When it came to their performance on the field at the 30th Empire State Games, Hudson Valley was a great host. But Western was just a little bit better.
The Western Region, which has now won the overall medal count 27 times in the 30 editions of the state's Olympic-style competition, edged Hudson Valley by just five medals.
Western's had a total of 242 while Hudson Valley had 237 in its best medal showing ever. Hudson Valley did edge Western in total gold medals, 97-96. The two regions clashed in four games Sunday that determined team golds: Western won men's ice hockey, men's open basketball and women's scholastic basketball while Hudson Valley won field hockey.
"I'm again very pleased," ninth-year Western Region Chairman Lou Reuter of Kenmore said of the medal count. "The Western Region has been good for the Empire State Games and we'll try to continue to be good. . . . [The close medal count] is good for the Games in terms of its enhanced competition."
At last year's Games in Rochester, Western had monstrous advantages in total medals (294 to runner-up Long Island's 134) and had 120 golds to runner-up New York City's 48.
Western, which combines athletes from the Buffalo and Rochester areas as well as the Southern Tier all the way East to Corning, has earned the top spot in the last eight games. In 1999, host region Long Island benefited from its home-field advantage in winning the medal count.
Local athletes again were instrumental in Western's success. Despite the men's scholastic volleyball team having its 11-year gold medal streak end, Buffalo area athletes played major roles in what are now the three longest current gold-medal streaks in the Games:
Synchronized swimming made it 30 golds in 30 Games in the team competition.
Men's hockey skated to its eighth straight gold medal.
Women's scholastic volleyball won its sixth straight gold.
The region can thank the synchronized swimmers and gymnasts -- both teams loaded with Buffalo area athletes -- for being a major part of the medal count. Synchronized swimming won every medal possible with five golds and 13 total. Gymnastics won three team gold medals (men's and women's scholastic as well as women's open) and collected seven individual golds. Buffalo area athletes won 10 golds in track and field.
The most prolific local gold medalist for Western was synchronized swimmer Laurie Wakelam, who won four golds. She won in solo and figures and also helped Western win the trio and team competitions.
Other team sport golds for Western were in men's open basketball, women's scholastic basketball, women's open soccer, archery and cycling.
Next year the 31st Games will make their third stop in Binghamton on July 23-27. Binghamton University will be host facility for housing most athletes and serve as the venue for several events, as it did in 2000 and 2004.
Local athletes who won gold at the 30th Empire State Games in Westchester County:
(MO - men's open; MS - men's scholastic; WO - women's open; WS - women's scholastic)
ARCHERY: Kenneth Haberer Sr., Boston (open team), Roy Lindberg, Williamsville (open team), Toni Kowalewski, Boston (open team).
BASKETBALL: MO - Mike Berkum, Williamsville; Greg Gamble, Amherst; Byron Mulkey, Wheatfield; Frank Turner, Buffalo; Glen Ufland, Buffalo; Darwin Young, Buffalo. WS - Joelle Connelly, Arcade; Erinne Cunningham, Jamestown.
BOXING: Guilermo Sanchez, Buffalo (lightweight).
CYCLING: Jay Joslyn, Grand Island (men's 10-mile time trial, men's team time trial, open team); Mike Luther, Blasdell (men's team time trial, open team); Wayne Luther, Blasdell (men's team time trial, open team); Ryan Nye, Lockport (men's team time trial, open team); Dan Staffo, Amherst (men's team time trial, open team); Sean Sullivan, Boston (men's team time trial, open team); Lucinda Griswold, Hamburg (open team); Shelley Isaacs, Buffalo (open team); Traci Mariniello, Williamsville (open team).
GYMNASTICS: Keith Stumpf, Williamsville (MO horse); Adam Arena, Clarence Center (MS team); Aaron Benson, Cheektowaga (MS team, rings); Jimmy Pezzino, Grand Island (MS team, vault); Nate Roberson, Williamsville (MS team); Noah Roberson, Williamsville (MS team); Cody Stumpf, Williamsville (MS team); Michael Wozniak, Clarence (MS team); Kristina Arcury, Williamsville (WO team); Kailyn Arcury, Williamsville (WO team); Courtney Connors, Lancaster (WO team, vault); Kayla Gray, Buffalo (WO team, balance beam); Nicole Irving, Sanborn (WO team); Jenna Raepple, Grand Island (WO team); Andrea Favero, Youngstown (WS team); Mary Hamilton, Lancaster (WS team, floor exercise); Erin Hamister, Orchard Park (WS team); Kelsey Kryszak, Hamburg (WS team); Kaitlyn Lopez, Buffalo (WS team, vault); Nicole Radon, Hamburg (WS team); Chelsea Recor, Lancaster (WS team).
ICE HOCKEY: MS - Sam Alfieri, Buffalo; Brandon Broad, West Seneca; Benjamin Certo, Grand Island; Peter Creighton, Kenmore; Kevin English, West Seneca; Brian Inman, Lancaster; Branden Komm, Williamsville; Nicholas Melligan, Sanborn; Derek Mohney, Amherst; Daniel Mullan, Buffalo; Kevin Ogiba, Niagara Falls; Matthew Owczarczak, West Seneca; Joe Rogalski, Lancaster; Kevin Ryan, Eden; Cole Schneider, Williamsville; Patrick Sullivan, Derby; Nick Carriere, Williamsville.
JUDO: Max Grundy, Buffalo (MO, 198 pounds); Steven Indalecio, Eden (MO, 220 pounds).
SHOOTING: Barry Maloney, Williamsville (MO trap); James O'Brien, Buffalo (MO trap); Jimmie Perrin, Kenmore (MO three-position rifle); Colton Yehl, Portville (MO trap).
SOCCER: WO - Jessica Remmes, Grand Island.
SWIMMING: Daniel Carver, Kenmore (MO 400 freestyle relay, 800 freestyle relay); James Losi, East Amherst (MO 400 free relay, 800 free relay); Janelle Munroe, Williamsville (WO 400 free relay, 800 free relay); Paige Gutowski, Amherst (WS 200 individual medley, 200 breaststroke).
SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING: Jessica Bagley, Kenmore (team, duet); Katie Gillies, East Aurora (team); Jessica Grogan, Orchard Park (team, trio); Rina Hanna-Gregoret, Tonawanda (team); Trisha Melber, Tonawanda (team, duet, trio); Meaghan O'Shei, West Seneca (team); Lauren Spatzer, Tonawanda (team); Laurie Wakelam, Tonawanda (team, trio, solo, figures).
TRACK & FIELD: Roy Richards, Buffalo (MO long jump, 4x100 relay); Reggie Rucker, Buffalo (MO 110-meter hurdles, 4x100 relay); Anthony Johnson, Tonawanda (MS 100); Ryan Pericozzi, Lancaster (MS pole vault); Sarah Mosser, East Aurora (WO 1,500); Lakeisha Perez, Buffalo (WO 110 hurdles); Teri Wilson, Lockport (WO 800); Taylor Eldridge, Buffalo (WS shot put); Anna Holmes, Freedom (WS 400); Jenna Hulton, East Aurora (WS 1,500).
VOLLEYBALL: WS - Heather Henry, Eden; Kelsey Maving, Tonawanda; Samantha Palka, North Tonawanda; Sydney Palka, North Tonawanda.
WEIGHTLIFTING (men): Tony Kalisz, Hamburg (light heavyweight); Jonas Westbrook, Buffalo (lightweight).
WRESTLING: Nicholas Czapla, East Aurora (MS Greco-Roman, 165 pounds); Arthur Garvey, East Aurora (MS Greco-Roman, 275 pounds).
Source: Empire State Games