There are occasions when the area’s top high school athletes face one another in a pool, on a field, court or course.
The results go up on a scoreboard or in a scorecard.
Sometimes curiosity remains among athletes like Brockport sophomore Cory Gross Jr. or Honeoye Falls-Lima senior Jackson Tate. How strong was that linebacker who tried to body slam me to the turf? How fast was that runner I was in an uphill race with?
University of Rochester Medicine Sports Medicine can provide answers for Gross, Tate and 40 other Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester fall sport athletes who took part in a sports performance combine Saturday. The Rochester-region’s top high school swimmers, cross country runners, golfers, tennis, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball players were invited to show what they can do inside on Pinnacle Athletic Campus in Victor, at no charge.
“I’m a nordic skier (at HF-L) so our practices have been pretty brutal as of late,” Tate said. “I was kind of looking to do something a little different.
“There was some free stuff (for the athletes) involved, it was a great way to see how I matched up against some other kids in Section V, and it was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. My fun is different than others’ “
Different indeed. Tate, a cross country runner at HF-L since he was in the eighth grade, moved with other boys and girls to stations around the 135,000-square-foot facility, where they were asked to perform a vertical jump, dash 40 yards, hustle through an agility test or have the strength of their grip measured.
Some of the testing appeared to be more sophisticated, such as biometric screening. Members of the UR Medicine Sports Medicine staff wrote down and typed the results.
“I had a general idea (of what to expect),” Tate said. “I came in, registered and did a warm-up, which was appreciated. Then, it felt a little intense when you walked in. You have this whole spread (of stations) in front of you, and there’s some big guys out there.
“It ended up being kind of fun.”
There also was a bench press, a station to determine the amount of range in someone’s shoulders, a chest put with a medicine ball and the tests of all these tests, a 300-yard run – done twice with a five-minute break in between.
“They saved the best for last, the 300-yard shuttle,” Tate said. “The bench press was pretty pitiful for most of us cross country guys, but there’s only so much you can do over there. Overall, it was kind of neat.
“I used to be a big NFL fan when I was little, so you can say ‘Oh yeah, I did that, I understand how hard that is.’ ”’
All of the athletes have a profile that contains their data and can be accessed on the Internet with a password.
“It also ranks them compared to national or regional norms,” UR Medicine Sports Medicine director of rehabilitation services Kostantinos Vasalos said. “So they can see I’m in the 10th percentile of this, but I’m in the 50th percentile or 100th percentile for this, so they can identify what their strengths and their weaknesses are and take the next corrective measure.”
Comparing the bench press results of Tate, who has committed to run at SUNY Geneseo, with Gross, a football running back and defensive back, may not do much good for either. The same goes for 5 foot-4 inch, 105-pound McQuaid junior cross country runner Joe Doerr and 210-pound Penfield senior linebacker Jack Hartnett, but the test data can have another use.
“Like other combines that people may be familiar with, we are looking at things like speed, power and agility,” Vasalos said. “What makes our combines unique is we have a whole host of injury preventive screenings, too.
“So we look at range of motion, coordination muscle control, balance, things that put kids at risk for sports injury. We’re passionate about keeping our athletes healthy and enhancing their performance. These combines have become a great tool for us to blend the two of those things, where we can give athletes great data on how they are performing athletically and we can inform them on any potential risk factors they have, so they can take action, correct them and keep themselves in the game longer.”
It was the combination of a growth spurt and injury that cut the first varsity season of football for Gross very short at Brockport, when he was a freshman. This fall went a lot better for Gross and a Brockport team that became a Section V champion for the first time. There were still bumps and bruises to deal with in a tough sport, so the data from the combine also peaked the interest of Cory Gross Sr. and Deatie Cherry, Cory’s parents.
“He played through a hip injury, hand injury, everything this season,” Cherry said. “He’s been to ‘Strong Ortho’ quite a few times the past football season. We’ve been through the worst.”
Now the Gross family can use the information as a starting point in the future, to see how much Cory Gross Jr. has really healed and improved. The information can also be passed along to recruiters for college teams. Recruiters have been known to share this type of information with colleagues and friends in their sports, if a recruit may not be a fit for their team.
Morgan Bronstein, a sophomore at Pittsford Sutherland, belongs on the AGR girls golf team after her first-place finish in the Monroe County league’s Tournament of Champions and earning a second trip to the state championships. Bronstein’s sport of choice however, is hockey. She skates with the Pittsford JV.
“I think it’s just good to see overall how you’re doing and do a little bit of everything,” Bronstein said. “I can push myself a lot and do things that I didn’t think I can do. I’ve gotten a lot better, like the running.
“I did it (at a national hockey camp last summer) and I thought I did a lot better this time. It’ll be cool to see how I compare and I know that they can compare me to people around the country, so it’ll be cool to see where I fall.”