SYRACUSE — After going almost two decades without a sectional title, Weedsport swimming is back atop the mountain for the second straight year.
Competing at the Section III Class B/C Championships Thursday at Nottingham High School, the Warriors totaled 401 points to beat out second-place Lowville and capture the Class C title.
Weedsport essentially led the sectional competition from start to finish. Technically, the meet started last Saturday with the diving portion, and a strong performance there was enough of a boost the Warriors to an early overall lead.
Once the swimming events started Thursday, Weedsport’s individuals just needed to hold up to their seeds.
They did just that.
“It kinda gave us a head start,” Warriors coach Dan Walter said, “and the swimmers came through today to hold that lead through the end.”
While no individual earned a first-place finish, Weedsport had a handful make it to the podium for select events. Will Sterling came in second in the 100 freestyle (53.37) and third in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.90). Joe Wloch had a similar performance, placing second in the 200 freestyle (2:00.39) and third in the 500 freestyle (5:24.80).
Weedsport received a handful of other crucial performances. Andrew Williams submitted a second-place time in the 50 freestyle (24.05) and touched fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:03.15). Caleb Tracy also hit the pool for the 50 freestyle, finishing right behind Williams in third (24.66). Tracy also landed in fourth in the 100 freestyle (55.43).
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In the previously completed diving event, Christina Jackson totaled 387.90 points for second, while Austin Langdon racked up 304.50 points for third.
So how does a team without any first-place times end up claiming sectionals? Depth in numbers.
“We did not win one event today, but we had the depth,” Walter said. “We had two, three, or four kids in every event, and that’s what you need to be successful at sectionals. I think the kids at Weedsport that have come out for the program, they’re committed. They work hard to make the qualifying times to compete here.”
Walter has been coaching at Weedsport for four years. When he took over, the program was in a bit of a lull compared to past decades. While team accomplishments didn’t happen right away, Walter was focused on building strong chemistry within the program, and he believes the current success can be traced back to that.
“That started right from the very beginning,” Walter said. “It takes time to really make change in a program. It does take a couple of years. We really focused on doing things as a team. Camaraderie is everything when it comes to success in a team sport. Swimming is an interesting sport because you can focus on the individual improvement, but we always try to put the team first. When you do that, other successes like sectional titles often follow.”
Weedsport’s season isn’t over. Section III State Qualifiers are on Saturday, and Weedsport will have eight participants swim there with an opportunity to qualify for states.
That’s a good amount, and it goes hand-in-hand with the amount of swimmers Weedsport had at sectionals. In total, 14 swimmers took part in at least one event.
That depth, again, was key, and Walter further attributes the reignited interest to the increased success.
“I think after last year people talked, and (the success) is contagious,” Walter said. “More people want to come out for the program, which is great. Weedsport has such a strong tradition of swimming and diving success over the decades. It’s really great to see these kids be as committed as they are to get the program back to what it once was.”
Sports reporter Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.