2014 champions: Clarence and Orchard Park finished Nos. 1-2, respectively, in both the ECIC and Section VI championships. East Aurora won for the small schools at the ECIC finals and finished fourth at the Section VI Championships. Nardin won the All-Catholic Championship by more than 100 points over second-place Sacred Heart. Orchard Park got the better of Clarence at states as OP placed in third for team scores compared to Clarence’s sixth.
Orchard Park’s 1-2 punch, starting with Andrea Ernst: The Orchard Park senior has two straight state championship in the 100-yard freestyle and she was the only Section VI girls swimmer to win a state title last year. She won the state 100 free in 50.88, the same time she won it in the year before. She came in second in the state 50 free. Ernst was last year’s Prep Talk Player of the Year. “She’s smart, she’s fast,” said OP head coach Bret Norvilitis. “Two-time 100-free champ, that carries a lot of weight.”
The other half, Olivia Sapio: On nearly any other team in Section VI, Sapio would be the top performer. The junior was named Most Outstanding Performer at last year’s Section VI finals as a sophomore. Sapio won the 200 IM in a school-record 2:06.67 and the 50 free in a season-best 5:08.59 at the Section VI championships. She was also a part of the winning 200 and 400 relay teams. “She’s a powerhouse, she is all business,” Norvilitis said. “She hasn’t found her limits yet.”
Rivalry between teammates? “I think it’s like the best of what you can get out of competition because they know by pushing each other they will better each other,” Norvilitis said. “I never sense any jealousy, it’s really fantastic. Honestly, I think they enjoy cheering each other on.”
Clarence’s reload: Clarence -- the defending Section VI champions -- is used to replacing talent with talent. Recently graduated Division I swimmers include Dina Rommel (Virginia), Sydney Modeas (Northwestern), Rebecca Anthone (Canisius) and Victoria Butler (UB). Two swimmers from last year’s relay teams, which finished third at States in the 200 medley and 200 free, graduated in Dorotka Tou and Maddy Jacumski, who will be swimming at UB this year. Celia Kottakis (junior) and Anna Kottakis (sophomore) were the two underclassmen from those relay teams who are expected to have big seasons. Clarence will need big performances from newer faces to repeat as Section VI champions, which really isn’t anything new for the program. Other swimmers to look out for include seniors Tori Argentiera and Maddy Tryjankowski.
Divers: Clarence also has some of the top divers in Section VI, including sophomore Ella Colson, junior Mallory Prelewicz and freshman transfer Marissa Vasatka.
Friendly rivalry: “It really is the best of rivalries because everyone knows everyone is going to put in maximum effort,” OP head coach Bret Norvilitis said about meets with Clarence. “So much talent and respect in the pool coach to coach, swimmer to swimmer. It’s just great to see.”
Lancaster’s standout: Kristen Romano, a junior, set the Section VI record in the 100 backstroke last year in 55.29, breaking the previous record of 56.45. She recorded the time during last year’s ECIC final. Romano won the 200 free and 100 butterfly at last year’s Section VI finals. Her 1:51.13 time in the 200 free shattered the school record (which she previously set) of 1:57. She finished as the runner-up at states in the 200 individual medley in 2:04.96.
East Aurora: Sydney Atendido is the big fish in a small pond as the standout swimmer among the small schools. The East Aurora senior won the 200 IM, 100 breast and was on two winning relay teams at the ECIC finals. She was named the Small School Swimmer of the Meet at the ECIC finals. She also won the 100 breast at the Section VI finals and placed eighth at states in the 100 breast. Sophomore Shelby MacSwan took the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke at last year’s ECIC championships.
Other threats: Other underclassmen with impressive times include Fredonia/Dunkirk junior Deidra Osul, who made the state cut time in the 50 free in 24.75 last year. She also went to States in two events as a freshman. Lockport sophomore Katie Pollock also made the state cut in the 50 free in 24.84 last year and competed in states in the event as an eighth-grader and Mount St. Mary senior Alexis Fredricks was the top swimmer in the Catholic League last season -- making state cut times in three events.
Champion Gators: Nardin is led by juniors Danielle Orie and Julia Martin. Each won two events at the All-Catholic championship last season, with Orie taking the 50 and 100 free and Martin winning the 200 and 500 free.
Save the dates: Lancaster at Clarence, 5 p.m. Oct. 6; Lancaster at Orchard Park, 5 p.m. Oct. 9; Clarence at Orchard Park, 5 p.m. Oct. 13.
Championship time: The Section VI diving championship will be Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. at ECC City. The swimming prelims will be at 4 p.m. Nov. 5 at ECC City and the finals will be the same time the next day. The All-Catholic meet is Nov. 11 at ECC City. The state championship meet is Nov. 19-21 at Ithaca College.
Who’s going to be Prep Talk Player of the Year? Ernst has the chance to win back-to-back honors. Other candidates include Romano and Ernst’s own teammate, Sapio. Dina Rommel (Virginia) won the award in 2014, as well as winning Prep Talk Female Athlete of the Year. This year’s Prep Talk Awards will be held Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.
Our special #PrepTalkPreview edition for fall sports will be published in The Buffalo News on Aug. 27.
It will include: