Courtesy of: Erin Quinn
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By Erin Quinn
WEBSTER, New York, March 1. IF prelims for the 2014 New York State High School Championships were any indication of what would follow--all but 3 records left unbroken--than finals were an encore of the swim firework show in Webster.
To get the water churning was yet another record-breaking 200 Medley Relay swim by Ithaca who lowered its record-setting prelim time of 1:33.84 to 1:33.83 with a star-studded team of Moheed Faadhil, 50BK 25.09, Noah FrostClapp, 50Bst 26.38, Ryan Nicholson, 50Fly 21.42 and anchor Francis Schickel, 50FR 20.94.
Harvard-bound Jack Boyd dropped more than 2 seconds from his prelim time in the 200 Freestyle with a winning time of 1:37.31, just shy of his 2013 record of 1:36.82. This was the only event that did not result in a record-breaking time.
As if breaking two New York State High School Championship records in prelims weren't enough, Hauppague's Justin Plaschka, bound for Notre Dame in the fall, continued to stun fellow swimmers and spectators when he crushed the 2002 200 Individual Medley record (1:48.95 set by David Kahn,) with a blistering 1:47.83, followed by Shenedehowa's Ryan Gordon--soon to be a Hoosier, who posted a 1:48.95.
Top-seed Ryan Nicholson equaled his time from prelims in the 50 Freestyle, winning with a 20.25, still not faster than Plaschka's 20.08 record-setting swim as the lead off in Hauppague's 200 freestyle relay at prelims. He was followed by Bethlehem Central's Gunnar Zemering who posted a 20.72.
Up again as the top seed in the 100 Butterfly was Nicholson, who finished first with a 48.14, not as fast as his prelim record-setting 47.76. Junior David Stewart of New Rochelle, posted the 2nd fastest finals time with a 49.37 followed by New Paltz' Hudson Carroll with a 50.20.
In the 100 Freestyle final, Plaschka took it to another level throwing down a 43.70, bettering his prelim record setting swim of 44.12. Not only that, but Plaschka's 1st 50 split, a 20.64 would have earned him second place in the 50 Freestyle finals.
Then came the battle of the 500 Freestyle finalists--Jack Boyd of Canisus and Patrick Ransford of Pittsford. This stroke by stroke duel in the pool had everyone on their feet with Ransford over-taking the New York State defending champ on the last 50 with a record-breaking time of 4:21.06, to Boyd's 4:22.72. Both swimmers shattered the previous record held by Ryan Feeley in 2009 with a 4:24.06.
In a dramatic 200 Freestyle Relay final, that left second-place finisher, Hauppaugue with a Disqualification due to a false-start, Fordham Prep once again left their mark on the meet with a 1:23.84, lowering their record-breaking prelim time of 1:24.44. That all-star team consisted of Patrick Conaton, Michael Verini, Oliver Patrouch and Richard Mannix.
The natatorium was at a fevered pitch when the finals of the 100 Backstroke marched out with top-seed, Patrick Conaton of Fordham Prep, who will join the Stanford Cardinals next year, followed by Indiana University bound, Ryan Gordon and University of Buffalo bound, Hudson Carroll.
Conaton responded to the pressure, breaking his own New York State private school record of 48.57 with a 48.53. Gordon set a new New York State Public School record with a second place finish in a scorching 48.78 and Carroll finished third with a personal best of 50.07!
There was a lot of chest-slapping, dancing, posturing as the two top-seeds for the 100 Breaststroke were announced--Ben Cono, a senior from Smithtown and junior Gunther Cassell of Hunnington--the previous State Champion the past two years. In prelims Cono laid down a 55.01 and Cassell a 55.91.
Everyone thought it would take a sub-54 to win, and it did. Although out in front for the first three lengths, Cassell was no match for Cono's last pull-out and final 25! The Senior went a blistering 54.72, crushing his own meet record set the night before.
The energy rose as the final heat of the 4x100 Freestyle relay marched out of the ready room. Fordham Prep's top-seeded team of Patrick Conaton, Oliver Patrouch, Declan Kennon and Richard Mannix did not disappoint their fans nor the at-capacity crowd. They proceeded to topple their own New York State record set the day before with a time of 3:05.28 and Conaton leading off with a sizzling 45.02. Team Ithaca came in secnd, bettering their prelim time by almost 2 seconds with a 3:09.05, but still not close to their private school rivals.
As it should have been, the gracious, and uber-humble, Justin Plaschka received the Swimmer of the New York State Championship Award. He's as kind as he is fast.