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Wednesday, June 27, 2018: Tuohy scores a first with latest Gatorade award

   Leading off today: Is there a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for most records set?

   If so, Katelyn Tuohy is stalking it.

   Tuohy, the North Rockland sophomore distance-running star, added another noteworthy achievement to her list of accomplishments on Tuesday when she became the first athlete in the 33-year history of the award to be selected Gatorade's national athlete of the year in two sports in the same school year.

   Tuohy, 16, received her national girls track and field trophy from Olympic hurdler Sydney McLaughlin -- the Gatorade track honoree in 2016 and '17 -- in a surprise ceremony. That trophy can now reside alongside the one she was presented at the end of the cross country season last fall.

   "I'm pretty speechless, honestly," she said. "It's amazing to win the award twice in one year. ... I'm pretty happy."

   Tuohy's exploits in the 2017-18 school year are already well documented, but the bottom line is that she broke records in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track during a nearly undefeated year. If not for a misfire in the girls mile at the Millrose Games, it would have qualified as a perfect year.

   It culminated with her breaking a 36-year-old national high school record in the outdoor mile, driving home what a once-in-a-generation prodigy she has become.

   "She works very hard and puts in all the little extra things you'd never ask any kid to do," North Rockland outdoor track coach Kyle Murphy said. "Couple that with incredible drive and talent and this is what can happen."

   Speaking of athletes with a kick ... I generally don't get too excited about scholarship offers, particularly when they're from mid-majors or below. But I'll make an exception here, because what's been going on at Canisius High in Western New York is truly unusual.

   Assistant head football coach Bryce Hopkins passed along a note last night that rising senior Tristian Vandenberg was offered earlier in the day by Ohio University of the Mid-American Conference.

   The unusual aspect to the story is that it puts Vandenberg on track to become the third straight Canisius placekicker to earn an FBS scholarship straight out of high school. Michael Tarbutt, a 2015 graduate, went on to UConn. Blake Haubeil, who graduated in 2017, is at Ohio State.

   As Hopkins pointed out, it's fairly rare in the 85-scholarship era for FBS schools to offer scholarships to incoming freshmen. Typically, they bring kickers aboard as preferred walk-ons -- sometimes two or three at a time. Survivors of one or two years of intense competition on the practice field and then in games then end up with scholarships after a year or two on campus.

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   Perfectly good questions: Kudos to The Journal News' editorial page staff for not losing sight of an issue. That page wrote editorials during the winter season questioning the transparency and policies of Section 1 during the brouhaha over the removal of basketball playoff games from the Westchester County Center and what seemed to be a lack of due process in the decision to suspend two basketball coaches over an unsanctioned charity game.

   The news this week that Jennifer Simmons will be retiring as executive director of Section 1 in March raised some questions and concerns from the editorial board. Two of the issues they noted also raised red flags with me as I read the initial news reports:

   (1) Why is there such a short window for applications for a replacement. Southern Westchester BOCES, which

  

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  • administrates Section 1, has set July 6 as the deadline.

       Given that most people only learned of Simmons' impending departure on Tuesday and that there is a holiday on the calendar next week, that's an awfully short window to start the process of replacing what amounts to the organization's chief operating officer.

       (2) If the replacement is in fact brought on board by September as planned, who'll be calling the shots while Simmons is still in place until March? Will both be paid full salaries? Given that the pay range is $140,000 to $160,000, that's an $80K or $90K question. For perspective, up until Section 5 switched to a BOCES operating structure a year ago, $90,000 would have more or less covered its entire administrative payroll.

       The editorial concludes: "The hiring of a new director is an opportunity for a fresh commitment to transparency. You know where to reach us. We'll gladly share your answers with the entire high school sports community of the Lower Hudson Valley."

       My thought? Yeah, good luck with that. Section 1, with a not-unsubstantial staff of taxpayer-funded employees, has done some spectacularly boneheaded things in the past five years with nary a peep from the BOCES braintrust.

       More reading: The Courier-Journal in Louisville did a really impressive bit of explanatory journalism Tuesday with a story about the ins and outs of reclassification.

       Twenty years ago it was almost unheard of for a high school student to move up their graduation date by a year, which made sense. A high school education has long been constructed as a four-year process virtually everywhere in this country, so it makes sense that graduating in just three years should be difficult if not impossible.

       The other extreme of reclassification involves a sector of students staying in high school for an additional year. On paper, their intent is to make up the course work needed to gain admission to college and eligibility to play their sport. Realistically, it's often been a ploy to let a young athlete mature physically before heading off to college competition.

       The topic of classification is likely to attract more attention in the coming months. In its recent report to the NCAA, the Commission on College Basketball (led by Condoleezza Rice) said it fears changes in the one-and-done rule governing NBA hopefuls might lead the reclassification trend to accelerate in a way thought would bring more young players into the Division I ranks.

       The Courier-Journal story dives into the many aspects of reclassification. Though it largely draws upon Kentucky-centric cases, there's valuable and interesting information that applies to all.


      
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