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Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018: North Rockland plots a new course for Tuohy

   Leading off today: Bravo to North Rockland cross country coach Brian Diglio for being a man with a plan for his team and best-known scholastic distance runner in the country.

   In plotting out a schedule for the 2018 season, Diglio added new meets and discarded some races that had been fixtures for North Rockland. Consequently, Katelyn Tuohy will have some fresh challenges in her junior season while still being able to measure herself against last year's times on other courses.

   In short, she won't toe the line each week facing expectations that she must break all the outlandish course records she established in 2017.

   "I knew that with the season she had last year that there would be a lot of attention and pressure on her," Diglio told Milesplit. "I think one of my jobs as a coach, in addition to keeping her healthy and fit, was to deflect as much pressure off of her as possible. And that's not very easy to do. Anytime she'll run this season, anywhere, there will be eyeballs."

   Gone are the Grout and Manhattan Invitationals, where Tuohy crushed course records last year. In their place, North Rockland will race at the Ocean State Invitational on Sept. 22 in Rhode Island and the New Balance Shore Coaches Invitational on Oct. 6 in New Jersey. And with the NYSPHSAA meet slated for the same course in November, Diglio will take his team to Sunken Meadows on Long Island in mid-October.

   Back at work: Rob Perpall is back thought the 2017 football season at Seaford would be his last, but he's back on the sideline for season No. 21 this fall.

   Perpall, who led Seaford to its third Long Island Class IV championship, had announced his retirement after his team's 29-27 LIC victory over Miller Place.

   "A few people, including the school superintendent, and a majority of the returning senior players asked me to come back," he said. "And I'm thrilled to be back."

   College commitment: To the surprise of no one, Greg Diakomihalis has committed to continuing his college wrestling career at Cornell, where his brother Yanni was an NCAA Division I champion as a true freshman last season.

   Greg Diakomihalis won his third straight NYSPHSAA championship last season as a Hilton sophomore. He posted a 43-0 record last season.

   Quick career starts: The Press & Sun-Bulletin last week tackled the subject of seventh- and eighth-graders competing as varsity athletes.

   Coaches, administrators, medical personnel and parents are involved in the Athletic Placement Process, which evaluates a junior-high student's ability to compete at the JV or varsity levels.

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   But that's only half the equation. Everyone involved -- including the athlete -- also has to consider the dynamics that go along with having someone as young as 12 years ago competing alongside and against athletes as old as 18 or even 19.

   "It's work, it's not an easy for any athlete to be pushed up to another level and another age-group, but at the same time, it's an achievement," Whitney Point field hockey coach Nicky Huston said. "I'm like a hawk with the little ones. I watch them constantly. I'm that mother hen, too. I want to protect them because I just brought them up in a situation and they're going to be playing with older kids, and being around everything else that happens when you're older."

  
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   Chenango Forks wrestling coach Rick Gumble cautions against factoring the needs of the team into the equation. Wrestling is an example of a sport that frequently features junior-high athletes on the varsity. There's a history of eighth-graders winning state titles in the lower weight classes, but the path often requires going through juniors and sometimes seniors.

   "We didn't bring Troy (Nickerson) up because we needed him, we brought him up because he would have been so superiorly dominant,” Gumble said of the five-time state champion. "You don't bring a kid up because you need him, you don't bring a kid up because he can do enough push-ups and sit-ups, you bring the kid up because at the modified level, they're so superior to the competition. When a coach brings a kid up to fill a roster spot, to me, that's a red flag."

   Anarchy, anyone? A recent guest essay in The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., suggested that high school sports would be better off being governed by state legislatures and having statewide high school associations vanquished.

   The author's primary beef seems to be with football as operated by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. Most teams in the state already had three games under their belts before Labor Day, meaning practice had to have started in the searing heat of early August.

   "Completing the regular high school football season early gives the TSSAA until mid-December to stage as many postseason games as possible, and to make money on them from parking, concessions, admissions and videos," former Memphis city councilman John Vergo speculated.

   Even if Vergo is right about the profit motive, I shudder at the thought of putting the politicians in charge of anything more complicated than choosing the pudding flavors in a junior high cafeteria -- especially in New York, where corruption in the state legislature is a fact of life.

   Weekend soccer: Three defending NYSPHSAA champions and two runners-up are on the schedule to compete this weekend at the NYSSCOGS New York State High School Girls Soccer Hall of Fame Tournament at Herkimer County Community College, Cooperstown High, Sauquoit Valley High and Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville High.

   Champions Baldwinsville (Class AA), Spencerport (A) and Wheatland-Chili (D) will play two games apiece as will runners-up Massapequa (AA) and Poland (D).

   The complete schedule can be seen here.


  
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