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Sports highlights

December 30, 2011
By staff ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Area joins together to continue ESWG

LAKE PLACID - "Awesome." "Adrenalinizing." "A perfect fit."

Those were some of the words exclaimed by young competitors who participated in the Empire State Winter Games in February.

Article Photos

The Tupper Lake girls soccer team turned in its best season in years, advancing all the way to the Class C state quarterfinals where they ran into a strong Hoosick Falls team. Prior to losing to Hoosick Falls, the Lumberjacks collected a Section X title with a win over Brushton-Moira and a regional title with a victory over Lake Placid. Tupper Lake finished with a 13-7 overall record.
(Enterprise file photo — Mike Lynch)

Without funding from the state of New York, communities around the Olympic Region were able to pull off hosting the event for the 31st consecutive year. About 870 athletes, the majority of them youngsters, showed up for three days of competition. Included in that number were many first-time Empire State Winter Games competitors and longtime veterans of the event.

The event will take place again in 2012 without state funding. The event will be expanded to include new sports such as ski jumping and will take place over a four-day timeframe between Feb. 2 and 5.

"We were in a position where we decided we were going to keep these games going," said Jim McKenna, president of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. "Everybody was back on board, all the municipalities came back to the table and said, 'We're in once again.' And we decided at that time that we were going to reach out a little bit and expand the marketing of the games statewide. For us to be successful, we had to probably double the revenues we raised."


Kearney sweeps World Cup moguls at Whiteface

WILMINGTON - When she isn't on the road competing, Olympic moguls champion Hannah Kearney spends a good deal of her training time on the slopes of Whiteface Mountain.

The 26-year-old United States freestyle skier also does a whole lot of winning on that same hill.

On Sunday, Jan. 23, Kearney made it a weekend sweep at Whiteface, capturing her second moguls title as many days as the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup tour wrapped up its three-day stay in Lake Placid.

The victory was the third straight at Whiteface for the defending Olympic women's moguls champion, who went to Vancouver with a head of steam after skiing to the title in Lake Placid in 2010 on the final World Cup tour stop just before those Olympics.

Not to be outdone, France's Guilbaut Colas pulled off the same feat of domination with a three-peat at Whiteface. He skied past the men's field on the mountain last January, and claimed two more World Cup golds with wins Saturday and Sunday.

With weekend sweeps, Kearney and Colas both held onto their yellow bibs and upped their leads in the World Cup points standings.

Competing not far from her hometown of Norwich, Vt., Kearney was able to ski to back-to-back wins in front of her parents Jill and Tom, and her best friend.

"It was exciting, but it was exhausting," Kearney said. "It's tough competing two days in a row, but it's worth it when you do well. After yesterday's competition, there wasn't much turnaround time to get ready for today. I didn't sleep well last night, and I was up at 5:30 this morning.

"The nice thing is that I feel comfortable here. It's close to home, and I was able to compete with my family watching," Kearney added. "It's great competing in Lake Placid. I'm used to the course, but I'd also like to think my skiing has been pretty special no matter where the competitions are. Days like this are when all the offseason training pays off. I was in the zone this weekend."


McHugh pond hockey tournament a success

BLOOMINGDALE - A first-time event in this year's Saranac Lake Winter Carnival was an overwhelming success, as the Casey McHugh Memorial Pond Hockey Tournament took place Sunday, Feb. 13, on the rinks behind the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department.

Eighteen teams competed in the tournament, which raised more than $4,000 for a scholarship fund in the memory of Casey McHugh, a Saranac Lake High School graduate and a President's List student/athlete at SUNY Potsdam who died in a skateboard-golf cart collision.

Casey was one of four brothers from a hockey family, and fittingly, the team coming out on top included his brothers - Ryan, Brennen and Patrick. His mom Kathy and father Sean were also on hand to watch the action, and players came from across the North Country and as far away as Rochester to play. By the time tournament had wrapped up in the late afternoon, hundreds of fans and players had stopped by for the event.

"It was a great day," Kathy said. "It was a testament to this community and its support of youth sports, and also to Casey. He wasn't a spectacular kid, and for being just a regular kid, it was amazing to see how many friends he had. It was comforting. The turnout was beyond my expectations. We had no idea it was going to be this well received."

"Personally, I think it was a tremendous day, especially since it was the day after the Winter Carnival parade," Sean said. "Hundreds of people were there. Everybody came. Many came certainly for Casey, and others came to play some hockey on a beautiful day. There were some teams here to win it, thats for sure."

