LEAP­ING INTO THE STATE MEET

Lo­cal swim­mers and divers take in, com­pete at NYS meet in Ithaca

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Stan Hudy [email protected] @StanHudy on Twit­ter

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » More than 40 Sec­tion II swim­mers and six divers will once again join forces at the New York State Pub­lic High School Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion meet at Ithaca Col­lege Friday and Satur­day where the num­ber of com­peti­tors is large, the room for the top swim­mers is small and the best times are low.

Ex­pec­ta­tions range from just happy to make the state meet, of­ten for the first time for sev­eral Saratoga Springs High School se­niors, to look­ing to make their mark as un­der­class­men and for the cagy vet­er­ans from Ballston Spa, now is the time to strike.

Swim­mers and divers had the en­tire fall sea­son to reach the state qual­i­fy­ing times or div­ing marks with a dead­line of the Sec­tion II meet two weeks ago at the Shenen­de­howa Aquat­ics Cen­ter in Clifton Park.

Blue Streak fresh­man Madeline Wood needed the last swim of her fall in the sec­tion to make the state team and it did it by a fin­ger­nail.

“Go­ing into the meet I can usu­ally tell how my swims are go­ing to go, but hon­estly that one I had no idea how it

was go­ing to go,” Madeline Wood said. “All my friends were all say­ing I can do it.”

She swam the 50-yard freestyle in 24.82 sec­onds, mak­ing the state qual­i­fy­ing time of 24.84 sec­onds.

“When I looked up, turned around and saw Coach (Josh Muld­ner) cheer­ing and I looked up at my time, it was so ex­cit­ing, I was so happy.”

The cur­rent top New York State time is an eye­pop­ping au­to­matic Al­lAmer­ica time of 22.92 sec­onds.

Go­ing to the state meet for the first time and be­ing ranked 45th, Wood is O.K. look­ing up at the faster times.

“Go­ing into sec­tion­als I knew I would have a pretty good chance at mak­ing ‘A’ finals and plac­ing, but know­ing that I’m most likely not go­ing to do that (at states) it calms me down so much that I don’t have to worry about it,” Wood said. “I want to per­form well, but there is no pres­sure.”

Sopho­more Rachel Love is mak­ing her se­cond trip to the state meet, this year in the 200- and 500-freestyle events, ranked 22nd in both events this week­end.

Her ex­pec­ta­tions are tem­pered be­cause she wasn’t sure if she would even qual­ify this sea­son.

She had hip surgery in

March to re­pair torn car­ti­lage and a bone over­growth.

“With states you’re not trained as well be­cause I hadn’t al­ready qual­i­fied so I ta­pered for sec­tion­als, so com­ing into states, my train­ing is not as good as it was for sec­tion­als,” Rachel Love said. “I would like to be close to those times that I had and if I do that I would be in the finals which would be great.”

She also has sage advice for those first-time state com­peti­tors.

“Take it all in be­cause it is such a cool meet to be at, there are all these re­ally fast girls that are rac­ing there,” Love said. “You are united as a sec­tion, in­stead of be­ing on sep­a­rate teams, so it is re­ally good to get sup­port from other teams, get to know the other girls from other teams and even other sec­tions. “

Two first-time Blue Streaks in­clude se­nior divers Adelle Fee­ley and Re­nee Maslak.

Maslak earned 444 points early in the fall, just above the 440 state mark to start think­ing about this week­end.

“It al­lowed me not to stress as much for the other big­ger dive meets and just fo­cus on per­fect­ing the dives that I had,” Re­nee Maslak said. “It was def­i­nitely a pleas­ant sur­prise.

“I didn’t come into this sea­son with any ex­pec­ta­tions; i was just here to hang out with the girls and have fun and to dive.”

Not be­ing a year-round diver, Maslak made the most of her fi­nal year com­pet­ing for the Blue Streaks.

“My con­fi­dence re­ally went up this year com­pared to past years and just cher­ish­ing ev­ery prac­tice with the girls be­cause I knew this sea­son was my last, so I just wanted to make it my best and have fun and put it all out there.”

Team­mate Adelle Fee­ley fo­cused on her craft through­out the sum­mer to reach her qual­i­fy­ing mark, ranked No. 14 head­ing into the meet Friday.

“I went to two dive camps this sum­mer so I’ve been work­ing a lot and at 11-dive meets I hadn’t had my best meets,” Adelle Fee­ley said. “Some­thing weird just kept hap­pen­ing and I would be up­set about it, as coach kept telling me ‘Trust the process.’

