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Friday, Dec. 2, 2016: Rosie Ruiz might approve ... but not me

   Leading off today: So, I decided to take a break for a few minutes from rebuilding the RoadToGlensFalls.com boys basketball site -- a new and improved version should make its debut early next week -- by taking a spin around the Internet to see what's been happening in the wacky world of high school sports.

   I thought the oddball note of the week was the story out of Minnesota about hockey goalie Tony Bruns, a Morris/Benson senior who gave up 12 goals Saturday in a shutout loss ... but stopped 98 other shots. That's 14 more saves than what's listed as the U.S. scholastic record by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

   Sadly, no, that's not the actual oddball note of the week. In fact, it's not even in the ... uh ... running.

   That "distinction" goes to Union City (N.J.) senior distance runner Terry Varicelli in a story that's amusing for perhaps the first three-tenths of a second after you hear it but is annoying and disappointing beyond that.

   Varicelli had been accused of cheating in the prestigious Eastern States championship at the Manhattan Invitational (that got him dubbed the "Manhattan Bandit" on social media), and now there are reports he pulled the same stunt Saturday at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional meet. MileSplit.com reported didn't have a 1.5-mile split entry logged and didn't appear in any race footage before the finish line. Yet he "finished" 27th place overall in 16:35, at least 2½ minutes superior to his presumed PR -- though all of his marks now have to be viewed with suspicion.

   The good news is that he was disqualified after a review of footage, split times and results pointed to him skipping half the course or more.

   Left unanswered, however, is this" Where's the kid's coach in all this? I know coaches who can project the finish times, plus or minus 10 seconds, of any of their kids on any given day. Does Varicelli's coach not notice when this kid suddenly drops 2½ or 4 minutes off a PR?

   In any case, school and New Jersey officials would do well to put an end to this nonsense, which is an insult to athletes who are actually logging the miles and doing the work.

   A real accomplishment: Hilton senior Yianni Diakomihalis notched a huge milestone in his 2016-17 wrestling debut on Wednesday. By pinning his Lockport opponent in 14 seconds, Diakomihalis secured his 200th consecutive win on the mat to extend the four-time NYSPHSAA champions's state record.

   Hilton won the meet 48-26.

   By the way, New York Wrestling News has anointed the Cadets the state's best dual-meet team heading into the new season.

   Stepinac junior decides: Rutgers, which has at least three commitments from football players in New York's current senior class, has landed its first recruit from the Class of 2018 with the news this week that Archbishop Stepinac standout Trill Williams has given a verbal.

   Williams, a WR/RB/DB at Stepinac, is projected as an "athlete" at the college level. Williams, whose 2016 season was limited by injuries, had an offer from Syracuse and has also heard from the likes of Ohio State, Penn State and Pitt.

   I haven't been keeping as close an eye on the recruiting scene as usual, but I think this is how we shape up so far with commitments by current New York seniors:

  • Tim Barrow (Tottenville), DB, Rutgers
  • Jack Coan (Sayville), QB, Wisconsin
  • Eric Coley (Fayetteville-Manlius, DB, Syracuse
  • Matt Conlon (Fordham Prep), DL, Navy
  • Olakunle Fatukasi (Grand Street Campus), LB, Rutgers
  • Blake Haubeil (Canisius), K, Ohio State
  • Shameen Jones (Cardinal Hayes), WR, Rutgers
  • Cam Jordan (Half Hollow Hills West), WR, Syracuse
  • Noah Jordan-Williams (Syracuse CBA), WR, Boston College
  • Isaiah McDuffie (Buffalo Bennett), LB, Boston College
  • Garnett Nicolas (Burke Catholic), RB, Army
  • Ethan Wiederkehr (Shoreham-Wading River), OL, Northwestern
  

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  •    As I look around at last year's all-state lists, this year's early honors candidates and a couple of recruiting sites, I don't the above list is likely to grow by more than four or five scholarship recipients, making it yet another slim year for New York.

       Calling all helpers: We are working on the 2016 New York State Sportswriters Association all-state football teams, and this is our annual plea for assistance.

       While most all-area teams have not been published yet, we are asking reporters to send in their selections (we will not publish your picks, just use them in the selection of our teams) by Thursday, Dec. 15. To help the process, please rank your top players within each of the state's five classes (AA down to D).

       Similarly, it would be helpful to receive copies of whatever all-league teams that are available.

       All material should be emailed to Steve Grandin at sgrandin55@aol.com or by postal mail to 28 Orenda Spring Drive, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

       The all-state teams will be announced early next month.

       A little more football: We're still a ways off from it becoming reality, but the return of eight-man football in New York -- remember the old Tioga County League? -- is likely inevitable. That's the impression I got from a couple of brief conversations during the NYSPHSAA championships last weekend in Syracuse.





       Section 3 seems to be a bit further ahead of the pack in exploring the possibility, but it's not hard to imagine 50 to 75 schools around the state giving eight-man football a shot within a decade as a means for dealing with declining enrollment and declining interest in the sport in light of safety concerns.

       With a minimum roster of 13 players instead of the 16 required (and realistically 20 needed), the eight-man version of the sport could spare New York from many of the forfeits that pop up each season and maybe even un-hyphenate a few of the 11-man teams that are current collaborations between two or three schools.

       "Small ball" is fairly common around the country, with more than 1,300 teams across 30-something states playing six- to nine-man football.

       St. Francis grad dies: Midshipman 1st Class Jason Jablonski, a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy who had been a top scholastic athlete in Western New York, died Sunday in Bethesda, Md.

       Jablonski, 21, was diagnosed with leukemia in August.

       He was a 2013 graduate of St. Francis, where he played hockey and was named defensive player of the year in the Monsignor Martin Association as a senior.

       More to come: Reading an insanely long decision (not related to sports) from the New York State Education Department reminded me last night that I still have to get around to discussing the dangers of the phrase "other circumstances beyond the student's control."

       Extra points: Bob Bates was rehired as head football coach at McQuaid this week. He had resigned the top job in 2013 and was replaced by his brother, Dan Bates.


      
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