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Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016: Disappointing day of results for N.Y. runners

   Leading off today: Though there were certainly the usual high points, Saturday was not a good day for the sport of cross country in New York.

   New York qualified its usual two boys and two girls teams at the Nike Cross Nationals regional at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, but there were no at-large bids to be had at the end of day. Among other things, that means the Saratoga girls (fifth in the team scoring) will be staying home for next month's finals for just the second time in the 13-year history of the meet and for the first time since 2006. The Streaks' resume over the years includes one championship and four second-place finishes.

   The news from the Foot Locker Nationals regional at Van Cortlandt Park was worse. For only the second time since 2000, no New York boys qualified for the championship race in San Diego. And for the first time in the history of the event that dates back to 1979, no New York girl qualified out of the Northeast Region. Agonizingly, Davone Hernandez (Rome Free Academy) and Olivia Elston (Goshen) finished 11th, one spot out of the money.

   The saving grace for aficionados of the sport in New York is that brothers Noah and Sam Affolder, who competed for Carthage until the family left the state over the summer, placed first and second in the boys race while representing Carlisle, Pa. Noah Affolder, the defending regional champ, finished in 15:29, eight seconds ahead of his brother.

   Noah Affolder was 15th at the national finals last fall as a junior.

   At the NXN qualifier, Fayetteville-Manlius qualified its boys and girls (winners for the 11th year in a row) for the finals in Portland, Ore., The Liverpool boys and Shenendehowa girls placed second to earn their automatic bids.

   The tightly packed boys race saw F-M (114) and Liverpool (145) hold off Corning (174) and Watkins Glen (179). Four others came in at under 230 points in a 27-team field.

   Individually, Liverpool's Ty Brownlow was first in 15:42.2, just over two seconds better than Pittsford Mendon's Nathan Lawler. Senior Patrick Perry was the first of six F-M finishers, logging eighth place in 16:06.3, and that was the story within the story for the team.

   Milesplit.com reported that Perry's younger brother, Max Perry, began running a high fever Thursday and was admitted to a hospital in the evening. Doctors found a severe staph infection in his chest and determined that the infection had also spread to a knee. Moments after hearing the race results Saturday, Perry was wheeled into surgery to clean up the abscess in his knee and hopefully prevent further spread of the dangerous infection. He remained in intensive care as of Saturday evening.

   Perry had been running as the sixth man in the lineup recently, and F-M ran Saturday's event one man short.

   The F-M girls were their usual dominating selves, eating only 40 points as Claire Walters (third), Phoebe White (sixth) and Palmer Madsen (seventh) cracked the top 10. Shenendehowa finished at 110 for the other automatic berth, and Shoreham-Wading River (127) and North Rockland (148) were holding out hope for at-large berths until the disappointing news came down Saturday night.

   Individually, S-WR junior Katherine Lee won a battle of 2016 unbeatens by finishing in 17:44.8 to beat Saratoga sophomore Kelsey Chmiel (17:56.8). Chmiel's time two weeks ago was nearly 30 seconds better as the two won their respective classes in separate races at the NYSPHSAA championships.

   This time, she needed to kick hard over the final kilometer in beating Chmiel.

   "It was strange," Lee said of having to come from behind. "It felt kind of like track when I knew I had to kick. It really took a lot out of me. It was different, but good. I felt really strong at the end."

   Lee new that every point might matter in the team race, but beating such a deep field hadn't really occurred to her until the late stages.

   "When we were coming down the hills, I realized that I had a lot left," she told Newsday. "I knew that if I made a good move, I could keep myself in front. ... It was kind of nerve-wracking because I didn't know if I could hold her off because she's such a strong runner. But, I had to have faith in myself and in my training."

    • The NXN regional also qualified five individuals in each race to advance to Portland next Saturday.

   The boys advancing are Mendon's Lawler, Kevin Moshier of Corning, Paul Dellinger of Brighton, Noah Carey of Guilderland and Silas Derfel of Ithaca. The girls moving on are Shoreham-Wading River's Lee, Saratoga's Chmiel, Jessica Lawson (Corning), Katelyn Tuohy (North Rockland)

  

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  • and Amanda Vestri (Webster Thomas).

       Future football: It looks as though at least half the New York State Public High School Athletic Association football semifinal games will have a new venue in 2017 and '18. When all is said and done, 100 percent of the contests could be changing addresses.

       NYSPHSAA officers and the association's football committee met Saturday morning in Syracuse to consider bids for the next two years of semifinal games.

       There was a consensus between the two groups that the East semifinals should be moved to Middletown after a lengthy run at Dietz Stadium in Kingston, which also submitted a bid, and Shenendehowa.

       The fate of the West semifinals isn't nearly as settled. Although the football committee voted to remain at Cicero-North Syracuse, the NYSPHSAA staff is supporting a bid from Union-Endicott. Rhinos Stadium in Rochester, which has been spruced up quite a bit in the past year, also submitted a bid.

       Middletown is already firmly entrenched as home of the state soccer final fours (the current contract runs through next fall). C-NS begins a three-year deal to co-host Western boys lacrosse semifinals with St. John Fisher College next spring.

       The NYSPHSAA Executive Committee will have final say on venues at its next meeting Jan. 27.

       Ambitious project: Early in the fall sports season, Greg Brownell of the The Post-Star found himself trying to transmit a girls soccer story back to his office via a dying cellphone showing only one bar of reception as he rode the Bolton girls soccer bus back from a game at Chazy.

       Many reporters -- including Brownell -- regard that as a "been there, done that" moment. Most reporters (especially us older guys) have experienced the joy of writing while sitting on the hood of a car or transmitting via ancient technology on a pay phone (remember those?) in an empty plaza parking lot at midnight.

       Over the weekend, Brownell revealed the story behind the story.

       He was in Chazy that day in the early stages of a project to follow Bolton senior Abbie Seamans through the course of the season, digging down deep through the end of the playoffs to better understand everything academically, athletically and socially that goes into being a college-bound student who is active in sports.

       Brownell hasn't firmed up a publication date yet, but he hopes to draw in a readership beyond athletes and coaches. There's an opportunity here to educate casual sports fans.

       "I think many of them don't know what goes into it ... because mostly they just see game stories," he wrote. "This is a chance for them to see a high school athlete's life, through the eyes of an athlete."

       Tomorrow: I thought I'd have news of a significant personnel move to report today, but that turned out to be a false alarm. I'll try again tomorrow, but the bigger goal will be to deliver some final thoughts on a great weekend of football games at the Carrier Dome and hopefully drop in some audio clips if I can haul the editing software out of mothballs.


      
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