Three individual race champions from last year's Section VI girls swimming championships returned to the pool at Erie Community College Friday evening in defense of their titles. Only one came away with back-to-back crowns.
Fredonia senior Riley Drummond cruised to consecutive sectional titles in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.66, capping a night which also included a second-place finish in the 200 individual medley. Despite a slow start, Drummond's turns were tight and fast, helping her to repeat as champ in the backstroke.
Drummond, who will swim at Cleveland State, will be among the representatives from Section VI at the State Championships from Nov. 16 to 18 at Ithaca College.
"I'm really happy I was able to do that but I know I can go faster at states so I'm even more excited for that," said Drummond, who posted a 12th-place finish in the backstroke at states last year. She also qualified for states this season in the 100 freestyle and as part of Fredonia's 200 medley relay.
The only swimmer who may have enjoyed a better night is the one Drummond lost to in the 200 IM. Lockport senior Katie Pollock won that race in 2:07.76 and then followed it up with a second first-place finish on the night in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:05.50.
"I've been competing at sectionals since the seventh grade so it's good to be here, have a good time and race fast," said Pollock, who won a sectional title in a sprint freestyle race as a sophomore. "I've known Riley for a while; we swam in the same club together, so I really wanted to stay with her and pace with her, because she's a really good swimmer."
Orchard Park repeated as the overall champion, scoring 297 points. Iroquois (174.5), which won the 200 medley relay, and East Aurora (170), which took both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, finished right behind.
"We never make predictions out loud but we knew this team was so deep and good enough to win the section again," said OP coach Bret Norvilitis. "We had a lot of up-and-comers, we have a system that works and the girls bought in."
East Aurora outraced last year's 200 freestyle relay champion Orchard Park to win in 1:38.45. The same Blue Devils foursome of seniors Emma Brinker, Shelby MacSwan and Mary Dunbar and sophomore Mary Brinker then won the 400 freestyle relay with a 3:36.84.
"I really had high expectations coming into here and they surpassed those," EA coach Art Aungst said. "They swim real well when the pressure is on."
Olean eighth grader Alexis Trietley pulled out a close race to win the 100 freestyle in 53.08 and also took third in 200 freestyle for the second consecutive season.
Williamsville East junior Jessica Shine pulled away in the final lap to win the 100 butterfly in 56.86. She and MacSwan were neck and neck for most of the race. Shine also finished third in the 200 IM.
Starpoint freshman Allie Bashor also notched a pair of top three finishes, inching out a title in the 200 freestyle in 1:54.54 to just beat Frontier's Kya Pawli (1:54.65) and placing third in the 100 butterfly.
Also, Panama junior Karianne Yuchnitz won the 50 freestyle in 23.97, and a late burst in the final few laps propelled Lauren Spence, a junior from Sweet Home, to the 500 freestyle title in 5:13.98.
Iroquois, seeded fifth coming into the final after preliminaries, pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the meet, winning the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:49.41. The Chiefs just outlasted hard-charging East Aurora.