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Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014: A change at the top in girls cross country

   Leading off today: Death and taxes had been iffy propositions for nearly eight years compared to the certainty of No. 1 in New York girls cross country.

   On Nov. 5, 2006, Fayetteville-Manlius wrestled the top spot in girls large-school cross country away from Saratoga, and the Hornets had held it since -- a string of 82 consecutive sets of weekly rankings through last Monday.

   That streak finally ended yesterday when Elmira was promoted to the top spot in Class A following a close win over F-M and Shenendehowa at the McQuaid Invitational in Rochester on Saturday. You can check out the full set of girls cross country rankings here.

   More rankings released Monday:

    • Boys cross country.
    • Girls soccer.
    • Boys soccer.

   Tightly packed: With 34 teams placed across 10 divisions in seven leagues, Section 5 girls soccer has a way of spreading out its top teams in a way that creates a lot of one- and two-loss teams heading into sectionals, all with a shot of reaching the state tournament.

   Just beyond the midpoint of the season, Gananda, Caledonia-Mumford, Wheatland-Chili and Naples all remain unbeaten. Kendall slipped from those ranks Monday with a 4-3 loss to eighth-ranked Wheatland-Chili, which got a pair of goals from Hannah Callaghan.

   Taylor Ghysel and Morgan Franklin also scored to stake the Wildcats (10-0) to a 4-1 lead. Maya Rutland scored all three goals for Kendall (9-1).

   Boys soccer: Ian Cepiel scored four goals Monday as Stillwater, ranked 18th in the state in Class C, defeated Mechanicville 6-1. The performance marked the senior striker's seventh hat trick in eight games.

   after scoring 27 goals in 2013, Cepiel is already up to 31 goals this fall -- including 10 in two contests vs. Mechanicville.

   "I am one of the worst defenders on the field, so I try to focus on what I am good at," Cepiel told The Times Union. "I would not say scoring goals comes easy for me. Everyone around me has helped."

    Up next for Stillwater (8-0) is a contest Wednesday at Hoosic Valley (9-1), the only team to keep Cepiel off the scoreboard this season.

   College choice: Though he's emerging as a varsity football standout this fall at Irondequoit, that isn't the sport that will be John Lombardi's ticket to a college scholarship.

   At 5-foot-5 and 165 pounds, the little brother of state 2011 Class A football co-player of the year Billy Lombardi transferred out of Aquinas a little more than a year ago to sharpen his lacrosse skills and resume at Irondequoit.

   Though the team had challenges, including the abrupt resignation of Craig Whipple early last April, Lombardi shined as an eighth-grade midfielder with 26 goals and 17 assists.

   It most certainly got him noticed. In September 2018, Lombardi will be heading to the University of Michigan with football site

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an attractive scholarship package in his pocket. The Michigan coaching staff made the offer over the weekend, and Lombardi accepted.

   With his brother playing for Big Ten rival Penn State, Thanksgiving dinners in the Lombardi household ought to get pretty interesting very soon.

   Watch this: If I don't blog for the next few days, it likely means my vertigo kicked in after watching the video of Max Messie one too many times.

   The website gave the Skaneateles soccer player a GoPro camera and asked him to demonstrate his somersault throw-in technique.

   Milestone: A straight-games victory over Niskayuna last Wednesday was career win No. 600 for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls volleyball coach Gary Bynon.

   Bynon began coaching at Burnt Hills in 1988. His teams have won 19 Section 2 championships since 1991, including the last 12 consecutively, as well as five NYSPHSAA crowns.

   The Spartans have won 355 straight Suburban Council matches since a 1990 loss to Shenendehowa.

   Media reminder: Reporters are reminded that today is the official deadline (though requests will be taken through the end of the week) for credential requests to be submitted to the NYSPHSAA, smoothing the process for covering state championship action in the 2014-15 school year.

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