The duel in the pool between Ryan Gordon and Gunnar Zemering ended up even. The race for the Section II large-school championship was anything but.
Following its diving sweep Thursday, Shenendehowa opened Saturday’s swimming finals with a record-setting relay effort, and the wins kept coming as the host Plainsmen soared to their seventh consecutive team title and 10th in 11 years.
Shenendehowa finished with seven swimming victories, including a bounce-back effort by Gordon, and set a meet record with 539 points, topping its 536 from 2010.
“You saw a true representation of what a team is. We were a team in every sense of the word,” said Shenendehowa coach Chuck Dunham. “The divers really got the ball rolling. They went one, two, three, four, and that’s something we’ve never done. The relay record added to it even more, and from there, we just took off.
“I’m so proud of every one of those guys. Everyone who competed, great job. They stayed focused, and stayed confident.”
Shenendehowa set a Section II 200-yard medley relay record in Friday’s preliminaries, going 1:37.17, before lowering it to 1:36.22 behind Gordon, his brother Luke, Eric Tsui and Mike Conley. Both times were good enough for All-American consideration, and were better than the Section II-record 1:37.40 Shaker churned out in 2008.
“Coach said we had to get the momentum moving,” said Tsui, a senior. “We came out and did that. After we got the record [Friday], we were so amped up today.”
Ryan Gordon led off the relay with a lead-getting backstroke swim, while his first bid for an individual win, in the 50-yard freestyle, was denied by a Zemering reach at the end.
“He’s consistently beaten me for years. This is the first time I legitimately beat him,” said Zemering, a Bethlehem junior. “If I had clipped my fingernails, I would not have won.”
Zemering clocked a 21.41 for one of his two personal bests on the day, and Gordon went 21.44 in the first of two anticipated races involving the 11th-graders.
“I’ve been racing him for so long, it was bound to happen,” said Gordon, who was selected the meet’s outstanding competitor. “I’m very happy for him. Great race. Great kid. He was obviously ready.”
Gordon led from the start in the 100-yard freestyle rematch, winning in 46.77 while Zemering closed in a second-place 47.94. Gordon also beat Zemering in the 100 free last year.
“There’s always someone coming after you. That last 25, I had to get in there,” said Gordon, who slumped in a chair afterward, exhausted from his performance. “I had to get one back.”
“He’s always been an animal. Right off the bat, I knew,” said Zemering. “He went out so fast. I did the best I could.”
Gordon followed swims by Nick Hooper, Conley and Tsui to cap a winning 200 free relay (1:28.06). Hooper prevailed in the 200 individual medley (1:56.18) and 100 backstroke (52.83), Tsui posted a win in the 100 butterfly (53.53), and Luke Gordon was triumphant in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.25), just edging Evan Melby of Niskayuna (1:00.45), William Matz of Shaker (1:00.61) and Reid Zyniecki of Guilderland/Voorheesville (1:00.88) in one of the meet’s best races.
Adam Bonk won Thursday’s large-school diving event (510.40), and schoolmates Ben Hale, Matt Lenny and Ian Killane took the next three spots, as the Plainsmen collected their first 68 points.
“When one person does well, the next guy says, ‘I don’t want to let anyone down,’ ” said Tsui.
With its seventh straight meet championship, Shenendehowa broke a tie with Queensbury for third on the all-time Section II list. Only Shaker (11 in a row, 1960-70)
and Bethlehem (29 in a row, 1973-2001) have longer streaks.
“When you have sustained success, sometimes you lose sight of what got you there,” said Dunham. “Last year, we may have eased up a litle bit. This group never did. I can’t say enough about the amount of work they put into this.”
Niskayuna junior Emerson Wells defended his 500 free title (4:45.13), winning by over six seconds, and joined with Orion Whitney, Dylan Karlok and Melby as the Silver Warriors captured the meet-ending 400 free relay (3:14.40) for the second consecutive year. Shenendehowa took second in the relay (3:14.74).
“I was not happy with my 200 [free, fifth place]. That got me motivated,” Wells said of his 500 win. “When I dove in, I thought, ‘I’m going to swim this race and not feel any pain.’ I really wanted it.”
Melby was also motivated after placing second in the 100 breast.
“I was upset about that,” said the senior. “I took it all out in that relay.”
Karlok was seeded eighth (49.68) entering the 100 free, and made a huge leap to third (48.68) while earning a state meet berth March 1-2 at Webster Schroeder High School in Rochester.
Zyniecki set Guilderland/Voorheesville and personal records in winning the 200 free in 1:45.30.
“My last sectional experience, I came up short. When I was a sophomore, I was third in the 500 and fifth in the breast,” Zyniecki. “I wanted to fix that. I was looking to win.”
The University of Buffalo-bound Zyniecki stayed busy last winter working out with the Albany Starfish Swim Club.
“I focused more on longer distance races so I could hit my full potential,” he said. “I came back for the camaraderie.”
CADETS, INDIANS TIE
Albany Academy beat Glens Falls in the 400 free relay to gain 40 points and tie the Indians for the small-school team championship.
Both teams finished with 394 points.
Albany Academy senior Alex Dreisbach turned in an impressive performance before he was named Section II’s top scholar-athlete. He won the 200 IM (1:58.89) and 100 free (47.57), anchored a victorious 200 medley relay, and finished off the Cadets’ 400 free relay (3:18.47) after swims by Bennett Stahl, Wyatt Pritchard and Chris Poole.
