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OP leaves challengers in its wake

Only one thing surprised coach Art Aungst about his team's record-setting swim in the 200-yard medley relay Wednesday in the Section VI Swimming and Diving Championships.

"I thought we might have a shot at the section record in the state meet, but I didn't think they would go this fast that early," Aungst said.

Orchard Park's Phil Aronica, Brian Dansa, Barrett Erbe and Daniel Hodson swam a 1:37.31 to break the Section VI record of 1:37.63 held by OP since 1996. Aronica led off with a 23.88 split in the backstroke and his teammates followed with equally impressive swims. The race highlighted a big night for OP at the Flickinger Aquatic Center.

Gustav Jelvall-Jeppsson and Erbe finished 1-2 in the 200 individual medley, Aronica won the 50, shared the 500 free, and the 400 free relay upset top seed Iroquois. The Quakers also won the team title, bettering a field of 26.

The sectionals were also a qualifier for the state meet March 6-7 at Nassau Aquatic on Long Island.

The largest reaction from the crowd came moments after the 500 free times appeared. They showed Matt Moessinger of Iroquois and Aronica finishing in a rare tie, both clocking a 4:46.02.

Joining Aronica as an individual event double winner was senior Matt Schwippert of Iroquois, who won the 100 backstroke and defended his title in the 100 butterfly.

Williamsville North's strong tradition in diving added another chapter when senior Chris Arcara won. Arcara, who will continue his career at North Carolina State, scored a career-high 521.75. His inward pike scored a pair of 10s and his forward 1 1/2 somersault with a front twist earned one 10. They were the only 10s of the meet.

"I've gotten 10s before, but this is the most I've ever gotten," said Arcara, who was third at the state meet last year. "Usually you can tell, but sometimes you're like, 'Oh, OK. That's nice someone else liked it.' "

Junior Jim Sundquist of East Aurora overtook Matt Geiger of Williamsville East to win the 200 free. . . . Jelvall-Jeppsson, who moved to Orchard Park last fall from Sweden, won the 200 IM in 2:01.40, dropping two seconds off his prelim time. . . . Grand Island junior Evan Carey earned his second trip to states when he won the 100 free. . . . Alden junior Bob Rutkowski won the 100 breast after finishing second last year. . . . Clarence's Andrew Barden, Adam Urschel, Adam Weber and Charlie Rommel won the 200 free relay in 1:29.02.

e-mail: mmonnin@buffnews.com

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