Justin Plaschka Sweeps Sprint Free Events At Buffalo Sectionals

By Erin Quinn

BUFFALO, New York, July 27. THEY came, they swam, they broke records, made national and junior national cut times and said goodbye to Super Speedo Sectionals in Buffalo, until the next time they meet again at some pool, somewhere, chasing the black line and a dream.

Team Pittsburgh, whose average swimmer height must not be any less than 6’2”, dominated the meet, winning the overall team trophy by more than 300 points with 871. They were followed by Machine Aquatics with 505, Team Titans with 441, host Star Swimming with 391 and Schenectady Saratoga Sharks with 391 points.

But those points don’t tell the full story. University of Indiana swimmer Justine Ress won both the 100-meter (in meet record-time) and 200-meter backstroke with a national cut time of 2:16.32 in the 200. She was followed by the ever-consistent high point winner of the meet on the women’s side, Penn State swimmer Kathryn Rowe of the Schenectady Sharks, who put in three first place finishes and two second place finishes with a 2:18.53 in the 200-meter backstroke.

The Hoosiers must be proud with Ress’ performance, as well as their incoming freshman, Ryan Gordon of the Albany Starfish, who also won the 100- and 200-meter backstroke, with a 2:04.93 in the 200 tonight. He was trailed by second place finisher Zachary Hoelting of LBA-MD, who touched in 2:05.52, and Kentucky’s butterfly phenom Kyle Higgins, who won both the 100- and 200-meter butterfly events, in third with a 2:07.45.

Following the 200-meter backstroke was the 50-meter freestyle, which was decided as always by tenths of a second. Team Titans’ Dina Rommel grabbed the gold in the splash-n-dash event with a 26.33, a national cut time. Second place went to Kathryn Ford of MLAC-AM with a 26.63, and third went to the University of Pittsburgh’s Danielle Des Tombe in 26.69.

On the men’s side, the winner was once again sprint king Justin Plaschka, 17, this year’s New York state varsity championships MVP who is on his way to Notre Dame. Plaschka already took home the gold in the 100-meter freestyle and made it two-for-two with a victory in the 50-meter freestyle in a time of 23.40. He was followed by Pitt’s David Sweeney in 23.66 and Titans’ Andrew Marsh in 23.71.

The 200-meter breaststroke, not for the weak or the weary, was won by Miriam McGeath of Duquesne University in a time of 2:39.69. Pitts’ Camille Dixon, 20, clinched second place with a 2:40.44, while Julia Pacitti of GAAC-MA finished third with a 2:40.91.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Luke Nosbisch won both the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke with a national cut time of 2:19.83 in tonight’s 200. He was followed by his teammate, Alexander Cook, who clocked a 2:20.97.

In the freestyle distance events it was again Team Pittsburgh who solidified first place in the women’s 1500, with 20-year-old Kaleigh Ritter throwing down a 17:09.12. She was followed by Morgan Smith, 17, of CAT-NJ with a 17:14.67, and Sydney Modeas of North Western University in a time of 17:31.67.

Samuel Rutan, 18, soon to be a Bucknell University freshman, took home the gold in the men’s 800-meter freestyle with an 8:30.01. He was followed Mason Revis of MJCC-CT, 17, in an 8:31.13, and 16-year-old Joseph Koch in third with an 8:38.38.

Already exploding with team spirit throughout the meet, Team Pittsburgh took it to another level as the final event marched out, the 4×100-meter medley relays. The Panthers pounced on the competition. Their women’s A and B team went 1-2 with a 4:22.79 and a 4:25.88, with Team Titan coming in a tightly contested third place with a 4:26.41.

The Panther men had no choice but to pay homage to their female counterparts by surging to a dramatic win against Machine Aquatics with a 3:56.31 to Machine’s 3:56.77.

Results For: Buffalo Sectionals, Day Four