Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Patrick Newell

* Steve Burghardt returned to the dugout to coach the Greene varsity baseball team after approximately a 15-year hiatus. Burghardt was an eleventh-hour selection as coach when the position abrubtly became available in early March. Most of Burghardt’s first coaching tenure pre-dated my time here at the Sun, but I was aware of his tradition of winning. Burghardt guided Greene to several Susquenango Association league titles, and I learned last night that he led the Trojans to the Class C state semifinals almost 20 years ago. Some of the events from Monday night’s loss to Unatego reminded Burghardt of that state semifinals game appearance. This year’s Trojans are littered with freshmen and sophomores playing key roles in the field and on the mound. While the Trojans’ record is average – five wins and five losses – that mark could easily be better. Two of those losses came in the bottom of the seventh after opponents’ rallies, and the Trojans led late in the game against Unatego. If there was any doubt, Burghardt still has the coaching touch.

* I have heard some excellent feedback on our weekly series profiling the first class of Norwich Sports Hall of Fame inductees. Thursday we present the fourth installment of the series, “Mr. Norwich,” Ed Ackley. Ackley epitomizes the phrase, “all-time great,” so please read the recounting of his accomplishments in the early 1950s.

* Before I entered high school, the Norwich track and field team had a long history of excellence. Just in my high school years at NHS, two Section IV boys records were set. One by Jeff Johnson in the high jump, I believe it was 6-foot-8, and Doug Grzibowski, a classmate of mine, who set the Section IV record in the discus throwing it over 172 feet. Grzibowski’s record still stands, as a matter of fact. The last decade-plus, Norwich’s boys have experienced some growing pains, and have gone a long time between division titles. The team experienced a resurgence last year, and with so many athletes back this year, the preseason goal was to reclaim the top spot in the STAC Central Division. In tomorrow’s paper, you will read about Norwich’s convincing win over Owego. That leaves Norwich in a showdown for the division title with Johnson City next week. NHS head coach, Paul Sims, said it would be the first STAC division title for his team since the early 1990s.

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