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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 3, 2006

Empire State Games results

By Tim Matteson

ROCHESTER — The Empire State Games have come and gone and local athletes had a strong showing at the Olympic-style event held in the Rochester area.

The Adirondack team brought home 144 medals to finish last out of the six regional teams. Athletes in The Enterprise coverage area were big contributors to gain some of the those medals.

Track star Gered Burns won a gold medal for the second year in a row in the 800-meter run and Clare O’Connell won her second gold medal, this time in boxing instead of the shot put.

Scott Hannay of Westerlo won gold in the open men’s javelin after 17 years of trying to earn the top spot. Hannay, who is 42, is one of the oldest winners of a gold medal in the history of the games.

The open women’s soccer team won the gold medal in the final event of the games. The team went to penalty kicks to edge out Western. Guilderland High School graduate Jen Mihok and Schalmont High School graduate Carolyn Mounteer, who lives in Altamont, were members of the team.

The Adirondack canoe/kayak team — made up mostly of Hilltop Hoppers — continued to have success despite being in a transition phase with more younger paddlers. The team brought home 11 medals.

Jesse Chartier of Voorheesville teamed up with Chad Staubach to win two gold medals in canoe 200 and 500 meters. Staubach also won an individual gold in the canoe 200-meter race.

Steve Swider of Altamont won two gold medals in individual events and a silver in the all-around in gymnastics.

Here are the results broken down into sport.

Athletics (track and field)

Gered Burns of Altamont, gold, in open men’s 800 meters, fourth in 4x400 relay; Ryan Walter of Delanson, fifth in open men’s 5,000 meters; Scott Hannay of Westerlo, gold open men’s javelin; Katie Rossetini of Guilderland, sixth in open women’s 400 meters, bronze in 4x400 relay; Sarah Furman of West Berne, sixth in open women’s 5,000 meters; Mark Domaracki of Guilderland, eighth in scholastic men’s 400 meters; Jarrell Gatterson of Altamont, 11th in scholastic men’s triple jump; Greg Hannay of Westerlo, fourth in scholastic men’s javelin; Sarah Hannay of Westerlo, fourth in scholastic women’s javelin; and Kyle Jacobs of Voorheesville, fifth in scholastic men’s decathlon.


Stephen Cardinal of Voorheesville, Nick Polsinelli of Guilderland, and Andrew Simpson of Guilderland, bronze, 2-2 record.


Steve Dagostino of Guilderland, fourth, in open men’s tournament.


Michael Faragon of Guilderland, bronze in open men’s 141-pound division; and Clare O’Connell of Guilderland, gold in open women’s super heavyweight division.


William Dergosits of Schenectady, fourth in kayak single 500 meters, fourth in kayak pair 500 meter heat, fourth in kayak pair 200-meter heat, fourth in kayak quad 500 meters; Lawrence Staubach of Altamont, sixth in kayak single 500-meter heat, fourth in kayak pair 500-meter heat, fifth in kayak pair 200-meter heat, fourth in kayak quad 500 meters; Jesse Chartier of Voorheesville, gold, in canoe pair 500 meters, bronze in canoe single 500 meters, gold in the canoe pair 200 meters, Chad Staubach of Altamont, gold in canoe pair 500 meters, gold in canoe single 200 meters, gold in canoe 200 meters, Tim Norray of Berne, bronze, in canoe pair 500 meters, bronze in canoe pair 200 meters, Greg Araldi of Westerlo, bronze, in canoe pair 500 meters, silver in canoe single 500 meters, bronze in canoe single 200 meters, bronze in canoe pair 200 meters, Holly Bisbee of Clifton Park, fourth in kayak single 500-meter heat, fifth in kayak pair 500-meter heat, fifth in kayak quad 500 meters, fifth in kayak pair 200-meter heat; Becky Dergosits of Schenectady, bronze in kayak single 500 meters, fourth in kayak pair 500-meter heat, fifth in kayak quad 500 meters, fourth in kayak single 200 meters, bronze, in kayak pair 200 meters; Maclin Norray of Berne, fifth in kayak pair 500-meter heat, sixth in kayak single 200-meter heat, fifth in kayak pair 200-meter heat, fourth in kayak quad 500 meters; Todd Dibble of Berne, fifth in kayak pair 500-meter heat, fifth in kayak single 200-meter heat, fourth in kayak pair 200-meter heat, fourth in kayak quad 500 meters; Amy Boyt of Altamont, fifth in kayak pair 500-meter heat, fifth in kayak quad 500 meters, bronze in kayak single 200 meters, bronze in kayak pair 200 meters; and Kristen Norray of Berne, fourth in kayak pair 500-meter heat, fifth in kayak quad 500 meters, fifth in kayak pair 200-meter heat.