Albany Academy also placed first in the 200 free relay (1:32.94).
Nick Wilkinson of Glens Falls won the 100 fly (52.54) and 100 back (54.27), and was a member of the Indians’ runner-up 200 medley and 400 free relays. Nico Brosnihan of LaSalle won the 50 free (21.87) and 100 breast (1:01.71).
Shenendehowa 539, Niskayuna 358, Shaker 333.5, Bethlehem 228, Ballston Spa 174, Guilderland/Voorheesville 130, Mohonasen/Schalmont 108.5, Saratoga Springs 101, Schenectady 89, Albany 80.
200 medley relay — Shenendehowa (Ryan Gordon, Luke Gordon, Eric Tsui, Mike Conley), 1:36.22 (Section II record, AAC, NYS); Shaker (Timothy Buff, Ryan O’Connor, William Matz, Nikos Moisidis), 1:38.71 (NYS); Niskayuna, 1:44.19; Ballston Spa, 1:45.31; Bethlehem, 1:47.70.
200 free — Reid Zyniecki (GV), 1:45.30 (NYS); Eric Burdge (Shen), 1:46.38 (NYS); Andrew Semmes (Shak), 1:46.39 (NYS); Timothy Buff (Shak), 1:46.99 (NYS); Emerwon Wells (Nisk), 1:47.61.
200 IM — Nick Hooper (Shen), 1:56.18 (NYS); Evan Melby (Nisk), 1:58.54 (NYS); Luke Gordon (Shen), 1:58.76 (NYS); William Matz (Shak), 1:59.08 (NYS); Connor Killane (Shen), 2:04.16.
50 free — Gunnar Zemering (BC), 21.41 (NYS); Ryan Gordon (Shen), 21.44 (NYS); Chris Vesic (BS), 22.09 (NYS); Eric Tsui (Shen), 22.21 (NYS); Sylan Karlok (Nisk), 22.35.
100 fly — Eric Tsui (Shen), 53.53 (NYS); Brian Nolte (Shak), 56.89; Calvin Cleworth (Sch), 56.92; Andrew Stewart (Nisk), 57.11; Jeremy Collison (GV), 57.31.
100 free — Ryan Gordon (Shen), 46.77 (NYS); Gunnar Zemering (BC), 47.94; Dylan Karlok (Nisk), 48.68 (NYS); Nikos Moisidis (Shak), 49.02; Mike Conley (Shen), 49.22.
500 free — Emerson Wells (Nisk), 4:45.13 (NYS); Brian Nolte (Shak), 4:51.49 (NYS); Aidan Strayer (Nisk), 4:53.40; Andrew Semmes (Shak), 4:55.24; Connor Killane (Shen), 5:01.84.
200 free relay — Shenendehowa (Nick Hooper, Mike Conley, Eric Stui, Ryan Gordon), 1:28.06 (NYS); Shaker, 1:30.62; Niskayuna, 1:30.77; Bethlehem, 1:33.00; Ballston Spa, 1:33.43.
100 back — Nick Hooper (Shen), 52.83 (NYS); Timothy Buff (Shak), 54.57 (NYS); Nicholas Buff (Shak), 57.54; Piotr Czajowski (Shen), 57.65; Peter Beidl (Shen), 57.77.
100 breast — Luke Gordon (Shen), 1:00.25 (NYS); Evan Melby (Nisk), 1:00.45 (NYS); William Matz (Shak), 1:00.61 (NYS); Reid Zyniecki (GV), 1:00.88 (NYS); Ryan O’Connor (Shak), 1:01.89.
400 free relay — Niskayuna (Orion Whitney, Dylan Karlok, Emerson Wells, Evan Melby), 3:14.40 (NYS); Shenendehowa (Eric Budge, Nick Hooper, Luke Gordon, Piotr Czajowski), 3:14.74 (NYS); Shaker (Mark Enright, Timothy Buff, Andrew Semmes, Nikos Moisidid), 3:16.92 (NYS); Mohonasen/Schalmont, 3:29.42; Saratoga Springs, 3:31.05.
Glens Falls 394, Albany Academy 394, Queensbury 327, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 321, Gloversville 178, Canajoharie/Fort Plain 162, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk 119, Amsterdam 100, Fonda/Johnstown 90,
Taconic Hills 65, LaSalle 40, Hudson Falls 9.
200 medley relay — Albany Academy (Alex Hass, Arka Rao, Wyatt Pritchard, Alex Dreisbach), 1:41.01. 200 free — Garret Frandsen (GF), 1:49.58. 200 IM — Alex Dreisbach (AA), 1:58.89 (NYS); Brandon Beaudoin (BH), 1:59.90 (NYS). 50 free — Niko Brosnihan (LSI), 21.87 (NYS); Matthew Walton (Q), 22.21 (NYS). 100 fly — Nick Wilkinson (GF), 52.54 (NYS). 100 free — Alex Dreisbach (AA), 47.57 (NYS); Matthew Walton (Q), 48.84 (NYS). 500 free — Taylor Duguay (GF), 5:03.21. 200 free relay — Albany Academy (Robert Jones, Arka Rao, Chrie Poole, Bennett Stahl), 1:32.94. 100 back — Nick Wilkinson (GF), 54.27 (NYS). 100 breast — Niko Brosnihan (LSI), 1:01.71. 400 free relay — Albany Academy (Bennett Stahl, Wyatt Pritchard, Chris Poole, Alex Dreisbach), 3:18.47 (NYS).
NYS — State meet qualifier