Western New York's best hope to crown a state champion in swimming may rest on the shoulders of sophomore Jack Boyd of Canisius and senior Andrew Marsh of Jamestown.
Both bring top seeds into this weekend's New York State Swimming and Diving Championships at the Erie Community College Flickinger Center.|
Marsh is the No. 1 seed in the 100 butterfly coming off a school record 50.76 in the Section VI meet.
He's also No. 5 in the backstroke at 51.93. Last year he was state runner-up in 50.9. Marsh said it's going to take some fast times to reach the final, and once he's there, he'd like to finish in the top three in both events.
"Last week I was been building up my yards a lot, and this week I'm starting to taper down a lot. You really need to two weeks to have a good taper," said Marsh, who will swim collegiately at West Virginia. "You just work on the little things for your race like starts and turns. The backstroke you start in the water so you work on your stroke count and how many kicks you make in the water. I feel good. I'm ready, I think."
Representing the Monsignor Martin Association's best chance for gold is Boyd, the No. 1 seed in the 200 freestyle (1:41.26) and No. 2 in the 500 freestyle. (4:34.00). Swimming as a freshman last year at the Nassau Aquatic Center in East Meadow, he finished second in both events to Kevin Hughes, who now swims for Notre Dame.
Boyd, one of six from his team to qualify, will also swim on the Crusaders' 200 and 400 free relays. St. Joe's is sending Ben Verdi in the breaststroke.
For Boyd, who hasn't seen a lot of competition this season, the state meet is what he trains all season for.
"There's are a lot of really good swimmers and the competition is going to be huge," said Boyd. "To be honest, pretty basically you do a lot of meets during the year but they're all like dress rehersals because the real focus is on that one meet, and if you can do that in the one meet, you're pretty set as a swimmer."
The Section VI team includes 54 athletes and is top-heavy with seniors. Look for Section VI to cash in on the those point-rich relays as it tries to better last year's fifth place finish among of nine sections.
Clarence and Williamsville East are sending all three relays while Starpoint and Williamsville North qualified two. Orchard Park and Frontier are sending teams in the 400 free relay.
Clarence is seeded among the top eight in all three. "Last year we moved up in the finals from eighth to second and from 10th to second in the two relays. If we hit it just right, and things go well, we'll be moving up. That's our goal," said Clarence coach Eric McClaren. "You can never tell what anyone else is going to do. We need to imporve on what we've done."
Individual qualifiers for the Red Devils are senior Kevin Kreher, junior Nick Hook in the 50 and Ryan Saenger in the 200 and 500 free.
Senior Matt Schutt of Starpoint is the No. 3 seed in the breaststroke with an All-America consideration time of 57.99, which also broke the Clarence pool record.
This is the third state meet for Schutt, who is considering St. Bonaventure. Last year he was eighth in the breaststroke at 58.58. Not only does he have a shot at the state title, but he's also eying the Section VI record of 57.73 set in 1997 by Joe Peresan of Lancaster.
"He'll be ready to go this weekend," said Starpoint coach Tim Menges. "He's got one of the best starts I've ever seen, and in his back half of his race, he's got great closing speed. He just finishes races really well."
Orchard Park qualified swimmers in four individuals events and a relay. Senior Andy Duszynski will swim the 200 free and 100 back and senior Spencer Bray is in the 200 and 500 free. Both are on the 400 free relay.
"Andy and Spence are seasoned veterans, this is their fourth years, and I look for good things," said coach Art Aungst. "They haven't really rested, and I think they'll go a lot faster than they've gone. They've had some good role models before them, and now they know they're the ones everyone else needs to copy."
What a season it's been for Williamsville North. The Spartans finished 12-1 with their only loss to Clarence. They won the Section VI, Class A meet and the ECIC large school championship. North qualified its record-breaking 200 and 400 free relays and backstroker Jerry Daigler.
The same four swimmers make up both relays: Matt Berus, Will Baker, Connor Mergler and Cameron MacDonald. Berus' 1:01.01 in the breaststroke earlier in the season broke his brother, Scott's, school record of 1:02.71.
The section will send five divers to the meet led by two-time Section VI champion Austin Devlin of Niagara Falls and ECIC overall champion Jeff Matter of East Aurora. Devlin was seventh last year.