Julia Samson of Shenendehowa and her record-setting relay group have secured top seeds for the state swimming and diving championships scheduled for today and Saturday at Ithaca College.
Samson and teammate Emma Rupert will enter the meet with a pair of top-10 seeds by their names, and Ballston Spa diver Addison Walkowiak, the 2011 state champ, has the second-best score coming in with a 513.40.
Samson is No. 1 in the 100-yard butterfly (56.04), and No. 7 in the 200 individual medley (2:06.30) in which she placed third last year as a freshman in both the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation competitions.
“Her goal since she joined us as a seventh-grader has been to step to the top of the podium,” said Shenendehowa coach Chuck Dunham. “She’s put in the time, the energy and the effort to be in a position to do that.”
Samson, Shelly Zhang, Susie Schwarz and Jennifer Lucius are No. 1 in the 200 medley relay after setting a Section II record in the event (1:47.11) at the Nov. 9 area championship meet. That performance kick-started a strong performance as the Lady Plainsmen wrestled the team title away from Niskayuna.
“That got the ball rolling. It showed everyone on our team that if you believe, anything can happen,” said Dunham. “It was a great way to start the meet, and at the states, hopefully, they can can the whole section going with another big swim.”
The Shenendehowa foursome earned All-America consideration with their 1:47.11. Automatic All-America will take a 1:46.21 or faster.
“What can I do to make myself faster? That’s the challenge,” said Dunham. “You look at little things to clean it up. Little things can add up.”
Last year at the state level, Samson, Schwarz and Lucious joined with Bridget Geary in the 200 medley relay and the group took fourth (NYSPHSAA) and fifth (Federation), respectively.
Samson, Rupert, Schwarz and Lucius are also seeded No. 5 in the 200 free relay (1:38.45).
“Most of them have been to this meet a few times,” said Dunham. “They want to go out and reach their fullest potential.”
Niskayuna is No. 3 in the 200 medley relay (1:48.94) and No. 4 in the 400 free relay (3:34.59).
Rupert is No. 9 in the 200 free (1:54.27) and No. 10 in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.27) where Olivia Jack of Scotia-Glenville is No. 7 (1:06.00).
A fraction of a second separates Niskayuna teammates Zeynep Balto (5:05.72, No. 8) and Maggie Wyngowski (5:05.73, No. 9) in the 500 free.
Swimming preliminaries are today starting at 11:15 a.m., and all of the diving rounds follow at 3 p.m. Saturday’s swimming final begin at 10:15. Section II will be represented by 52 athletes.