An appeal by Brockport to Section V challenging a decision that disqualified two of its swimmers from the Section V championships was denied on Wednesday, Blue Devils athletic director Todd Hagreen said.
“They’re upholding the state rules,” Hagreen said. “Athough I’m disappointed, I certainly respect the decision and I understand rules that are written for a reason.”
But the season isn’t over for Nick Olson and Brandon Amthor, the two swimmers who expected to do well at sectionals who’ve been disqualified from the Class A championships because their coach entered their names in the wrong event. The freestyle standouts will still be able to swim in the state championships on Feb. 27-28 at Ithaca College.
“It was upsetting and unexpected, to be honest, but we’ve got more stuff to do in swimming. We’ve still got states,” Olson said. “The main focus this year is to do well at states. For a the guys moving forward this is a huge motivational piece.”
Olson, a senior, and Amthor, a sophomore, were disqualified during Tuesday’s preliminaries after Brockport coach Scott Stepanek unintentionally wrote the wrong names on the 200-yard medley relay card that he submitted to the official. He wanted to enter them in the 400 freestyle relay but mistakenly put them down for the medley relay.
“When you turn the card in those are the kids who are supposed to swim that event. If they don’t swim that event and they are entered then they are disqualified for the rest of the meet,” Section V swim coordinator Scott Fake said.
The medley relay is the first race of the event. Brockport had a team swim in that race — the one Stepanek intended to use — but Olson and Amthor were on the relay team he submitted and they didn’t swim in that race.
“I made a mistake filling out the relay cards … they got flip-flopped in the stack that was given to me,” Stepanek said.
The meet continued without anyone realizing there was a mistake and looming disqualification. Olson and Amthor swam in their individual events. Officials realized the violation just before the 400 relay, the final race of prelims, and informed Stepanek of the gaffe.
“I take full responsibility and it’s too bad it cost two guys so much,” he said. “We were all devastated.”
The sectional finals are 5 p.m. Thursday at the Webster Aquatic Center.
“Mistakes happen and it’s an unfortunate thing but we have to go by the rulebook,” Fake said.
The defending Class A champion in the 50 freestyle, Olson was the favorite for the 50 and 100 freestyles and Amthor for the 200 and 500 freestyles. Each swam the top Class A time in the section this season in their respective events. A Division I college recruit, Olson also broke the Section V record in the 50 earlier this winter.
Olson swam times earlier in the season in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events and the 200 individual medley that met the qualifying standard to compete at states, and Amthor did the same in the 200 freestyle. Brockport’s 200 medley relay also had already swam a state qualifying time.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Olson said. “It’s unfortunate for us but we’ll move on and make the corrections and hope it doesn’t happen again.”
The mature way Brockport has handled the DQ garnered praise on Twitter, as some used the #LetThemSwim hashtag to show support.
“They’re both good kids. My hats off to them,” said Fake, a longtime coordinator and Section V swimming advocate. “They’re handling it probably better than I would at their age. They are two kids Brockport can be pretty proud of.”
Includes reporting by staff writer, Ryan Miller.