Steve Swider of Altamont, silver in open men’s all-around, fifth in open men’s all-around team, fourth in rings, gold in horizontal bar, fifth in pommel horse, gold in parallel bars; Kara Goodknight of Altamont, seventh in scholastic women’s bar; and Dana Goodknight of Altamont, bronze in scholastic women’s balance beam.

Ice hockey

Joseph Buicko of Altamont and Matthew Tyksinski of Altamont, fourth in scholastic men’s with 2-2-1 record; and Jennifer Kaye of Altamont, fourth in scholastic women’s with 3-2 record.


Aaron Cahill of Guilderland and Scott Raffensperger of Altamont, sixth in scholastic men’s with 0-5 record; and Nicole Branchini of Guilderland, fourth in scholastic women’s with a 2-3 record.


Thomas Stark of Voorheesville, 11th in skeet first 10 targets; and Robert Tigue of East Berne, bronze in trap, silver in trap team.


Jen Mihok of Guilderland and Carolyn Mounteer of Altamont, gold in open women’s with a 3-1 record; and Kyle Klapp of Guilderland and Matt Miller of Voorheesville, bronze in scholastic men’s with 3-1 record.


Katie Linehan of Guilderland, fourth in open women’s 100-meter breaststroke, fifth in 800-meter freestyle relay, fourth in 400-meter freestyle relay, eighth in 200-meter breaststroke, fourth in 400-meter medley relay, 12th in 100-meter freestyle heat; Sarah Story of Rensselaerville, seventh in open women’s 800-meter freestyle, 11th in 400-meter freestyle heat; Stephenie Bintz of Altamont, fifth in 100-meter backstroke, fourth in 400-meter medley relay, ninth in 200-meter backstroke heat; Erin Dewey of Guilderland, 13th in 100-meter butterfly heat, 21st in 200-meter individual medley heat, fifth in 800-meter freestyle relay, sixth in 400-meter freestyle relay, sixth in 400-meter medley relay; and Brittney Ginsburg of Guilderland, fifth in 800-meter freestyle relay, sixth in 400-meter freestyle relay, ninth in 400-meter individual medley heat, sixth in 400-meter medley relay, eighth in 200-meter butterfly.


Daniel Bakst of Guilderland, fifth in scholastic men’s with a 1-4 record.


Katie Becofsky of Altamont and Susan Spierre of Guilderland, sixth in open women’s with a 0-5 record; Aaron Zakrzewski of Guilderland, fourth in scholastic men’s with a 1-3 record; and Angela Mifsud of Altamont, sixth in scholastic women’s with a 0-5 record.


Mike Cubillos of Guilderland, bronze in open men’s Greco-Roman 152-pound class; Roger Sawyer of Guilderland, silver in open men’s Greco-Roman 167-pound weight class, silver in freestyle 167-pound weight class; Matt Cubillos of Guilderland, did not place in scholastic men’s 115-pound weight class, fifth in Greco-Roman 115-pound weight class; Ian DeSol of Guilderland, did not place in scholastic men’s 154-pound weight class, fifth in Greco-Roman 154-pound weight class; and Josh Sawyer of Guilderland, fourth in scholastic men’s freestyle 165-pound weight class, fifth in Greco-Roman 165-pound weight class.

Empire State Games — Lacrosse

By Tim Matteson

HENRIETTA — Despite the struggles of the Empire State Games Adirondack Lacrosse Team, a pair of Guilderland High School representatives still enjoyed their time at the annual summer event.

Aaron Cahill, a junior, and Scott Raffensperger, a senior, came off the field at the Rochester Institute of Technology after one of their better performances of the tournament, a 9-6 loss to Hudson Valley, on Saturday afternoon and still grateful of the opportunity they had for being at the games.

"It’s fun here," Cahill said. "There are a lot of good kids."

"It’s fun to represent the Adirondack region," Raffensperger said. "The tournament makes for a hectic schedule."

The Adirondack players struggled to come together and play as a team until that game.

"I feel like we got some talented players," Raffensperger said. "We just haven’t seen it all in one game. If we do that, we are one of the best teams here. If we play for four quarters, we can beat anyone."

But the Adirondack team members did not use enough of their talents to win a game in the tournament.

They went 0-5 in the games and the 9-6 margin of loss against Hudson Valley was the closest of the four-day event.

Adirondack opened the tournament with a 19-4 loss to Central on Thursday. Adirondack then lost, 15-4, to Western and 12-7 to New York City on Friday. The team then lost to Hudson Valley on Saturday and wrapped up the tourney with a 19-5 loss to Long Island.

