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Friday, May 1, 2015: State hockey tournament moving to Buffalo

   Leading off today: The Utica Memorial Auditorium's long history as the home for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys hockey championships came to an end Friday when the next three tournaments were awarded to Buffalo's HarborCenter.

   The Utica Memorial Auditorium agreed to host in 1988 after The Aud in Buffalo booked a circus for the scheduled tournament dates, and the NYSPHSAA had come back every year since. But Utica was unable to match the sparkling new Western New York facility's bid, and the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee approved the change by a 16-6 vote at its scheduled meeting.

   "I am extremely disappointed," Section 3 Executive John Rathbun told The Observer-Dispatch. "I think Utica has done a great job hosting the tournament, and the Utica Aud staff has been great to work with. ... I'm just very, very disappointed because our committee has put so much into making it a great experience for student athletes, and now we're just walking about from that."

   Said longtime Utica site Chairman John Cunningham: "We fought a good fight. We were just up against a bigger opponent than we have been in the past."

   The news was not all disappointing for Central New York. The Executive Committee affirmed the football committee's recommendation to move the western semifinals from Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester to Cicero-North Syracuse High School for the next two years, and the Carrier Dome's contract for the five title games over two days was extended through 2018.

   Sahlen's Stadium had hosted the semifinal round for eight of the last nine years.

   In another formality, Dietz Stadium was OK'd to remain the eastern semifinals host through 2017.

   Some other highlights from the Executive Committee meeting in Troy:

    • Spalding was approved as the supplier of the official ball for a number of sports beginning in the 2016-17 school year, resulting in a new revenue-share stream between the NYSPHSAA office and the respective sections. Spalding balls will be used in sectional and state tournaments in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, and softball.

    • By unanimous vote, the Executive Committee passed the proposal to limit football teams to a maximum of two, 90-minute full-contact practices per week during the season. Massachusetts approved a similar rule earlier in the week.

    • New classification cutoff numbers for cross country and girls volleyball were approved, but the football committee's request for changes to take effect in 2016 was tabled and will be considered again in July. Also tabled was a proposal to reduce the minimum number of football practices by one, which would have allowed players to miss one session without losing the ability to participate in the scrimmage and season-opening game.

   More to come: I'll likely follow up with a few other meeting tidbits at some point over the weekend, including a pretty interesting premise by coaches in one sport looking to add games to the regular-season schedule.

   Henninger makes hire: Corcoran defensive coordinator Kevin Ryan is the new head football coach at Henninger, reported. Ryan takes over for Dave Kline, who left the Black Knights last month after 12 seasons to coach Cicero-North Syracuse.

   Henninger went 11-1, won the Section 3 Class AA championship and advanced to the state semifinals last fall

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before losing to eventual champion Jamestown.

   Former Red Hook coach dies: John Kravic, a coach and teacher at Red Hook died Saturday following a battle with leukemia. He was 58.

   The illness forced Kravic, a science teacher at the high school for two decades, to step aside as football coach before the 2014 season. He had previously coached softball, wrestling and track and field at the sub-varsity level.

   It was no fluke: When Half Hollow Hills West defeated Half Hollow Hills East two weeks ago, it snapped its rival's 106-match winning streak in boys tennis. On Thursday, HHH West won again, earning a 4-3 victory vs. the five-time defending Section 11 champions.

   Jackson Weisbrot and Brandon Nomberg rallied at No. 2 doubles, winning, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, to tie the overall score at 3. Minutes later, Tyler Nierman and Eric Hechler put the finishing touches on the win by scoring a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 decision in third singles.

   Quite a throw: Mariah Mays of Rome Free Academy broke her own Section 3 record in the discus by a decisive margin Wednesday during a triangular meet.

   Mays hurled the discus 157 feet, 11 inches. That broke her previous sectional mark of 148-2 set last year at the state championships.

   "She's just a bundle of joy," RFA coach Brett Couchman told "I was there for the throw. It was the last throw of the day and everything else was done. So a lot of our team was there. It just took off. It was flying."

   The state record in the discus is 172 feet by Stacy Schroeder of Grand Island in 1992.

   Extra points: In a 13-0 vote this week, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rejected a proposal to recognize rugby as a varsity sport. The board also voted 13-0 against a wood-bats-only rule in baseball.

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  • 5/27: Football gets approval to add a game
  • 4/29: Officials turning focus toward the fall
  • 4/23: Boys all-state basketball (large schools)
  • 4/22: Westhill hoops star dies in crash
  • 4/16: Boys all-state basketball (small schools)
  • 4/8: LuHi girls coach Slater steps down
  • 3/24: NYSPHSAA ends winter sports season
  • 3/18: Davis, Poole capture BCANY honors
  • 3/18: Weekly NYC boys basketball recap
  • 3/13: Dutchess Co. teams idle until April 30
  • 3/12: A day unlike any other in H.S. sports
  • 3/11: Coronavirus hits hockey, hoops plans
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