By combining its upper-tier talent with a deep lineup, Shenendehowa outpointed 34 other boys’ swimming and diving teams at the recent Long Island Invitational.
The Plainsmen face a much smaller field this weekend, with much bigger prizes.
“No one is going to come anywhere close to Shenendehowa,” Section II coordinator and Schenectady coach Brian Melanson predicted. “They’re so strong and deep. Everyone knows it.”
The new-look Section II championships could well have a familiar team on top in coach Chuck Dunham’s undefeated Plainsmen, who will be going after their fifth team championship in six years in the Large Division competition.
“That was a big win at Long
Island. It’s the biggest meet in the nation, as far as the number of athletes competing, and we won it for the first time. That was a goal,” said Dunham. “It gave us a great confidence boost, and a great experience to draw from.
“Everybody had it going, and that’s what it takes. It was almost a snowball effect.”
The Large Division will hold its swimming preliminaries and finals Friday (5 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m.) at Niskayuna High School. The Small School swimming goes Friday (4:30 p.m.) and Saturday
(10 a.m.) at Amsterdam’s Lynch Middle School.
Sectionals begin today (4 p.m.) at Ballston Spa, with divers from both divisions vying for patches and state meet berths.
Shenendehowa will have divers D.J. Thompson and Mark Conley in the hunt for position and team points, though most will come from its swimming contingent, led by Ryan Brauer, Jacob Johnson, Mike Christine, Troy Nichols, Kyle Moise, Sean Parnett and Ben Quay.
“It hasn’t been just one or two kids doing it for us. We’ve had guys come through across the board,” said Dunham.
Shenendehowa went 8-0 in the Suburban Council and 11-0 overall in dual meets, with its most telling win coming by 34 points against perennial area power Bethlehem (7-1, 9-1). Shenendehowa also went undefeated in 2003-05 as a prelude to its first three sectional championships.
“It’s great to have an undefeated season and to win at Long Island, but right now, everyone is 0-0,” said Shenendehowa’s second-year head coach. “On paper, maybe we are the favorite, but you don’t win on paper.”
The Plainsmen have five No. 1
seeds in their bid for another banner, including Brauer in the
200-yard individual medley and 500 freestyle, and Johnson in the 100 free. The Plainsmen are also No. 1 in the 200 and 400 free relays, and No. 2 in the 400 medley relay, behind Shaker.
Johnson is No. 2 in the 50 free, and Christine is No. 2 in the 100 butterfly.
Brauer had a superb 2007 sectional meet as a junior, winning the 200 IM and 100 butterfly, while joining Johnson and Christine on triumphant 200 and 400 free relays with graduated Alex Kalish. Brauer’s state meet performance also included a second place in the 200 IM.
Other No. 1 Large School seeds this weekend are Frankie Dyer (200 free, 100 backstroke) and Brian Maloy (50 free, 100 breaststroke) of Shaker, and rising Mohonasen/Schalmont sophomore Michael
Dugan (100 fly). Though diving is an unseeded event, Ballston Spa junior Ian Hogan comes in with the highest regular-season score (340.00).
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake leads the Small Division field with seven No. 1 seeds, including all three of its relays. Jamie Matthews (200 IM, 100 fly) and fellow senior Bryan Shaver (50 free, 100 free) have also gained No. 1 seeds.
“Burnt Hills is super strong,” said Melanson, whose Aqua League champion Patriots were beaten by Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in a non-league meet earlier this month. “They could run away with it.”
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake won its last sectional championship in 2006, at the Class B-C-D level, and Albany Academy was best among the small schools in 2007.
Fourteen teams will participate in the Small Division and 11 in the Large Division this weekend. Teams this year are split by school enrollment of 1,000 below and above, and for the first time, they will compete at more than one venue.
200 medley relay
Large Division — Shaker, 1:40.69; Shenendehowa,1:42.66; Bethlehem, 1:42.88. Small Division — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 1:44.53; Gloversville, 1:47.16; Glens Falls, 1:48.15.
Large Division — Frankie Dyer (Shak), 1:43.62; Nate Foley (Beth), 1:47.40; Ben Quay (Shen), 1:48.68. Small Division — Mark Hanifan (Canajo), 1:53.28; Matt Distler (GF), 1:54.76; Douglas McErlean (BH), 1:56.58.
Large Division — Ryan Brauer (Shen), 1:59.11; Vadim Yafayev (GV), 1:59.57;
Andrew Guinther (Q), 2:01.10. Small Division — Jamie Matthews (BH), 2:05.62; John MacDonald (BH), 2:06.13; A.J. Broderick (FJ), 2:07.83.
Large Division — Brian Maloy (Shak), 22.11; Jacob Johnson (Shen), 22.16; Michael Dugan (MS), 22.36. Small Division — Bryan Shaver (BH), 22.78; R.J. Walsh (NL), 23.27; Dillon Zumbolo (Glove), 23.35.
Large Division — Ian Hogan (BS), 340.00; Eric Messina (Shak), 307.75; Grant Fecteau (Beth), 282.85. Small Division — Josh
Morey (Glove), 286.30; Nate Quinn (FJ), 242.15; Dustin Conrad (Glove), 223.40.
Large Division — Michael Dugan (MS), 53.42; Mike Christine (Shen), 53.93; Jeff Singer (Q), 54.99. Small Division — Jamie Matthews (BH), 55.03; Jacob Smith (BH), 56.40; Ray Amato (BH), 56.90.
Large Division — Jacob Johnson (Shen), 47.92; Chris Lotano (Sch), 48.01; Drew
Acquaviva (Beth), 49.85. Small Division — Bryan Shaver (BH), 49.09; Dan Goldshalk (BH), 51.71; Tyler Slucum (BH), 52.46.
Large Division — Ryan Brauer (Shen), 4:46.15; Nate Foley (Beth), 4:51.64; Troy Nichols (Shen), 4:54.31. Small Division — Kevin Burns (RCS), 4:58.88; John MacDonald (BH), 5:03.53; Matt Distler (GF), 5:10.70.
200 free relay
Large Division — Shenendehowa, 1:30.63; Bethlehem, 1:30.88; Shaker, 1:31.34. Small Division — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 1:33.96; Gloversville, 1:34.93; Glens Falls, 1:36.70.
Large Division — Frankie Dyer (Shak), 53.40; Drew Acquaviva (Beth), 54.20; Kevin Murphy (Sara), 56.36. Small Division — Kevin Burns (RCS), 55.82; Jacob Van Etten (RCS), 57.21; Lucas Hess (AA), 1:00.05.
Large Division — Brian Maloy (Shak), 59.81; Andrew Guinther (Q), 1:00.16; Vadim Yafayev (GV), 1:02.99. Small Division — A.J. Broderick (FJ), 1:04.49; Sam DelSignore (GF), 1:07.66; Ethan McCoski (Amst), 1:08.50.
400 free relay
Large Division — Shenendehowa, 3:18.28; Schenectady, 3:24.74; Bethlehem, 3:26.59. Small Division — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 3:28.01; Fonda-Johnstown, 3:39.03; Gloversville, 3:42.68.