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Twenty-six Western New York men and women are among the 168 graduates in the newest class of state troopers, including Patrick Rodgers of Lockport, who earned a top award at graduation.

The 201st State Police Basic School graduation ceremony was held Thursday in Albany. The new state troopers will report for duty starting next week at posts statewide.

Rodgers, 32, who graduated from Lockport High School in 2000 before going on to Niagara University, earned the Joseph T. Aversa Physical Training Award after scoring the highest of any candidate during physical agility testing. He is assigned to Troop E in Canandaigua.

“It feels great,” Rodgers said of completing the 26 weeks of training and joining the “long gray line.”

“It’s something I’ve always wanted my entire life. I just can’t wait to get out and hit the road,” he said.

Other local graduates joining Rodgers at Troop E include: Dale A. Buck Jr. of Oakfield, James Collings of Warsaw, Jordan J. Gleason of Derby, Steven Herod of East Aurora, Jason P. Kuzdzal of Buffalo, Aaron Lange of Niagara Falls, Michelle Lewandowski of Williamsville, Michael A. Machniak of Attica, Derek B. Marchiano of Clarence, Nicholas Overturf of North Tonawanda, Jason Peters of Lancaster and Michael T. Rich of Boston.

Andrew S. Carpenter of Amherst is assigned to Troop B in Ray Brook.

New troopers assigned to Troop C in Sidney are: Christopher Campbell, Orrelyn L. Campbell, Dominique N. Wilson and Agnieszka Dembinska, all of Buffalo; Joseph Celmer of Amherst, Jeramie S. Helmer of West Seneca, Gregory A. Kish of Hamburg and Jonathan M. Sowinski of Akron.

Ryan C. Hughes of Oakfield, Grayce Ortiz of Buffalo and Andrew W. Stanbro of Kenmore are assigned to Troop D in Oneida. Gerald E. Pacillo of Kenmore is assigned to Troop F in Middletown.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com