ITHACA – Last week, Ryan Wagner hurt his knee in practice. Saturday, he woke up aching, feeling like he was getting the flu.
Things were not looking up.
“I drank a lot of water, took some vitamin C and prayed to do my best,” Wagner said.
Then the Clarkstown South senior did just that, capturing the 100-yard backstroke in 51.32 seconds to net Section 1’s loan state public school and Federation (public and private) swimming win.
“I knew I had to leave everything in the pool to win,” said Wagner, who followed his plan of catching and passing Pine Bush’s Ryan Borkowski (51.47) during the second 50.
“Before the meet, I was nervous about his heath,” Clarkstown coach Theo Tomljanovich said. “When he got into the finals, I said, ‘This is your chance.’ …. He’s a tremendous athlete.”
Tomljanovich noted it was Clarkstown’s first ever state swimming championship.
Clarkstown also finished second among public schools and fourth overall in the 200 medley relay with a school-record time of 1:36.56. The team included Wagner, Nikola Andjelic, Matt Kishinevsky and Christian Papa.
Saturday’s boys swimming finals at Ithaca College followed Friday’s swimming preliminaries and the diving preliminaries and finals.
Fordham Prep, a team loaded with Westchester residents, won its fifth consecutive Federation title, marking it as New York’s top public or private high school swimming and diving team.
North Rockland, which finished 10th in the Federation team standings, tied with Scarsdale for sixth among public schools.
Fordham Prep won both the 200 (1:24.92) and 400 (3:06.19) free relays, with those times earning all-America recognition.
Its 200 team included Valhalla’s Michael Verini, Bronxville’s Tim Buttigieg, Tuckahoe’s Alec Nicaj and Pleasantville’s Steve Tierney. Its 400 team, which came from behind to win, included Verini, Larchmont’s Jack Collins, Harrison’s Spencer LaFata and Tierney.
Before the race, senior anchor Tierney, who gave his team the lead and the win, said Fordham Prep was motivated.
“Knowing all the teams are like gunning for us makes us swim faster,” Tierney said. “Everyone on this team is going as hard as they possibly can. We’re just feeding off each other.”
The sophomore LaFata finished second in the 200 free, then third in the 500 free. The 200 came as a pleasant surprise, since he’d been battling a bug since Christmas.
“I had more energy than I thought I would. I was able to bring it back,” he said, adding Fordham Prep’s motto is “Pain for a moment; glory for a lifetime.”
NYSPHSAA boys championship swimming at Ithaca College in Ithaca NY on February 28, 2015
David Stewart sort of lived that motto Saturday. The New Rochelle senior concluded his six-year high school swim career by swimming 49.25 to break his own Section 1 100 butterfly record and earn himself all-America status for a second straight year.
But Brighton’s Noah Stevens swam 48.98 to edge Stewart for the title.
“I’m not really satisfied,” said Stewart, who’ll swim for Notre Dame next year. “I gave it all I had. The other guy, I guess, was the better swimmer.”
Before Saturday’s session, it was announced an error in Friday’s diving scoring meant Ossining’s Alec DeCarprio finished in sixth place overall, not seventh.