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Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014: Fayetteville-Manlius leads six teams to NXN finals

   Leading off today: Fayetteville-Manlius qualified its boys and girls cross country teams for next weekend's Nike Cross Nationals championships in Oregon.

   Running as the Manlius XC Club, F-M's boys fought off St. Anthony's by a 72-88 margin on Saturday, with Liverpool a strong third at 96 points on the five-kilometer New York Regional course at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls. The girls, whose string of seven national titles ended last year in Portland, scored 34 points to top Saratoga (68) and Shenendehowa (102).

   The top two teams in each race advanced to nationals, with third- and fourth-place squads left to sweat out potential wildcard berths. When the selection meeting was over, the Liverpool boys and Shenendehowa girls were added to the championship field.

   F-M star Bryce Millar topped the boys field in 15:48.8, with Marco Pompilj of Collegiate (15:54.6) edging Keith Baird of Mount Academy (15:54.7) for the No. 2 spot.

   The girls podium looked very much like the large-school division of any major N.Y. invitational: Bella Burda (18:15.3) of Arlington fending off Corning's Jessica Lawson (18:19.0) and Elmira's Abbey Wheeler (18:25.0). Olivia Ryan paced Fayetteville-Manlius with a fifth-place showing in 18:52.8, and the Hornets landed three others in the top 12 overall.

   More cross country: New York's boys fared a bit better than the girls at Van Cortlandt Park in the Northeast Regional qualifier for the Footlocker Championships.

   Benito Muniz (Carmel, sixth place, 15:37.9), Jeriqho Gadway (Plattsburgh, eighth, 15:41.7) and Jack Jibb (Monroe-Woodbury, ninth, 15:43.7) all cracked the top 10 to earn trips to the finals in San Diego. Nick Ciolkowski of McQuaid came excruciatingly close to qualifying with an 11th-place finish just 1.5 seconds behind the No. 10 runner.

   The only New Yorker to advance out of the girls qualifier was Ursuline's Anna Flynn, who placed sixth in 17:55.7.

   Milestones: Mamaroneck defeated Shaker/Colonie 5-0 in a boys hockey tournament final as Tom Spero posted his second shutout in as many games to earn MVP honors. The win gave longtime Tigers head coach Mike Chiapparelli and assistant Artie Bruno career win No. 400.

   Baldwinsville girls basketball coach Kathy Morse registered her 300th career win as the Bees defeated Homer 73-46 in the championship game of their own Bill Middleton Tournament. Hope DeFazio led Baldwinsville with 22 points, and Emily Pascale had 12 points and nine assists.

   Following up: As mentioned yesterday, Jake Zembiec gave a non-binding commitment to Penn State while visiting State College, Pa., to take in the Nittany Lions' game vs. Michigan State -- which happened to be the Aquinas junior's other finalist.

   His college experience if he follows through and enrolls at Penn State in 2016 is likely to be very similar to what others have experienced: After starting and starring in high school football at an early age, he's going to find himself in a program awash with prized QBs.

   Even before Zembiec made his announcement, senior


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  • Tommy Stevens, a dual-threat quarterback from Indiana, committed to Penn State. If/when they enroll, Christian Hackenberg would be a senior (or already in the NFL if you believe the scouts) in 2016 and Michael O'Connor and Trace McSorely will be redshirt sophomores. Add to that the possibility of one more commitment from the classes of 2015 or '16, and its a crowded depth chart.

       H.S. association sued: A former high school QB followed in the path of past pro and college players Saturday by suing a governing body -- in this case the Illinois High School Association -- saying it didn't do enough to protect him from concussions and still doesn't do enough to protect current players.

       The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Cook is among the first instances in which legal action has been taken for former athletes as a whole against a group responsible for overseeing scholastic sports in a state, The Associated Press reported.

       Daniel Bukal, a star quarterback at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles from 1999-2003, said he received multiple concussions and still suffers frequent migraines and has experienced notable memory loss, according to the 51-page suit. Bukal didn't play beyond high school.

       The IHSA did not have concussion protocols in place, putting Bukal and others at risk, and those protocols remain deficient, the lawsuit alleges. It calls on the IHSA to tighten its rules regarding head injuries but does not seek specific monetary damages.

       An IHSA spokesman had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

       More later: I'll be back later to catch up on Saturday's football action from around the state as we moved a day closer to the fall-season finish line.

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