"It’s been rough," Raffensperger said on Saturday before the final game. "We haven’t really meshed yet. There was a big difference between the first half and the second half. We practiced this morning. We really wanted to get a win under our belts. In the second half, we stopped playing as individuals and started playing as a team."

"Really our practice time was limited," Cahill said. "We tried to get together a couple of times at Niskayuna but we needed more practices."

The team was loaded with players from Niskayuna and other schools in the Suburban Council but players also came from far-flung places such as Canton. The team was coached by Bob Sipperly of Greenwich and David Bradman of Canton.

"A whole new experience"

Raffensperger and Cahill are happy with the experience of the games and gained a lot from participating in them.

"You get here and it’s a whole new experience. Most kids are DI caliber," Raffensperger said, referring to Division I colleges. "It’s really good lacrosse. The best play here."

"I’m looking forward to another year here," Cahill said of the opportunity of playing in next year’s games.

Both are looking forward to next spring and dethroning Niskayuna, the Section II champions.

"I think we have as good a team as last year," Cahill said of the Guilderland High School lacrosse team. "We’re going to do a lot more team bonding than last year. We’ll have a good year."

"Next year, we can win Section II," said Raffensperger, who is being recruited by Divison I schools like the University at Albany and the University of Massachusetts. "Everybody isn’t going to be expecting that much from us next year."

Empire State Games — The Hannays

By Tim Matteson

ROCHESTER — Saturday’s Empire State Games’ javelin competition was just another typical summer weekend activity for the Hannay family.

The Westerlo family has a fondness for throwing long, sharp objects far distances. It seems like an activity that would get young kids in trouble, but the love for the sport sprouts from the patriarch of the family, Scott.

Scott Hannay learned the sport while in college and has never stopped competing. And now his two children, Greg and Sarah, compete, too. The father-son-daughter team are the first to compete in the same event at the same games.

"No games has had three family members compete in three of the four divisions at the Empire State Games," Scott Hannay said. "It was a good year to do it. It’s a good experience."

Hannay also is the oldest person to win a gold medal in an open division event at the games. He is 42.

"I’ve been waiting for 17 years to win the gold," he said. "It was a real competitive field. The three-time gold medalist was in the field. In the third round, I bombed a big one and no one could catch me."

Hannay’s final score was 57.72 meters. Don Ampansiri of Niskayuna had the next best score with 54.61 meters.

"As good as it gets"

Greg and Sarah finished fourth in their scholastic divisions. Sarah moved up one spot from the previous year and Greg jumped from eighth to fourth in his first games. His sixth and final throw, set a personal record by 17 feet.

"I said Junior Olympics to him before his final throw and he knew what it meant," Scott Hannay said. "He needed to stand tall up there and he had to go get it.

"He is a freshman, going to be a sophomore, and he was a step away from a medal," Hannay added. "It’s all you could hope for going against the best in your sport. It’s as good as it gets."

The Hannay children have been going to track meets since they were kids so they learned how to throw early. Then, they started competing in Junior Olympic competitions. They also practiced in the backyard at their home in Westerlo.

"It was just from, watching him do it," Greg Hannay said of his father. "I tried it, liked it, and continued to do it."

"We were going with him to meets," Sarah Hannay said. "I might as well do it. We’ve been going to the Empire State Games for a long time and I just wanted to do it. It’s fun to do."

Since javelin isn’t part of high-school track meets, Junior Olympics and other non-school events are the only place the Hannay kids can compete. The Hannays do throw the shot and discus for the Berne-Knox-Westerlo team. Greg also runs sprints.

Both are also soccer goalies. This fall will be Sarah’s fourth year on the varsity team and Greg is looking to be the starting keeper on the boys’ varsity.


The Hannays’ accomplishments with the javelin are notable because the sport is nearly non-existent locally.

"Long Island and the City can compete in it because the private and Catholic schools have it," Scott Hannay said. "And Hudson Valley kids can go compete in meets in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Upstate New York doesn’t have it and the Western kids can go to Pennsylvania, which has it. The Capital District is the only area where kids don’t really compete in it. It’s tough to schedule meets in other areas that do compete in it."

Scott Hannay said he would like to see New York State adopt the sport as part of the track season.

"I think there are some insurance issues," he said. "It can be a dangerous thing. You’ve got kids throwing a sharp object. But all the New England states have it."

Sarah and Greg both hope to compete in shot or discus in future Empire State Games.

"I tried out for discus and javelin and I didn’t make it in discus," Greg Hannay said. "I’m looking forward to it and hoping to move up next year or make it in discus."

Sarah Hannay said she prefers the shot and Greg Hannay favors the discus.


They are inspired by their father.

"I think it’s cool for him," Greg Hannay said. "Especially for his age. He’s competing against college kids and doing well."

