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Live from ... as many of the 24 ESG sports as we can get to

There are 24 separate sports going on today at the Empire State Games, and I'm going to try to get to all of them.

And yes, thank you, I hereby accept your nomination for a medal in ESG men's open lunacy.

A note about the number of sports. There are 25 sports in the Empire State Games -- that counts basketball and lacrosse as two sports although in both the men and women are a different venues. I'm still going to try and get to everything.

8:45 a.m. The events get underway soon and I've got my work seriously cut out for me. I've got 12 different sites targeted. The tricky thing is the schedule -- some sports are only holding one event at one time today (cycling at 10 a.m. on Grand Island, bowling at noon at Transit Lanes, synchronized swimming at Buffalo State at 2:15 p.m.), while some events are over by 1 p.m. (archery and canoe/kayak at the University at Buffalo -- at least those two are at the same spot :-) ). 

Documentation of eligibility for a gold medal in men's open lunacy. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)What's not on my schedule? Only judo, since it takes the first day off. Hopefully judo fans won't want to go all wazari or ippon on me. (Those are kinds of throws in the sport, which I'm sure you were aware of).

I've put together my own schedule of the day on my notebook, a very poor man's graph of what events are going on at what times. It doesn't look so great -- probably, you might be suggesting, because it was never meant to be put together.

Here we go. Stay tuned.

9:27 a.m. The clock is ticking and we have no events yet. This is going to be harder than I thought. Part of the challenge of the Empire Games is helping plan out our coverage and that just takes time, including pulling over on the side of the road to send some emails to our ESG team. I've also got to worry about battery life on the laptop (and my backup). We're targeting a midday stop at the media center to get our bearings in all of those departments.

Archers see if they hit their marks Thursday morning at UB. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 10:55 a.m. OK, we're off and running (and paddling and wheeling). It's four down and 20 to go. I hit archery, tennis and canoe/kayak at UB, then made the slow but picturesque drive up West River Road on Grand Island to see cycling's 10-mile time trial. 

A recap:

9:52 a.m. Archery and tennis are located next door to each other next to UB's Ellicott Complex dormitory.

At archery I snapped a picture after the mass of archers walked the length of the range to their targets to see if they hit their marks.

Among the action on the tennis courts was the Western taking an early lead on New York City. Coach Chris Horgan of Medina was on hand, as he as been for every Games since the sport joined the event in 1990. This year his daughter, recent St. Bonaventure graduate Eileen, was coaching along side him.

The elder Horgan informed me that Jonah Epstein of Nichols was up a set in singles, as was Michael Kranz of Lancaster. The doubles teams were also doing well: Kevin Layer (Clarence) and Michael Rusk (East Amherst) as well as the team of Brian Chowaniec (Lancaster) and Sawyer Dina (Orchard Park).

Not much going on here - 
practice in between events. Baird Point -- where we shot our preview 
cover photo -- is across the lake on the left. (Keith McShea/Buffalo 
News)Soon I hustled back to my parking spot in the Red Jacket dorm parking lot, where I don't think I've parked since spending two years there, oh, about 19 Empire State Games ago. I also won't get into any dorm disciplinary actions that may have been administered following the Great Hallway Water Fight of 1991.

My local knowledge helped me find the canoe/kayak venue on Lake LaSalle, which was visible from my first attempt near the UB bookstore, but I had the wrong side of the lake. FYI, that doesn't count as seeing the sport. No drive-bys here. I've got to get to the actual venue. 

10:11 a.m. The canoe/kayak competition was in a break before the men's K2 race. I snapped a picture of some kayakers practicing and then hit the road.  

10:35 a.m. I'm on Grand Island and made my way to West River Road, where I pass many solo men's cyclists during their 10-mile individual time trial.

At the start/finish line, I get a video of Brendan Housler of Rochester starting his trial while Pat Merrick of Hamburg finished his ("I got a flat!" Merrick reported upon finishing).

Coach Jonathan Howard of Rochester informed me that Games veteran Jay Joslyn of Grand Island is the odds-on favorite (I'm guessing he knows the course :-) ). 

10:50 a.m. We leave cycling and get an update from Rodney McKissic at Canisius College, where the Western men's lacrosse team fell, 10-4, to Long Island.

