Plainsmen turn tables on swimming rival

Shenendehowa waited until it counted most to exact its revenge.

Shenendehowa waited until it counted most to exact its revenge.

After Niskayuna won last year’s Section II Division I championship by a single point, then beat the Lady Plainsmen in a dual meet and in their own invitational this season, Shenendehowa won the sectional swimming and diving championship at its home pool Saturday with 494 points to Niskayuna’s 453, the two teams winning all but two events.

“Our goal all season long was to come here and perform our best at sectionals,” Shenendehowa coach Chuck Dunham said. “That meant we had to swim our best, we had to dive our best.”

The Lady Plainsmen’s champ­ionships included wins in the 200 and 500 freestyles by Olivia Samson (a sectional record 4:58.41 in the 500), the 100 breaststroke by Julia Samson, and the 200 freestyle relay by Bridget Geary, Julia Samson, Katherine Orr and Olivia Samson (a sectional record 1:37.96).

Niskayuna won two more events than Shenendehowa, but the Lady Plainsmen found points with finishes from second to 16th to pull away.

“What we were really trying to do this year was not worry about the points, just go out and swim our best,” Olivia Samson said. “So honestly, not many of us knew what was going on during the meet. We were just living in the moment and having a really good time. But by the end, we started to figure it out, and it felt really nice that all of our hard work paid off.”

Olivia Samson and Niskayuna’s Kina Zhou shared the honors as the most outstanding swimmer at the meet. Zhou won the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly, swam the first leg of the 200 medley relay (a sectional record 1:47.71) and the anchor leg of the 400 free relay (a state record 3:29.80).

“We’re really good friends outside of varsity, because we’re on the same club team,” Samson said. “Personally, I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else.”

Maggie Jordan also won twice for Niskayuna, taking the 50 and 100 freestyles.

The 400 free relay time was fast enough to earn automatic All-America status for the team of Zhou, Mik­ayla Frodey, Leanne Archer and Emma Terwilliger.

“It was a very good swim. There’s four great girls there, and they put together a very good relay,” Hall said. “There’s a few places we can improve, and that’s what we’re going to work toward in the next couple weeks. But I’m very happy with that time.”

Niskayuna’s Catherine Kaucic, Grace Matuszyk, Jordan and Zhou set a new sectional record in the 200 medley relay to start the day. Zhou dove into the anchor leg with Niskayuna ahead of Shen by just a hundredth of a second and Beth­lehem by nine-tenths of a second.

“I was pretty confident, but I was really nervous, also,” Zhou said. “It was Bethlehem, Shen and Nisky all together at the 150. I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s up to me now, for Niskayuna.’ Then when I got in the water, I felt pretty confident. I felt really good, I was just flying through the water, and I was just really happy, especially when I went a 22.”

The other All-America nod earned at the meet was for the sectional-record performance in the backstroke (55.44) by Guilderland-Voorheesville’s Jenna Bickel, the defending state champ in the event. She also was on the 200 free relay team that earned its state berth just a moment before, and she seemed just as excited about that accomplishment as her backstroke.

“I’m so happy about our relay team,” Bickel said. “Two of those girls — Mackenzie Cietek and Kendall Cietek — were on our relay that went last year, but Helen [Merkley] didn’t get to go to states. So I’m excited to help them get to states.”

Bickel didn’t taper her workouts leading up to the sectionals, and she wasn’t expecting to vie for All-America until states.

The other champion not from Shen or Niskayuna was Ballston Spa’s Addison Walkowiak, who won the diving event Thursday with 548.30 points.

The section will send 39 qual­ifiers from Division 1 to the state finals, seven of whom earned their berth Saturday. All-America consideration was earned by seven participants, including: the 200 medley relay teams of Niskayuna, Shenendehowa and Bethlehem; Olivia Samson in the 200 free; Zhou in the 200 IM and 100 fly; and the 200 free relay team of Shenendehowa.

In Division 2, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake beat out Queensbury to win its sixth straight title.

Categories: High School Sports

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