Clifton Park

Niskayuna ironmen excel in pool at sectionals

Shenendehowa defends team title
Niskayuna's Neil Horne wins the 100-yard butterfly at Shenendehowa High School on Saturday.
Niskayuna's Neil Horne wins the 100-yard butterfly at Shenendehowa High School on Saturday.

CLIFTON PARK — It’s a rarity for swimmers to compete in consecutive races at a high-level event such as the Section II Division 1 championships.

Even rarer is the athlete who excels in such a scenario, like the Niskayuna tandem of Scott Ward and Neil Horne did Saturday at Shenendehowa High School’s Aquatic Center.

In a short stretch, the two Silver Warriors sandwiched individual victories around a triumphant relay to spearhead a strong Niskayuna showing at a meet won by the host Plainsmen.

“Mostly hard work, and or course, it’s sectionals,” Ward, a junior, said after winning the 500-yard freestyle and swimming the third leg on a first-place 200 free relay. “You’re pumped up.”

Horne started that 200 free relay. Soon after the race was through, he was back in the water and beating the pack in the 100 backstroke. A senior, Horne won the 100 butterfly earlier in the meet, and was selected the large-school outstanding competitor.

“I threw up after the 100 back. A lot of adrenaline. Lots of racing,” Horne said. “The guys were going, ‘We’ve got to get our patches,’ and I had to tell them, ‘I’ll be right there.'”

Horne smiled as he told that story. A year ago, he placed second in the individual races he won Saturday.

“I’m friends with a lot of these guys,” Horne said. “But when you get on the blocks, you want to be the first to touch.”

Ward was that guy at the end of the 500 free, touching in 4:43.96 to edge Shaker’s Ian McElrath (4:44.21), the 2017 sectional champ. Ward had earlier placed third in the 200 free, which McElrath won (1:43.42).

“I had never beaten him before,” Ward said. “I knew it was going to hurt. I had to embrace the pain.”

Ward followed Horne and Mark Lipkin, and Bryan Liu finished, when Niskayuna took the 200 free relay (1:27.11) afterward in a great duel with Shenendehowa (1:27.31).

“I thought I had a lot more time [between races],” Ward said. “Coach was going, ‘Get ready.'”

Horne followed up by winning  the 100 back (52.05) to go with his early-meet 100 fly victory (51.25), and he joined with Liu, Lipkin and Ward for second in the meet-ending 400 free relay. Liu won the 50 free (21.56) and placed second in the 100 free.

“In the past, we did a lot of short sets [in practice],” Ward said. “We did a lot of distance stuff this year, and that helped prepare us for this.”

“It’s all them,” Niskayuna coach Scott Seligman said. “I take no credit for that.”

McElrath also was a back-to-back champion, leading off Shaker’s winning 200 medley relay (1:37.87) before taking first in the 200 free.


Shenendehowa claimed its second straight Division 1 team title, its 10th in 12 years, despite winning only the meet-closing 400 free relay Saturday

“Halfway through I said to one of my coaches, ‘This one is a little different,'” said Chuck Dunham, who notched his 10th team title as Shenendehowa’s boys’ head coach.

Shenendehowa finished with 494 points to outdistance Bethlehem (381) and Niskayuna (355). Shenendehowa swimmers were second in five finals and used its depth to manufacture key third through sixth-place points.

“We had a ton of guys in that championship heat,” Dunham said. “I would give us an A-plus for Friday [when the preliminaries took place].”

Josh Tsai, Jackson Homan, Kaleb Hotaling and Brian Harding joined for the 400 free relay win (3:10.47).

“To get that was nice,” Dunham said. “It was let’s put our chips in with our four fastest guys and end this thing on a high note.”


Four Shenendehowa divers combined for 56 points, with four-time champion Nick Lydon accounting for 20, when the meet kicked off Thursday.

“For six years in a row we’ve had a Shen diver on top,” said Lydon, a Florida commit. “We like to get the swimmers off on a good note.”

Lydon extended his title streak with 657.30 points, just shy of his 11-dive state record of 661.75 he set earlier in the season at Shenendehowa’s invitational. Shenendehowa also got diving points from Yang Zheng Foon (third place, 16 points), Erik Herrero (fourth, 15) and Ryan Katinas (12, 5).

“I felt like I dove similar to the meet in December, when  got the [state] record,” Lydon said. “Judges’ discretion.”

Niskayuna had 31 points after the diving, with Matt Chau placing second (569.35) and scoring 17 of them.


