Anne Delaney

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Delaney: Perspective on a disappointing game

I do not like to make too much out of a high school team losing a playoff game because in the big picture of life, does it really matter?

I am probably more inclined to take this position when action on the field is difficult to watch. In sports there are winners and losers, and somehow I always feel worse for the losing team than I feel joy for the winners.

I think you’d agree if you'd seen Nick Roberts last week. Roberts is a sophomore on the Holland Patent boys soccer team, and Wednesday afternoon he experienced an on-field disappointment I can only imagine.

Roberts missed a shootout-round penalty kick in a Section III playoff game Wednesday against Manlius-Pebble Hill. Roberts' PK would've tied the shootout. Manlius-Pebble Hill's goalkeeper made a great play on the stop and Holland Patent's season ended.

Roberts walked off the muddy field with his jersey pulled over his head as MP-H players rushed past to celebrate with keeper Jordan Gentile.

The shooter in a penalty kick has the advantage of knowing what he is going to do with the ball. The keeper is left to guess, and Gentile guessed right with a sliding deflection.

Roberts’ miss wasn’t the reason Holland Patent did not advance, though he probably didn't feel that way late Wednesday afternoon. Augie Allen tied the game for the Golden Knights in the second half by being in the right place at the right time. M-PH looked more skilled, but Holland Patent hung in and forced overtime. The Golden Knights had chances to score and failed to capitalize during regulation and through two sudden-death overtime sessions.

Holland Patent coach Ron Haier said after the game he didn’t know what to tell his players when they talked. Before the game Haier asked his players to essentially “leave it on the field,” and afterward the coach was satisfied they did that.

So where does that leave Roberts? I’ve thought about him for several days. He felt so badly after the miss he hid his face from his teammates and coaches. I wish for him the benefit of time will put the game in perspective.

I want to tell Roberts a game on a playing field does not compare with a loved one’s illness or a young mother leaving her family to serve in Afghanistan. Those are the realities that should make us stop and think about what is important.

I want to tell Roberts that. But after seeing his disappointment, I’m not sure I believe it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Delaney: New coach at Notre Dame, hoops is coming

For the second time in two years, there will be a new girls basketball coach at Notre Dame this season.

Former Notre Dame and Utica College standout Michael Plonisch takes over the Jugglers this year with help from Dennis Brenon. Plonisch and Brenon replace former RFA coach Karen Gaesser, who is not coming back after one year at Notre Dame. Gaesser took over at Notre Dame after longtime coach Bill Farley resigned in July 2008.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Delaney: Clukey's a gamer

Who says a luge athlete is not an athlete?

Well, no one at the United States Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid would make such a claim. And after seeing Julia Clukey on Monday it would be hard for anyone to deny it.

Clukey, a 24-year-old from Augusta, Maine, had knee surgery Sept. 28 after crashing on the Lake Placid track during summer wheel training. Eleven days after the operation, Clukey won the USA start championship.

She was back on the track this week, hobbling to the start line with crutches and a brace on her right knee.

"It's an eight week recovery, but I get one-on-one training every day," Clukey said. "I'm there (in sports medicine) every day doing exercises, therapy, ice, electrical stimulation. Anytime, I can call someone to get assistance."

Clukey sustained a ligament tear, a paritally torn meniscus and bone contusions in the August crash. She twisted her knee, and suspected something was wrong but figured she could rehabilitate the injury on her own. An MRI confirmed the damage, she had surgery and her quick recovery is due to the access to quality care all of the U.S. athletes have.

Delaney: Slider Sweeney pulls upset

Emily Sweeney, a 17-year-old USA Luge Junior National Team member, won a qualifying race at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg track in Lake Placid Friday.

The race was the second in a series of four races to determine personnel for the fall 2009 World Cup team. More race-offs will be held in Park City, Utah on Nov. 6 and final cuts for the fall team are Nov. 15 in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

Chris Mazdzer won the men's race again, repeating from Oct. 21.

Sweeney had a two-run time of 1-minute, 29.446 seconds. Kate Hansen, the 2008 Junior World Champion, was second (1:29.460) and 2002 Olympian Ashley Walden was third (1:29.548). Walden leads the points race with 165. Sweeney is second with 135 and Hansen is third (123).

Erin Hamlin and Julia Clukey are exempt from the race-off series based on their respective World and National Championship results from last season.

Trent Matheson was second in the men's race (1:46.645) and Robby Huerbin was third (1:46.871). Mazdzer leads the points race with 200 points, Matheson is second with 160 and Huerbin (118) advances to the next race-off on a tie-breaker advantage over Joe Mortensen.

