Category Archives: Sports

Phoenix softball seeks Sectional playoffs in 2014

By Rob Tetro

The Phoenix varsity softball team comes into the 2014 season with a few different goals.

The Lady Firebirds primary goal is to have a winning season while qualifying for Sectional Play.

Phoenix is not done there, though. They also believe they can be more successful in Sectional Playoffs than they were last season.

The Lady Firebirds are working hard to be in a position where they can build off of what they accomplished a year ago.

Coach Raina Hinman expects to have a cohesive team this season. Her team will feature five seniors with only four returning players from last year’s team. Two very promising eighth-graders will also be making their varsity softball debut this season.

When practices began at the beginning of March, coaches began preparing the team with daily conditioning drills and basic skills refining.

Hinman said she is pleased with how well her team’s conditioning is at this point in time.

“They are actually in pretty good shape,” Hinman said.

Junior Megan Brown and seniors Kim Holbrook and Skyler Mace have been named team captains. Hinman said her three captains are natural leaders who have earned the respect of their teammates.

She also credits them with playing with the passion and communicating well with their teammates.

While assessing the schedule that awaits Phoenix, Hinman said she expects solid teams like Solvay and Westhill to have impressive seasons. However, she believes that the Lady Firebirds will present favorable matchups to the other teams they have to face this season.

With Brown, a pitcher, returning to the mound this season, Hinman expects her pitchers to anchor a solid defense.

Hitting is also expected to be a strength for the Lady Firebirds. Hinman said her team’s ability to hit the ball should allow them to have an aggressive approach offensively.

This season, junior pitcher Brown also will be taking part in a strikeout campaign to benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Hannibal runner takes weird turn, ends up in states

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

After nonstop training, which included running 36 miles per week, Hannibal indoor track star Ben Slate thought he had finished his senior season just shy of his goal: a state qualifying time.

However, thanks to a twist of fate, he found himself lacing up a borrowed pair of spikes for one final race with a state berth in his sights, and he made the most of his opportunity.

Slate said he was in the right place at the right time when he got his second chance.

Dressed in street clothes, the team captain was cheering on a teammate during the state qualifying meet at Onondaga Community College when race officials asked if anyone wanted to run in the 1,000-meter event to fill out the field since an athlete was ill.

Without spikes, a jersey or other gear, Slate improvised. He borrowed a teammate’s jersey, a pair of spandex from a friend and spikes – two sizes too small – from a Jordan-Elbridge athlete.

Although the spikes weren’t ruby slippers, they were magic for Slate, who crushed his personal best in the 1,000-meter by six seconds and qualified for the state meet in the process.

“I just had a great race,” Slate said. “I worked hard in cross country, did everything my coach wanted me to and it paid off.”

With the qualifying time under his belt, Slate joined other Section 3 athletes to form a team in the 1,000-meter relay. In the state tournament March 1, they finished 10th in the intersectional relay.

Now, with the indoor track season completed, Slate, son of Stacy and Jerry Slate of Hannibal, will turn his focus to outdoor track — his final sports season of his high school career — before making the transition into college athletics and, more importantly to him, academics.

“I haven’t decided which college yet, I know I’ll definitely be running,” Slate said. “I want to focus on my academics and continue my running, but I’m looking more for academics.”

The standout runner noted Hannibal Coaches Dom Pike and Dan Pawlewicz helped mold him into the person he is today.

“Mr. Pike and Mr. Pawlewicz, they both pushed me and helped shape my work ethic,” Slate said. “They said, ‘You can be the best runner, but you have to have the grades too.’ And ever since I heard that I’ve been working hard.”

That hard work has translated into an 88 average and two academic scholarships, which Slate hopes to take to either Niagara University or Utica College.

He is planning on pursuing a degree in biology before moving on to medical school.

If Slate continues his hard work at the next level, he would become the first person in his family to graduate from college. From there, he would add the initials “M.D.” after his name.

“Everyone in my family is just supporting me,” Slate said. “They have encouraged me to do what I want to do and have told me to not let anyone change my mind. That’s how I see it.”

For Coach Pike, Slate’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“He’s just a great kid and a great representative of the Hannibal community,” Pike said. “He works hard and it’s nice to see him have the success he’s experienced.”