When I took his call I was on West River Road, which is so close to Canada the call came over on the Rogers Communications network instead of AT&T's! That might not be pretty when the bill comes.

I'm off to Niagara Falls High School (fencing) and Niagara University (women's basketball and women's lacrosse).

11:32 a.m. Five down, 19 to go. Just caught the first live fencing of my life.

Can't tell you much about what went on, other than I believe Adirondack's Gillian Litynski defeated Liz Feller of Hudson Valley.

12:58 p.m. Filed some updates and coordinated a bunch with photographers, editors and writers.

We're thankful to Niagara Falls High School for letting me park at a table in a maintenance room -- good place to catch up, especially with much-needed power for the laptop.

Wolverines wrestling coach Israel Martinez just popped in here looking for his jump ropes -- he's holding his wrestling camp this week so the building is very busy. I hope none of the wrestling crew take a wrong turn into an epee, sabre or foil.

Hot day on the turf for women's 
lacrosse at Niagara Field. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)Off we go. With all the time spent typing, downloading, emailing and talking, we might have to make our first sacrifices of the day -- bowling out on Transit Road is in jeopardy while shooting will be a game-time decision after I hit Niagara U.

1:41 p.m. Found a shady spot in a parking lot at a very sunny Niagara U. to report that it is now seven down, 17 to go. In women's basketball, Central's scholastic team was throttling New York City, 73-38, with 2:02 left in the game.

At women's lacrosse, Hudson Valley and Long Island were just getting started. Teams had tents set up in a spot near a parking lot -- good move by them. It is a really warm day as I'm scooting around. I am now nominating myself for a medal in men's open jogging in flip-flops.

Like I said earlier, that takes care of basketball and lacrosse for me, but I'd still like to get to the men's versions of those sports at Canisius College. We shall see. I am running out of time.

Decision time -- shooting or no shooting?

2:29 p.m. I figured it was not a good idea to not cover a sport in which people have guns.

Prone riflers in
 the free rifle prone event. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)I wish I could stick around longer at the Niagara County Sportsman's Association in Ransomville, because the shooting competition seemed like some really interesting stuff, but I had to snap a photo and get back on the move.

After driving through a windy driveway through a wooded area, you walk along the same road some more. As I got closer I heard the popping of gunfire and soon after I came upon the central building and several ranges.

 I caught part of the scholastic free rifle prone, in which the shooters lay belly-down on the ground and fire at targets, shooting, reloading and shooting again. This is going to sound funny, but other than the popping of the guns firing, it is a very quiet, calm environment. A row of shooters goes about their business while fans and coaches watched from behind a barrier. 

Here's the shooters aiming at their target. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 2:41 p.m. We have an update from Marquel Slaughter at the Audubon Ice Arena -- the Western women's scholastic ice hockey team has a 3-0 lead over Hudson Valley with 2:45 left in the second period, thanks in part to a goal from Emily Pfalzer.

2:44 p.m. We're hitting the road again. It's eight down, 16 to go, but I think we're giving up our quest to bat 1.000.

We're going to forgo bowling out at Transit Lanes as we head back to Buffalo and UB after a stop at weightlifting down the road at Niagara County Community College. One thing that didn't help bowling was that there were none of the many bowling-loving Buffalonians in the bowling competition, which is one of the great mysteries of the Empire State Games.

3:09 p.m. Just caught weightlifting (ninth sport of the day) at NCCC, where Jerry Sullivan and photographer Mark Mulville are on hand to do a story on Amherst's Kurt Silvestro, a longtime competitor in the games. Hudson Valley's Leandro Curran of Hudson Valley completed his first attempt at the clean and jerk as the 56-kilogram class (123.25).

Leandro Curran of Hudson Valley puts it up, and it's good while Jerry Sullivan (left) and Mark Mulville (right) prepare for Western's lifters. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Meanwhile, having three staff members in the weightlifting venue sets a Empire State Games record for The Buffalo News.

With my travels up north and the blogging and working, it looks quite doubtful for synchronized swimming and rowing, which end their action in the early afternoon. We'll find out.

3:21 p.m. It's getting more doubtful by the second as the clock keeps on ticking -- but it's just a very busy day. Just talked with Amanda Bremer, who has a blog entry up that she will be updating from the media center.

