You could have made a case for each of four different boys from Pittsford as the Swimmer of the Meet on Friday night. That’s a pretty good indication of how the Section V Class A championships went at the Webster Aquatics Center.
The powerful Panthers cruised to an 11th straight title behind strong performances from seniors Matthew Tanchick and Shea Ransford and juniors Brett Eslinger and P.J. Ransford. The younger Ransford brother, who set a Class A meet record in winning the 500-yard freestyle in an All-American consideration time of 4 minutes, 34.5 seconds, earned the “most outstanding” award, and it was no surprise Pittsford’s Mark Morris was named Class A Coach of the Year. He’s retiring after the season.
“An automatic All-American relay (that was) pretty close to the state record — that’s a nice way to start a meet, and it just kind of blossomed from there,” said Morris, alluding to the 200 medley relay won by Shea Ransford, Tanchick, Eslinger and Timo Krapf in 1:34.64.
That set a meet record and was just .38 seconds off the state record.
“The kids did very well on Wednesday (in preliminaries) but exceptionally well today, which is what you hope will happen as a coach. You’re never guaranteed that’s going to happen, but you hope.”
The Panthers can often rely more on their talent and work ethic. They amassed 599 points. Monroe County rival Fairport was second with 406. Though swept by the Panthers in the relays, the Red Raiders’ efforts were led by senior David Howard. He won the 50 (21.70 seconds) and 100 freestyle (47.93) races and was on two second-place relays.
“I think it was faster (times) than I anticipated for sure. I don’t know about everybody else,” Howard said. “There were some really close races today and I’m happy to come out on top of those. I think Section V is going to do awesome at states this year (on March 2). We just have such good cohesion between all of us (even on different teams). We’re all friends. We just kind of motivate each other.”
In addition to his 500 freestyle win, P.J. Ransford was on the winning 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams and won the highly competitive 200 freestyle in 1:43.90. The top eight finishers all swam state-qualifying times in that race — the first time that’s happened since 1993 in the 100 freestyle.
“Our team as a whole did really, really well today and I was really happy with that,” P.J. Ransford said. “I was happy with my own times, too.”
Eslinger won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke and was on two winning relays. Tanchick, the meet’s outstanding swimmer the past two years, repeated as the 200 individual medley champion and was second in butterfly. He also was on two winning relays, just like Shea Ransford, who captured the 100 backstroke and was third in the 200 IM.
“We’re fortunate to have such a great team chemistry and such great coaches that really bring us all together, especially at times when it really matters like this,” said Tanchick, who has narrowed his college choices to Indiana, Ohio State, Alabama, Kenyon and Binghamton.
Third-place Penfield had a couple of top performances from Joey Mulvehill, who was second in the 50 and 100 freestyles.