Phoenix wrestling searches for state supremacy

By Rob Tetro

Sometime soon, the Phoenix varsity wrestling team could once again be one of the best teams in New York state.

This possibility was enhanced by the presence of seven seniors this season. Codie Corso, Ryan Pinzer, Jason Nipper, Austin Dristle, Billy Orstrander, Brian Stafford and Derrick Powell left a unique mark on the Phoenix wrestling program.

Coach Gene Mills said this group of seniors worked hard while showing some of the Firebirds impressive younger wrestlers what a consistently solid work ethic is all about.Their efforts paid off. This season, Phoenix had many younger wrestlers put in the work necessary for them to begin to realize their potential.

Mills hopes the seniors’ participation in the Phoenix wrestling program taught them the value of hard work. He hopes his seniors are now physically and mentally prepared to display the work ethic necessary for them to accomplish any goal they have for themselves.

However, as important as athletics is to Mills, most important is that his athletes begin to learn about being good citizens. As those traits continue to develop in his athletes throughout their participation within Phoenix wrestling, he also encourages them to be good students and good athletes, in that order.

Now that these seven seniors are a few months away from taking on the next phase of their lives, Mills hopes Phoenix wrestling has helped them to become better wrestlers, better students and most importantly, better people.

Mills hopes supporters of the Phoenix wrestling program are excited about the athletes he has coming up through the ranks. He said individual and team success could be in the cards for the Firebirds in the very near future because his returning athletes understand that given the abilities they bring to the table, the sky is the limit.

Yet, he points out that the difference between a good team and a State Championship team isn’t based on ability but rather on how dedicated a team is to consistently improving.

Make no mistake about it, Mills believes his younger athletes have the potential of bringing Phoenix another State Championship. However, they will not be able to earn the right to compete at that level until they embrace a hardnosed mentality in every phase of the wrestling season.

Local men named wrestling Coaches of the Year

By Dan Farfaglia

Former Fulton wrestler David Wise, now the head wrestling coach at Liverpool High School, is the recipient of the 2013-2014 Section 3 Division One Coach of the Year Award.

Wise guided the Liverpool Warriors to an 18-5 record this past year, a League Title, and the team placed 2nd at the Sectionals (State Qualifiers). That was the best tournament performance in the school`s history.

Wise has been the head coach at Liverpool for five seasons and has compiled a 92-44 record, two Section champions, eight class champions and 31 Sectional place winners.

He was presented with this distinguished honor at the Friends of Section 3 Wrestling Banquet at the Rusty Rail Restaurant in Canastota March 9.

Bill Kays, the head wrestling coach at Mexico High School for the past 26 years, is the recipient of the 2013-2014 Section 3 Division Two Coach of the Year Award.

The Mexico Tigers ended the season with a 13-2 record, won the League title, and defeated the Fulton Red Raiders for the first time since the early 1960s.

In his career, Kays has had 40 Section 3 Champions, one Section 3 Dual Meet title, 12 League Championships, three NYS Tournament runner ups and for the first time, a State Champion just this season.

He also was presented with this distinguished honor at the Friends of Section 3 Wrestling Banquet at the Rusty Rail Restaurant in Canastota on March 9 .

THE SPORTSMAN’S WORLD: The Art of Worming

By Leon Archer

When I was a kid, I learned to capture, care for and use fish worms.

The capturing and the using I enjoyed, but the caring for worms could be a bit of a pain. I learned early on that you couldn’t just gather a bunch of night crawlers and leave them in a bucket with a few leaves and expect that they were going to live happily ever after.

Nothing smells worse than a container full of dead worms. By trial and error, I learned to keep both the worms and my long-suffering parents happy; I learned the art of worming.

The art of worming consists of two distinct, yet vitally connected parts. The first part is the catching and caring for the worms. The second part is using the worms most efficiently for fishing.

I can’t prove it, but I firmly believe that the number one bait of fishermen, at least in Upstate New York, is the lowly worm. That’s probably why we kids called them fish worms.

More refined folks called them angle worms for the same reason. As long as they were available, they caught just about every kind of fish a kid wanted to fish for.

