Leading off today:
Four seniors and a junior have been selected players of the year in their respective classes as the New York State Sportswriters Association released its 2014 all-state baseball team Thursday.
Bayport-Blue Point senior Jack Piekos was selected player of the year in Class A for the second straight season.
The players of the year are:
•Class AA -- Victor senior Dale Wickham, a Cornell-bound pitcher/shortstop who hit .506 with 29 runs batted in and went 7-0 with a 0.82 ERA on the mound.
•Class A -- Bayport-Blue Point senior pitcher/outfielder Jack Piekos, who's heading to Maryland after going 10-1 with 122 strikeouts in 74 innings.
•Class B -- Schalmont senior pitcher/outfielder Greg Musk, who won 10 games on the mound with a 0.39 ERA, hit .370 with 38 runs scored and succeeded in all 18 of his stolen-base attempts. He'll head to Hudson Valley CC in the fall.
•Class C -- Hoosic Valley junior pitcher John Rooney, who won 11 games with a 0.51 ERA and batted .448 with 29 RBIs.
•Class D -- Smithtown Christian senior Tim Gorton, a power-hitting catcher on for the state champions.
The honor capped quite the year for Rooney, a Siena recruit who was the NYSSWA's Class C player of the year in basketball.
The full all-state team can be viewed here.
That's a wrap: The all-state baseball team, edited by Tom Vartanian of Cortland, is the last of our nine annual all-star teams, thus wrapping up our year.
Late Wednesday, we posted a rather lengthy year in review blog entry compiling many of the highlights and lowlights from the 2013-14 school year.
Discouraging report: Teen use of human growth hormones and steroids is on the rise according in the United States to a report released Wednesday by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.
The survey showed experimentation with HGH by teens more than doubled in the past year based on confidential responses from 3,705 high school students in early 2013, and 11 percent reported using synthetic HGH at least once — up from about 5 percent in the four preceding annual surveys. The use of steroids increased from 5 percent to 7 percent over the same period. Some 9 percent of teen girls and 12 percent of boys reported trying synthetic HGH.
Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, characterized the numbers as alarming but not surprising because of pervasive online marketing and scarce drug testing for high school athletes.
"It's what you get when you combine aggressive promotion from for-profit companies with a vulnerable target — kids who want a quick fix and don't care about health risk," Tygart said. "It's a very easy sell, unfortunately."
Given the high cost of authentic synthetic HGH and the fact it is supposed to be available only by prescription, the survey noted it's possible that some of teens obtained fake products.
Tygart said stringent testing is an effective deterrent to doping among athletes in major pro sports and in international competitions.
"But most young athletes are not in any testing program, and their chance of getting caught is zero," he said. "When left unchecked, the win-at-all-cost culture will take over and athletes will make the wrong decision."