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Lonnie Nielsen of Orchard Park earned a conditional exemption for the 2005 Champions Golf Tour after finishing ninth Monday in the National Qualifying Tournament at King and Bear at the World Golf Hall of Fame at St. Augustine, Fla.

Nielsen, who finished 36th on this year's Champions money list, was tied with Des Smyth of Drogheda, Ireland, but Smyth declined to participate in a playoff because he finished 35th on the money list, which gives him better access to Tour events.

Nielsen shot 7-under-par 65 on the final day for a total score of 414 (18 under par) for the six rounds. His other rounds were 68, 73, 69, 68 and 71.

Mark Johnson of Helendale, Calif. closed with an 8-under-par 64 to claim medalist honors. He finished with a 108-total of 407, 25 under par and earned a check for $45,000, the largest of his professional career. The top seven players will receive full exemptions to next year's Champions Tour. The next eight received conditional exemptions.


The 10 finalists for the 33rd Connolly Cup, awarded to Western New York's most outstanding high school football player, have been announced by the Riverside Athletic Club's Connolly Cup Committee.

The finalists are: P.J. Harris (Lockport), Curt Jones (Falconer), Zak Kedron (St. Francis), James Mallory (Kenmore West), Steve Mancari (Southwestern), Steve Mamak (Iroquois), Brian Nitsche (Portville), Andy Pace (Orchard Park), James Starks (Niagara Falls) and Taylor Vanzile (Pine Valley).

The award will be presented Dec. 4 at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell.


Jennifer Koeppel (Amherst) of the University at Buffalo finished 56th in a field of 250 runners at the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Cross Country Championship in Terre Haute, Ind.

Koeppel's time for the 6,000-meter LaVern Gibson Course was 21:28.

Kim Smith of Providence was the women's individual winner in 20:08.5. Colorado won both the men's and women's team titles.

Peter Meindl (Orchard Park) of defending champion Stanford finished 206th with a time of 33:44.1 in the 10,000 meter men's race. Simon Bairu of Wisconsin won in 30:37.7.

In area men's college basketball, Erie Community College (4-1), ranked seventh in the nation in the NJCAA Division II poll, defeated Pitt-Titusville, 86-61, at the Flickinger Center. Edmund Rainey (Riverside) led the Kats with 18 points. Donte Ledwell had 15 points while Mike Norwood (Seneca) added 12 and Jason Thompson had 10.

In women's play, ECC (2-5) fell behind, 41-13, at halftime and lost to visiting Pitt-Titusville, 74-34. Cassie Ring (Orchard Park) was high scorer for the Kats with nine points.

Compiled from News and wire service reports.

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