Scott Hannay missed a few years of competition in the early 1990’s. He had two surgeries to repair anterior cruciate ligaments.

"It was really hard rehabbing," he said. "It’s a lot harder than training."

And it bothered him to miss competing while out with his knee injuries for much the same reason he still throws the javelin every year.

"I got to have the competition," Hannay said. "They have T-shirts here that say ‘To be the best you have to play the best.’ I have a lot of energy and last night [Friday] I could hardly sleep because I was nervous for Greg. I jumped up after that last throw. I’m competitive through them now."

Empire State Games — Canoe/Kayak

By Tim Matteson

ROCHESTER — The results may not look as impressive as in years past, but the Adirondack Canoe/Kayak team still had a good meet at the Empire State Games.

The team, mostly Hilltop Hoppers, brought home 11 medals — two gold, one silver, and seven bronze.

Younger paddlers, some of them new faces, filled the Adirondack ranks. The team is in a transition phase.

"We have a young team," said Tim Norray. "We have a blend of youth and veterans. It’s something these young kids will be doing for a long time."

Norray competed in the games this year after being the chairman of the sport for the last 15 years. He also helps coach the team with his wife, Jill, and Jim Schreiner of Day.

"It was a lot of work," Norray said of running a good event. "It’s was something I enjoyed doing. I got a great relationship with these people. I know it will be done right and I know they will do a good job."

This year, Norray enjoyed having fewer responsibilities and being able to spend time with his family.

"Every year, for the games," he said, "I would have the task of finding a place to race that is good for spectators. This year, I gave them [officials] a tent they could use and helped them get started."

The new staff also had to deal with a venue change. The event was moved from Genessee Valley Park to just down the road on the University of Rochester campus.

Norray was ready to compete and watch the younger competitors, who are members of the Hilltop Hoppers, prepare for their races.

The team had this year’s record for the youngest competitor. Seven-year old Kristen Norray, Tim and Jill’s daughter, took part in the games.

"She’s one of the youngest competitors ever," Tim Norray said. "She is showing that she is not just here to be here, but she is out trying to beat people. T.J. Dibble is in his first Empire State Games and he is getting used to the competitive format."

Dibble got his feet wet, so to speak, as he didn’t complete a race after tipping his kayak in the single 200-meter heat.

Medal winners

Jesse Chartier of Voorheesville and Chad Staubach of Altamont teamed up to win gold in the Canoe pair 500-meter race. Norray and his partner, Greg Araldi, of Westerlo took bronze in the event.

Staubach and Chartier also won the canoe 200-meter race. Norray and Araldi took bronze in the event as well.

Staubach won gold in the canoe single 200-meter event. Araldi finished third for the bronze medal in the event.

Araldi edged out Chartier to take the silver in the canoe single 500-meter competition. Chartier ended up with the bronze after finishing 13 seconds behind Araldi.

Becky Dergosits of Schenectady, who is Tim Norray’s niece, took the bronze in the kayak single 500-meter race.

Amy Boyt of Altamont took the bronze in the kayak single 200-meter race. Boyt and Dergosits teamed up to take home the bronze in the kayak pair 200-meter race.

"An evolution"

The next generation of paddlers shows that the Hilltop Hoppers, a club in the Helderbergs that was started by snowshoers, will continue to be strong and have a good future.

Right now, for the younger kids, it’s like Little League baseball players going against high-school or college players.

"It’s an evolution," Norray said. "We want them to go out and finish the race. We don’t want them to compete. We want them to finish the race without falling in, which is a lot harder than it sounds.

We want them to go, for now, at a regular rate and not as fast as the people in the games. We have guys that can go faster than people in the other regions and we take advantage of that if we can. The good part of this is we can make adjustments and go out and finish in the top four or five and be in the finals and do a great job.

"It’s an open class," Norray said to the classification of the competition. "The guys in there are competitive. Every year, it’s wide open."

The club has been practicing and holding workouts at Warner’s Lake in Berne instead of Onderdonk Lake in Westerlo.

"The Osterhouts have let us use their place as a launch," Norray said. "It’s a lot closer."

Norray said that he is getting a lot of joy in helping paddlers like his children, Maclin and Kristen; and Dibble; and Larry Staubach, Chad’s son, improve and enjoy the sport.

"They are a great group of kids," Norray said. "They’re the next generation. It’s great to see them get involved a lot in the club. Some clubs are strict and want good competitors all the time. We’re not like that.

"Our kids talked to their friends about it and they come out. If we have more kids than fit in the van, that’s a good problem."

Norray likes being able to relax instead of worrying about every detail of the games like tallying results or dealing with the media and officials.