Schenectady will have a state-meet swimmer for the fifth year in a row, after senior Malcolm Chank just got under the 50 free qualifying time (22.19) with a fourth-place 22.13.

“I feel really excited about it,” Chank said. “Usually on the second day, I have not done as good. Today I picked it up. I thought about the states over and over.”

Chank swam a personal-best 22.39 in the preliminaries Friday before lowering it Saturday.

“He did everything perfect,” Schenectady coach and Section II boys’ swim coordinator Brian Melanson said. “His start was amazing. His turn was great. He closed fast.”

The state meet is March 2-3 at Long Island’s Nassau Aquatics Center.


Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s all-senior foursome of Liam Picozzi, Ryan Board, Brandon Bardin and Alex Turczyn went 1:35.85 to win the Division 2 200 medley relay, and just missed the Section II record of 1:35.27 set by Picozzi, Board, Bardin and since-graduated Jacob Hurteau at last year’s state meet.

Picozzi was selected the small-school outstanding competitor with another win in the 400 free relay (3:15.17), which he anchored and individual triumphs in the 100 free (47.20) and 100 back (52.18).

Albany Academy freshman Bryce Henkle also prevailed in a pair of D2 individual events, the 200 IM (1:56.57) and 500 free (4:45.41) which he defended.


Team scores

Shenendehowa 494, Bethlehem 381, Niskayuna 355, Shaker 250, Saratoga Springs 218, Guilderland/Voorheesville 193, Ballston Spa 25, Hudson Falls/South Glens Falls 57.


200 medley relay — 1. Shaker (Ian McElrath, Nate Einstein, George Enright, Steven Yu), 1:37.87 (NYS); 2. Shenendehowa, 1:38.34 (NYS); 3. Guilderland/Voorheesville, 1:40.65 (NYS); 4. Bethlehem, 1:41.38; Niskayuna, 1:43.04.

200 free — 1. Ian McElrath (Shak), 1:43.42 (NYS); 2. Joey Chiarella (BC), 1:43.86 (NYS); Scott Ward (Nisk), 1:44.74 (NYS); 4. Kaleb Hotaling (Shen), 1:46.23 (NYS).

200 IM — 1. Steven Yu (Shak), 1:55.18 (NYS); 2. Brian Harding (Shen), 1:55.40 (NYS); 3. Jackson Homan (Shen), 1:56.58 (NYS); 4. Nate Einstein (Shak), 2:01.38; 5. Zack Lassetter (Shen), 2:02.50.

50 free — 1. Bryan Liu (Nisk), 21.56 (NYS); 2. Brendan Catrwright (BC), 21.77 (NYS); 3. Josh Tsai (Shen), 21.86 (NYS); 4. Malcolm Chank (Schen), 22.13 (NYS); Quinten De Man (Shen), 22.73.

100 fly — 1. Neil Horne (Nisk), 51.25 (NYS); 2. George Enright (Shak), 52.50 (NYS); 3. Jackson Homan (Shen), 52.89 (NYS); 4. Joseph Gravino (GV), 53.22 (NYS); 5. Joey Chiarella (BC), 53.85 (NYS).

100 free — 1. Brendan Cartwright (BC), 46.88 (NYS); 2. Bryan Liu (Nisk), 47.44 (NYS); 3. Josh Tsai (Shen), 47.73 (NYS); 4. Nate Marron (Sara), 48.46 (NYS); 5. James Jordan (Shen), 48.65 (NYS).

500 free — 1. Scott Ward (Nisk), 4:43.96 (NYS); 2. Ian McElrath (Shak), 4:44.21; 3. Mark Lipkin (Nisk), 4:52.39 (NYS); 4. Elijah Feret (Nisk), 4:55.40; 5. Mark Gregory (Sara), 4:57.11.

200 free relay — 1. Niskayuna (Neil Horne, Mark Lipkin, Scott Ward, Bryan Liu), 1:27.11 (NYS); Shenendehowa, 1:27.31 (NYS); Bethlehem, 1:28.76 (NYS); Guilderland/Voorheesville, 1:32.45; Schenectady, 1:35.51.

100 back — 1. Neil Horne (Nisk), 52.05 (NYS); 2. Brian Harding (Shen), 53.55 (NYS); 3. John Janeski (BC), 55.33; 4. Zack Lassetter (Shen), 55.37; 5. Trevor Grigas (Nisk), 55.43.

