The Williamsville North boys swimming team gave coach Dan McLaughlin a sweet send-off Saturday, winning four of the 12 events in the Section VI Championship meet at Clarence.
McLaughlin, a 30-year coaching veteran who has been leading the Spartans for 17 years, is retiring at season’s end.
“We really impressed ourselves,” said senior Jerry Daigler, who won the 100-yard breaststroke with a state-qualifying time of 54.39, less than two-tenths of a second shy of the 40-year-old North record.
Connor Mergler won the 50 freestyle in 22.45, edging teammate Cameron MacDonald (22.13), who had previously won the ECIC and Section VI Class A championships in that event. Both Spartans qualified for states.
Daigler, Mergler, MacDonald and Josh Blumberg also teamed up to win the 200 medley relay (1:39.04) and the 400 free relay (3:19.07).
The 400 free relay was hotly contested, as no team from Section VI met the state-qualifying time during the season. Several schools shuffled their lineups Saturday, trying to win the race and earn a spot at the state meet, which will be held Feb. 28-March 2 in Webster.
“Basically, it’s a chess game,” McLaughlin said. “Every coach moved people around to make sure they had the fastest and their best in the race.”
“We went out of our comfort zones and did some sprinting,” Daigler said. “I definitely exceeded my expectations.”
The Williamsville East team of Alec Siskar, Marc Ruszaj, Bo Kim and Brett Siskar won the 200 free relay with a state-qualifying time of 1:29.93. Orchard Park’s quartet of Nolan McArdle, Brian Manley, Liam Hoover and Zachary Healy also earned a trip to states with a time of 1:30.04.
“The relays really were the highlights of the meet,” sectional co-chairman Al Fritzinger said.
Williamsville East will also be sending James Jiang to states in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.23). Kim had already qualified for states in the event.
There were two state-qualifying performances in the 500 free. Jack Hughes (Williamsville South) won the race in 4:49.36, and Alec Toth (Starpoint) made the cut with a time of 4:51.65.
Toth also qualified for states in the 200 free, winning the event in 1:46.52.
Jordan Powers (Southwestern) won the 200 individual medley (2:00.47).
Josh Miller (Niagara-Wheatfield) won the 100 butterfly (53.39).
Tom Stoklosa (Frontier) won the 100 free (48.64).
Ryan Monteleone (Lew-Port) won Friday night’s diving competition and qualified for states with an 11-dive score of 433.45.
Several athletes met the state cut in previous meets and did not compete in their best events Saturday.
“We get to experiment at this meet,” McLaughlin said. “Because this sport is so demanding and lonely, you’ve got to make it fun and this is the kind of thing that is fun for them.”