By Scott Kindberg
Members of the Section 6 girls swimming and diving team are scheduled to leave this morning for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at Ithaca College. The group, which includes eight swimmers from Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, is so large that two chartered buses are required to get the girls there.
From the left, Megan Marsh of Jamestown and Xiane Smith, Sydney Thomas, Sydney Burk, Katie Lawton and Kelsey Powers, all of Southwestern, are part of the Section 6 team that will compete in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association swimming and diving championships this weekend at Ithaca College.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
"We're back!'' Southwestern Central School coach Glen Shoup said last week. "(Section 6) has always had a good number of strong swimmers, and the past couple years it's ebbed and flowed a little bit, but this year (the number of state qualifiers) is definitely on the high side.''
Southwestern, Jamestown, Dunkirk-Fredonia-Silver Creek and Olean are contributing to that total in a significant way.
The Lady Trojans will have five swimmers competing - Xiane Smith, Sydney Thomas, Sydney Burk, Katie Lawton and Kelsey Powers; the Lady Red Raiders will be represented by Megan Marsh; and Dunkirk-Fredonia-Silver Creek and Olean will be represented by Deidra Osula and Makayla Sargent respectively.
Southwestern qualified its 200 freestyle relay (Smith, Powers, Burk and Lawson), its 400 freestyle relay (Smith Thomas, Burk and Lawson) and, individually, its 100 backstroke ace, Thomas. Meanwhile, Marsh will be competing in the 100 breast stroke and the 200 individual medley, Osula in the 100 butterfly and Sargent in both the 200 IM and 500 freestyle.
If their performances at the state qualifier two weekends ago in Buffalo are any indication, the young ladies from the Southern Tier should do just fine in Ithaca.
Let's start with Marsh. Among the state's best cross country runners until this year - she ran for three-time state Class D champion Maple Grove from 2010-2012 - Marsh transferred to Jamestown this fall so she could focus on her true passion - swimming. After the first meet - the Frewsburg Invitational - Marsh had already met the state standard in the 100 breast stroke and before the regular season had ended she had qualified in the 200 IM. But it was at the Burt Flickinger Athletic Center pool where the sophomore, a sister to former JHS great Andrew Marsh, really excelled.
In fact, Marsh won the 100-yard breast stroke in a school-record 1:05.91 and placed third in the 200 IM (2:09.52). She is seeded fourth in the breast stroke and 15th in the individual medley heading into the preliminaries, which begin Friday. Reaching All-American consideration (1:05.1) and automatic All-American (1:03.77) are potentially within her grasp.
See SWIMMING, Page B2
"She works so hard with everything,'' Jamestown assistant coach Lisa Beckerink said. "You can tell her that it's just a drill and she's still pounding away. She puts 100 percent into everything she does. She's a very determined young lady, who is going to make herself well known in the swimming world. (College) coaches will be lining up.''
Added Jamestown head coach Nancy Feenstra: ''The parents have really supported their children, they've brought them to all kinds of big swim meets and the (kids) have been exposed to really fast times.
''It will be exciting. She's excited and ready to go. It will be fun.''
Southwestern has had plenty for which to be proud this fall as well, winning its league title and doing so without losing a meet.
"We're excited to send not only the 200 freestyle relay, but also the 400 freestyle relay,'' Shoup said.
While the 200 freestyle relay reaching the state standard was almost expected (it swam a 1:51.46 at sectionals and is seeded 21st this weekend), the qualification of the 400 freestyle relay (3:39.99) at the sectional meet was an unexpected surprise (that landed it a 18th seed), Shoup said.
"They really pulled hard,'' he said. "It was the last event, the finish to the day and they really turned it on and made the cut time by a large margin."
Thomas turned in a time of 59:87 in the 100 backstroke at the sectional meet and will be competing in that event this weekend as well. She is seeded 33rd entering the preliminaries.
Among the remaining local state qualifiers, Sargent has the most eye-popping credentials after winning the 200 IM at sectionals in an All-American consideration time of 2:03.39. That effort earned her a No. 2 seed in that event this weekend. She also placed second in the 500 freestyle (5:03.78) at the state qualifier. Osula completes the roster of local swimmers in the 100 butterfly (59.33), which was good for fifth place at sectionals and a 33rd seed this weekend.