Sports Editor’s Playbook, May 17, 2013

Patrick Newell

Norwich junior Matt Murray may be the most versatile runner in Norwich track and field history. He already has multiple school records in indoor and outdoor track and field. Just this season, his times from 100 meters to 1,600 meters would place him in the top five or six in all of Section IV in every event except the 110-meter hurdles. That is one event he has yet to post a time. What runner can compete on even footing with sprinters and distance runners? I said to myself a couple of years ago – and anyone else within earshot – runners such as Chad Noelle of Greene come around once in a generation. Noelle won state championships in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and was also the best 800-meter performer in Section IV. He has the best times in those three events in Chenango County history, and is now competing at the University of Oregon as a standout distance runner. In the distance events, Noelle has no equal, yet Murray is that transcendent athlete with the uncanny tools to excel in any event he enters. Murray, a junior, will be among the favorites to win a state championship next month. Treasure this athlete, folks, as we have never seen a local high school track athlete with his all-around capabilities.

I wanted to publicly bid a fond farewell to one of the classier young coaches and teachers, who is leaving the area at the conclusion of this school year. Rick Mohrein, varsity basketball and baseball coach at G-MU, is headed to Charlotte, N.C. with his wife after accepting a similar job to his current post at G-MU. Rick suffered through a paucity of victories this past year, but he was always upbeat and saw the positives to build on. Rick, who is about 6-foot-4, was a standout basketball and baseball player for Afton during his high school playing days. Although he surely does not remember me, I remember him. Afton had some respectable basketball teams during Rick’s playing days, and Afton’s baseball teams were always competitive, particularly against Class D competition. Best wishes to Rick and his wife in the next phase of their lives.

I was at “Meet the Candidates” night at Stanford J. Gibson Elementary School in Norwich earlier this week as the public had the opportunity to listen to the thoughts of the seven prospective Norwich School Board candidates. One candidate, Bruce Braswell, presented a consistent theme in which he believed we should not cut any programs (read opportunities) for kids. The extracurricular activities are essential to rounding out the character of an individual. Music, sports, and the arts are also about passion, self-motivation, and often, working well with a team. I wholeheartedly agree with keeping opportunities available to kids, so I was dismayed when I learned that Bainbridge-Guilford plans to cut one of its sports programs – tennis. The tennis program’s inherent cost is a relative blip in any school’s overall budget scheme. Tennis is one of the most cost-efficient programs, particularly at B-G. Kids provide and maintain their own equipment; team members bought their own uniforms this year; the kids self-officiate their own matches, and the coach drives the team bus. The tennis courts require little maintenance at this time, and the same nets have been in place for 10 years. The only overhead is the purchase of tennis balls for the season. The tennis program is also coed, and it is not suffering from lack of interest, nor is it non-competitive. The Bobcats finished with a 6-4 record with the majority of the starting lineup returning next year. Unfortunately, there may not be a next year, and this is a disservice to the kids.

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