in a car being driven by his older brother Matt Fiebelkorn. He was partially ejected from th vehicle when it overturned while crossing railroad tracks. Matt Fiebelkorn and a cousin of the brothers were not seriously injured, The Buffalo News reported.
Johnny Fiebelkorn was a running back and defensive back on the football team, which is scheduled to open its season Friday at Barker/Royalton-Hartland. But his biggest athletic achievements had come on the wrestling mats.
Fiebelkorn competed in the NYSPHSAA championships last season in Albany and varsity coach Danny Klonowski said he'd already served four seasons as a team captain.
"He was by far our most accomplished and best wrestler, but it was not just his wrestling," Klonowski told the paper. "He really had the character you'd want your son to have."
More: I cannot remember a worse start to a year in high school sports than what we've witnessed in the past few weeks. Johnny Fiebelkorn is at least the fourth athlete to have passed away since mid-August:
• Sachem East football player Joshua Mileto died when a heavy log being carried by several athletes during an offseason conditioning camp fell and struck him in the head.
• Mount St. Michael football player Dominic Bess collapsed and died while running sprints on his second day of freshman practice Aug. 22.
• Waverly three-sport athlete Paul Girolamo was killed Aug. 19 in a one-car crash in Tioga County in Pennsylvania.
I hadn't given it much thought after Girolamo's death, but this weekend's vehicle-related tragedy made me dig out some notes from a recent briefing that didn't seem all the significant at the time but is now very relevant.
Before going through the usual agenda items in the annual mandatory meeting for Section 5 athletic directors last week, NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas turned the podium over to Maureen Kozakiewicz, a highway safety program representative for the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.
Kozakiewicz was there to announce the launch of a "Coaches Care" campaign aimed at promoting teen driver safety with respect to the use of seatbelts and the dangers of distracted driving and ability-impairing substances.