The championship game came down to a Saranac Lake-Lake Placid matchup that saw the McHugh squad - named CSM after Casey's initials - square off against a team from the Olympic Center's Kevin Broderick Memorial Hockey League. Patrick McHugh, a senior captain and defenseman for the Saranac Lake Red Storm icers, paced CSM with a hat trick.


Red Storm hockey captures sectional title

LAKE PLACID - Saranac Lake's hockey team roared out to an 8-0 start last season, before adversity came with the loss of two key seniors to injury for the rest of the year. The Red Storm players had to battle through the rest of the campaign without two of their leaders.

On Tuesday, March 1, at the Olympic Center, the Red Storm were rewarded for their perseverance with a Section VII championship after upsetting Beekmantown 3-2 in the title game.

Saranac Lake grabbed a 2-0 lead in the opening period, then broke open a 2-2 deadlock late when sophomore Matt Phelan rifled home the game-winning goal with 2:41 remaining in the third period.

The Eagles entered the matchup as the top seed after posting an unbeaten record during the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference regular season, which included two wins over Saranac Lake. But with the championship on the line, the Red Storm came up big on defense and got goals from unexpected players to win their first Section VII title since 2005.

"We've faced adversity from the time we were 7-0 right up until now, and I think our team was flat out bound to get to this final game and win it," said Saranac Lake head coach Will Ellsworth. "We were destined to win this game.

"There were a lot of questions after the injuries hit us, and one of those questions we asked our kids was 'What are you going to do without our two studs?' Our kids answered that question tonight. Beekmantown clearly outplayed us, but our guys never panicked. They stuck with our systems, we got goals from blue-collar players and we relied on our goaltender to make some big saves."


NHL trainer brings Stanley Cup to Placid

LAKE PLACID - It's been drop kicked into the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. It's been left behind on a subway car, along the side of a road, and it's been used as a flower pot. It's the most traveled trophy in sports history and on Tuesday, July 12, the Stanley Cup was on display in Lake Placid.

Don DelNegro, the trainer of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, brought the trophy to his hometown of Lake Placid, and between 3 and 5 p.m. an estimated crowd of 2,000 had the opportunity to pose with "The Cup" in the brand-new conference center in Lake Placid.

A long line to enter the conference center's Edelweiss Room snaked along the sidewalk next to the Olympic Center, and in the crowd were plenty of jubilant yellow-and-black-clad Boston Bruins fans patiently waiting for their chance to pose with the trophy.

DelNegro, who has been the Bruins trainer for the past 18 years, said two practices the team held at the Olympic Center during its first-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadians did indeed play a role in the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in 39 years.

"We knew back in April before the playoffs that we needed a place to go," Del Negro said. "We had a few days off in our series against Montreal, we needed a place to get away, and there couldn't have been a better place than Lake Placid. I remember the weather was great, the guys loved the area, and most importantly, they loved the restaurants.

"They came here to rest, relax and regroup, and that's what they did," Del Negro. "During our run to the Cup, we played 25 out of possible 28 games. It was a real grind, and I think the players and coaches really appreciated their time in Lake Placid."

Before the fans flocked through the convention center doors to view the Stanley Cup, DelNegro was honored and thanked by community officials for bringing the trophy to Lake Placid.

"When I first drove up, I thought I saw an Irish wake," said North Elba Town Supervisor Robi Politi, describing the line waiting to see the Cup. "Today, Don's cup runneth over."


Pavlus racks up national titles in senior year

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Dominating. That's what Tupper Lake High School graduate Wendy Pavlus was during her final two seasons as a distance runner for St. Lawrence University.

On Saturday, March 12, Pavlus won her fourth NCAA championship race in a row, topping the field in the NCAA Division III indoor 5,000 meter championship for the second straight season.

After claiming individual titles at the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Division III cross country championships, Pavlus made it two straight triumphs indoors by successfully defending her 5,000 meter title in the Division III championships held at Capital Uinversity in Columbus, Ohio.

In the race, Pavlus set a personal best time of 16:51.78, the fastest in Division III this season. Christina Valerio of Johns Hopkins finished second in 16:59.65 and was the only other runner under 17 minutes in the 15-runner field.

"There are a lot of girls who are very talented runners," said Pavlus, who graduated from Tupper Lake in 2007. "There are girls who have run faster times than I have in Division III in other seasons there is always competition out there and it comes down to who is ready that day."