"Last night, I was able to go out to dinner with my family and run around with the kids," Norray said. "I haven’t been able to do that here for the last 15 years. Before, I would be just here working all night.

"I’m having a great time," he added. "My nephew told me the other night, ‘This is the uncle that I like.’ I can see more things. I usually have tunnel vision."

Empire State Games — Gered Burns

By Tim Matteson

ROCHESTER — The night before his big race at the Empire State Games, Gered Burns moved out of his dorm room.

Burns, a Guilderland High School graduate, won the gold medal in the 800-meter race for the second year in a row. This year, he ran 1:54.60 to win the race, not one of his best times.

"I did horribly," Burns said after the race on Saturday. "My dorm room was like 90 degrees. A couple of nights ago, I got like one hour of sleep. Last night, I got five or six. I grabbed my blanket and pillow and went into the lobby which had air-conditioning. It was the best sleep I got so far.

"But coming in today," Burns added, "I felt horrible. In the first 100 I wanted to get into the lead position and then kind of back off and keep pace."

Burns fell as far back as fifth in the race after the first 400-meter lap was completed. He slowly moved up to third 200 meters later and then finally kicked into the extra gear with less than 200 meters left.

"I fell back," Burns said. "And they never picked the pace back up and, after 600 meters, I picked it back up. I didn’t have enough energy to run a full 800. My plan worked out well."

Burns ran 1:59.66 to win his heat of the 800 meters on Thursday. It was the fourth fastest time of the two heats.

"I just wanted to finish in the top three in my heat and advance to the final," Burns said. "Then, during the race, I was thinking, ‘I’m the defending champion; I can’t lose in front of all these people."

Though the times Burns ran in the heat of late July were far from his best time of 1:47.97 he ran at an indoor meet last winter representing the University at Albany, he was happy to get the win.

"You just have to hope that your worst is still better than the other guys’ best race," Burns said.

Winning his second gold medal came after not doing well in his first games.

"I competed in the summer after my senior year," Burns said. "I took some time off and then I did the 400-meter hurdles and did horrible. Then I ran the 800, and finished second or third from last."

Burns had won the 800-meter state and Federation titles that year in both indoor and outdoor seasons.

"I have a competitive mentality," Burns said. "I try my hardest not to let anyone beat me."

Burns red-shirted from the University at Albany track team this past spring and ran in a few meets as an unaffiliated runner. He still practiced with the Albany team and said he was in the best shape of his life.

"I ran a couple of meets in the [New York] City," Burns said. "But my main focus was running at national championships in Indianapolis. It was going well and then, with 200 meters to go, I got tripped and that was the end of the season. The season I was training for the meet. That was a bummer."

Last winter, Burns finished fifth at the NCAA Indoor Track Championships and was named the University at Albany’s first All-American in track.

Burns will compete in outdoor track and cross-country next year at Albany and then get ready to try to further his running career.

"I want to sign a professional contract," Burns said. "I need something to support me as I go to big meets. I also want to run a 1:44 race. This year, in outdoor, I want to be down to 1:45."

He also has another bigger, long-term goal: The 2012 Olympics.

"Two thousand twelve is a big goal," Burns said. "I think I’m going to have a shot, a good chance if I stick with it."

Empire State Games — Soccer

By Tim Matteson

PITTSFORD — One is a seasoned veteran of the Empire State Games. The other is a newcomer to the annual summer sports festival.

They both walked away with a gold medal after helping the Adirondack region open women’s soccer team squeak out a victory over the host region, Western, on Sunday morning at Nazareth College.

Jen Mihok has played for the scholastic team for the past couple of years and this year, because she graduated from Guilderland High School in June, moved up to the open competition. She will be heading to the University of Buffalo in the fall.

Carolyn Mounteer is making her first appearance at the games. She plays at the State University of New York College at New Paltz. The Altamont resident is a graduate of Schalmont High School.

"I have two bronze and a silver," Mihok said. "This is my first gold. I’m pretty pleased."

"This is my first Empire State Games," Mounteer said. "A friend told me about it. I tried out and I was like, ‘Let’s go.’ This is awesome. I’m going to come out next year."

A draw turned to gold

The two girls were pleased with the outcome, especially after the way the game was decided.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw so the teams decided the winner on penalty kicks. A shooter takes a shot against the other team’s goalie from the penalty kick mark eight yards out.

Mihok took a kick that was saved by the Western goalie. Mounteer was not on the field at the end of the game and was not allowed to have a kick.

But Mia Simone, a graduate of Holy Names and the Adirondack team’s goalie, provided the win by making a save on Western’s kick and then booted ball on Adirondack’s turn to give her team the gold.

"It was exciting and nerve-wracking," Mihok said.

