Shen set up to score late at Division I sectionals

Don’t count out Shenendehowa if it trails late at Saturday’s Section II Division I girls’ swimming a

Don’t count out Shenendehowa if it trails late at Saturday’s Section II Division I girls’ swimming and diving championships.

The Lady Plainsmen have No. 1 seeds in the last three races that will be contested at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Natatorium, seniors Kelsey Barbour and Kara Zebrowski, and a 400-yard freestyle relay.

Each were victorious to close last year’s sectionals, which enabled Shenendehowa to rally past Saratoga Springs for second place behind team titlist Bethlehem. The back end of Shenendehowa’s lineup could be the key to its success this weekend as it seeks its 11th title and first since 2005.

“All of our meets were not runaway victories. In our four big ones, we were either even, two points ahead or two points behind going into the last relay,” said Shenendehowa coach Pat Seligman. “In the close meets the kids continually stepped up.”

With strong finishing kicks, the Lady Plainsmen prevailed each time, beating Suburban Council foes Bethlehem, Niskayuna and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, as well as Foothills Council champ Queensbury, as part of their 10-0 record.

“Looking at the seeds, it will be a very close meet with Niskayuna, Bethlehem and Shenendehowa at the top,” said Seligman, who also serves as the Section II girls’ swimming and diving coordinator. “It’s going to be a tough meet. There are a lot of top swimmers out there. It’s going to go back and forth.”

Shenendehowa wants to not only finish fast, but start the same way with its top-seeded 200 medley

relay. It’s 200 free relay also comes in with a No. 1 seeding.

“My kids are so excited. You can feel the energy in the pool,” Seligman said. “They’re really looking forward to the competition, and so am I.

“When you have close compet­ition, kids swim faster.”

Zebrowski is seeded No. 1 in the 100 backstroke, Barbour is seeded No. 1 in the 100 breaststroke, and both are likely to swim on Shenendehowa’s No. 1-seeded 400 free

relay. The two seniors were part of Shenendehowa’s 400 free relay and 200 medley relay victories last year, while Boston University-bound Zeb­rowski also took first in the 200 individual medley.

Barbour and Zebrowski are seeded Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, in the 200 IM, with Laura Manor of Niskayuna No. 1.

“Kara has turned it on in workouts,” Seligman said of her All-American, who has nine sectional wins going back to 2005, including relays. “I think she realizes this is her final year, and she wants to go out on a positive note.”

Zebrowski played a big role in Shenendehowa’s last sectional title in 2005 as a freshman, when she won the 200 free and later swam a leg on a triumphant 400 free relay. As a sophomore, she won the 200 free and 100 back while anchoring a first-place 200 free relay.

“In a meet like this you’ve got to have your top kids come through, but you also need to get as many swimmers in the top 16 as possible. That’s where a lot of points come from. That’s the heart of the team,” Seligman said. “Depth has always been a strength of ours.”

Olivia Samson (No. 2, 100 free; No. 3, 50 free) and Caitlin Salerno (No. 4, 200 free; No. 5, 500 free) both earned a pair of top-5 seeds for Shenendehowa and will factor into the relay equation, with Deborah Korzun, Lisa Liu, Becca Quay and Chloe Sosnowski among the other relay candidates.

Samson and Salerno joined with Zebrowski and Barbour on that first-place 400 free relay a year ago, while Korzun and Samson were part of Shenendehowa’s triumphant 200 free relay.

Other top seeds are Emily Whit­aker of Niskayuna (200 free), Mc­Kenna Murphy of Niskayuna (50 free), Lily Powell of Bethlehem (100 fly), Bethany Powhida of Beth­lehem (500 free) and Taylor Slone of Saratoga Springs (100 free). Slone won the 100 and 200 free last year while anchoring a first-place 200 medley relay. Powell won the 100 fly and Powhida won the 500 free to help the Eagles claim their second straight Division I title.

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is the two-time defending Division II champion, beating out Queensbury by one point for the 2007 top spot.

Today’s swimming preliminaries start at 10:30 (Division I) and 4 (Division II). Diving prelims and semifinals for both divisions begin Friday at 3, and Saturday’s finals start at 12:45 (Division I) and 6 (Division II).

Categories: High School Sports

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