“I just kept work­ing harder and harder and fi­nally I got to where I wanted to go.”

She reg­is­tered 485 points at the sec­tional meet, know­ing she was head­ing for a top score late in the day.

“I try not to though be­cause it kind of messes with my men­tal state,” Fee­ley said. “Be­fore the last three dives since there was a break, (Coach) Dave (Long­brake) tells me where I am around or some­times they have it on the board so I can see and have an idea where I am.

“My last three are ac­tu­ally my fa­vorite dives, so even though they are a lit­tle bit harder I’m the most con­fi­dent in them. If I don’t have some ma­jor mess-up in my first few I know the last three are go­ing to be where I need them to be and I have con­fi­dence in it.”

Now it’s time to dive and thrive for the Saratoga se­nior.

“It’s pretty ex­cit­ing just to ex­pe­ri­ence it, I’m ex­cited to take it all in and just have fun.” Fee­ley said. “The girls who have gone have told me about.

“It’s a lit­tle nerve-wrack­ing be­cause I want to do as well as I can, but I’m just go­ing to try and have fun.”

Ballston Spa sends to sea­soned state meet vet­er­ans on the Sec­tion II bus in ju­niors Emma Hoff­man and Corinne Pep­per with nine state events un­der their belt.

Ranked in the mid­dle of the pack in both the 100and 200-yard freestyle events and mak­ing her fourth trip, Emma Hoff­man is com­fort­able with her ex­pec­ta­tions.

“Now you want to see what you can do, how high you can place, ob­vi­ously you want to swim on Satur­day,” Emma Hoff­man said. “If it is Friday, it’s your last swim of the sea­son, so you just give it all you’ve got.

“I don’t like to put lim­its on my swims, so I’ve just been prac­tic­ing, pac­ing, race strat­egy, so hope­fully I’ll be able to drop that much time at states.”

Hoff­man also had sage advice for peo­ple out­side the sport and to tem­per their own ex­pec­ta­tions of what suc­cess is in the pool.

“Some­one told me to­day ‘If you don’t win, it’s for noth­ing,’ and I don’t be­lieve that’s true ob­vi­ously,” Hoff­man said. “Only five per­cent of swim­mers even qual­ify for states, be­ing there is an ac­com­plish­ment in it­self. There are elite swim­mers and there are those that are re­ally fast there too, so it’s all about per­spec­tive.”

Her team­mate, Corinne Pep­per will be tak­ing her fifth trip to the state meet with her close Scot­ties team­mate, Hoff­man who fin­ished 2-3 in the 100-freestyle.

“She’s like one of my best friends, so get­ting to share this with her is amaz­ing,” Cor­rine Pep­per said.

“It never gets old. I re­ally en­joy the whole at­mos­phere be­cause ev­ery­one just wants to cheer each other on for ev­ery­one to swim fast. The sec­tion is one team, all the dif­fer­ent schools come to­gether to cheer each other on, so I re­ally like that you are not di­vided.”

Pep­per has bal­anced her ex­cite­ment with her ex­pec­ta­tions through the years.

“Ju­nior year is very im­por­tant for col­lege and all the col­lege coaches are watch­ing you, so there is pres­sure to per­form well, but not as much as if it’s it your first year,” Pep­per said. “I def­i­nitely want to make at least ‘C’ finals be­cause the time I went at sec­tion­als was not my ab­so­lute best time. Coach (Ted) Snyder thinks I can go 1:06 so hope­fully I can make the ‘B’ fi­nal.”

Swim­ming gets un­der­way at 10:30 a.m. Friday; div­ing finals are set for 2 p.m. with the cham­pi­onship finals set for 10:30 a.m. Satur­day. The event is streamed via the NFHS Net­work, sub­scrip­tion re­quired.

STAN HUDY/THE SARATOGIAN

Saratoga Springs divers Re­nee Maslak and Adelle Fee­ley and swim­mers Madeline Wood and Rachel Love leap inot the Skid­more Col­lege pool at their fi­nal prac­tice be­fore the state meet Friday at Ithaca Col­lege.

STAN HUDY/THE SARATOGIAN

NYSPHSAA swim­ming and div­ing met vet­er­ans, Ballston Spa swim­mers Emma Hoff­man and Cor­rine Pep­per stopped by the Skid­more Col­lege pool be­fore Friday’s meet at Ithaca Col­lege.

STAN HUDY/THE SARATOGIAN

Saratoga Springs swim­mers and divers Madeline Wood, Rachel Wood, Re­nee Maslak and Adelle Fee­ley hang out on the board at Skid­more Col­lege Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

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