Men's singles sliders Tony Benshoof and Bengt Walden are also exempt from the race-off series. The men's doubles teams (Mark Grimmette/Brian Martin; Christian Niccum/Dan Joye; Matt Mortensen/Preston Griffall) are set for the World Cup series, which begins Nov. 17 in Calgary.

The fall team will be made up of 15 athletes (four in men's singles, five in women's singles and three doubles).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Delaney: Grimmette knows how Hamlin feels

Mark Grimmette has been here before.

One member of the top U.S. men's doubles luge team has been to four Olympics. Grimmette is going for his fifth this fall and third with partner Brian Martin.

Grimmette and Martin have pre-qualified for the U.S.'s 2010 Olympic Luge Team, as has Remsen's Erin Hamlin. Grimmette and Martin can finalize their qualification with a top 5 finish in any of the first four World Cup series races. Hamlin, as the reigning women's singles World Champion, is in the same situation. Earlier this week, Hamlin said she'd like to nail down a spot as soon as possible.

Grimmette, who earned a silver medal with Martin at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, said his place on two of those Olympic teams came down to the fourth and final fall series World Cup race.

"As each race goes by, and you don't accomplish what you need to do, you feel stress," Grimmette said. "You get ramped up a little bit."

Being "ramped up" is not conducive to a good run in a sport where the athletes are navigating a small sled down a narrow track at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. A cool head is the way to go on an ice-covered track.

History is on Martin and Grimmette's side this year. They've done well at all four of the tracks hosting the fall races (Calgary, Igls, Austria, Altenberg, Germany and Lillehammer, Norway).

The biggest challenge among the four is Altenberg, in eastern Germany on the border with the Czech Republic.

"Altenberg is a tough one for us," Grimmette said. "We have had good races there but it's been a long time.

We know what he have to do."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Delaney: Leaving Lake Placid

Erin Hamlin and her USA Luge teammates leave Lake Placid later this week, and the athletes will be on the road until Christmas.

The lugers started sliding on the ice at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg track on Oct. 5 and they will wrap up East Coast pre-season training Friday. This weekend they'll head out to Park City, Utah - location of the other U.S. luge track - for more sliding.

In mid-November, the Americans will get training time on the Whistler, British Columbia, Canada track that will host February's Winter Olympics. The FIL World Cup series races begin Nov. 17 in Calgary. The three other fall series races: Nov. 24-29 in Igls, Austria; Dec. 1-6 in Altenberg, Germany; Dec. 8-13 in Lillehammer, Norway.

Official training for the Olympic begins Feb. 10. Men's singles racing is Feb. 13-14, women's singles is Feb. 15-16 and the men's doubles are Feb. 17.

By the time the sliders return to Lake Placid for a Christmas break, Hamlin hopes to have locked up a spot on her second Olympic team. Hamlin is pre-qualified for the Olympic with her World Championship gold medal in February on the Lake Placid track. She can finalize her place with a top 5 finish at any of those fall series races.

Hamlin's best bet to do that is probably in Igls, the site of her career best World Cup series finish. Hamlin was fourth in Igls last year.

"I'm very happy it's in the first half," said Hamlin, who describes the Igls track as slow and not technical.

The level-headed, steady-as-she-goes Hamlin does not feel pressure to secure the Olympic berth ASAP.

"I'd like to," she said. "You have to get the same to qualify for Worlds. It's nice to get it out of the way and concentrate on each race."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Delaney: Another undefeated down

An undefeated and state-ranked area boys soccer team lost for the second time this week.

Class B No. 1 Clinton was the latest squad to get a mark on its record. The Warriors lost their first game Saturday at home to TVL rival New Hartford.

Defending Class D state champion and No. 1 Hamilton lost earlier this week to Mount Markham.

Clinton and New Hartford (Class A) are both good teams with some skilled players. Clinton might have had a slight edge in possession (might have), but the New Hartford transition game is really effective because the Spartans have speed. The speed caused a problem for Warriors on the wings, it looked.

Clinton keeper Rob Larkin played well overall in the loss. He was aggressive in net and took charge in a crowd several times.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Delaney: Hamlin on Carson Daly

Remsen luger Erin Hamlin was to be featured on Last Call with Carson Daly late Wednesday.

Here is the link:

Speaking of Hamlin, she was third in a USA Luge start championship over the weekend. Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine won the title - 11 days after knee surgery. Clukey's time was 2.667 seconds. Hamlin's 2.744 seconds.

