Elmira Notre Dame junior Molly Craig made the most of her two opportunities during the New York State Girls Swimming and Diving Championships at Ithaca College.
Craig entered the meet seeded 10th in the 200-yard individual medley and 14th in the 500-yard freestyle and came away with top-10 championship final swims in both disciplines on Saturday.
“She hit it out of the park today,” Notre Dame head coach Francis Craig said. “They were really gritty swims and I’m really proud of her.”
Craig, daughter of the Crusader coach, finished eighth in the 200 IM with a time of 2 minutes 6.56 seconds and eighth in the 500 freestyle (seventh among public schools swimmers) at 5:03.69.
“I’m super happy with how I did,” Molly Craig said. “I couldn’t have expected more.
“I was kind of hoping that all my training would and all the work I did would lead me to this point, and I’m really happy that it all paid off.”
Craig bettered her seed times in Friday’s prelims and improved upon them again in the finals.
“You can’t script your places but you can script what you expect from yourself and if you swim personal bests each time, at your biggest meet of the year, that’s the dream,” coach Craig said. “It’s gratifying because she is a kid that works every single day.
“She is just a very, very competitive kid. If you are going to beat her, you are going to have to suffer to do it.”
Corning senior Stephanie Li also had a solid meet, finishing 15th in the B consolation finals in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.59). She had been seeded 26th and was 19th (at (1:06.94) in the prelims.
Notre Dame senior Frances VanderMeer swam to 18th-place finishes in both the 50 freestyle (24.67) and the 100 freestyle (53.94). Both times were slower than her seeded and prelim times.
“Frances is a better swimmer than she has been and it has been a great career for her,” coach Craig said. “I’m sure she would have liked a different script.
“She ends her high school swimming career ending up in the finals of two events, something she has never done before.”
VanderMeer qualified and competed in the state finals for the past three years.
The Notre Dame team, a Class C school, finished well at 29th overall (out of 89 teams) with 37 points.
“That’s is pretty impressive,” coach Craig said. “This team is known now.”
On Friday, three area divers competed but did not advance to the semifinals after their first five dives. Watkins Glen sophomore Lexi Castellaneta led the contingent, finishing 26th (183.30 points). Elmira High School senior Loren Sayers finished 30th (180.35) and Horseheads junior Cameron Murray was 44th (149.50).
Section 4 was led by Ithaca’s Annika Browning, who finished third in the 500 freestyle (5:01.43). The junior was also sixth in the 200 freestyle (1:53.23). The Little Red team finished eighth in the state, tops in the section. Owego Free Academy was 10th in the team results.
Owego’s 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams both finished fourth, best in the section. Ithaca’s 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay teams finished fourth and ninth, respectively.
Among other Section 4 individuals who shined were Chenango Valley’s Katie Schultz, who was 10th in the 500 freestyle (5:06.61). Teammate Paige Letters was 15th in the consolation B finals. Ithaca’s Indie Strattan finished 12th in the 100 freestyle (52.68)
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