By Erin Quinn
BUFFALO, New York, July 24. SUPER Sectional Speedos in Buffalo, NY got off to a fast start Thursday morning with an eclectic mix of age-group up-and-comer, seasoned NCAA Division 1 swimmers and their soon-to-be freshman teammates. There was a large contingent from University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and the University of Buffalo as well as a handful of swimmers from Auburn University and Virginia Tech.
The Schenectady Saratoga Sharks had a strong showing in the 200 individual medley securing two first-place finishes in both the women’s and men’s final. Shark Kathyrn Rowe, soon to be a junior at Penn State, threw down a lifetime best as well as a national qualifying time with a 2:17.64. That put her nearly two seconds ahead of the second place finisher, 16-year-old Makayla Sargent, the 2014 New York state varsity champion in the 200 IM of VIC-NI who went a 2:20.75.
Quinn Smith, 18, also of the Schenectady Sharks and soon to swim for Boston University ran away with the men’s 200 IM final winning with a 2:05.92. There was a dual for second and third place with 22-year-old Luke Nosbisch from University of Pittsburgh touching second with a 2:08.16 and 18-year-old Joseph Ahlberg from SNCO-CT securing third place with a 2:08.71.
Up next was the 100 freestyle splash-n-dash that turned into a fight to the finish with Jessica Hespler, 19, of Virginia Tech touching out Caitlyn Karr with a 56.76 and a 56.99.
The small yet uber-powerful Justin Plashka, 17, of Team Suffolk, a double New York state champion this year and a soon-to-be Notre Dame swimmer defended his top seed position in the 100 freestyle against swimmers nearly twice his size with an impressive, un-tapered or shaved 51.52.
“I felt good,” said the ever-humble Plashka who will be swimming four more events this weekend including the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle on Friday as well as the 100 backstroke on Saturday and the 50 freestyle on Sunday. “I’m getting back into shape and I just felt good in the water tonight, so I’m happy.”
Brian Lovasik, 17, touched second with a 51.94 and University of Pittsburgh swimmer, David Sweeney taking 3d place in a 51.96.
The 100 breaststroke did not have the top seeds breaking their preliminary times with 16-year-old phenom Alexa Buckley from BAC-NJ adding almost a second to her 1:12.56 prelim time to win with a 1:13.47. On the men’s side it was the same with University of Pittsburgh swimmer Luke Nosbisch adding more than a second to his prelims time of 1:03.53 to win at finals with a 1:04.43 just out-touching 21-year-old John Gartland who clocked a 1:04.90 for second and Nosbisch’ teammate, Alexander Cook, in third place with a 1:06.04.
The distance events heated up with the top eight swimming at finals. The women’s 800 freestyle came down to a battle for first and second place with 15-year-old Lindsay Stone of PACK-Niagara getting her hand on the wall a tenth of a second ahead of University of Pittsburgh swimmer Kaleigh Ritter, 20, with an 8:50.96 to Ritter’s 8:51.06.
On the men’s side, the 1500 freestyle wasn’t quite as close but still a duel between two Connecticut-based swimmers, Mason Revis, 17, who punched in a 16:15.18 for first place and Jonathan Burr, 21, of Towson University securing second place with a 16:16.53.
Tomorrow the Erie Community College Aquatic Center will set the stage for some intense battles in the men and women’s 200 freestyle, the 100 butterfly, the 400 individual medley and the 400 freestyle relay. Stay tuned to @swimmingworld for all of the latest news making waves at Super Speedo Sectionals in Buffalo, NY!