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CLARENCE SWIMMERS HAVE NO ILLUSIONS ABOUT STAYING UNBEATEN

The Orchard Park and Clarence boys swimming teams will both enter their meet Friday night undefeated. Good matchup, right?

"Unfortunately the undefeated records doesn't do justice to the situation," said fifth-year Clarence coach Eric McClaren. "They're the reigning state champions, they've got All-Americans -- we're basically nobody in comparison."

But the Red Devils are swimming steadily upward. Clarence is 11-0, winning all of its meets by at least 20 points. But when it comes to Section IV boys swimming, times and wins are nice, but the ultimate measuring stick is Orchard Park.

"I don't want to make any predictions, but if we're within 15 to 20 points of them, it would be a major stride," said McClaren, whose team lost, 84-18, to the Quakers last year. "Being OP and the last meet of season, it'll be a high-energy meet. OP always brings a noisy group. When you're the best around for so long, it not only builds confidence in your swimmers -- your fans get louder and louder."

Clarence's program has 25 swimmers after having just nine four years ago and there are 70 boys and girls in the district's middle school program.

No matter how they do Friday night, Clarence may close the gap even further next year. The Red Devils are buoyed by underclassmen like juniors Duncan Carranza and Matt Guay and freshmen Dan Glauber and Steve Inacker, while Orchard Park will graduate nine seniors.

Rowing without water

Steven Coppola of Canisius won the junior A boys "ergatta" at the Canadian National Indoor Rowing Championships in Toronto on Sunday.

Competing on a rowing machine -- known as an ergometer -- Coppola won in a time of 6:29.2 seconds. In the women's junior A ergatta, Mary Dobmeier of Holy Angels finished second in 7:29.2. Both students row with the West Side Rowing Club.

More than 500 competitors participated in various age groups at the event, held at the CBC Broadcast Centre. The ergometers were set up side-by-side and hooked up to a video screen so onlookers could watch the "race."

Wrestle-mania Wednesday

The Wrestling Review of Western New York usually picks one match as the Ilio DiPaolo Wrestling Spotlight of the week. This week, the decision was tough: four matches, same night.

So the statisticians divided the spotlight in four to account for some equally great battles up north and down south:

No. 3 large school Niagara Wheatfield (8-1) at No. 7 Lockport (12-1-1), 5 p.m.

No. 5 large school Niagara Falls (5-1) at No. 6 North Tonawanda (5-2-1), 6 p.m.

No. 1 small school Fredonia (10-2) at No. 5 Southwestern (7-3), 6:30 p.m.

No. 4 small school Falconer (9-1) at No. 7 Ripley (6-1), 7 p.m.

Around the halls

The Msgr. Martin Association, as expected, divided its boys basketball teams as it did last year, with Timon/St. Jude, Turner/Carroll, St. Joe's and St. Francis classified as B schools while Canisius, O'Hara, Niagara Catholic and St. Mary's of Lancaster will compete for the Class C berth in the state Catholic tournament. . . . The Timon/St. Jude hockey team should improve upon its state ranking in Division II after beating defending Division I state champion Ithaca, 4-3, at the McQuaid Invitational Friday night before losing the final to the hosts, 4-3, in double overtime. The Tigers were the team that bumped Williamsville North from the top spot in the state's Division I poll by beating the Spartans, 5-4, two weeks ago. . . . Jamestown football's Sheldon Battle will visit Rhode Island this weekend; Division I signings will officially get underway with the national signing day Wednesday. . . . Williamsville North boys basketball coach Jerry Scarcella, a former JV coach at Williamsville South under coach Al Monaco, won the teams' first meeting this season last week, 60-56. . . . St. Francis senior wrestler Brandon Booker logged his 100th victory at the Ken-Ton Tournament. . . . Stephanie Lenhart of the Lockport girls bowling team rolled a 300 to help the Lions to the title over the weekend at the 22nd Roy Sommer Memorial Invitational at Thruway Lanes.

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