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Sunday, June 17, 2018: Girard narrows list to six basketball programs

   Leading off today: Joe Girard III has cut his list of college basketball suitors to six Division I programs.

   The Glens Falls rising senior, New York's all-time scoring leader with a full season to go, tweeted on Saturday that he has narrowed the list to Boston College, Duke, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Syracuse.

   Girard had attracted the interest of literally dozens of major programs, and interest only grew as he averaged 50 points a game in his junior season.

   "This definitely takes a load off," Girard told The Post-Star. "Not that I was leading anyone on, but I do not have to hear from schools that I am no longer interested in going to anymore. I can tell them that, 'I will no longer be interested in their school' and move on with the process by getting closer with these schools that I have narrowed it down to."

   Girard said he wants to conclude his recruitment before the school year begins, meaning the process could be wrapped up by July or August, allowing him to begin football season without the recruiting crush that would likely come with waiting until the November signing period to declare.

   Looking to sue: Teammates of Joshua Mileto, the Sachem East football player who died during an offseason training exercise last summer, are seeking to file a lawsuit against the school district.

   Three families are asking a state Supreme Court justice in Riverhead judge for permission to file a late notice of claim to sue for $15 million on the basis of emotional harm.

   Mileto, 16, died when a 400-pound log slipped and hit him in the head. Football players were carrying the log over their heads as part of a team drill in a strength and conditioning camp before the start of official practice. The camp was organized by boosters and run by school staff, including Sachem East coaches.

   "I get two to three hours of sleep a night, at the most," Nicholas Paolucci, 16, told Newsday. "I just wake up with panic attacks and stuff every night."

   The deadline to file a notice of claim, the first step in suing a municipality, lapsed last fall, so the parents of three families must get court permission to sue. The parents said the district initially brought mental health professionals into the high school to help those affected by Mileto's death but stopped after two visits.

   Schools Superintendent Kenneth Graham said in a statement the mental health and safety of students and staff is a top priority.

   "Counseling services are available on an ongoing basis for anyone in need," he said.


   Making inroads: New York continues to face problems with recruiting game officials to take the place those who retire or simply step aside due to time constraints or frustration over fan abuse, but the state is doing better than all the others in terms of inquiries from prospective referees and umpires.

   The NFHS closed the books on Year 1 of its #BecomeAnOfficial campaign on March 31 with 4,930 names submitted to its 51 associations nationwide. New York led the way with 544 prospective candidates.

   Georgia (486) and North Carolina (369) were next, with Massachusetts (284) and Ohio (282) rounding out the top five.


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  •    Weekend track: The big performance by New Yorkers in the first two days of the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., came courtesy of Northport's 3,200-meter relay, which broke a state record that had stood since 1966.

       Thomas Fodor, Dan O'Connor, Elijah Claiborne and Isaiah Claiborne won in 7:31.62, barely holding off Cary, N.C., Green Hope (7:32.62). That bettered the 7:33.00 by Boys & Girls and Andrew Jackson, a pair of PSAL schools that posted identical mark in 1966.

       A week ago, a Northport quartet placed second at the state meet in 7:45.79.

       A few other notes -- and hopefully I didn't miss anything -- from Friday and Saturday action:

        • Maine-Endwell junior Parker Stokes won the boys 2,000 steeplechase in 5:53.74, holding off the Goshen duo of Liam Higgins (5:57.04) and Louis Greco (5:57.45).

       Sarah Trainor of Hyde Park FDR set a state sophomore class record in the girls steeplechase by placing second in 6:41.47. Brooke Rauber of Tully was third in 6:46.29 and Aziza Chigatayeva of Brooklyn Tech fourth in 6:47.58. A week earlier at the state meet, the order of finish was Chigatayeva-Rauber-Trainor. Trainor shaved more than six seconds off her state-meet time.

        • Averill Park senior Alana Carroll won the girls pole vault in 13-6.25.

        • Margaret Atwood (Sachem East), Isabella Rogler (West Islip) and Jessica Grover (Hall Hollow Hills East) went 2-3-4 in the girls, 3,000 race walk.

        • Abigail Spiers from Niskayuna (16:59.89) was second in the girls 5,000 meters and Kelsey Chmiel of Saratoga (10:09.65) placed fourth in the two miles.

       More reading: My column this weekend for wrapped up the spring sports season.

       Along the way, I reference former Mount Vernon track Rai Benjamin, who won an NCAA championship for USC in the men's 400 hurdles last weekend by tying the second-fastest time ever -- :47.02 on a wet surface to match the legendary Edwin Moses.

       After the meet, the New York state high school record-holder in both the 400 dash and 400 hurdles announced he will pass up his final year of NCAA eligibility to turn pro.

       "It's weird," Benjamin said. "The reality is now -- everything I ever talked about has become a reality. I'm extremely excited. Everything has been so good so far. I couldn't be any more grateful."

       Benjamin will sign with a shoe company and his first race as a pro could be the USA Track & Field Championships later this month.

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