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Local athletes gear up for Empire Games

For more than three decades, top athletes from this area have gone after -- and in some cases, won -- medals during the staging of the Empire State Games.

The 31st edition of the ESG will be July 24 to 27 in Binghamton and surrounding areas, featuring more than two dozen sports and the athletes from the Central, Western, Adirondack, Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions.

Many local athletes will be donning the Central colors. Here is a summary of who they are, and where they will be.

Lacrosse

Fayetteville-Manlius has, in all, four players going to the Empire Games. Mike Poppleton and Matt Taylor play for Central's scholastic men's side at SUNY-Binghamton. Across town at Alumni Stadium behind Binghamton Middle School, Meg Helmer and Morgan Axenfeld represent the Hornets.

Christian Brothers Academy also has representation on both sides, with Casey Lasda on the attack for the Central men and Katie Webster doing the same for the Central women. For the first time at the ESG, the men's tournament will feature medal games after a full round-robin format the first three days.

Wrestling

East Syracuse-Minoa's fine wrestling program is expected to haul many medals home from the ESG meet at SUNY-Binghamton's West Gym.

Mick Letcher is entered in the open 152-pound division in both freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines, while Matt Letcher seeks the same double at 143 pounds on the scholastic side. Dustin Moss, at 165 pounds in scholastic competition, also is entered in freestyle and Greco-Roman events.

Gymnastics

DeWitt native Terissa Mignacca makes yet another ESG appearance on Central's open women's team, with McKinley Gray (Jamesville-DeWitt) and Rachel Rosenbaum (F-M) both on the scholastic roster at Broome County Arena in downtown Binghamton.

Tennis

From the powerful F-M boys program, Matt Izant will play singles at SUNY-Binghamton's courts for the Central scholastic team as fellow Hornets Vivek and Vikrim Nayar play doubles. From CBA, Section III champion Lianna Artessa is on the women's side as Josh Mulligan is entered in men's singles.

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