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FROM PRESS ROW: PLENTY OF THINGS IN AREA SPORTS TO BE THANKFUL FOR THIS YEAR (2021-11-25)

It’s Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful.

There is so much for me to be thankful the past year, starting with all the changes in my life.

I got married, moved to a new home, and started this new job covering all the athletes and teams in this area.

While I could do a list a mile long on the things I’m thankful for, starting with my amazing wife, I’m going to focus on the things I’ve seen already this year with area sports.

Let’s start with being thankful for how amazingly accepting, and helpful everyone in this area was. Readers have been so supportive of the website over the past few months, and I couldn’t ask for better schools to deal with. From the coaches, to the athletes, to the athletic directors all the way up through the administration, I am very fortunate to be dealing with some of the best schools you’ll find anywhere.

How can I not be thankful to witness such amazing performances this fall?

Watching Jack Gregorski, Ashton Bange, Matt Gensel, Sarah Lawson, Faithe Ketchum and all the Corning runners this fall was something special. It’s not often you get a chance to see a state championship team like the Corning boys, and even rarer that you get to see one as dominant as the Hawks.

And, I'm thankful for all the other great performances, as you watch Elmira's Vicky Mordvinova improve meet after meet, and Ben Allen's joy as he made states. It was exciting to see Axl Andrus of Horseheads race his way into states, and see Payton Ross get herself back to the state meet. And, watching Notre Dame send two to states and Derek Simpson battle all year long, while the Edison runners finished high as a team meet after meet.

Watching Angie McKane swim was amazing fun. Until this year I’d never covered an individual winning state cross country, or state swimming. And, it wasn’t just McKane. The diving of Brooke Terwilliger and Emma Bachert, and the competition between the Corning and Horseheads swim teams was something special to witness. From Corning's Vanessa Turner and Kara Peters to Sibby Lowe and all the great depth that Horseheads had there were some amazing performances this year.

And, I'm thankful to watch all the young talent on the Elmira swim team, and see great swimmers like Allie O'Brien swim for Notre Dame.

I’m thankful for getting the chance to cover the Notre Dame girls’ soccer team as they showed everyone they were one of the best teams in the state. Game after game they found ways to win no matter what kind of challenges they faced. I’m also thankful to get to watch such competitive STAC teams this year. The Corning boys and Elmira girls won the sectional titles, but there were so many amazingly close games, especially between the Elmira and Corning girls, as Corning won the STAC title and then Elmira captured the sectional crown.

And, who couldn't enjoy watching Emily Hanrahan fire home another goal or see Micah Cornfield come off an injury to lift Corning to a win. There was a highlight goal by the Horseheads boys, who finished the regular season as strong as anyone, and there was save after save by Jacob Rose for the Elmira boys. The Corning girls' defensive effort led by Maddy Gill and Taylor Hurd in goal was something to see as they constantly won 1-0 games. And the Horseheads girls showed how bright the future is with young players like Katie Miley taking a big role.

Seeing the Horseheads volleyball team all year and watching as they battled through whatever was thrown their way. From the most epic three-set sectional final you’ll ever see, to the heroes welcome after their sub-regional game to the thrilling showdowns in the STAC with teams like Corning it was a memorable year.

I'm thankful to watch how hard the Edison volleyball team played as a team, as they won the division championship this year. And I'm thankful to watch such great players such as Horseheads' Taylor Malone and Madison Adams, Corning's Jenna Dinardo, Edison's Maren Lutz and Lindsey Sparduto of Elmira

Watching good football teams this fall was something to be thankful for. From Corning winning sectionals, to Horseheads and Elmira making sectional finals, and Edison and Notre Dame never saying die in any game they played, the fall was a lot of fun. A few particular joys standout from the football season.

Watching Riley Loomis make a quick cut and take off on a big run, and seeing Gannon Johnston move two people out of his way to get to the quarterback was something special.

Seeing Will Kibler turn half the field into a no-fly zone with his interceptions, and watching the Corning line move everyone out of the way for their trio of running backs was fun to see.

Seeing Elmira find a new star each game, and realizing how bright the future is with sophomore quarterback Evan Garvin and freshman running back Amir Williams.

Watching Noah Bennett make big run after big run, and then shut down opposing offenses with his play on defense for the Spartans.

And, most of all, seeing old friend Mike D’Aloisio back on the Notre Dame sidelines, with many of his stories, telling stories about the old days. For two weeks this fall seeing Coach D back in his element at games at Horseheads and Notre Dame was something I’ll always be thankful for.

Starting off the fall with some great golf performances, from the Corning boys winning their first STAC Championship, to Matthew Printup posting low score after low score to start the year for Horseheads was something to remember and be thankful for.

There are so many other high school memories to be thankful for as well, and so many that I will never get a chance to mention. Just a couple like seeing Piper Young of Notre Dame and Faith Ketchum run hard despite battling through health issues and seeing the Corning gymnastics team compete on senior night at home.

And, so many things I look forward to seeing. I can already tell watching teams prepare for winter sports that it will be another season to remember.

At the college level I’m thankful to be able to witness the birth of Elmira College’s newest program, the women’s and men’s wrestling teams. The atmosphere for the first ever women’s match is something that will be impossible to forget.

Getting a chance to cover all the great athletes at Elmira College has been amazing, and I look forward to seeing a lot more college teams in the future.

I’m thankful for all the amazing former athletes from the area. Getting a chance to see Tyler Moffe be part of a record-breaking night at Duke and seeing Zaria Shazer and Kiara Fisher dominate at Marist has been special.

Getting a chance to talk to some great athletes from the area who are playing at the next level such as the Olmstead family at Loyola lacrosse and Mikey Limoncelli pitching in the minor leagues for the Seattle Mariners.

And, who can’t be thankful to be able to tell a story like that of Eli Thomas. The Elmira graduate continues to inspire people with his comeback story and his grace while dealing with the challenges life has thrown at him.

And, it’s people like Thomas that make covering sports something I’ll always be thankful for. He shows the best that the world has to offer and gives you hope for good things, no matter what struggles you are going through.

That’s something we all should be thankful for.

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