State champion, 2015: Matt Marsh, Jamestown, 100 free.
Sectional champions, 2015 (team): Class A - Hamburg; Class B - Starpoint; Class C - Springville.
Sectional individual champions, 2015 (underclassmen): 200 IM Relay - Hamburg (Michael Maurer, Luke Kennedy, Cody Wittmeyer, Kyle Griffin - all underclassmen); 200 free - Patrick Hayter, Sweet Home; 200 IM - Maurer; 50 free - Matt Marsh, Jamestown; 100 fly - Brandon Smith, Starpoint; 100 free - Marsh; 500 free - Anthony Mariniello, Williamsville South. 100 back - Seth Farrand, Olean.
Sectional championships, 2016: Feb. 23-24 at Flickinger Center, Erie Community College City Campus.
State championships, 2016: March 3-5 at Flickinger Center, Erie Community College City Campus.
Who’s good? There’s Marsh, and there’s everyone else.
Marsh joined the Red Raiders for his junior year, and dominated the sport. He was the only local swimmer to win a state title, setting a Section VI record in the process. Marsh also finished second in the state in the 50 free, and if he keeps improving he could go under 20 seconds in that event. That would be a Section VI record.
Outside of the Jamestown swimmer, 2014-15 was something of a building year for Western New York in the sport. Several swimmers are back this season, and many could take a big step forward this time.
Among teams, coaches say it’s tough to predict who might be part of any list of elite squads this early in the season. Teams like Clarence, Williamsville South, Sweet Home and East Aurora are traditionally tough, although some have gone through some growing pains early in the season with younger swimmers.
In the Msgr. Martin Association, Canisius is expected to the class of the area again. The Crusaders have seniors Sam Sawyer (fly and back), John Quinlan (free sprints), Thomas Chameli, Nick Herzog and sophomore Jake Ruffolo leading the way. Sawyer and Quinlan could rank with the state’s best by the time the season is over.
30 and counting: The oldest Section VI swimming record was set in 1985 by John Hodge. He finished the 200 freestyle in 1:39.77. That also is the state record, but it’s not a Western New York record. Jack Boyd of Canisius beat that time in 2012. Boyd is a sophomore at Harvard this year.
Here’s how dominating Hodge’s time is: If he had gone that fast in last spring’s sectionals, he would have won the event by almost 10 seconds.
Prep Talk athlete of the year? Marsh won the award last year. He’s the overwhelming favorite to do it again.