Section 4 finished off an impressive opening session of the New York state girls swimming and diving championships Friday at Ithaca College.
The section will send finalists to five of the 11 swimming events Saturday at Ithaca College, and a state title looms as a strong possibility.
The Ithaca High 200-yard freestyle relay team and Union-Endicott 100 breaststroke ace Nicole Petta produced the second-best times in their preliminary races Friday.
The diving preliminaries and finals took place later in the day. Ithaca sophomore Alya Bonniwell finished second with 478.4 points, just behind the 494.3 from Addison Wellenzohn of Section 2’s Ballston Spa.
The Little Red’s 200 freestyle relay foursome of junior Hannah Bollinger, junior Cecile Browning, freshman Annika Browning and eighth-grader Indie Stratton completed finished in 1 minute, 37.65 seconds.
Pittsford of Section 5 won in 1:36.47.
Petta’s 1:04.61 was topped only by the 1:04.33 from Margaret Aroesty of Section 8’s Long Beach.
Other finalists, as determined by top-10 showing in the preliminaries, are Sam Suer of Chenango Forks and Mary Edwards of Horseheads in the 100 butterfly, Bollinger in the 500 freestyle, Ithaca in the 400 freestyle relay, and Owego Free Academy in the 200 freestyle relay.
“This is one of Section 4’s better showings,” Horseheads coach Mark Miles said. “We could have one, two or three state champions, which would be awesome.”
Swimmers who placed 11th through 20th earned berths in Saturday’s consolation finals. Those from 21st to 30th made the bonus finals.
Bollinger’s 4:56.86 in the 500 freestyle was good for fourth. Molly Treble of Section 8’s Massapequa had the fastest time of 4:53.08.
Bollinger used the words “good,” “fun,” “surprised” and “excited” to describe her 500 freestyle showing. It was the relays she really wanted to talk about.
“We’re all really close,” she said. “We all swim together, and none of us are graduating.”
Cecile Browning, who will also swim in the 100 freestyle consolation finals after taking 19th Friday, added, “In the relays, there’s more pressure to do well.”
Ithaca finished third in the 400 free relay behind Bollinger, the Brownings and Stratton. The Little Red clocked 3:33.68, with first-place Clarence of Section 6 going 3:31.07.
Petta showed what she can do on her own and can envision a state crown in her future.
“I plan on it,” she said. “I just came in full force. I’ve been working on it all season. Mentally and physically, I’m ready.”
Petta and Aroesty, a freshman, were in different heats Friday. They will line up next to each other today.
“That will help me a lot,” said Petta, who had a better time than Aroesty at the 50-meter mark, 30.28 to 30.47.
“She hasn’t had a lot of (competition). She’s been way ahead of everyone,” said U-E coach Joe Peranski. “She was quite a bit ahead of those in her heat. I think with someone closer to her, she can improve her time.”
Peranski noted that Petta has sliced her time from 1:09 to 1:04 over the past year.
For Edwards and Suer, Friday offered highs and lows.
Each qualified for the 100 butterfly finals, as Suer placed third (56.77) in the preliminaries and Edwards ninth (58.19).
Yet each barely missed a second finals berth with 11th-place finishes — Suer in the 200 freestyle (1:55.10) and Edwards in the 200 individual medley (2:09.03). They head to the consolation finals for those events.
Edwards, who set personal bests in both preliminaries, said a competitor in her IM heat (Victoria Butler of Clarence) finished the last length better than she did to edge her out. Butler took 10th in 2:08.86.
“She went into the wall and I glided a bit. I won’t make that mistake again. I’m a little mad about it,” Edwards said.
She’s happier about the butterfly, especially since she hasn’t been up to par recently.
“I wasn’t feeling the greatest in the water the last few days,” she explained. “I practiced in the Ithaca pool and felt good. I didn’t feel as good today, but I’ll feel better tomorrow.”
Owego joins Ithaca in the 200 freestyle relay finals after finishing seventh in preliminaries at 1:39.62. Senior Devon McFadden, junior Sam Kuchinski, and sophomores Alexa Gualt and Chelsea Angulas will take center stage for the Indians.
McFadden will also compete in the 200 individual medley consolation finals after placing 12th in prelims, just behind Edwards. Adele Ferris of Lansing (16th) is also in that race.
Other Section 4 consolation finalists are Frances VanderMeer, Elmira Notre Dame, 50 freestyle, 17th; Ferris, 500 freestyle, 13th; Kelsey Smith, Chenango Valley, 100 breaststroke, 16th.
Ithaca (12th) and Owego (15th) are in the 200 medley relay consolation finals. Bollinger, Cecile Browning, Rebel Todhunter and Joy Smith will go for the Little Red, with Owego sending out McFadden, Kuchinski, Jamie Zielinski and Marissa Scott.
The bonus finalists: Stratton, 200 freestyle, 27th; Smith, 200 IM, 22nd; Angulas, 100 backstroke, 21st; Scott, 100 breaststroke, 25th.