Bret Norvilitis of Orchard Park was the losing coach for the first time in years Friday night.
Even he couldn’t deny that the Quakers versus Clarence girls swimming meet for the ECIC I championship was a “barn burner.” The thrilling duel came down to the finish in the final event with the Red Devils rallying to secure the second- and third-place points they needed to defeat host Orchard Park, 93-90.
Clarence not only clinched the division title with the triumph but also snapped the Quakers’ lengthy league winning streak at 57 meets. The last time OP lost before Friday was Sept. 23, 2014, to Clarence. That also was the last year the Red Devils won the division title – until Friday.
“The girls were excited about it which is all I care about,” winning coach Eric McClaren said. “They’re a great group of girls on the other team. It’s a tough way to lose your senior night meet senior year but my hats off to the great girls of Orchard Park.”
Clarence only won two events, but its overall depth proved to be key as it picked up second, third and fourth place points. There were a couple events OP took first place, but Clarence tallied more than the 6 points awarded for first.
The Red Devils took the lead for good by finishing 2-3-4 in the 100-yard breaststroke. Avery McClaren, Gretta Hauer and Ella Harrison combined to capture seven points in that event for Clarence. They secured the clinching points by taking second and third in the last event, the 400 freestyle. Olivia Langlotz anchored the third-place relay. Katherine Cartenuto came from way behind to anchor the second-place relay for Clarence.
Clarence won the diving and 200 free relay. Members of the relay were Nora Swiencicki, Sofia Hall, Emily and Katherine Cartenuto.
“Shades of 2000 when the boys team in Clarence did that to OP,” McClaren said. “They had a 10-year streak. Young team just like this one. The parallels are stunning.”
“It was a barn burner,” Norvilitis said. “It was amazing. Eric’s a friend of mine. I couldn’t think of a better guy to lose to. He has a quality program, great swimmers. It was great.”