I even went so far one year as to nurse a few of them along in our basement until the ice was safe for fishing. I thought they might just be the magic bullet on hard water, but although they caught fish, they were no better than the minnows and jigs that we used.

The effort was hardly worth the returns, but other times of the year they were easy to procure and deadly on the fish.

Now when I say worms, there were two main types that I used for everything, night crawlers and what I call rain worms. I majored in night crawlers, but I didn’t ignore the smaller rain worms.

Night crawlers were easy to catch every spring, requiring only a flashlight, digital dexterity, and knees and a back that could stand an hour or two being bent over. On a good wet spring night, I could pick up 200 to 800 worms. It all depended on how wet I was getting and how soon my body started grumbling about the abuse.

I had several large, leaf filled boxes in the basement of our home. Each one was capable of holding up to a thousand worms safely for a long time, but in reality they came and went on a regular basis. I sold night crawlers and my father and I used plenty of them as well.

It wasn’t quite as simple as dumping them in and taking them out; there were certain chores connected with worm ranching.

After a few weeks, the remaining old leaves and worm castings had to be removed and new leaves put in the boxes. The removed residue was great for the family garden, but if left too long in the boxes before being replaced, it became toxic to the inmates.

If maintained properly, the worms were happy and my parents were happy.

It was extremely important to remove any dead worms or even those that did not act very lively. Usually dying worms would come to the surface of the leaves, but not always, so as I took worms out for sale or use, I was constantly on watch for the dead or dying.

When I did change the leaves in a box, I counted the worms into a bucket, allowing me to keep track of my inventory, before returning them to their refurbished home.

When picking up night crawlers, inevitably some will be broken as they are pulled from their burrows. Usually I dropped them back on the ground where most of them would survive if they got back underground. The others ended up feeding the robins the next morning.

If I knew we would be fishing in the next day or so, I would keep them, but sort them out when I got home. It was very unwise to try to keep them with the other worms. I tried to never put a damaged worm in the boxes; it was just asking for trouble down the road.

Rain worms are a different story. Because of their smaller size and very pale pinkish color, they were the very best worms for fishing for small brook trout. They were tougher and stayed on the hook better than a night crawler, which made them a pretty good bait for pan fish that could often rip a piece of night crawler off the hook without paying any penalty.

There were many times when a rain worm would do a better job than a night crawler.

I usually picked rain worms up off driveways, roads and sidewalks early in the morning. I also dug them. They are found in much larger numbers than night crawlers when digging worms.

I never tried to keep any great number of them, but they did very well in smaller containers with soil in the bottom and a layer of leaves over that.

Fishing with live worms is an art as well; one size does not fit all. Worm fishing for pan fish and small trout was the easiest; simple and straight forward, small worms and small hooks but larger species each had their own likes and dislikes when it came to worms. Big night crawlers became the go to bait, but how it was hooked made a difference.

A number 2 hook baited with a whole night crawler was our basic bait for bullheads. We wadded it up on the hook in small folds, going in and out the length of the worm. If much was left hanging off, the bullheads would just tear it loose and be gone. Rock bass were always eager to take a similar bait. Black bass, on the other hand wanted the worm loose and flowing, so we hooked them once or twice near the collar band of the worm. With walleyes, we hooked the worm as near to the head end as was feasible.

Rainbow and brown trout were the fussiest. The worm needed to look natural and whole. Part of a worm was usually ignored, and a worm bunched up on the hook like one was fishing for bullheads was a no starter right from the get go.

Most of my worm fishing for larger trout was done in the spring or after a heavy rain in the summer. High roily water increased one’s odds considerably. I almost always used a single snelled number 6 hook below a willow leaf or Dixie spinner.

The spinner caught the fish’s attention in the cloudy water, and as they homed in on it they would grab the night crawler. It was a deadly combination.

Even today, my favorite bait is the lowly earthworm. I still catch them and use them successfully. I know it is still cold and the snow cover is tenacious, but before long it will be time to start harvesting those wonderful night crawlers, and when that happens, spring fishing will be close behind.

Time for the art of worming.

Trout, salmon season opens April 1 in NYS

The opening of trout and salmon season in New York state is just 10 days away.

