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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

University connections abound as Empire State Games return

By : Katie Ellis


President Lois B. DeFleur was joined by Jim Orband, chairman of the local Empire State Games organizing committee last month, as they introduced banners for the Games. The banners were designed and created by Vestal Senior High School students.
The Empire State Games come back to Binghamton University again next week, running July 28 through August 1, but there’s already a lot of gold, silver and bronze hanging around the necks of a number of familiar campus faces - all past Games’ participants.

Current track coach Mike Thompson has three gold medals to his credit, all earned in open track and field events from 1995-1997. Thompson also owned the ESG pole vault record of 16 feet, 8 inches for five years, but saw it bested during the 2000 Games - the first time the games were held in Binghamton. A former two-time Division II All-American at Northern Colorado,

Thompson finished second in the pole vault last summer at Buffalo, despite an injury. “I only took one jump last year, then pulled my left quadricep and tore it pretty bad,” Thompson said. “I didn’t attempt to vault again until last May 8, and I qualified as one of two successful vaulters out of seven vying for this year Games, jumping 15’8”.”

Thompson focuses on weight training and sprint conditioning to prepare for competition. “It’s all about speed and technique,” he said. “As a pole vaulter, I coach myself and write the workouts. I try to pole vault once a week and as the Games get closer, the volume decreases. I’ll do the same things, but increase the intensity and decrease the volume.”

Don Blake, associate dean of Harpur College of Arts and Science, also has an ESG gold medal plus three silvers to his credit, all acquired at the masters swimming competition in 2000. Blake’s gold came in the 100-meter individual medley, while the silver medals were earned in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and the 50-meter butterfly events.

A swimmer for 20 years, Blake is a charter member of the Binghamton University Master’s Swim Team — the BUMS — and he has also competed in past Games in Ithaca and Syracuse. Blake will be on the sidelines this year due to a torn rotator cuff, but is anxious to get back to the lanes. “As you get older, you find different ways to release your competitive spirit,” Blake said. “Swimming keeps me in reasonable shape and also relieves stresses and strains from work and other parts of my life.”

BU Hall of Famer Mike Doherty ’83 was the first with campus ties to bring home a gold medal as a member of the winning Central soccer team in 1979 — the Games’ second year. He subsequently earned All-America soccer honors in 1982 and is currently in his 17th season as men’s soccer coach at Colgate.

Christine M. Van Schaick ’02 played volleyball for the Bearcats from 1998-2000 and participated in volleyball for the games in Albany in 1997, playing for the Long Island region. Her team won the gold medal. “It was an awesome experience,” she said.

Matt McGraw ’01 has represented the Central region in swimming and water polo over a number of years, beginning in 1994 when he competed at the scholastic level in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke and the 100-meter butterfly. In 1995 he swam the 100-meter backstroke again, then switched to water polo from 1996 to 2000, winning a silver medal at the scholastic level in 1996. “I always enjoyed the games as they were one of the highlights of my summers,” he said. “Going to Binghamton for the 2000 games, where I was entering my senior year and was on the swim team, was a special pleasure.”

More campus connections Andy Szalaji ’88 - soccer, 1983, 1987

Sean Kelly ’01 - soccer, 2000

Kate Mullins Zanot ’01 - hurdles, 1996, 1998 and pole vault, 2000

Rory Quiller - track athlete - decathlon, 2002

Tom Gates - print shop - bowling, 2000

Eric Storch ’97 - soccer, 1996

Boris Lyubomirsky ’97 - soccer, 1996

Steve Tretola ’97 - soccer, 1996

Tim Desiano ’98 - soccer, 1996

Shannon Jennison - athletics assistant - field hockey, 1990 and 1991

Chris Coleman ’89 - track, 1983, 1984 and 1985

Tim Sinicki - baseball coach - baseball, 1986 and 1987

Kim King - former cross country coach - track, 1988

Andy Wolford ’01 - soccer, 1996

Keith Beck ’98 - track and field, 1995, 1996 and 1998

Chris Schum - son of Tim Schum - soccer in 1978, 1979 and 1980

Jennifer Schum - daughter of Tim Schum soccer, 1986
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Last Updated: 10/14/08