ESG to feature dozens of local athletes

A year ago, the Empire State Games went on hiatus, and questions about the massive event's future after a three-decade run were everywhere.

But they are back now, starting with the July 21 opening ceremony at University at Buffalo Stadium. Over the ensuing four days in Buffalo and other parts of Western New York, thousands of athletes from six regions (Central, Western, Adirondack, Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island) will battle for medals in more than 20 sports.

That includes a large contingent of local stars. Here is who will be going:

Lacrosse - Not long after winning the 2010 state Class B championship at Jamesville-DeWitt, midfielders Tim Edwards and Alex Hatem, plus goalie Dan DiStefano, play for the Central scholastic men's team at Canisius College alongside Fayetteville-Manlius attacker Ari Waffle and Matt Kopp.

Up at Niagara University, where the women's lacrosse tournament will be held, two CBA stars, Taylor Gait and Caroline Webster, join F-M's Mollie Caputo and East Syracuse-Minoa goalie Katie Cook for Central.

Basketball - In the open men's tournament at Canisius College, two local stars, Nick Pascale (J-D) and Brian Zapisek (F-M), join the Central side, while at Niagara University J-D's Brittany Cohen (who stars at OCC) is in the open women's tournament. East Syracuse-Minoa's Olivia Luciani made it to the Central scholastic women's squad.

Fencing - Jamesville's Lubomir Kalpatchiev and DeWitt's Beth Kogut both are in open sabre competition at Niagara Falls High School, while Manlius natives Jeff Kelish and Leann Thayaparan both are part of the scholastic epee events.

Gymnastics - In scholastic competition at Buffalo State College, McKinley Gray (Jamesville), Taylor Riley (DeWitt) and Chloe Weiss (Manlius) all are part of the Central women's side, with D'Angelo Santiago (East Syracuse), Nick Abdo and Jacob Seletsky (both Jamesville) on the Central men's team.

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