In what Shenendehowa boys' swimming and diving coach Chuck Dunham described as a sectional prep, his Plainsmen competed over three consecutive days last week and came away with a pair of impressive team victories.
"It was different. It was a unique three days," Dunham said. "We faced good competition and had a positive experience."
Shenendehowa rallied to beat Niskayuna 95-91 a week ago Thursday in a clash between unbeaten Suburban Council teams. The Plainsmen spent the next two days piling up 559.5 points in winning the Invitational at the Glen team title at Watkins Glen. At that 11-team invitational, preliminary competition was Friday and finals were Saturday.
"It was three days of getting up and having to compete," Dunham said. "It was like a dress rehearsal for the sectionals."
Shenendehowa (6-0) cleared a significant hurdle in its bid for a perfect dual meet season when it came back from a 69-57 deficit with four races to go and handed Niskayuna (5-1) its first defeat.
The comeback began when Shenendehowa — after a last-second lineup change — placed first and second in the 200-yard freestyle relay and outscored Niskayuna 12-2. Yang Zheng Foon, Nate Constable, Kaleb Hotaling and Jackson Homan won the race. Jimwook Lee, Quinten De Man, Alexander Fabris and James Jordan placed second.
"We were down and I had to change the lineup on the fly. The kids rose to the occasion," Dunham said. "We were going to lose or tie if we stood pat, and I made a calculated risk and split our A and B relays. The decision was to go for the win, and the calculated risk paid off.
"The kids fought back. There was such a wave of emotion and the guys were able to ride it out."
Homan, one of Shenendehowa's 12 seniors, prevailed in the 100 breaststroke as part of the meet-clinching stretch run. Homan also won the 200 individual medley earlier in the meet. Bryan Liu came up big for Niskayuna by winning the 50 free and 100 free and contributing to first-place 200 medley and 400 free relays.
"Niskayuna brought their A-plus game," Dunham said.
Here are a few more notes as the Section II boys' swimming and diving season reaches the midway mark.
Hotaling had three wins for Shenendehowa and set a pool record — and came within fractions of a second of another pool record — at the Invitational at the Glen.
Hotaling prevailed in the 200 individual medley final in 1:57.72, just missing the pool record of 1:57.71 that Shoonhsin Li of Horseheads had set in the event's preliminaries the day before. Hotaling swam a 1:58.38 in the prelims, and, like Li, had bettered the 2:02.05 pool record Hans Roser of Lansing had held since 2007.
Hotaling came back later and won the 100 breaststroke in a pool-record 58.85, breaking the mark of 59.53 held by Roser since 2007.
"Kaleb was absolutely motivated to break that pool record," Dunham said.
Senior Erik Herrero won the diving for Shenendehowa's other individual first-place effort, while Hotaling was a part of the Plainsmen's triumphant 200 medley relay with Homan, Jordan and Zack Lassetter.
Queensbury ninth-grader David Walton was among the standouts at last Saturday's Schenectady Invitational with victories in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke while helping the Spartans take first in the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. His performance was part of a team championship.
Earlier this season, in a meet with Glens Falls, Walton set a school record in the 100 backstroke (53.89).
Niskayuna athletes posted a meet-leading five victories at the Dec. 15 Shenendehowa Invitational, with Liu taking the 50 and 100 free finals while churning out legs on triumphant 200 medley and 200 free relays. Matthew Chao, another of Niskayuna's six seniors, won the diving. Niskayuna finished third out of 19 teams behind Shenendehowa and first-place Pittsford.
Chao's 623.05 score at the Shenendehowa Invitational tops the state 11-dive leaderboard, as does the 1:27.95 clocked that day by Niskayuna's 200 free relay group of Liu, Victor Schingo, Mark Lipkin and Scott Ward. Hotaling (1:56.00) and Walton (1:56.36) went 1-2 in the 200 IM at the same meet for the state's top two times.
Bethlehem junior Joey Chiarella is unbeaten in dual meet individual events this season after winning to 50 free against Schenectady Tuesday. Chiarella currently owns Section II's fastest times in the 200 free (1:45.04), 500 free (4:47.90) and 100 butterfly (53.24).
Shenendehowa (6-0) and Mohonasen/Schalmont (3-0) were the lone unbeaten Section II Division 1 teams after Tuesday's meets, followed by Saratoga Springs (6-1), Niskayuna (5-1), Bethlehem (5-2), Guilderland/Voorheesville (3-3), Ballston Spa (1-4), Hudson Falls/South Glens Falls (1-4), Schenectady (1-4), Shaker (1-4), CBA/Troy (1-5) and Albany (0-5).
Albany Academy (4-0), Gloversville/Mayfield (4-0) and New Lebanon-Berlin (4-0) were Section II's unbeaten Division 2 teams after Tuesday's meets, followed by Taconic Hills (5-1), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (4-2), Queensbury (2-1), Hudson (3-2), Canajoharie/Fort Plain (2-2), Glens Falls (2-3), Amsterdam (0-3), Fonda/Johnstown (0-3) and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (0-5).
The Section II swimming and diving championships are Feb. 14-16 at the Shenendehowa Aquatic Center, and the state meet is March 1-2 at the Nassau County Aquatic Center on Long Island. Shenendehowa is the two-time defending Section II Division 1 champ, and a winner of 10 of the last 12 team titles. Queensbury is the defending Section II Division 2 champ.