Ashley Walden (Westborough, Mass. and Lake Placid, N.Y.) got the silver on the women's side. Walden's husband, Bengt, won the men's race. Matt Mortensen (Huntington Station, N.Y.) and Preston Griffall (Salt Lake City, Utah).

The start race was held in a big, refrigerated room called the start house at USA Luge headquarters in Lake Placid.

Hamlin and her USA Luge teammates began training a couple of weeks ago for the 2009-2010 season. The highlight of the season will be the Winter Olympics outside of Vancouver, B.C. in February. Hamlin, Bengt Walden and the doubles team of Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin are pre-qualified for the 2010 Olympic team. These athletes will be entered in every World Cup race through the end of the fall schedule barring an injury as long as they continue to meet other team requirements such as physical fitness tests.

Hamlin, Walden and Grimmette and Martin clinch Olympic team spots with a top 5 finish in any of the World Cup series races (ending with Lillehammer, Norway on Dec. 12-13).

Hamlin will compete in Oct. 21 and Oct. 23 races in Lake Placid, Nov. 7 in Park City, Utah and Nov. 15 on the Olympic track in Whistler, B.C. Hamlin, Bengt Walden and Grimmette/Martin are exempt from earning points in these races because of their respective World and National Championship performances from last season.

Delaney: Proctor boys soccer upsets F-M

The Thomas R. Proctor boys soccer team defeated previously unbeaten and state-ranked Fayetteville-Manlius, 2-1 Wednesday.

Armin Budnjo and Anando Grahovic scored first-half goals for Proctor (8-1-1 CNYCL, 10-2-1). The game was a Central New York Counties League game. F-M (8-1-1, 11-1-1) was No. 5 in the New York State Sportswriters Association Oct. 10 poll.

Andy Mendez had an assist for Proctor and goalkeeper Tarik Mekic had eight saves.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Delaney: Did you hear the one about the...

Presidents Cup? They're changing the name. It's now the Nobel Peace Prize Cup.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Delaney: Hamilton boys remain No. 1

Defending Class D state champion Hamilton leads five Utica-area boys soccer teams in state rankings this week, according to the New York State Sportswriters Association.

The unbeaten Emerald Knights (10-0-1) are No. 1 in Class D. New Hartford is No. 9 in Class A. Undefeated Clinton is second in Class B, Cooperstown is No. 3 in Class C and Old Forge is tied for 15th in Class D.

In girls rankings, Sauquoit Valley is 13th in Class C and Mohawk is 18th. Class D rankings are full of area teams led by Oriskany at No. 8. The Redskins (7-2) lost their first game of the year Tuesday to league rival Hamilton. Also ranked are: Poland (13th), Remsen (15th) and Hamilton (16th).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Delaney: Turning Stone end is about the golf

The sun was setting on a perfect fall evening Sunday. Not too hot, not too cold, the weather was just right for golf in Upstate New York.

I wasn't completely comfortable, though. My lower legs hurt from six days of walking around Atunyote Golf Course. Despite my poor physical fitness level, I couldn't help but feel alive on the inside.

Watching fans, photographers and camera men hustle from one playoff hole to the next, it was hard to miss the on-the-edge-of-your-seat feeling in the air for the playoff between Matt Kuchar and Vaughn Taylor at the Turning Stone Resort Championship. The unseasonable weather earlier in the week cleared and the tournament was finally about golf.

I went with the crowd to No. 12 where the tournament was suspended by darkness without a winner, which was a bit anticlimactic. I felt slightly cheated as I walked back toward the clubhouse in search of tournament officials for comment.

Kuchar eventually won the tournament on the sixth playoff hole Monday morning and the $1.08 million that went with his second PGA Tour victory.

I walked back to the media center and noticed a huge moon hanging in the sky. The beautiful evening was over, but we got exactly what we came for - great golf.

Let's hope there is more professional golf at Atunyote in years to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Delaney: Pack, Vikes loom; Lambeau game bigger

The highlight of my life, once the Turning Stone Resort Championship is over, will be watching the Packers at Vikings on Monday night.

I am interested to see how Brett Favre performs against his old team. I am equally interested to see how Aaron Rodgers responds to the pressure of the Metrodome. Rodgers is a good young quarterback and I think overall he's done a nice job replacing Favre.

I think the teams' game Nov. 1 at Lambeau Field will be bigger for media hype because it will be Favre's first game back in Green Bay since he "retired" in March 2008.