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WEEDSPORT — Macauley Kolonko could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

The senior made his college decision official in a signing ceremony at Weedsport High School Friday afternoon. Kolonko will attend the New Jersey Institute of Technology next fall and swim for the Highlanders.

Making the choice of where to swim in college weighed on Kolonko throughout his senior season.

"Every day," Kolonko said. "I didn't know where I was going to go, so I didn't know how fast I was going to be or what coaches were looking for. That's one of the reasons I like NJIT. The first thing coach (Michael) Lawson told me was 'Worry about swimming. Don't worry about this. I'm going to talk to you after your season when it's all said and done. Then we're going to talk, and what I'm going to offer you isn't going to change regardless.'"

Kolonko is looking forward to being a part of a rejuvenated Division I program. After being on the brink of being cut nearly a decade ago, the Highlanders swim team has been recruiting more student-athletes and has upgraded its facilities.

"I think our class has seven coming in this year," Kolonko said. "The team has over 25 boys and is growing. They opened up a brand new pool in January as a part of their brand new athletic facility. Being a part of rebuilding team and budding into a brand new program is something I really enjoy."

Kolonko is a four-time qualifier for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association meet and has made four trips to the YMCA National Championship meet. At the Section III state qualifier meet, he was the 200 freestyle champion three times and the 500 freestyle champion twice.

Kolonko broke the school records in the 200 and 500 freestyle, both of which were decades old, and holds the pool record in the 500 freestyle.

For Warriors and Auburn Stingrays coach Dan Walter, Kolonko has been successful because of the enthusiasm he has always had for the sport.

"I've known Macauley for 10 years now," Walter said during the brief ceremony. "I remember him as an 8-year-old swimming Stingrays. Macauley was one of those kids that in one practice or one meet would have a smile ear to ear or tears all in one meet. That is passion. You can describe that any way you want, but that's passion. To be as good as Macauley is at the sport of swimming, it takes passion because that passion is going to drive the work in the pool."

Kolonko is glad the process of deciding on which college to attend is behind him.

"It's a long process going through everything and finding where you fit right," Kolonko said. "It's a big relief to know where I'm going and knowing I'm going to be happy where I'm going."

Sports writer Jeremy Houghtaling can be reached at 315-282-2256 or at jeremy.houghtaling@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenHough.

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