Brian Melanson went a bit out of character when he gave his Schenectady High School swimming and diving team an impassioned speech before Friday’s Aqua League meet against Albany Academy.
Normally, the low-key veteran coach will offer a few words to encourage his team.
“It was not a huge speech, but yeah, it was a little different that usual,” Melanson said. “I told the guys the last four years Albany Academy has been undefeated in the league, and the four years before that, it was us. I told the guys it was our biggest hurdle.”
The Patriots cleared that hurdle with a strong performance, picking up six individual wins and sweeping the three relays in a 97-88 triumph at the Pat Riley Sports Center.
The score was nearly the same (99-87) the last time Schenectady beat Albany Academy in early February 2009. Schenectady’s only league loss in each of the next four seasons came against Academy.
“Winning [Friday] was a big step to try to get the league championship back,” said Melanson.
Schenectady beat Amsterdam before topping the Cadets, and has Aqua League meets remaining with Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, Canajoharie/Fort Plain and Albany.
Albany Academy beat Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk before its setback, and also has three league meets to go.
“We’ve had a great month and a half, and that’s put us in a good position, but we know there’s still a ways to go and things can happen,” said Melanson. “Sickness, getting bad grades, behavior problems. Those things can happen. I just hope they don’t, and we can finish on a high note.”
Sophomore Calvin Cleworth was among Schenectady’s standouts Friday with four victories by his name, and even bigger things could be ahead.
“He was our first freshman to patch at the sectionals. He got third in the fly,” said Melanson. “This year, he has an outside chance to be our first sophomore to make it to states. He’s an IM kid and he can swim everything. He has a lot of options.”
Cleworth won the 100 free and 200 free Friday. He also joined with Ian Farmer, Sam Veglia and Julian Canavan for a victory in the 200 frey relay, and coupled with Canavan, Veglia and Tyler Gannon on a first-place 400 free relay.
Canavan, a four-year varsity swimmer and one of only three seniors on the team, won the 200 free and 500 free. Veglia took first in the 100 fly, and Gannon won the 100 back after joining with Farmer, Jacob Chank and Adam Boese for first in the 200 medley relay.
“I posted one team goal, and that was to win the league,” said Melanson. “We’ve talked about it all season. Everyone knew who the league went through.”
Schenectady has non-league meets remaining with Queensbury, Glens Falls and Niskayuna, and will be hosting its 15-team invitational Jan. 11. The Patriots began their season with a loss to Shenendehowa, the seven-time defending Section II large-school champion.
Rams go 1-2
Amsterdam seniors Kristian Santos and Connor Liverio placed first and second, respectively at the Bethlehem Diving Invitational Saturday.
Santos scored 457.85 points on his 11 dives. Liverio finished with 379.35 to edge Niskayuna’s Jack Newton (372.65). Greg Ingraham of Bethlehem was fourth (356.45).
Santos won the Section II small-school diving title last season and Liverio was the runner-up.