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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013: Cain sets indoor mile record

   Leading off today: Mary Cain ran into the record books in huge fashion Saturday at The Armory.

   The junior from Bronxville ran the mile in 4 minutes, 32.78 seconds in the New Balance Games to break the long-standing national high school record for the distance by nearly six seconds. She beat the 1972 mark of 4:38.5 by Debbie Heald and along the way also snared Lynn Jennings' 1978 high school record of 4:18.9 for the 1,500 meters.

   Cain actually "only" finished third in the race, but she was running in the elite women's field. Sarah Bowman Brown won the race in 4:31.61.

   She narrowly missed the U.S. under-19 mile mark of Darlene Beckford, who ran 4:32.30 in 1980.

   Cain opted to leave high school competition in the fall to train with Alberto Salazar. What makes the latest breakthrough even more interesting is that she began her day by taking her SATs earlier in the day in Scarsdale, arriving at the meet with only about an hour to spare.

   She is scheduled to return to The Armory Feb. 16 for the women's Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games.

   Impressive win: Here's why I try to avoid falling into the trap of playing the "compare the scores" game when trying to assess how two teams might fare in a head-to-head battle. It's also why the "compare the scores" game is irresistible.

   On Nov. 30, Oracle Charter opened its boys basketball season with a 71-45 loss to Clarence. That's the same Clarence that Buffalo Mckinley, ranked 15th in the state in Class A by the NYSSWA, beat 88-62 on Jan. 9. So -- in theory, anyway -- Oracle, unranked in Class C, should have had no chance against McKinley, the defending Yale Cup and sectional champ, right?

   Well, the teams played Friday and Oracle, in its fourth season as a varsity program, came away with an 80-75 win on McKinley's court. The game featured 12 ties and 25 lead changes. Jamarr Cunningham scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter of the victory, and Eric Waters and Gerald Bibbs scored 18 apiece.

   Following arguably the biggest win in school history, Oracle is 13-1 and looking like a threat in the Class C sectionals next month.

   More Class A boys: Aquinas avenged an earlier loss and rode Kyron Allen's 19 points to a 62-58 victory against Rochester Charlotte, ranked 19th in the state.

   The Little Irish, who start four juniors and a sophomore, are 9-4. They raced to a 44-30 lead at the half only to see Charlotte rally and take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter.

   More boys basketball: Batavia Notre Dame's 83-52 victory over Holley was No, 599 for coach Mike Rapone, Section 5's all-time winningest basketball coach. The Fighting Irish, ranked eighth in Class C, play Kendall on Tuesday.

   What's it mean? The U.S. Education Department has ruled that schools must include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options -- a directive reminiscent of the Title IX-inspired expansion of opportunities for female athletes.

   As is often the case with government decrees -- how many people genuinely understand the Affordable Care Act? -- the implications for budgets and the makeup of high school teams are murky, beyond schools being required to make “reasonable modifications” for students with disabilities. That could mean the creation of new athletic programs operating alongside existing teams.

   U.S. Education Department officials said they did not intend to guarantee students with disabilities a spot on competitive teams. Rather, they insisted schools cannot exclude students based on their disabilities if they can keep up with their classmates.

   “It’s not about changing the nature of the game or the athletic activity,” said Seth Galanter, acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department.

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   Federal laws already require states to provide a free public education to all students and provide for penalties if they discriminate against students with disabilities. The new directive explicitly labels access to interscholastic, intramural and intercollegiate athletics as a right.

   “Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in announcing the new guidance.

   A 2010 Government Accountability Office study found that students with disabilities participated in athletics at consistently lower rates than those without. The study said the benefits of exercise among children with disabilities may be even more important because they are at greater risk of being sedentary.

   “This will do for students with disabilities what Title IX did for women,” said Terri Lakowski, who led a coalition seeking the changes. “This is a huge victory.”

   Extra points: Argyle senior Jax Miller has become the fourth girl in Section 2 history to go over 200 3-pointers for her career. The senior made 70 a year ago and is up to 33 this season.

   Section 2 is moving its girls Class AA basketball final back to Times Union Center in Albany after several years at Hudson Valley Community College. The contest will by followed by the boys AA title game on March 4.

   After going seemingly forever without playing any Section 5 opponents other than McQuaid during the regular season, Aquinas has a 2013 football game scheduled with Pittsford. The Little Irish also have Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline, 8-5 a year ago, on the schedule.

   Jason Ceneus, a second-team all-state defensive back for New Rochelle, has committed to continue his football career at Villanova. The Wildcats offered during a home visit on Wednesday.

   Parting note: I just hate it when a reliable source gives me the story behind the story -- and I can't use it. The person I spoke to Friday gave me the dish on what's behind one of the ongoing storylines of the current season, but there's no way I'm going to be able to get independent confirmation. Oh, well.

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