The Adirondack team was dominated in the first half but held on to keep the game scoreless at the intermission.

"We were just conserving energy in the first half," Mihok said.

"We are a second-half team," Mounteer added. "They were older. Some of them have kids. We were the young girls."

Dana Hamm, a Middleburgh High School graduate, tied the game late in the second half to force the penalty kicks.

The Adirondack team went 2-1 in its bracket to advance to the gold-medal game.

The team routed Long Island, 6-0. Mihok got an assist on one of the ADK tallies.

On the second day of the tournament, Adirondack lost, 2-1, to central. Mounteer scored her team’s lone goal.

Adirondack clinched its spot in the medal game with a 2-1 win over Hudson Valley on Saturday.

Future plans

"It’s still a great experience," Mihok said in her fourth go-around at the games. "It’s really great to watch the other sports compete. I love seeing different places and meeting new people. This year, I’ve met so many more. Plus the food’s better."

On Sunday, Mihok was leaving the games and heading to Buffalo for orientation at her new school.

"I’m a little nervous as any incoming freshman probably is," she said. "I have to be at school on Aug. 9. I have orientation tomorrow and Tuesday. So I’m nervous."
But Mihok said she is looking forward to college and playing soccer at the Division I level. There are also four other girls from the Capital District on the Buffalo roster.

"I’ll have some friends there," she said. "We are all doing the same thing. We want to play the game at a high level. They had a tough season last year," she said of UB. "They had a lot of losses but they were by like 1-0 or 2-1. The coach is doing a great job, and we can go a lot further."

Mihok wants to be an elementary school teacher, though Buffalo doesn’t have that as a major. She is looking at majoring in math and history at Buffalo.

Mounteer will be a junior at New Paltz this fall and will be heading back to school soon to get ready for the soccer season.

"I love it," she said of New Paltz. "It’s a nice, little hippie town."

Mounteer’s family lives on Bond Road off of Settles Hill Road in Guilderland, which is in the Schalmont School District.

"The soccer team was pretty good," the 2004 graduate of Schalmont said.

Mounteer is working hard in the classroom. She has a double major of political science and psychology.

Both Mihok and Mounteer plan on playing at next year’s games, which will be held in Westchester County.

"I’ll keep coming out until I’m too old and they don’t want me any more," Mihok said.

Empire State Games — Wrestling

By Tim Matteson

BROCKPORT — Most people could not deal with being in a hot place that is drenched with the smell of sweat.

For Mike Cubillos and Roger Sawyer, it’s the place they call home.

Cubillos and Sawyer were competing in the sport they love — wrestling — at the State University of New York College at Brockport in the 29th Annual Empire State Games.

The 2005 Guilderland High School graduates have completed their first season as college wrestlers — Cubillos at Boston University and Sawyer at Brockport — and are always looking for more matches.

"I just finished up a wrestling camp," Cubillos said after his first match of the Greco-Roman tournament on Friday. "I just got back from that on Wednesday and I came out here for today. It would have been a tight squeeze to get back for the freestyle on Thursday morning."

Missing the freestyle tournament bothered Cubillos a little bit. It meant less time on the mat but, he said, "I like Greco better."

"You get to clinch and throw people more," Cubillos said, comparing the two forms of the sport. "It’s easier to lift off the mat. You can’t lift legs."

Sawyer prefers another style, folkstyle, but said he likes Greco-Roman better than freestyle.

"You can lift people but you can’t lift legs to slam them," he said, echoing his former teammate.

Impressive results

Both had impressive tournaments. Cubillos won the bronze medal and Sawyer lost in the final of his weight class to bring home the silver in both Greco-Roman and freestyle.

Cubillos beat Reece Mariacher of Western by a 4-0, 4-0 score in the opening match of the 152-pound weight class. Cubillos then beat John Perez of Long Island, 4-2, 8-2, in the second round.

Cubillos won his third match, besting Phil Szumlaski of Hudson Valley, 5-0, 7-0. He lost his fourth match, which dropped him to the bronze-medal match instead of grappling for gold or silver. Jayson Smith of Central beat Cubillos, 4-1, 3-0.

Cubillos pinned down the bronze medal by pinning Lucas Mariacher of Western in 1:26.

Sawyer won his first three matches of the 167-pound weight class.

He beat Omi Ortiz, a teammate from Brockport, by a 4-2, 3-0 decision. He then defeated Cory Sands of New York City, 7-0, 6-2 and Michael Josephson of Hudson Valley, 6-0, 8-6, in his next two matches to advance to the gold-medal match.

But Brian Pickering of Central defeated Sawyer in the championship bout, 2-2, 7-1, to leave Sawyer the silver.

