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Clarence girls swimming reloads with young talent

The graduation of four Division I swimmers would devastate most high school girls swimming teams, but not Clarence.

New faces have produced the same results as the Red Devils won the ECIC large-school title last weekend and this season ran their streak of ECIC I titles to six. Their 10-0 record in ECIC I includes a 101-85 victory over Orchard Park.

Gone are the “franchise” swimmers who for five years dominated the scene: Dina Rommel (now at Virginia), Sydney Modeas (Northwestern), Rebecca Anthone (Canisius) and Victoria Butler (UB).

“When they came up they were instant stars; this group it’s going to take a little longer,” said coach Joe Zwierzchowski. “We’re young and pretty talented, but nothing along the lines of what we lost.”

Clarence swept all three relays at last year’s sectionals. Seniors Dorotka Tou and Maddy Jacumski are the only swimmers back from those relays.

Jacumski also placed sixth in the state last year in the 100 backstroke.

At times the Clarence lineup has featured four eighth graders and five ninth graders.

Although the young swimmers have had a major impact, Clarence also got a huge boost when sisters Anna and Celia Kottakis moved into the district from New Jersey. Both are underclassmen with state meet talent. Zwierzchowski said they have been huge point-getters in the relays and are talented and hard working.

Look for Clarence to challenge in most events at the Nov. 6-7 Section VI Championships at Erie Community College.

Also sure to impress will be Kristen Romano. The versatile Lancaster sophomore broke the Section VI record in the 100 backstroke at last weekend’s ECIC meet at Clarence. She’s the defending Section VI champion in the event and was state runner-up last year as well as fifth in the 200 individual medley.

She has the fastest times in the section in the 200 IM, 100 back and 100 free, all in state cut times.

Her incredible time commitment to train includes morning practices and working with a personal trainer.

“She’s very driven; it’s awesome to see as a coach someone so motivated and committed,” said first-year coach Mark Ayers. “She’s a great talent, and probably one of the top swimmers to come out of Western New York.”

The Redskins’ lineup also includes senior Marissa DiRienzo, who went to states last year in the 200 free and 100 back. She has verbally committed to Canisius College.

Southwestern is the class of the Southern Tier with its depth and individual talent. Its 200 free relay has qualified for states in 1:41.37, with the Lawton sisters, Katie and Jillian, Xiane Smith and Sydney Burk. Sydney Thomas has qualified for states in the backstroke for the second year in a row.

“I’m kind of spoiled in the fact we can move girls around when it comes to relays and events,” said coach Glen Shoup. “We have seven seniors who are all interchangeable to the team.”

The Trojans have won Section VI Class C the last four years and are two-time CCAA Division I county meet champs.

Southwestern diver Kelsey Powers is ranked No. 4 in Section VI with 213.75 points. She holds multiple diving records and can also contribute in the swim events.

Fredonia/Dunkirk sophomore Deidra Osula made the state cut time in the 50 in 24.75, just off her career best of 24.62. She went to states last year in two events.

The team has enough depth to put together some strong relays with McKenzie Quinn, Katie Webster, Riley Drummond and Mikayla Reynolds. Two divers, Victoria and Isabella Pucci-Schaefer, are among the best in the section.

The section was dealt a blow when junior Makayla Sargent of Olean decided not to swim for her school. She won the state title last year in the 200 IM in an automatic All-America time of 2:02.80. She was also third in the state in the fly.

Sargent moved to the Rochester suburb of Victor, where she joined the Victor Swim Club. “She’s got some pretty lofty goals, I can’t necessarily blame her,” said coach Dan Brown.

Sargent has had a big year so far in Victor. Her 400 IM time qualified her for the Olympic trials heading into the 2016 Games in Rio.

Lockport has a superstar in the making in freshman Katie Pollock, who just hit the state cut time in the 50 free in 24.84. She competed in the state meet last year as an eighth grader.

Nardin deep, Fredricks fast

Nardin finished the regular season with a 9-0 record following Tuesday night’s 78-15 win over Buffalo Seminary. The win boosts the Gators’ dual meet winning streak to 160 in a row going back to 2000.

The Gators have tremendous depth and will be heavy favorites to win the All-Catholic meet on Nov. 11-12 at ECC. They’ve won every title since 1999. Nardin is led by two sophomores Danielle Orie (sprinter, freestyler) and Julia Martin (distances).

Mount St. Mary junior Alexis Fredricks is the league top individual and had already hit three state cut times. Last year she made it to the finals of the 100 backstroke in the state Fed meet.

Around the decks

Tess Minigell of Amherst won the 200 and 500 frees to earn Small School Swimmer of the meet at last weekend’s ECICs.

Williamsville East’s Brooke Pettis has made the state cut in the 100 fly and is chasing same in the 200 IM.

Look for the 500 free at sectionals to be a really close race between Jackie Sagasta of Kenmore West, Julianna Sebastian of Williamsville North and Anastasia Arzaga of Iroquois.

Jamestown junior Megan Marsh has had another big year after winning sectionals a year ago in the 100 breaststroke. Marsh has punched her ticket to states so far in the 200 IM and breast.

Section VI coaching legend Art Aungst has landed at East Aurora and has plenty of talent to work with including Sydney Atendido, who owns the section’s fastest time in the fly at 57.83. Other standouts include: Mary Dunbar, Shelby MacSwan and Mary Zagrobelny.