ITHACA — The weight was on the shoulders of Jamestown’s Matt Marsh to bring a state title back to Western New York and the junior didn’t disappoint.
Marsh was the only swimmer from Section VI to enter finals in any event and took full advantage, winning The 100-yard freestyle at the New York State Swimming and Diving Championships at Ithaca College on Saturday.
Marsh’s head popped out of the pool, huffing and puffing after the biggest race of his life. Unsure of the outcome, Marsh looked toward the scoreboard and shortly after, showed off his state championship-winning smile as the board showed his name on top.
“It’s awesome — I don’t even know how to describe it — I’m speechless,” said a wide-eyed, grinning Marsh. “In prelims I wanted to get out faster, and did that. Then in finals, I got out fast and came back fast and stayed in the lead.”
Marsh’s time of 45.40 broke the previous Section VI record of 45.42 by former Clarence standout Charlie Rommel (2011) by two-tenths of a second. Marsh’s time was also good enough to garner automatic All-America honors.
The 100 freestyle was highly anticipated as the top eight swimmers in prelims were separated by seven tenths of a second or less.
Brockport’s Nick Olson led the race after the first 50 yards, but Marsh made up ground on his final turn and took the lead in the final 25 yards.
Earlier, Olson touched out Marsh for first in the 50 freestyle. Marsh’s time of 20.70 was .4 better than his preliminary clocking and qualified him for All-America.
“He deserves everything he gets,” said Jamestown coach Nancy Feenstra. “He’s a great asset to our team as far as leadership. He’s brought everybody here with him.”
Marsh was joined by teammates, Karsen Terry, Matt Caldwell and Charlie Simmons, who qualified with him in the 200 medley and the 200 freestyle relays.
Despite not making for the finals, Marsh was happy to have a crew of his own at Ithaca supporting him.
“I love being here with my team,” Marsh said. “They’ve been following me and supporting me through this whole journey, especially making it with them in both relays, it was the best part.”
Despite losing All-Americans Jack Boyd and Luke Otto to graduation last year, Canisius’ 400-yard freestyle relay team of John Quinlan, Jake Ruffolo, Andrew Wojtowicz and Alann Collins returned to states to take fourth place (3:11.65). The relay team was seeded eighth going into the finals, but shaved off nearly four seconds in the finals.
“That was absolutely a huge surprise,” Canisius coach Brian Spurlock said. “They really bonded together and just went after it.”
Canisius junior Sam Sawyer broke the school record and the Monsignor Martin record in the 100-yard backstroke (53.22) to take 12th place. Sawyer also broke the school record in the 100-yard butterfly and took 18th.
“He swam unbelieveable,” Spurlock said. “He really hit his taper well and the kid works harder than anyone else, so he really deserves it.”
Williamsville East’s Tim Finley was 12th in diving on Friday. Hamburg’s 200-yard medley relay of Michael Maurer, Cody Wittmeyer, Luke Kennedy and Kyle Griffin took 18th place (1:39.24).