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F-M celebrates state, national title runs, academics

Girls cross country coach Bill Aris holds the Powerade Fab 50 trophy given to the No. 1 team in the country.

Girls cross country coach Bill Aris holds the Powerade Fab 50 trophy given to the No. 1 team in the country. Provided

— Two phrases were used repeatedly during the Fayetteville-Manlius High School Student Recognition Assembly held Feb. 17 in the high school auditorium: “state champions” and “national champions.”

This was the second year the school held an event honoring its students and teams that earned state or national awards for academic, artistic and athletic accomplishments. In total, 81 students and 10 coaches were recognized during the approximately 40-minute ceremony.

Local and regional award winners will be honored in May.

“I am consistently amazed by the incredible achievements by our student body,” said F-M High School Principal Ray Kilmer.

This was also the second year a representative from ESPN High School, formerly called ESPN RISE, visited the school to honor the F-M girls cross country team for its national championship streak. In December, the team won its sixth consecutive national title at the Nike Cross Nationals competition.

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Kenny Friedman, a member of the Science Olympiad team, is congratulated by Rich Roy, F-M’s director of physical education and athletics.

Bill Aris, head coach of the girls cross country team, accepted on behalf of the team the Powerade Fab 50 2011 National Championship trophy presented by Steve Underwood, of ESPN High School. The Fab 50 list ranks the top 50 athletic teams in the country.

Underwood spoke of how the team dominated its competitors while battling its own internal challenges – the loss of two team members due to injuries and Coach Aris’s own personal loss when his father died a few weeks before the national competition.

Underwood noted how team members pulled together and individuals like Katie Sischo and Jillian Fanning stepped up to lead like never before.

Underwood also recognized the overall F-M athletic program for its advancement in ESPN High School’s national rankings to number four in the country.

“What a privilege it is to be here,” he said.

At the end of the ceremony, Aris spoke to the auditorium full of students about the difference between being a contributor and a participant.

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