The 2014 trout and salmon fishing season opens April 1 and New Yorkers can now purchase and print a fishing license from their home computers by visiting http://licensecenter.ny.gov in order to be ready to enjoy New York’s great outdoor fishing opportunities on opening day.

Lifetime fishing licenses also are available.

“New York offers some of the best fishing in the country,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

“As part of the state’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative, fishing license fees have been reduced and licenses can be easily purchased and printed online from home. Now anglers don’t have to wait until fishing season to get ready. I encourage New Yorkers to go online, buy their licenses and look forward to a great fishing season,” Cuomo said.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said the DEC is stocking rivers, lakes and streams to provide “ample opportunities for anglers to reel in a great catch.”

Fishing licenses, which are required for persons age 16 and older to fish in New York’s fresh water lakes and rivers, may also be purchased by phone at (866) 933-2257.

Anglers who purchase by phone will receive a confirmation number to use immediately as proof of holding a license until their actual license is received in the mail.

Whether fishing trout, salmon, bass, walleye or sunfish, New York provides outstanding fishing opportunities. For a wealth of helpful information on suggested fishing locations in various DEC regions and tips for beginning anglers, visit the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/fishing.html.

A list of waters scheduled to be stocked with trout this spring can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html

DEC’s website also provides specific locations on streams where DEC has purchased fishing rights easements. Maps showing PFR easements are available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9924.html

In addition to the many trout stocked by DEC, anglers are reminded that many waters support one or more species of wild trout that are also available to add to the enjoyment of a fishing trip.

Anglers are also encouraged to contact a DEC Regional Office if they have questions about fishing opportunities within a specific region. DEC Region and Regional Office Information is available by gonig to http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html

Fulton, Oswego residents take part in tough bike race

From left to right, Ron Molinari, Chris Caza, Scott Somers, Bryan Blake, Greg Mills, Jim Nicholson and Rick Bush. Absent are Teddy Volkomer, Josh Molinari and Jeff Ballard.
From left to right, Ron Molinari, Chris Caza, Scott Somers, Bryan Blake, Greg Mills, Jim Nicholson and Rick Bush. Absent are Teddy Volkomer, Josh Molinari and Jeff Ballard.

By Rob Tetro

Ten cyclists from Fulton and Oswego are in training for The Tour Of The Battenkill, considered “The Toughest Single Day Race In America”.

Bryan Blake of Central Square, Jim Nicholson, Chris Caza and Jeff Ballard of Fulton, and Scott Somers, Ron Molinari, Josh Molinari, Teddy Volkomer, Greg Mills and Rick Bush of Oswego will have their endurance put to the test when they take part in the 63-mile race in Cambridge, Washington County, April 5-6.

Cyclist Rick Bush said the team began training in November. The training process involves preparation for four basic periods: Base Training, Build, Peak and Race periods. Each period is designed to prepare cyclists for various parts of a race.

“Each period targets specific elements experienced in a given race.”, Bush said.

This year’s race will mark the third trip Bush and his teammates have made to Cambridge.

The Tour Of The Battenkill is known as “The Toughest Single Day Race In America” for a reason. As if the distance of the race wasn’t challenging enough, the participants face an uphill battle in more ways than one.

There is a section of the race that is a little more than 10 miles long that travels uphill on dirt and gravel roads. The challenge presented by the elements of the race aside, Bush points out The Tour Of The Battenkill also attracts an impressive array of cyclists.

Amateur and professional cyclists consider The Tour Of The Battenkill to be one of the premier events of their season. For Bush, being a part of this event means being a part of what he considers the most prestigious, challenging and rewarding races of the year.

He said the intensity of the training matches the difficulty of the race itself.

“The training for this one race is by far the most intense training of the season.”, Bush said.

For more information about The Tour Of The Battenkill, visit WWW.TOUROFTHE BATTENKILL.COM

Bush and his teammates express sincere gratitude to the sponsors who helped them make their third appearance in The Tour Of The Battenkill a reality — Murdock’s Bicycle and Sports, J&A Mechanical, Homestead Funding Group, Nicholson Law Firm, Summit Physical Therapy, Pathfinder Bank and Fajita Grill.