In the freestyle tournament on Thursday, Sawyer beat Dustin Greer of Hudson Valley, 7-0, 6-0, in the first round. He then beat Matt Palermo of Western in the second round, 6-0, 7-0. Then he beat Chris Adams of Central, 8-2, 6-0, to earn a spot in the gold-medal match.

Battling roommates

Sawyer ran into a teammate Brockport, Shaheim Bradshaw, of Long Island, and lost 7-5, 3-0.

"It was a battle," Sawyer said of the match. "I got him in the eye and I was bleeding from the lip. But we got up and hugged each other after the match. Out there, each of us wanted to win. He’s my roommate next year."

Bradshaw and Sawyer practice with each other during the season and battle all the time.

They have also made a pact that they will both be in the line-up next season at either 157 or 163 pounds depending who is closer to the higher weight at the beginning of the season.

Sawyer’s decision to wrestle in college shows the talent and determination he has.

In his last tournament as a high-school wrestler, the state tournament, Sawyer dislocated his jaw in the first match of the tournament. He went to the hospital — the tournament was held in Albany — and had the jaw put back in its socket. Sawyer returned to wrestle in the consolation bracket and lost a close match.

"I wanted to quit wrestling," Sawyer said, recalling the state tournament. "I was disappointed that I didn’t win a state title. But then my coach [Regan Johnson] said I should go DIII and try it. He said I could be an All-American and win a national championship."

And Brockport, as Johnson knows because he’s an alum, is a small-school wrestling powerhouse and has several national titles to its credit under the guidance of Head Coach Don Murray.

Three weeks after the state tournament, Sawyer wrestled in a Greco-Roman and freestyle tournament.

"All about wrestling"

Cubillos also didn’t win a state title as a senior. He didn’t qualify for the state meet after losing in the qualifier meet. He did win a Class A title at sectionals that year.

He decided to give Division I wrestling a shot, and headed for Boston University.

"Boston is a great city," he said. "I just wish I’d done better wrestling-wise. I’m looking forward to seeing how this year pans out.

"It’s definitely a big jump from high school," Cubillos added. "Day in and day out, it’s all about wrestling. It takes a lot of focus and discipline. I’ve got to do some catching up, but I’m looking forward to it."

Sawyer also said that wrestling takes up a lot of time.

"Wrestling is 24/7," he said. "You’re either losing weight, at practices or tournaments, and then you have to study for classes."

Sawyer went from 186 pounds to 167 pounds to get ready for this tournament.

But both wrestlers wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

"I love it," Sawyer said. "The one-on-one competition is great. There is no one else to rely on. You have to be better and stay on your game."

"It’s kind of like fighting," Cubillos said. "That’s kind of what it is with no punches. I like the individuality and all that stuff."

Faragon at Empire State Games

By Tim Matteson

BROCKPORT — "It was a war."

That’s all Mike Faragon could say to sum up his fight with rival Darnell Jiles at the Empire State Games. Jiles won a 5-0 decision over Faragon but, with the way the fight went, the tally on the five judges’ score cards must have been close.

"I came to fight and he came to fight," Faragon said. "There is nothing else you can do."

Faragon went toe-to-toe, punch-for-punch with Jiles for the third time in the last year. Faragon had beaten him twice, including a controversial decision at the National Golden Gloves Tournament.

Faragon, a Guilderland High School graduate, left the Empire State Games boxing event at the State University of New York College at Brockport with a bronze medal in the 141-pound class.

"He is two-and-one against him," said Andy Faragon, Faragon’s father and one of his trainers. "Last time they fought, there was a riot after. The thing with this fight is it could be fought 10 times and each time there could be a different outcome. He was number-one in the world two years ago," the elder Faragon said of Jiles.

Jiles, a native of Rochester, will be leaving the ranks of amateur boxing next month when he makes his professional debut in Saratoga.

"He has a little more flash," Mike Faragon said. "He throws a lot of pitter-patter stuff that really doesn’t do much. But they count and he knows how to work the system."

"I’m happy with the fight," Andy Faragon said. "I think he fought better than the last match he had with him," he said of his son.

The fight was a bit of a mismatch for Faragon because of his style of fighting.

"Mike has to get inside and he’s going to take shots," Andy Faragon said. "He’s not a typical boxer in that he is long and thin. He’s a boxer that needs to get inside and bomb."

"Fighting is his life"

Next up for the Faragons is a trip to California in September so Mike can fight in the Police Activities League tournament.

But for Faragon, the future is the Olympic Trials and then a shot at turning professional.

"We want to be in what we call the Elite Eight," Andy Faragon said. "That is the Olympic trials. Then you have to win three fights in that tournament to make the Olympic team. Fighting is his life and we’ll go wherever we can to get a fight."

