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Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015: Saratoga's Tooker three-peats in Sec. 2 cross country

   Leading off today: If you rate individual three-peats based on degree of difficulty, what Aidan Tooker did Friday would get high marks even from the East German judge.

   The senior from Saratoga got out fast and never let up in the most competitive class in one of the state's most demanding cross country sections. He cruised to his third straight Section 2 Class A title in 14 minutes, 52.84 seconds.

   With the win, Tooker joins the Streaks' Dylan Welsh (1996-98) as the only Class A runners to capture three straight sectional titles in the Capital Region.

   "That's a good name (Welsh) to be next to," Tooker told The Times Union. "His name comes up in conversation when you are talking about the best. He is always someone I've looked up to, and I'm always checking to see where he ran and what he ran, and at what age."

   Tooker's performance helped lead the Blue Streaks to the boys' team championship for the third time in four years. The Saratoga girls gave the Blue Streak program a sweep of the Class A titles, winning their 16th straight sectional trophy, led by freshman Kelsey Chmiel's individual victory.

   Fundraiser today: Dozens of girls basketball teams were expected to get a jump on the season Saturday in a tournament to raise money for longtime Syracuse Corcoran coach Jim Marsh.

   "Marsh Madness" features a series of preliminary games at Baldwinsville, Central Square, Cicero-North Syracuse and Fayetteville-Manlius followed by semifinals and a championship game at Corcoran High on Saturday night.

   Marsh, who is battling liver cancer and isn't coaching this year for the first time in 32 seasons, was expected to attend the evening ceremonies at Corcoran, reported.

   "I'm hoping its going to be like a huge Corcoran reunion. I hope there's as many people there as possible. We made it free admission on purpose. So we could really have a community event," former Corcoran point guard Quarin Bey said.

   In addition to helping organize the tournament, Bey started a web page to raise money to help Marsh's family defray the cost of trips to New York City's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and other expenses.

   More than meets the eye: In the course of looking for high school sports material this morning, I ran across a college story with scholastic connections.

   Late in Syracuse University's basketball exhibition against LeMoyne on Monday, Orange coach Jim Boeheim asked guard Christian White to go into the game ... and the senior walk-on said, "No, thanks."

   As reported, it wasn't insubordination on the part on White. Rather, the former all-state player for Aquinas who joined the SU squad last season after two years at Monmouth is trying to preserve his eligibility for next season -- quite possibly at another school.

   Reporter Mike Waters says White, who appeared in four games last season but is valued by SU for his work on the scout team and keeping the scholarship guards on their toes, plans to practice but doesn't plan to play in games. He pitched his idea to the coaching staff last month.

   "You know what, coach, I'll be at every single game," White said of his thought process. "If guys get hurt, you can play me right away. But if that doesn't ever happen and there are games where we're up by a lot and the walk-ons go into the game, I'd rather not go in and save my eligibility."

   White is a computer science major. Because SU offers a master's program for it, he can't transfer to another Division I school if he wants to work toward an advanced degree in computer science after graduating in May. Since he wants to stay in that discipline and also land a scholarship, White's logical move would be to a Division II school.

   In the meantime, he's focused on this season.


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  •    "The young guys we've got are brand new to this stuff," White said. "They've got a lot to learn and I feel like I can help them. We have some really talented guys and I'm so excited for them to learn and to grow."

       Speaking of Syracuse: The clock is ticking in Central New York as school administrators and politicians work toward a decision on either refurbishing the Carrier Dome or building a new facility. At the very least it has implications for Section 3 sports and the NYSPHSAA football finals.

       My former Democrat and Chronicle colleague Scott Pitoniak wrote a column last month working through the university's options.

       "While I understand the desire to create a better fan experience by building where there's more room, a part of me wishes my alma mater could keep it on campus," he wrote. "I know you can establish shuttle services, but I think you may lose the student support that's so much a part of the college game experience. It's much easier for students to emerge from their dorms and just stroll across campus."

       More about six classes: I tweeted a link last week but didn't follow up here on Josh Thomson's column in The Journal News endorsing the proposal for a sixth state playoff class in football.

       His lead to the write-up was a perspective from Carmel football coach Todd Cayea, whose schedule this year included games against three of the largest Class AA schools in the entire NYSPHSAA.

       "I was closer in enrollment to (very smallish Class B school) Croton-Harmon than half the teams on my schedule," he said. "Now, if I went down and played Class B schools, imagine what those teams would say."

       Along those lines, Ossining, the smallest Class AA school in Section 1 football, met New Rochelle, the largest, in the first round of the playoffs. Ossining played the varsity game but requested that New Rochelle find another JV opponent.

       "We were fine, but the New Rochelle JV was on a totally different level than ours," Ossining coach Dan Ricci told the paper. "Teams we'd lose to in a decent game, they were beating 40-something to nothing."

       The enrollment disparity issue was in large part the motivation for the proposed sixth class, which was tabled last month for further study.

       Thomson reported NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas pointed out the state has no guidelines for a six-class system and would need to establish a rationale for why the 431 football-playing schools should be treated differently than sports like basketball with more than 700 teams.

       You can read the full column here.

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