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In a loaded 200 freestyle field featuring some of the best swimmers in Section VI, Andrea Ernst wasn’t sure where she stood. By the end of the race it was apparent her place was at the top of the awards podium.

The Orchard Park sophomore won the much-anticipated race in a personal record 1:50.66 at Friday’s Section VI Girls Swimming and Diving Championships. The event at the ECC Flickinger Center provided a showcase for 363 swimmers and 28 divers from 43 schools. It also served as a qualifier for the New York State Championships scheduled for Nov. 22-23 in Ithaca.

Ernst got out to a blazing start. Her time shattered her previous personal mark from Thursday night’s prelims of 1:53.68.

“I don’t know where that came from,” she said. “I took my first 50 out nice and fast, and I felt so good, and I just kept going and tried to stay ahead. Every turn was so good and I had great underwaters.”

Ernst wasn’t done. She went on to win the 100 butterfly in 57.04, again destroying her prelim time of 59.13.

Clarence dominated as a team winning six of the 12 events, including a nearly-impossible sweep of all three relays. As impressive as they were, Clarence won’t shave and taper until states.

“We talk a lot about how even if you’re not ready and you’re not at your physical peak, if you’re a strong swimmer and strong-willed you can almost will yourself to a really good performance,” said Clarence coach Joe Zwierzchowski. “I think they really bore down. We did some things at this meet we weren’t expected to do.”

Maddy Jacumski, Dorotka Tou, Victoria Butler, Dina Rommel, Sydney Modeas, Rebecca Anthone and Sunita Singh are the Red Devils relay swimmers who will look to inflict some serious damage at states.

Rommel, who has signed with the University of Virginia, won the 50 free in 23.80. She looks to win her third state title in the 50 in what will be her fifth state meet.

Modeas began to distance herself from the field at about the halfway point of the 500 before going on to win in 4:56.46. Anthone brought another individual title to the Red Devils as she won the 100 freestyle in 52.54.

Sophomore Makayla Sargent of Olean took the 200 individual medley in a school record 2:03.39, winning by a gaudy 4-second margin. Her time was just .30 shy of automatic All-American. “It’s not like it’s my last race ever because I still have plenty of other races to get it,” said Sargent, who was state runner-up a year ago. “I dropped a whole second, and dropping time is better than getting All-American.”

She settled for second place in the 500, absorbing her first loss of the season in any race, but she broke her own school record in prelims the night before in 5:00.42. It will be her fourth trip to states. The 500 is one of the section’s strongest events with six qualifiers.

Lancaster freshman Kristen Romano, concentrating on her work underwater, won the 100 backstroke in 57.50.

She was among the favorites in the 200, but placed fourth in 1:53.60. She has the fastest club time in the country among freshmen in the 200. “I didn’t really go a best time, but I’m pretty happy with that race, I felt I did a good job keeping up with the field. It was a really fast race,” she said.

Sophomore Megan Marsh of Jamestown won the 100 breaststroke, breaking her own school record in 1:05.91. Marsh said she really concentrated on taking out the first length fast. This is Marsh’s first season of high school swimming. She transferred into Jamestown from Maple Grove, which didn’t offer swimming.

Junior Morgan Wellenzohn of Orchard Park won the diving, scoring 395.25 points for the 11 dives. She was the only diver from Section VI to qualify for states.

Wellenzohn was coming off an ECIC meet in which she broke the school record, scoring 402.65. Her best dive at sectionals was her reverse 1.5 summersault in tuck, which netted her 44.10 points. She also scored three 8s on her reverse pike.

Wellenzohn placed ninth last year at sectionals, but this year she won by a 46-point margin. “I didn’t think I was going to win because I wasn’t very close last year, but I worked really hard all year. I just kept going,” she said. “I’m going to get a few new dives for states that will give me a better chance for a high placement.”

Julie Coomer of Iroquois was second and Joelle Galante of Cheektowaga was third.

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com