Pavlus ran 16:54.71 on a banked track at the Armory in New York City the previous weekend to win the ECAC Championship, improving her own ECAC record.

"Wendy ran a very smart race and has steadily improved her times," said Saints coach Mike Howard. "She has had the experience now of running against the best competition there is in Division III and winning four times. I think running in the national championships in cross country really helped her from a confidence standpoint when it comes to her races in track.

"Winning back-to-back 5,000 meter titles indoors and back-to-back cross country championships certainly puts her in an elite class of athlete at any level," Howard added. "There aren't many who can claim one national championship to say nothing of four."


Kenyon wins 400-meter state hurdles title

Tupper Lake senior Kyla Kenyon competed in state championship meets for track and field since she was in seventh grade, but it wasn't until her final one that she achieved her goal.

On Friday, June 10, Kenyon took first place in the 400-meter hurdles to win the Division II state championship. The win capped off a high school career that included at least nine Tupper Lake track and field records and one Section X record.

"We really wanted to win in it. I've gone to states since seventh grade, the past six years," Kenyon said. "So it was really important for me to win that one."

Going into the race, Kenyon was far from a favorite to win. Toward the end of the regular season she suffered from some serious allergy problems and her performance tailed off a bit. When she lined up to race she was in the slower heat, a race that rarely produces champions.

"I told her this," Lumberjacks coach Gordie Duval said. "I said 'All the years we've been working together this is the first time she's ever surprised me,' just because how much time she took off. She was running 66 (seconds) and change this year and then to come down three seconds - that's pretty amazing."

Kenyon finished the race in 63.60 seconds, good for first place and a Section X record. Then on Saturday, she knocked four-hundredths of a second off that time to break her own record, something she's done plenty of times over the years when it comes to Tupper Lake High School records.

When asked how many school records she holds, Kenyon said there's at least nine and maybe a couple more. She wasn't sure. In outdoor track, she owns the school record for the 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, 400, 800 and was on the record-holding 1,600 relay team. In indoor track, she has the top time in the 600, 1,000, 300 and 800.

It was her 12th state track meet, including indoor and outdoor competitions.

In addition to winning the 400 hurdles, she medalled in two other events. She took fourth in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 400.


Saranac Lake repeats as Section VII/X football champion

SARANAC LAKE - Losing the first game of the season may be one of the best things that happened to the Saranac Lake football team this year. Ever since a disappointing setback to Peru on opening day, the Red Storm ran the table up until the state quarterfinal round where they were beaten by Hoosick Falls.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, Saranac Lake won its eighth-straight game, rolling past AuSable Valley 57-16 to capture the Section VII/X, Class C championship.

The win gave Saranac Lake back-to-back Class C titles, as well as a rematch in the state regional playoff round against Section II champion Hoosick Falls.

The Red Storm finished with an 8-2 record, while Hoosick Falls went on to lose to eventual state champion Dobbs Ferry in the semifinals.

Against AuSable Valley in the sectional final, the Red Storm scored touchdowns on all six first-half possessions and added two more points on a safety.

Saranac Lake reached the end zone two more times in the third quarter to lead 57-0 before the Patriots put up a pair of touchdowns in the final period.

With Matt Phelan leading the offense, Saranac Lake's air assault proved especially effective. Playing in just the first half, the junior quarterback completed 10-of-12 pass attempts for 188 yards and four touchdowns. Phelan also ran for a touchdown.

Three of Phelan's scoring strikes went to Mike Burpoe, who finished with a game-high five catches for 85 yards. Devin Darrah hauled in Phelan's other touchdown pass, Dylan Gunther and T.J. Monroe each had a Red Storm rushing touchdown, and Mike Tuthill scored on a pass from backup quarterback Blake Darrah.


Bailey off to strong start for U.S. biathlon team

OSTERSUND, Sweden - Lake Placid's Lowell Bailey was perfect on the shooting range and skied his way to a career-best fifth-place finish in the 10-kilometer sprint race of the season-opening IBU World Cup meet Friday, Dec. 2, in Sweden.

Bailey posted a time of 24 minutes, 44.9 seconds, which was just 22.4 seconds off the winner, Carl Johan Bergman of Sweden. Bailey now sits fourth overall in the World Cup standings after placing ninth in Wednesday's 20k opener.

Bailey goes into the second trimester of the biathlon season ranked ninth overall after several strong showings to start the season. Tim Burke of Paul Smiths is ranked 37th.



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