CLIFTON PARK — Sometimes, to win a championship, you have to roll the dice. Sometimes, you even have to take that risk more than once.
Shenendehowa boys' swimming coach Chuck Dunham took a risk, twice, loading his 200-yard relay squads with his fastest swimmers Saturday afternoon at the Section II Division I championships at the Shenendehowa Aquatics Center, and it paid off.
The Plainsmen captured the opening 200-yard medley relay by .18 seconds in front of top-seeded Bethlehem.
Dunham then made the same call again in the 200 freestyle relay.
Shenendehowa prevailed again, this time by more than a second and propelled the Plainsmen to their fourth straight title and 12th in 14 years.
"We knew that it was a big, big risk going for it," Dunham said. "It was a calculated risk, but it could literally go either way. Our four guys got the ball rolling for us, and I think that was really big because it set the tone for us for the whole day."
The opening relay win provided the Plainsmen with a six-point edge on the Eagles, repeating it again later in the day was another big risk/reward choice by Dunham.
"By doing that, we knew we had to be up going into the last relay," Dunham said. "We knew what they had at the end, and we knew that it was going to be a tall task, if not near impossible, to beat the last guys."
Bethlehem captured the final event, the 400 freestyle relay and the 40 first-place points that go with the victory, but it wasn't enough to catch the Plainsmen and their 472-point total. Bethlehem was second at 460, followed by Niskayuna with 274 and Saratoga Springs 264.
"We're known for going for the 400 free relay, that's always kind of traditionally been one of our stronger, if not our strongest, relay. So my hope was that we might catch everyone off guard a little bit by going for the other two," Dunham said.
The Shenendehowa coach wouldn't be celebrating if not for senior Alex Fabris' anchor legs in both relays. The Plainsmen didn't lead the opening relay until Fabris was halfway back to the edge of the pool during his final lap.
"When I take a breath, I'll sometimes see a person next to me, but you have to really keep your head down and keep going," Fabris said. "I'm not really thinking. I just have to go, keep my head down, keep racing.
"You want to stay in your lane and focus on yourself."
Fabris also captured the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle events.
"I was looking at it one at a time, this relay first, this next individual, next individual and then the relay," Fabris said.
He was also confident in his workload.
"Everyone should have confidence that they're the best in the pool," Fabris said. "You have to believe in yourself and your teammates."
Dunham, who celebrated his 150th dual meet coaching victory earlier this month, said this was one of his most challenging seasons.
"Losing 12 guys, which is normally two or three graduating classes for us from last year, on top of having two guys transfer, we lost 14 guys from last year to this year," Dunham said. "I think that for a lot of people, we were in the rare position where we were sort of the underdog this year, and I think that relay kind of encapsulated what our whole season has been like, one big, uphill battle."
Each swimmer that met the state qualifying time during the season or at the sectional meet will compete March 6 and 7 at the Nassau County Aquatics Center in East Meadow, Long Island.
Niskayuna sophomore diver Conor Compton captured the Section II title on Thursday. The top eight divers were recognized Saturday afternoon.
Compton earned 503.10 points for his 11 dives, the lone diver to reach the state qualifying mark of 450 at the meet.
He will be joined by Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk junior Jared Lamson and Saratoga senior Ryan Genter, who hit the mark in December at the Shenendehowa Holiday Invitational.
"I've gotten very close, but never 500," Compton said. "I think I stayed very consistent and more consistent on the high-end of things."
Compton's scores stayed between 7.0 and 9.0 throughout his 11 dives, keeping him atop the leader board. He kept his harder dives mixed in with his more confident attempts.
"It's a bit of a relief knowing that you have an easier dive next, this way you can kind of take a breath and sort of wind down from a harder dive," Compton said.
Compton qualified for his second straight trip to the state meet.
"My goal for states is just to have fun and try to put out a good performance," Compton said. "I might throw in a harder dive, but for the most part, I'm going to keep the list the same because that's what I'm comfortable with."
Glens Falls swam away with the Division II title with 460.5 points, followed by Albany Academy with 347 and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake with 313.
Shenendehowa 472, Bethlehem 460, Niskayuna 274, Saratoga Springs 264, CBA/Troy 177, Schenectady 124, Albany 115, Guilderland/Voorheesville 99, Shaker 96, Ballston Spa 80.
