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Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014: Fayetteville-Manlius scores NXN sweep

   Leading off today: Fayetteville-Manlius returned to the top of the Nike Cross Nationals awards podium with a vengeance on Saturday, sweeping the boys and girls championships in Portland, Ore.

   The girls team, which had its streak of seven championships snapped a year ago, scored just 70 points in defeating Great Oak, Calif., (149) and Carmel, Ind., (173). Saratoga placed 10th and Shenendehowa 18th. Olivia Ryan (46th individually in 18:35), Annika Avery, Sophia Ryan and Jenna Ferrell crossed the finish line within four seconds of one another to lead the F-M onslaught.

   In the boys race, Fayetteville-Manlius won with 111 points, well ahead of Wayzata, Minn., (159) and North Spokane, Wash., (178). Liverpool was fourth at 191 points and St. Anthony's placed eighth.

   It was the first time that teams from the same school have swept the competition and the second triumph by a New York boys squad. The F-M boys' previous best finishes were second-place showings in 2004 and 2010, and third place in 2005 when Saratoga won the title.

   Junior Peter Ryan led the F-M boys with a 16th-place showing 15:40 for five kilometers. The five Hornets scorers -- Ryan, Bryce Millar, Kyle Barber, Adam Hunt and Riley Hughes -- finished just 49 seconds apart.

   F-M coach Bill Aris said the sweep amounted to the most special of the trips his teams have made to the national meet.

   "Absolutely," Aris said from the podium during a live webcast. "The girls race, I was very pleased. They basically righted the ship and got us back on course after a disappointing day last year. And the boys ... I've been here for every single one of these, 11 years now, and this is the first time the boys won. It couldn't be sweeter."

   Milestone: Norwich wrestler Tristan Rifanburg recorded his 200th varsity win Friday during the 52nd annual Clyde Cole Tournament in Oxford. Rifanburg pinned Aaron Bernel of Carthage in 1:07 of their first-round match at 138 pounds to improve his record to 200-11.

   Wait is almost over: The inaugural New York Catholic state football championship game is Sunday at 2 p.m. at Mitchel Athletic Complex, pitting top-ranked Canisius vs. No. 2 Archbishop Stepinac.

   It can be viewed online on MSGVarsity.com or on the MSGV iOS app if you've downloaded that to your phone or tablet.

   The key development of the week was the suspension of captain and two-way starter James Thomas (the Crusaders' leader in sacks and fumble recoveries), who unsuccessfully appealed his ejection (carrying the mandatory one-game ban) after he was ejected in last weeks Monsignor Martin championship game vs. Bishop Timon/St. Jude.

   The matter was controversial since Thomas was reportedly ejected for throwing a punch, a ruling not supported by video according to Buffalo-area media. The game video does show Thomas shoving an opponent, who

  

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  • then fell.

       "James didn't throw a punch, it was more based on the fact that he shoved a Timon player and then a melee ensued," Canisius AD Jim Maurohe told WGRZ-TV, adding he doesn't believe the decision is fair, but "we will live with it."

       You can read previews of the title game from MSG Varsity, The Journal News and The Buffalo News.

       Care to help? We ended publication of the New York State Sportswriters Association newsletter in the summer of 2012. Most of the membership fee up until then went toward the 46-50 newsletters per year, but what was left after printing and postage helped defray other expenses.

       Now, online ads cover the expense of providing rankings, news and reference material to readers of NewYorkSportswriters.org and its related sites such as RoadToSyracuse.com, which has allowed us to drop the membership fee.

       If you enjoy our content and feel inclined to help, we do maintain a page that allows contributions via PayPal transfers and encourage you to check it out.

       Extra points: The Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team will be without standout senior point guard Connor Evans this season, Syracuse.com reported. Evans, who averaged 18 points per game in 2013-14 while leading the Northstars to the Section 3 Class AA final vs. Utica Proctor and was selected 10th-team all-state by the NYSSWA, suffered a football knee injury this fall.


      
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