Corning's Li, Ithaca's Nicholson shine at Watkins Glen invitational

Corning's Li, Ithaca's Nicholson shine at Watkins Glen invitational

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Corning's Li, Ithaca's Nicholson shine at Watkins Glen invitational

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ELMIRA

Records fell and berths were earned to the state meet at the 32nd annual John Beecher Invitational on Saturday.

Fourteen teams took part in the swimming and diving meet held at Elmira Free Academy’s Thomas Natatorium.

Ithaca senior Ryan Nicholson won two races in record time and set another record in helping the Little Red to a win in the 200 medley relay. The Duke University-bound swimmer earned the most outstanding swimmer award.

Corning’s Devin Li also had a big day, qualifying for the state championship meet in the 100 breaststroke with his win. The senior also took first in the 200 individual medley and helped rally the Hawks to a win over Ithaca in the 400 freestyle relay.

“Devin had a really fantastic meet today and the team support just added to it,” said Corning coach Lori Friend. “The 400 relay was really exciting.”

Li swam the third leg of the 400 and took a close race with the Little Red and put it out of reach.

“This was a pretty good day for me and the team,” Li said. “It was nice to see all of the hard work we put in during the break pay off.”

Odessa-Montour’s Chris Husted and Horseheads senior Patrick Leslie finished in a tie for first in the 100 freestyle, earning state qualifiers for both with their time of 48.67.

“I was totally shocked when I saw that clock,” Husted said. “It was as close as it gets.”

Husted also stamped his ticket to the state tournament in the 50 freestyle with his time in the first leg of the 200 freestyle relay. It marked the first time senior has qualified for the state tournament.

“I’m overjoyed for Chris,” said Odessa-Montour coach Terri Brace. “Last year, he missed the state cut by .06 in the free. To get that monkey off his back at mid-season is amazing.”

Watkins Glen sophomore Matt Doppel won the 100 backstroke, setting a new school record of 55.32.

Winners in seven of the 12 events topped the standards for the state meet as well as several second-place finishers. Corning’s 200 freestyle relay team finished second but qualified for the state meet by .04 of a second.

For the fourth year in a row, Ithaca repeated as the Class A champion, beating runner-up Maine-Endwell, 346-292. Horseheads, last year’s Class B champion, was moved up to the A division and finished third.

“I’m very grateful for our guys with how hard they work,” said Ithaca coach Mike Armitage-Blakley. “This type of victory shows how dedicated they are to winning.”

Hilton won the Class B title over runner-up Watkins Glen, 367-281. Addison was the Class C champion with 324 points. Odessa-Montour finished third.

Nicholson, All-America in five events last season, set meet and pool records in his victories in the 200 freestyle (1:41.87) and 100 butterfly (49.86). His time in the 200 freestyle also eclipsed his own Section 4 record.

Ithaca broke meet and pool records in the 200 medley relay (1:38.12) and earned a state qualifier in the event.

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