Slaughter also checked in and let me know that Western women's scholastic ice hockey wins their opener, 5-0.

4:18 p.m. I am feeling gold-medal good after not only making it to rowing (10th sport of the day) at the West Side Rowing Club, but having seen the final event of the day -- the women's eights, won handily by Western over Adirondack. I'll post video on it later. Gotta run.

4:29 p.m. I leave the Buffalo State Sports Arena defeated, almost as upset as a loud wrestler who is walking to the parking lot really angry after apparently losing his match. 

I went to a hockey rink and a wrestling meet broke out. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) I did see wrestling (11th sport of the day) -- with four mats set up in a different location than most are used too: the ice-less hockey rink. But I missed out on not only synchronized swimming but also gymnastics. We'll see if I make it back for the evening gymnastics session.

I don't feel too bad about missing synchronized swimming, and not because I don't appreciate the sport. Today's competition was the figures event, which is done by one swimmer. Which begs the question, synchronized with what?

4:55 p.m. In this age of wireless internet and iPhones and everything, there's nothing more reliable than pen and paper.

Except when you put your notebook in your lap while driving and end up with ball-point blue scrawled all over your shorts. Just enough time for a quick trip home for a uniform change.

5:10 p.m. We've updated the blog and we're either off to swimming downtown or soccer up in Amherst. I think I'm going with swimming because Mark Mulville was scheduled to photograph soccer. I suppose we'll spread the wealth. Also missed will be softball, which is a bummer, but their games have probably concluded by now. However, Mary Jo Monnin was out there today covering Western's games so at least The News was there, too.

5:11 p.m. Check that. We're heading to UB, where I might be able to catch field hockey and diving before they finish up, that gets me closer to Audobon as well and the media center -- where I've got some writing and organizing to do for tomorrow's paper.

5:21 p.m. Not out the door yet. Update from Marquel Slaughter at the Audubon ice arena: men's scholastic ice hockey wins its opener, 4-2, over Long Island.

It's always a nice, cool visit to ice hockey -- here the fans line the wall of the women's game. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)5:38 p.m. Good news is that the rowing video and a wrestling photo are posted and I talked things over with the office. Bad news is that the stupid clock keeps ticking.

 6:13 p.m. Our batting average is getting better.

We dropped by the Audubon Recreation Complex and caught exactly one pitch (we're in a hurry) of Long Island vs. Hudson Valley baseball (12th sport of the day), then headed inside.

We caught the last minute of play in the first period in men's ice hockey (13th) as Central held a 2-0 lead over Adirondack, then went upstairs and peered down to the women's ice hockey (14th sport) rink, where Adirondack had a 1-0 lead on Central. 

While I'm here, I'm heading across the Audubon Parkway to UB for track and volleyball.

6:21 p.m. Walked into UB Stadium, the track and field (15th) venue, to catch a dominating performance by Central's Brian Coogan (East Syracuse) in winning the men's scholastic 10,000 meters. Brian Bogdan of Buffalo took the silver.

Two of the four 
volleyball courts in action at Alumni Arena -- there are two running in 
the other direction on the outside. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)Coogan crossed the finish line, and I crossed the exit line. I'm heading a parking lot or two over to Alumni Arena.

 6:32 p.m. OK. We're at 16 of 24 after a quick stop at volleyball. Just the setup of the four courts going at once is impressive from high in the bleachers.

On the court right in front of me, the Western women's scholastic team won its second game against Central. Both victories were by double digits. 

We're heading to the media center at UB's Student Union, where the food selection has vastly improved since my days pulling all-nighters at the Spectrum, the student newspaper -- but that's not important right now. The media center is located at the Student Union, and I'm going to get some work done before trying to catch some last few events.

9:25 p.m. Still at the media center -- just too much stuff to put together for the paper. So much for that trip downtown to try and make it to Buffalo State for gymnastics, ECC-City for boxing or Canisius College for men's hoops and lacrosse. 

Well, 16 out of 24 isn't bad. Back to work.

* * *

Stay tuned to the blog and keep an eye out for other posts as we get updates from reporters at various venues throughout the day.

---Keith McShea


Empire State Games
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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

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