100 breast — 1. Steve Yu (Shak), 58.28 (NYS); 2. Kaleb Hotaling (Shen), 58.37 (NYS); 3. Michael Ardito (GV), 1:01.09 (NYS); 4. Alexander Cresanti (GV), 1:01.69; 5. Colin Leonard (BC), 1:02.67.

400 free relay — 1. Shenendehowa (Josh Tsai, Jackson Homan, Kaleb Hotaling, Brian Harding), 3:10.47 (NYS); 2. Niskayuna, 3:12.93 (NYS); 3. Shaker, 3:15.15 (NYS); 4. Bethlehem, 3:19.09; 5. Saratoga Springs, 3:25.69.


Team scores

Queensbury 370, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 319, Glens Falls 279, Albany Academy 254, Gloversville/Mayfield 201, Canajoharie/Fort Plain 192, Mohonasen/Schalmont 165, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk 102, Amsterdam 99, CBA 72, Fonda/Johnstown 48, LaSalle 31, Averill Park 27, Maple Hill 24.


200 medley relay — 1. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Liam Picozzi, Ryan Board, Brandon Bardin, Alex Turczyn), 1:35.85 (NYS); 2. Queensbury, 1:38.54 (NYS); 3. Albany Academy, 1:41.44; 4. Gloversville/Mayfield, 1:46.28; 5. Glens Falls, 1:48.71.

200 free — 1. David Walton (Q), 1:47.18 (NYS); 2. Alex Turczyn (BH), 1:50.17; 3. Evan Buckley (BH), 1:50.37; 4. Charles Jordan (MS), 1:50.97; 5. Danny Helou (GM), 1:51.78.

200 IM — 1. Bryce Henkel (AA), 1:56.57 (NYS); 2. Ryan Board (BH), 1:56.81 (NYS); 3. TJ Bearor (Q), 2:00.01 (NYS); 4. Thomas Knack (Amst), 2:01.38; 5. Zac Brown (Q), 2:03.50.

50 free — 1. Joseph Trembley (CFP), 21.99 (NYS); 2. Timothy Maggs (CBA), 22.33; 3. Thomas Brosnihan (LSI), 22.42; 4. Sam de Wolf (AA), 22.45; 5. Gavin Coughlan (Q), 22.48.

100 fly — 1. Timothy Maggs (CBA), 52.38 (NYS); 2. Brandon Bardin (BH), 52.71 (NYS); 3. Gavin Coughlan (Q), 53.14 (NYS); 4. Davin Butler (Q), 57.04; 5. Nick Brown (Q), 57.36.

100 free — 1. Liam Picozzi (BH), 47.20 (NYS); 2. Joseph Trembley (CFP), 48.32 (NYS); 3. TJ Bearor (Q), 48.68 (NYS); 4. Thomas Brosnihan (LSI), 50.40; 5. Joseph Adamo (AP), 50.77.

500 free — 1. Bryce Henkel (AA), 4:45.41 (NYS); 2. David Walton (Q), 4:50.06 (NYS); 3. Evan Buckley (BH), 5:01.10; 4. Alex Turczyn (BH), 5:04.84; 5. Charles Jordan (MS), 5:05.41.

200 free relay — 1. Albany Academy (Sam de Wolf, Brayden Henkel, Alexander Loupessis, Bryce Henkel), 1:31.49; 2. Canajoharie/Fort Plain, 1:32.13; 3. Glens Falls, 1:32.73; 4. Gloversville/Mayfield, 1:33.73; 5. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 1:34.16.

100 back — 1. Liam Picozzi (BH), 52.18 (NYS); 2. Luke Borgos (GF), 57.65; 3. Hogan Fox (GF), 58.46; 4. John Zhao (AA), 58.99; 5. Danny Helou (GM), 59.43.

100 breast — 1. Ryan Board (BH), 58.16 (NYS); 2. Brandon Bardin (BH), 59.99 (NYS); 3. Thomas Knack (Amst), 1:00.66 (NYS); 4. Zac Brown (Q), 1:02.62; 5. Sam de Wolf (AA), 1:03.79.

400 free relay — 1. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (Alex Turczyn, Evan Buckley, Ryan Board, Liam Picozzi), 3:15.17 (NYS); 2. Queensbury, 3:!6.70; 3. Canajoharie/Fort Plain, 3:@6.54; 4. Glens Falls, 3:31.79; 5. Mohonasen/Schalmont, 3:38.75.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

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