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Winter weather big winner so far in Frontier League sports

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So far the big winner in the Frontier League sports season has been the weather.

Lake-effect snow and ice storms have wreaked havoc with the local sports schedule and created a backlog of games, requiring makeups. Longtime Frontier League secretary Bob Kowalick said it’s been many years with this amount of delays.

“It’s been a while since it’s been this bad,” said Kowalick. “We’ve been really fortunate in recent years.”

The backup of games could force teams to play games on back-to-back nights or Saturdays, according to Copenhagen athletic director Scott Connell. Kowalick said there may be cases where schools would have to play three games in three days.

Basketball schools have an incentive to try and get the games in before the Feb. 3 playoff start date.

Seedings may get shuffled due to a Frontier League bylaw that says if a game is not completed before the playoffs, it will be counted as a loss for both teams for the purposes of playoff seeding. The losses would not, however, count against a team’s record when it comes to qualifying for sectionals.

Lyme boys basketball coach Leo Wilson said that he hopes it doesn’t have to come to that.

“I’d rather get them in,” said Wilson, who is in his eighth season coaching the Indians. “If the schools can’t come to an agreement, the league should tell us when to play.”

Kowalick said that the main reason for the rush to make up games is due to the state playoffs.

“There’s no leeway with the schedule because the state tournament dictates everything,” he said.

The cancellations have caused some unusual anomalies in the standings.

In wrestling, Lowville has gotten in four Frontier League matches, while Carthage is yet to have a league meet. The Comets have had league dual meets on back-to-back nights canceled twice.

Carthage head coach Don Dorchester said that it could be really hard on his wrestlers if they have to wrestle a few times a week.

“The thing you worry about is your wrestlers because now they have to make weight three to four times in a week rather maybe once or twice,” Dorchester said.

“Their bodies get a little more rundown and it’s harder to find time to give them the proper rest that they need.”

The weather has not only cut into the number of games, but it has also reduced the amount of practice time.

Sandy Creek volleyball coach Dori Hathway said her team takes everything in stride.

“The good news is that they are all eager to get in the gym and prepare to play,’’ Hathway said.

Athletes are also looking forward to getting back to game action.

Immaculate Heart Central senior boys basketball player Jude Whalen said it changes his gameday approach.

“It affects the way you prepare,” Whalen said. “You really have to prepare differently.”

The storms have also taken a toll on preparing younger athletes for later on in their high school careers. Dorchester said training time is essential for his less experienced wrestlers.

“Your top end guys are always going to find an alternative to train,’’ Dorchester said. “But unfortunately, the guys you’re trying to develop really take a big hit.”

Longtime coaches said the process behind calling off games has changed a lot over the years.

South Jefferson boys basketball coach Fred Piche said the ability to predict the weather further in advance has changed things.

“Twenty years ago you canceled school an hour after a storm hits, now it’s hours before,” Piche said.

The next Frontier League meeting is set for Jan. 16, when rescheduling will ultimately be discussed.

The basketball seeding meeting for sectionals is set for Feb. 12, with first-round action ready to begin on Feb. 14.

3 WRESTLING SCHOOLS RANKED

Frontier League rivals General Brown and South Jefferson earned spots in the New York State High School Sportswriters Association small schools wrestling poll that was released last Friday.

The Lions are the fourth-ranked team due to its 16-0 record, while the Spartans are fifth with a 12-2 mark.

Gouverneur also made an appearance on the poll at No. 13. Section 5’s Warsaw is the top-ranked team in the small schools poll.

FOOTBALL RECORDS FOUND

More research from Paul Hutzler of Cheektowaga has uncovered three dominant years in Massena football history.

Hutzler’s research has turned up that the Red Raiders went undefeated and gave up zero points in the years 1920, 1930 and 1935. Massena is the only school in Section 10 that has achieved the milestone.

The only Section 3 schools to earn this honor were Rome Free Academy in 1894 and Pulaski in 1958.

Times sportswriter Dan Mount assists in covering high school sports. He can be reached at dmount@wdt.net

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