Leading off today:
A year ago, Eric Favors
led the shot put competition in the NYSPHSAA indoor track championships right up until the final throw of the day, a winning heave by Ben Bonhurst of Smithtown West.
There would be no such last-minute disappointment this time. Favors, a North Rockland senior, broke Bonhurst's state indoor record with a throw of 66 feet, 1 inch to highlight Saturday's championships at Cornell University.
The University of South Carolina recruit's season best had been 63-10.
"There's no ceiling," throws coach Tom Donohue told The Journal News. "As hard as he works, the sky is the limit."
The day's longest race was arguably the No. 1 nail-biter as a lunging Aidan Tooker of Saratoga hit the tape in the boys 3,200 meters just .03 seconds ahead of Northport's Mike Brannigan. Tooker's winning time was 9:05.47, shaving more than four seconds off his second-place performance (9:09.95) in the 2014 meet at Barton Hall.
Similarly, Port Jefferson's James Burke moved up a notch in a distance race. Burke placed second in the 1,600 as a junior but took a title this time by finishing in 4:17.88.
Defending 1,600 champ Luke Gavigan of Tappan Zee finished second in 4:20.28.
"It means everything," Burke said after closing in :58.87 for the final 400 meters. "On my runs over the summer, during cross country, and this whole winter, I just pictured this track and that last 200 in my head. It's all worth it."
Section 3 teams advance: The NYSPHSAA hockey tournament format change can officially be declared a first-year success.
With just seven sections supplying representatives to the 2014 tournament, Queensbury was able to advance to the Division II semifinals with a bye despite its 5-15-1 record. In the offseason, the state committee addressed the issue by deciding to fill out the bracket by allowing one of the sectional runner-up teams into the state quarterfinals.
By the luck of the draw, Section 3 was awarded this year's extra berth, and Skaneateles made the most of its second chance with a 3-2 win over Pelham. The Lakers will get a chance to avenge their sectional final loss to Syracuse CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt when the teams meet Saturday in Utica.
Reggie Buell scored two goals to spark Skaneateles to a 3-0 lead in the second period. Bennett Morse stopped 15 shots in net.
CBA/J-D advanced with a 5-1 win over Victor. Peter Dziergas snapped a 1-1 tie in the closing moments of the second period, tapping in a loose puck from in front of the Blue Devils crease.
"That was such a big goal," CBA/J-D coach Mike McKie said. "Getting the momentum back after they scored gave us a big difference when we needed it."
The momentum carried into the third period as Cole Fowler and Dziergas scored in the first three minutes.
The semifinal will be the fourth matchup of the season vs. Skaneateles, with each team sporting a 1-1-1 record.
Section 3's third playoff team also remained alive as Baldwinsville downed Ithaca 2-1 in Division I.