NYS-denotes state qualifying time
200 medley relay: Shenendehowa (Lassetter, Fitzgerald, Rogowski, Fabris), 1:37.00 NYS. Bethlehem (Kaback, Winne, Janeski, Wu), 1:37.18 NYS. CBA/Troy (Hart, Herbinger, Greene, Mebeus), 1:41.89. 200 freestyle: Chiarella (Beth), 1:41.74 NYS, Lipkin (Nisk), 1:42.98 NYS, Gregory (Sara), 1:45.49 NYS. 200 individual medley: Kaback (Beth), 1:54.75 NYS, Lassetter (Shen), 1:57.89, Marron (Sara), 2:00.26 NYS. 50- reestyle: Fabris (Shen), 21.86 NYS, Wu (Beth), 22.14 NYS, Engstrom (Alba), 22.41. 1-meter diving: Compton (Nisk), 503.10 NYS, Genter (Sara), 449.00, Karafanda (Nisk), 437.75. 100 butterfly: Chiarella (Beth), 52.04 NYS. Janeski (Beth), 52.29 NYS. Marron (Sara), 54.53. 100 freestyle: Fabris (Shen), 48.17 NYS. Wu (Shen), 48.86 NYS. Battibulli (Sche), 49.79. 500 freestyle: Lipkin (Nisk), 4:41.71 NYS. Gregory (Sara), 4:44.92 NYS. Rogowski (Shen), 4:45.97 NYS. 200 freestyle relay: Shenendehowa (Silaika, Lee, Rogowski, Fabris), 1:29.45 NYS. Bethlehem (Winne, Baum, Berlin, Chiarella), 1:30.88. Niskayuna (Lipkin, Goodspeed, Exkman, Gianetti), 1:31.81. 100 backstroke: Kaback (Beth), 51.97 NYS. Janeski (Beth), 52.82 NYS. Lassetter (Shen), 52.97 NYS. 100 breaststroke: Herbinger (CBA/T), 1:00.42 NYS. Fitzgerald (Shen), 1:00.51 NYS. Goodspeed (Nisk), 1:00.66 NYS. 400 freestyle relay: Bethlehem (Wu, Kaback, janeski, Chiarella), 3:13.08 NYS. Saratoga (Gregory, Masten, Baird, Marron), 3:19.65. Niskayuna (Giannetti, Eckman, Goodspeed, Lipkin), 3:20.28.
Glens Falls 460.5, Albany Academy 347, Burnt Hills 313, Queensbury 253, Mohonasen/Schalmont 220, Gloversville/Mayfield 203, Canajoharie/Fort Plain 87, Amsterdam 66.5, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk 64, Taconic Hills 52, Fonda/Johnstown 38, Maple Hill 23. LaSalle 15.
200 medley relay: Queensbury (Bearor, Ford, Brown, Caimano), 1:38.36 NYS. Glens Falls (Center, Frandsen, Fairchild, Towers), 1:42.49. Burnt Hills (Karaca, Marshall, Jones, Baumgarten), 1:45.10. 200 freestyle: Bry. Henkel (AA) 1:41.46 NYS. Stafford (BHBL), 1:43.45 NYS. Skellie (Glen) 1:55.42. 200 individual medley: Bra. Henkel (AA), 2:00.18 NYS, Fusco (Moho) 2:01.19, Marshall (BHBL), 2:03.56. 50 freestyle: Bearor (Q) 20.74 NYS. Caimano (Q), 22.38. Anselment (Glen), 22:60. 1-meter diving: Lamson (RCS), 478.30. Cataldo (AA) 396.85. Gerdeman (AA), 394.20. 100 butterfly: Dillenback (Glov) 51.53 NYS. Young (AA), 54.01. Ford (Q), 54.63. 100-freestyle: Bearor (Q) 46.09 NYS. Caimano (Q), 48.77. Jordan (Moho), 50.61. 500-freestyle: Bry. Henkel (AA), 4:46.38 NYS. Stafford (BHBL), 4:47.19 NYS. Gannon (Moho), 5:07.14. 200 freestyle relay: Albany Academy (Strich, Connors, Bra. Henkel, Bry. Henkel), 1:27.89 NYS. Queensbury (Caimano, Brown, Ford, Bearor), 1:27.89 NYS. Glens Falls (Anselment, Fairchild, Frandsen, Towers), 1:28.55. 100 backstroke: Center (Glen), 54.96. Dillenback (Glov), 55.10. Brown (Q), 56.85. 100 breaststroke: Bra. Henkel (AA), 59.35 NYS. Fusco (Moho), 1;01.58. Marshall (BHBL), 1:02.91. 400-freestyle relay: Albany Academy (Strich, Connors, Bra. Henkel, Bry. Henkel), 3:18.02 NYS. Glens Falls (Skellie, Hogan, Center, Anselment), 3:23.04. Burnt Hills (Karaca, Loucks, Marshall, Stafford), 1:45.48.