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Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013: Cheerleading enters a new era in New York

   Leading off today: Cheerleading took a step forward in its journey toward being recognized alongside sports such as basketball or soccer Saturday as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association conducted its inaugural regional championship.

   Some 51 teams competed at Arlington High School as the latest step toward cheerleading becoming a recognized varsity sport in the state.

   John Jay East Fishkill won the large team division, Hyde Park FDR took the medium squad title and New Rochelle placed first in the small-team bracket. Mepham's squad of 17 girls and three boys, fresh off its first championship of any sort a week earlier in the Hudson Valley tournament, captured top honors in the co-ed team division.

   (Update, Monday, 4 p.m.) The NYSPHSAA pegged paid attendance at 1,070.

   "We've been fighting for years to get cheerleading to where it is now, to get that respect," Long Island Mercy coach Connie Bedson said. "Our team actually came up and slept over because it's so exciting to finally be involved in something like this."

   Said competition director Marsha Tessler: “We’ll see how successful it’ll be regionally first and then go from there. We hope it continues to evolve and become a sport."

   A Western state regional is scheduled for March 9 at Rochester Institute of Technology and could serve as an interesting barometer for cheerleading's public profile. The event date sits late in the schedule of state winter sports playoffs with NYSPHSAA basketball quarterfinals and the boys hockey semifinals scheduled for the same day but nearly everything else over for the season.

   The 36th annual Greater Rochester Cheerleading and Dance Championships, which attracted 104 teams over more than eight hours of judged routines, were held Saturday before a crowd of approximately 4,000 at Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester.

   Wantagh keeps rolling: Wantagh, the state's top-ranked large school, earned its third straight Nassau County dual meet wrestling championship with a 45-16 victory over No. 14 MacArthur on Saturday.

   It ran the Warriors winning streak in duals to 39 matches.

   "Our whole team is a group of solid guys and this is a special team," 145-pounder Nick Vines told Newsday. "We all worked so hard to get to this point and it's just really exciting to win a county title in this fashion and just blow them out of the water like that."

   By the way, Vines has been wrestling with a torn ACL that will require surgery after the season ends.

   Quite a weekend: Ryan Talty second goal of the game, off a rebound 1:45 into overtime, gave McQuaid a 4-3 hockey victory over Fairport in Section 5 league hockey action.

   Fairport is ranked seventh in the state in Division I. McQuaid, which defeated No. 5 Pittsford 7-3 a day earlier, is ranked 13th.

   Fairport's Max Gerling scored a power-play goal to complete a rally from a 3-1 deficit and tie the game with 5:01 left in regulation. In OT, Talty knocked home the rebound of Jack Dugan's shot.

   Barrier broken: Williamsville South junior Devon Patterson broke the Section 6 indoor shot put record for the second week in a row, also cracking the 60-foot barrier at the fifth annual Rock N Roll Throw Offs in the Lancaster Fieldhouse.

   Patterson unleashed a throw of 60 feet, 4.75 inches on his second attempt. A week earlier, he threw 59-1.75 at a meet in Brockport.

   “I just hit it, and off it went,” Patterson told The Buffalo News. “This is my favorite meet of indoor besides states. I’m always so amped. I was looking forward to this all week, and I’m happy that I threw 60.”

   Milestones: Massapequa gymnastics coach Mike Capone collected the 300th win of his 37-year career Friday in a girls meet vs. Hicksville.

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   "He has such a wealth of knowledge for gymnastics," Section 8 gymnastics coordinator Kim Rhatigan told Newsday. "He has more knowledge than all of us put together."

   Katie Griffin and Schyler Laux scored 11 points each to spark Central Square's 57-49 girls basketball win over Baldwinsville, marking win No. 300 for coach Kevin Brazell, who's in his 28th season.

   "It's been a great honor and privilege to coach here at Central Square," he told The Post-Standard. "I've met some wonderful people, coached great kids, and have been able to make an impact in people's lives."

   An unbeaten falls: Two tries at the basket in the final :07 missed, and Elmira Notre Dame dropped a 56-55 boys basketball game to Athens, Pa., for its first loss of the season.

   Notre Dame, which is ranked sixth in the state by the New York State Sportswriters Association, had rallied from a nine-point deficit with 2:09 left, but Athens' Luke Wright made a free throw with :19 to play to close out the scoring.

   Athens (12-4) avenged a 66-55 loss to Notre Dame from earlier in the season.

   Running the numbers: In 2001, only 17 of the 127 (13 percent) girls varsity basketball coaches in Section 5 were women. This season, the numbers have climbed to a still-low 24 coaches and 21 percent according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

   For perspective, the NCAA’s most recent study in 2010 showed 60 percent of all women’s college basketball jobs being held down by females, and six of the Rochester area’s 11 women’s college teams have female coaches.

   High school varsity coaches make between $3,000 and $7,000 based on the size of the school and their experience. “High school coaches have a three-month salary for a 12-month expectation,” Penfield AD Pete Shambo told the paper.

   Extra points: Ailayia Demand became the Watervliet girls basketball career scoring leader Saturday with a total of 1,255 points. She scored 19 points to lead the Cannoneers, ranked fifth in the state in Class B, to a 48-42 victory over Ravena.

   Bay Shore won its 23rd straight league championship in girls indoor track, scoring 1108 points in the Section 11 League II meet at Suffolk CC-Brentwood.

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