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Cross country state championship poster page in today's paper

The News' tribute to the state champions of the fall season condcluded today with a poster page devoted to this season's title-winners in cross country: the East Aurora boys, Barker boys and Maple Grove girls.

We have also run poster pages on Orchard Park football (with the All-Western New York team on Dec. 3), girls volleyball champions Eden (Dec. 26) and St. Mary's (Dec. 31), girls swimming champion Clarence (Jan. 9).

High-quality versions of the championship pages can be purchased at

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

A winning weekend: One Friday down, one Saturday to go

Football, cross country, soccer, volleyball, field hockey. A total of 17 team championships.

The first weekend of November is traditionally one of the busiest of the high school sports year, and Friday was packed with action.

Check out seven stories and our scoreboard at the high school home page (and of course, go buy the paper itself :-) ).

There's more to come today -- more football, more soccer, more field hockey, more volleyball. Eleven Section VI titles are on the line in three sports while the boys volleyball final fours are being held at Orchard Park. Berths in the Monsignor Martin football championships are up for grabs, as is the final spot in the Harvard Cup playoffs.

Stay tuned to Prep Talk Live for the football action from The Ralph. Our accounts of Friday's games are below.

We'll provide scoring updates (from all sports) from throughout Western New York when we get them, and you can feel free to chime in as well.

As always, if you are at a game, let us know what you thought of the action, no matter what the sport. There are links to discuss every fall sport at the high school home page.

---Keith McShea

Amherst's Symoniak going Orange

Brenna Symoniak must really like the color orange.

The Amherst cross country/track standout announced at Saturday's Alden Bulldog Stampede that she's accepted an athletic scholarship to Syracuse. She said her scholarship will cover over 70 percent of her college expenses.

She had narrowed her choices down to Syracuse and North Carolina.

"I liked both coaches, but when I went to Syracuse I just felt like that was my school," she said. "I didn't think that was going to happen, but it made it a lot easier."

* * *

It's probably close enough to Halloween to describe the East Aurora girls as scary good. They are ranked No. 10 in the nation by

The Blue Devils were missing their top three runners at the Stampede due to illness and still managed to win the large school team title by 88 points.

"I don't think we're 10, but we're definitely a top-20 team," said coach Walt McLaughlin. "We don't talk about it that much because rankings don't win meets. We want to run really well at ECICs, Sectionals, states. We've got good strength, good speed up front. HFL [Honeoye Falls-Lima] is really a good team and we're going to need our best races to beat them."

---Mary Jo Monnin 

More from cross country

I wrote a story about this season's proliferation of eighth-graders succeeding in girls cross country for today's Scholastic Spotlight.

Here are some additional notes on the eighth-graders as well as notes on all sorts of cross country topics:

* * *

Among the top 18 at the 15-team Bemus Point Invitational were more eighth graders (five) than seniors (four).

Caroline Benson of Maple Grove won the race, while two other fellow eighth-graders were teammates … Emma Verdonik (fifth) and Abby Sirwatka (18th). Falconer's Kirsten Holmberg was third and Fredonia's Micaela Tramuta was 11th.

* * *

Kiki Dy is an accomplished swimmer who came to the Newfane program from field hockey, while Sarah Ziemba and twins Kelly and Kate Bocknewetch all excelled in modified track and cross country last year.

Dy "fell into our lap," said Newfane coach Mike Heitzenrater. "Because of the way our league is run in swimming, with the girls competing in the winter, she could never qualify for states. So she said, "I want to do cross country and get to the states.' "

The youngsters have meshed well with senior Bethany Dewey and juniors Erin Hannah and Amy Lanighan.

It may have helped that Newfane had a significant amount of spots to fill in its lineup after graduating much of its team last year.

Continue reading "More from cross country " »

Awesome audio slideshow from cross country

Whether you're a cross country fan or not, you've got to check out News photographer Mark Mulville's audio slideshow from the Section VI championships at Elma Meadows.

He captured some great stuff from one of Western New York high school sports' best events. You hear the gun, the fans and the runners while you see the all the emotions of the day in an excellent array of photos.

---Keith McShea

X-C titles go to Hutch-Tech, East Aurora

Hutch-Tech and East Aurora were the big winners at Friday's Section VI Cross Country Championships at Elma Meadows.

The Engineers became the fourth City team to capture a sectional title when they won the Class A at Friday's event held under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-50s.

Dana Walpole ran 50 seconds faster than projected, crossing in 17:56.8. It made all the difference as Tech won the team title by a mere two points over Grand Island, 67-65.

EA's boys and girls captured team titles. Joe Whelan of Hamburg and Brenna Symoniak of Amherst had the fastest times of the day for boys and girls.

The winning team in each of the day's 10 races, along with the top five runners not on the winning team, advance to next Saturday's New York State Championship at Sunken Meadow, LI.

---Mary Jo Monnin

More from ECIC x-country as we run to sectionals

Some extra notes from the ECIC cross country championships:

* The Clarence boys won the ECIC I team title as its seven runners averaged 17:48.34.

Hamburg placed all its runners among the top 17 helping them to the ECIC II title.

Three runners in the top 10 lifted Starpoint to the ECIC III crown.

East Aurora took seven of the top eight places to dominate ECIC IV.

