Sports round-up, Sept. 1, 2022

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Athletes juggle extra duties at fair

By Keith Harrington

Typically high school athletes are very busy during the summer break. Many of them are playing in travel leagues, attending camps or tournaments, maybe even working out in the weight room. However, during the week of Aug. 22-28 they find themselves balancing their time between the start of fall sports practice and their various roles at the Washington County Fair.

It’s been a busy yet successful week for Hartford soccer and basketball standout Ray Harrington, who spent time on the pitch working out with the Tanagers and in the show ring competing for ribbons, trophies and bragging rights. Harrington has been showing a cow named Deluxe for Liddleholme Holsteins and has won every top dairy cow award there is to win at the fair.

“Showing cattle like being an athlete is a lot of dedication and practice,” Harrington said. “It takes time and work and you have to learn as you go and adjust at times of adversity.”

Showing cattle can be a rollercoaster ride.

“Like sports it won’t always be smooth, but also like sports you have to have a love and passion to do it,” Harrington added.

The Liddle family for whom Harrington shows has a long-standing tradition in Argyle athletics.

Harrington’s cousin Alyce has had a huge job at the fair during the week. Alyce is the Washington County Dairy Princess. As the county’s ambassador for the dairy industry, Alyce spends her days at a booth at the AG Building sharing information about dairy farming with cows being milked in the foreground.

Alyce also is in the show ring handing out ribbons and trophies to the winners of various categories and hosting the annual celebrity milking contest. She has had to put her participation in Salem-Cambridge field hockey practice on the back burner for the week but will be back out on the field next week helping what should be a strong team prepare for the season.

Alyce’s brother Josh has been traveling between the fair and Cambridge football practice all week as his team prepares for the season opener on Saturday against Granville-Whitehall.

Granville’s Brent Perry has also been seen in the show ring, along with other family members competing with the cows from their Yorkmont Farm in Hampton. Yorkmont is well known for its herd and once again accumulated an impressive collection of ribbons and awards at the fair.

Perry is a three-sport athlete for the Golden Horde, playing football, baseball and is a Section II wrestling champion. He wrestled at the Roman Greco championships this summer in Fargo, North Dakota.

This week he spent his days helping cows navigate the show ring trying to impress a judge instead of throwing opponents around on the mat.

Former Hoosick Falls basketball start Logan Thayne has family cows at the fair but has been focusing her week on making money. Thayne scored 547 points during senior season and finished her career with 1,723 points, 1,100 rebounds, and 400 blocks. She was a three-time team MVP for the Panthers and went on to play Division I college basketball for the UAlbany Great Danes before her career was cut short by a health issue.

At the fair Thayne has been driving around the grounds in an ATV selling ice to the food and drink vendors.

Sitting next to Thayne is the ice salesman, Hongxu Qian, a senior at Hartford. He attends the Tanagers’ cross-country workouts in the morning and then heads to the fairgrounds to deliver the ice, then uses his math skills to collect payment or construct an invoice.

Qian’s teammate Brynn Tyler, who should be a contender in the Adirondack League and Section II in cross country, has been participating in a plethora of horse events at the fair. Tyler has been camping at the fair 24/7 before heading back to begin her preparation for the season.

Questions abound as football begins

By Keith Harrington

The cracking of shoulder pads. Whistles blowing. Coaches barking out directions. If you live anywhere near a high school football field, you’ve probably noticed these sounds filling the air once again.

The temperature might still feel like the dog days of summer, but the crisp Friday nights and Saturday afternoons spent cheering on student-athletes battling on the gridiron are just around the corner.

New York schools kicked off practice a week ago. Vermont schools just completed their second week of practice and have been scrimmaging opponents in preparation for the season.

From new mergers to first-year coaches and division realignments, the 2022 season is full of questions to be answered. Let’s look at a few of the storylines worth keeping an eye on.

Granville and Whitehall began practice this week as one program for the first time. The once-storied rivals join forces for the 2022 campaign. A merger had been advocated for a few years as both programs struggled with numbers and the ability to compete. It will be fun to see how these former bitter foes meld into one team. The schedule is daunting but will eventually pay dividends.

Speaking of mergers, can a three-team merger work? The folks in Corinth, Hadley-Luzerne and Fort Edward sure hope so. The three schools have merged to form the Mountaineers. Holy Trinity was recently an example of a three-school merger that enjoyed tremendous success. Mountaineer fans are hopeful they can do the same.

Another merger of former age-old rivals that will debut this season is the Warrensburg and Lake George combo, likely to be the most successful merger out of the box. Warrensburg had an outstanding season a year ago and Lake George was more than competitive. Sure, some seniors left and the team will be moving to Class C, but this team should have enough talent returning to be dangerous, especially with it all on one team.

Can anyone stop Greenwich? The Witches ran unscathed through the regular season last year before beating Stillwater for the sectional championship. Greenwich lost to Moriah in the Class D state semifinals. The Witches suffered heavy graduation losses but usually reload, not rebuild. They will be an overwhelming favorite in Class D again.

Will Cambridge-Salem bounce back? We are not used to seeing Cambridge-Salem be anything less than a power in Section II football whether in Class D or Class C. Cambridge-Salem won only a single game in the Covid-19-shortened season and was 6-4 last season. The good news is wins over Chatham and Watervliet late last season may indicate that one of the strongest programs in local history is on the comeback trail.

Speaking of strong programs looking to rebound, will our two teams closest to the New York/Vermont border turn things around in 2022? Just a couple of years removed from a state championship, Poultney struggled to a 1–8 mark last season. The Blue Devils were young, however, and going through some growing pains with a lot of new faces. Look for a bounce-back season from Dave Capman’s charges this fall.

Six miles down Route 22A, Fair Haven has been an annual state title threat in Vermont Division II. Last year was not a typical Slaters season as they went 3-6 and fell to Bellows Falls in the opening round of the playoffs. There is too much tradition and usually too much talent in Slater Nation for them to stay down long. Expect improvement from Fair Haven and for them to be a playoff team at the end of the season.

Will there be enough officials in Vermont to make it through the season? The Vermont Interscholastic Football League announced recently that some games are being moved to Thursday, Saturday night and even Sunday. There are simply not enough officials to cover all the games on the traditional Friday night and Saturday. Might games be postponed due to a lack of officials? This is a story to keep an eye on for sure.

How will new coaches do in their first seasons? Jordan Toller takes over at Otter Valley and Phil Hall at Mill River. Both coaches have plenty of experience and have connections to Castleton University. That should bode well for Otters and Minutemen fans.

The season gets underway on Friday, Sept. 2, and Saturday, Sept. 3.