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Sunday, June 21, 2015: Rush-Henrietta blows away national SMR record

   Leading off today: Rush-Henrietta crushed the national girls high school record in the sprint medley relay on Saturday, posting a time of 3:47.65 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

   Freshman Lanae-Laura Thomas, junior Tori Thompson, senior Ceara Watson and sophomore Sammy Watson obliterated the field at North Carolina A&T in a driving rain. The second-place quartet from Oak Park (Mich.) High was nearly nine seconds back at 3:56.35.

   The U.S. scholastic record of 3:50.82 was set a year ago by Maplewood (N.J.) Columbia High. The Royal Comets were on pace with that mark and still battling Oak Park for the win when Sammy Watson took the stick for the anchor leg. Watson clocked 2:03.08 to hit the tape 75 meters ahead of the rest of the field.

   "We were just looking for a national title," Watson told "We weren't really worried about the time. The main thing was to get the title."

   Elsewhere, New Yorkers scores a steeplechase sweep.

   North Rockland sophomore Alex Harris threw a 74-second opening lap at the field and never let up in producing a PR of 6:52.10 in the girls 2,000-meter steeple minutes after Amanda Bakley of Pennsauken, N.J., won the unseeded heat in 6:57.49, which stood up for second place.

   "I know there is nothing you can do about what anyone else does," Harris said. "I was just focusing on my own race and being mentally tough and getting out there and executing."

   In the boys steeple, senior Jack Jibb of Monroe-Woodbury won in 5:50.71. Elon Nohilly of John Jay was second at 6:03.48.

   Already the national season leader in the 3K steeplechase, Jibb took over No. 1 at the shorter distance.

   Awards time: Mount Vernon senior hurdler Rai Benjamin has been named Gatorade's male track athlete of the year for New York.

   The UCLA-bound standout broke a 38-year-old state record in the 400 hurdles with a time of :50.45 seconds this spring and pulled off a 400 dash/400 hurdles double at the Loucks Games.

   Alkins still waiting: Christ the King boys basketball star Rawle Alkins will have to wait until after the start of his senior year in school to learn whether he'll be eligible to play next winter.

   It's been known since late last season that Alkins' 2015-16 eligibility was in doubt because he played some varsity games as an eighth-grader while in Florida before transferring to Christ the King as a freshman.

   The Catholic High Schools Athletic Association won't rule on his eligibility for the three-time defending city champions until after the start of the upcoming school year. Its regularly scheduled student Eligibility committee meets in September, The Daily News reported, and the rule doesn't seem to leave much reason for Alkins and the school to be optimistic.

   An unfavorable ruling wouldn't affect the college recruitment of the city's most coveted player, but he faces the prospect of having to play his final season at a prep school -- and maybe having to depart Christ the King rather abruptly. He may also opt to leave before the school year starts. South Kent School in Norwalk, Conn., is a potential destination I've heard suggested more than once.

   "As of right now, I don't know where I'm going," Alkins told the paper. "I've stopped trying to get in contact with (prep schools) and right now I'm just relaxing and focusing on me and my basketball."

   Alkins has a long list of college offers, including Indiana,


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  • Kansas and Kentucky. St. John's has been pushing hard since the arrival of Chris Mullin as coach in the spring.

       "You're talking about a lot of money on the line as far as him getting recruited," Royals coach Joe Arbitello told the paper. "He's projected to possibly make money playing the game one day, so you're going to put all that in jeopardy because of a loyalty to Christ the King or to me? For him, it just doesn't make sense."

       Sec. 3 pioneer dies: A memorial service was held Saturday to honor Mary Chappell, the "godmother of girls soccer" in Marcellus. Chappell, 78, died June 2, reported.

       Chappell was a physical education teacher at Marcellus for 33 years and began coaching in the 1970s, going 294-41-16 in soccer with 12 Section 3 championships and a NYSPHSAA title in 1989. Her volleyball teams were 306-64 with another four sectional crowns, and she also coached basketball and softball.

       SUNY Cortland said in a release that Chappell launched the first girls athletics program in Onondaga County, the website reported.

       New gig for Mergardt: Rye's school board has appointed Gerard "Rod" Mergardt as interim director of physical education, health and Athletics, effective July 1 while the district search for a permanent replacement for Rob Castagna.

       Mergardt has been an interim AD for five New York and Connecticut school districts since retiring in 1996 after 26 years as athletic director at Bedford. He was also adjunct professor of sport law at Manhattanville College and supervisor of undergraduate physical education student-teachers at SUNY Cortland.

       Castagna, who was Rye's AD for 12 years, begins work next week as the athletic director at Byram Hills. He will succeed Mike Gulino, who is retiring after 34 years.

       One of Castagna's first potential tasks -- selecting a new girls basketball coach -- has been handled. The Journal News reported Saturday that former Hastings coach Alyse LaPadula will replace first-year coach Sarah Kinsley.

       Kinsley plans to return to school to earn an administration degree.

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  • 4/23: Boys all-state basketball (large schools)
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  • 4/16: Boys all-state basketball (small schools)
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