* The girls race saw a nice battle between Amherst junior Brenna Symoniak of Amherst an Jamie Wallace of Alden - for a while.

The girls were shoulder-to-shoulder for the first half when Symoniak started to make her move. Wallace was running on her home course, but even that wasn't enough to catch Symoniak, whose only loss was at the McQuaid Invitational.

"She's tough and she's been practicing really hard, I'm just trying to stay with her longer and longer through the race," said Wallace.

* The West Seneca West girls team had all seven runners in the top 22 to secure the ECIC I title.

Lake Shore juniors Mikelle Cala and Kim Vona were 2-3 to secure ECIC II.

Starpoint got a strong run from Lauren Scarupa to help them win a share of ECIC III with Amherst.

In ECIC IV, East Aurora took 2-8 with no one running slower than 7:09.4 pace.


Here are the results from the ECIC, Niagara Frontier League and Niagara-Orleans championship meets, and here's the CCAA championship meet.

So who looks ready to run for sectional titles at Elma Meadows? What are the best team battles? Is it a race for second to East Aurora in both Class B races?

---Mary Jo Monnin & Keith McShea

Web refresh

Just a little click of the refresh button as the high school sports playoff action is everywhere you turn:

** In case you missed it, has a new look. You can provide some feedback.

I like the new look, generally speaking -- and one of the best advantages is that it makes our high school scoreboard pages much easier to read.

** We also added some new links and tweaked our high school sports home page to adapt to the new look.

** Several of the links are to schedule/scoreboard pages for various fall sports. As the sectional playoffs get in high gear, we have a postseason page for each team sport as well as a blog post for predictions and discussion. Here they are:

-- Soccer: Here's the scoreboard and schedule while you can discuss the action on the blog whether you want to talk about the boys or the girls.

-- Volleyball: We have the scoreboard and schedule for both sides while there's a post for the girls and the boys.

-- Field hockey: Scoreboard and schedule and a post here on the blog.

-- Cross country: We've got a post for discussion -- check out the schedule at section6runs for the where & when.

** Today's High School Extra includes some key fall sports action as well as some notes about this weekend's football games.

** Don't forget to come up with your best bracket-busters in trying to predict the entire Section VI football tournament and to vote on the winners of this weekend's quarterfinals. The playoff schedule is here.

---Keith McShea

Huge weekend in cross country

Champions will be determined on several cross country courses this weekend.

Saturday's lineup includes the ECIC Championships at Alden High, the Niagara Frontier League meet at Beaver Island State Park and the Niagara-Orleans meet at Lakeside Beach State Park.

The weekend's warmup run is the CCAA Championships this afternoon at Long Point State Park in Bemus Point.

Thanks much to for their schedule -- it's a huge help having all those sites and times in the same spot; I just used it to plan some of Saturday's coverage.

If you're wondering, the All-High Championships were Tuesday and the All-Catholic meet will be Nov. 8 at Cazenovia Park.

Still time to make some predictions -- or come back here tonight or Saturday and let us know what you saw.

---Keith McShea

More from big, busy day in cross country

At the Suffolk County Officials Cross Country Invitational on Long Island, the top six individuals were awarded clocks, and the top teams were awarded plaques.

A lot of that hardware was heading back to Western New York.

Teams from West Seneca West, Grand Island and Fredonia as well as Hamburg's Joe Whelan turned their trip to the site of this year's state meet -- Sunken Meadow State Park -- into a win-win situation. Not only did they get a sneak peek look at the course they all would like to return to on Nov. 7, the performed extremely well.

The West Seneca West girls won their race with Fredonia right behind in second; the Fredonia boys won their race with Grand Island right behind in second -- while Whelan was the individual winner. The Grand Island girls also took fourth in their race.

"[Locals at the meet] were like, "Who the heck are these teams?'‚" West Seneca West assistant coach Pete Szymanski said by phone from Long Island Saturday evening. "I said, 'It's West Seneca West from Buffalo, New York,' and they were like, 'Holy cow.'

"We got a little heads up on what the course is like. The states were down here six years ago, and that's why we at West Seneca West train at Chestnut Ridge, because we know there are hills involved.

"It is definitely a challegning course, no doubt about it. The first one-third of a mile is pretty flat, and then it starts to climb. At a mile there's a nice little hill. The biggest part is the halfway point after you go down below a picnic area, the race really starts at the 1-1/2 miles -- it is a climb. Whoever gets up there first, from there, there aren't too many spots that will change."

West Seneca West sophomore Chelsea Needham had a breakthrough run in winning her race in 20:32.9, just ahead of teammate Emily Sullivan (20:45.1). Vicky Luongo was fourth (20:59.4) while Mary Janak was fifth (21:04.9) -- that's a lot of clocks.

"Needham has always been a No. 2 to No. 4 girl," said Szymanski. "She just stepped it up today. A great win."

Whelan, one of Section VI runners for years who has struggled with injuries recently, won the Boys "A" race in 16:30, 32 seconds ahead of runner-up Evan Tsembelis of Grand Island.

"Joe decided it was time to make a move here," said Szymanski. "He felt well enough to run and did it like he wanted to. He did a nice job. It's definitely a turning point and a statement race for Joe."

---Keith McShea


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.

@KeithMcSheaBN |