Though they have Mike’s future set, Andy Faragon knows that there is a ways to go before they are ready to reach the pinnacle.

"I’m happy as hell," Andy Faragon said about the Empire State Games. "But I’m Mike’s biggest critic. I’m hard to please. But we came into his [Jiles’s] backyard and fought with intensity. It was a tough match."

"It was a close decision," said Andy Schott, Faragon’s other trainer. "But in close fights, he has stepped up. He has improved himself from the outset and now he has a shot at the Olympic team. The top 20 make the Olympic team but we’re looking for that extra edge. There will be two or three guys battling for that number-one spot. We are looking at the 2012 Olympics"

"Mike is willing to make it," Schott added. "He is a special athlete and he has such determination."

Mike Faragon has amassed a 73-13 record for his career in the amateur ranks.

"He is not losing to Smurfs," Andy Faragon said. "He is on the right track. In amateurs, you are going to lose. Nobody goes unbeaten. What we are doing is preparing him for the pros."

O’connell at Empire State Games

By Tim Matteson

BROCKPORT — It was only her second fight, but Clare O’Connell can claim herself as the champ.

O’Connell won the gold medal at the Empire State Games after winning her one and only match, the gold-medal bout in the super heavyweight (189-pound plus) on Saturday night at the State University of New York College at Brockport.

O’Connell defeated Shanell Mathes of Long Island in a 5-0 decision.

"It was ugly," O’Connell said after fight. "But I’m glad I won. She threw more punches than me but most of mine connected."

For her second ever fight, O’Connell said she was ex-tremely happy. She also knows what she needs to work on.

"Conditioning definitely," O’Connell said. "And getting more confidence in the ring. I need to get more experience."

O’Connell clearly looked inex-perienced in the ring, but was able to rely on her superior ath-leticism, height, and size. She won the shot put at the games last year.

O’Connell threw some hard punches Saturday that staggered Mathes, but her inexperience prevented her ending the match earlier than going all four rounds.

O’Connell has only been seri-ous about boxing for a year.

"My friend, John, back in col-lege, used to talk about it," O’Connell said. She was a stu-dent at Rider University in New Jersey. "So I started working out but I didn’t have anyone to spar with. I didn’t get into the ring. But I started again last July. At the end of July."

Serious about boxing

Boxing keeps the former Divi-sion I track athlete competitive and in shape.

"I started in Pennsylvania," O’Connell said. "I knew some people that trained there while I was still in Trenton. But, when I got back from college, I started going to the Albany Boxing gym.

And now she is in great shape.

"I was 260 pounds and now I’m down to 222," O’Connell said. "I’m not lifting. You don’t need to for boxing. I do a lot of running for conditioning. A lot of run-ning.

"I don’t spar that much," O’Connell added. "I get in there with the heavyweight guys sometimes. That is really good for me."

O’Connell says she usually works out for a couple of hours after work. She works at the LaSalle School — a school for troubled kids — on Western Avenue.

"They are good kids," she said of the students there. "They just got in with the wrong crowd. We encourage them to play sports and I really get to work with them. We give them a lot of en-couragement and positive rein-forcement."

There is a big difference be-tween working out in the dark, dreary gym and fighting under the bright lights in front of a large crowd.

"You get tired quicker," O’Connell said. "I think it’s be-cause there is more pressure to win."

O’Connell is serious about boxing. Though she did not have a match, she watched the semi-final matches on Friday night at Brockport. She cheered on her Adirondack teammates and learned by watching them in the ring.

She also showed that she has learned a lot about the sport in her short time competing. She was yelling advice for each of her teammates — especially the younger ones like Mike Faragon of Guilderland who had a tough match in his semifinal against rival Darnell Jiles of Western, the home region.

And though the Olympics seem like an unlikely pipe dream, O’Connell would like to reach them some day. But she also just enjoys the sport, no matter how far she is able to go in it. There is a possibility she will fight in a tournament in Tennessee in early September. But if she can’t get the time off from her job, she is not going to go.

"It’s to keep me in shape," O’Connell said of boxing. "It’s something to do. I just take it day to day."

There are big differences from competing in the shot put.

"In shot put, you win and you really don’t know you did," she said. "In this, you’ve got some-body looking right at you and trying to beat you. It’s more of a pride thing."

But there is one main reason why she gets in the ring and takes punches while giving them out.

"It’s fun," O’Connell said. "I get so nervous before the fight. I’m just sitting there. I wish I did a better job. But I won the gold and I did what I needed to do.

"It’s the adrenaline," O’Connell added. "It’s very self satisfying. I know I can do this. It’s gratifying more than the shot put."

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