In an arena with the best senior, junior and sophomore swimmers in Western New York, it was a freshman who emerged out of the pool with one of the finest performances.
Freshman Anthony Mariniello from Williamsville South won both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle with times of 1:48.30 and 4:32.20, respectively.
The 2014 Boys Section VI Championship meet was at Clarence High School on Friday evening. It was the final opportunity to qualify for the state championship, with the winner of each race guaranteed a trip to the finals.
The event exemplified a competitive environment, beginning with the previous day’s prelim winners choosing the entrance music for their championship race.
“My goal coming into the season was to makes states, so I’m just glad that it happened,” Mariniello said.
After winning the 200-yard freestyle by half a second, Mariniello dominated the 500-yard event, winning by nearly five seconds.
“Towards the end I knew I was going to win and it was just pure excitement,” Mariniello said. “It’s a great feeling. Really you know all your hard work paid off and it’s a great feeling to have knowing all the hours you put in finally come to something good.”
Senior Alec Toth of Starpoint was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Swimmer after finishing first in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke.
This is the final season for Starpoint’s 15-year head coach Tim Mentges. Mentges coached both of Toth’s older brothers – Mark and Zach – and said he felt truly lucky to have been coaching the Toth family for 10 years.
“All those years we just bonded,” Toth said about his six years swimming for Mentges. “It’s been an incredible experience with him. He taught me so much, I owe it all to him. He’s a great coach.”
Mentges said the scariest part about Toth’s IM victory is that it’s his fourth-best race. Toth qualified to swim in the 200- and 500-freestyle during the season and now has the option to swim in up to four races.
Frewsburg-Southwestern senior Jordan Powers captured the 100-yard free title with a time of 47.22.
Powers had lost to Williamsville North’s Connor Mergler by .06 of a second and wanted to avenge the loss in his next contest.
“I felt nervous,” Powers said. “I’m the shortest competitor out of the top four that were there and I lost to Connor by .06” in the 50-freestyle “before that. It made me want to win much more.”
Orchard Park began the afternoon with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:40.44. Clarence senior Joe Lawrence won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 52.92.
Lockport won the 200- and 400-yard free relay with a time of 1:28.41 and 3:17.76, respectively.
Williamsville East’s James Jiang won the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:00.13.
All winners qualify for the state championships, which begin next Friday at Webster Aquatic Center near Rochester.