Utica – The teams were short on swimmers, but there was no shortage of enthusiasm. One look at Whitesboro coach Meg Deck after Tuesday’s home finale against West Canada Valley and it was obvious.
The veteran coach had a celebratory dive into the Utica College pool after her team squeaked out an 82-81 win. The visitors came with just 12 swimmers and the hosts had just nine, so every girl’s effort was key to the outcome.
“I (was) short a swimmer,” Deck said of how much harder it was to prevail against a WCV team it beat by six points on the road earlier this fall. “(That) took us out of relays.”
Having just one entry in each relay but one made it tough on Whitesboro, but the hosts came through. Olivia Russo, Kenna Olejarnick, Margaret Mull and Elizabeth Deck won the opening 200 medley relay for Whitesboro. The hosts took second and fourth in the 200 free relay and second in the 400 free relay to end the meet with just enough points to earn their third win of the 2018 season.
“The whole team pulled together,” Deck said of the key to victory.
Good swims and even better encouragement from teammates and fans keyed the closeness of the meet all along. After taking an 8-4 in the first event, Whitesboro saw WCV (3-9) tie things up by going 1-3-5 in the 200 free. Emily Schlesier won the event with a 2:19.67 in one of the afternoon’s best races. Schlesier was even with Russo for most of the race then had a strong finish to post a 2:19.67 to win by two seconds.
Whitesboro’s biggest edge came courtesy of the next event, the 200 IM. Mull won with a 2:43.25, Olejarnick was second with a 2:52.74 and Alexandra Osilovskiy took third for a 10-point lead.
Elizabeth Deck’s 26.90 clinched another first for the hosts and helped maintain the 10-point lead and it grew after Danielle DeCarlo’s easy win in the 100 butterfly keyed a 1-3 finish.
Deck won the 100 free moments later to help Whitesboro maintain its large lead then Coach Samantha Tuzzolino’s WCV team began a great comeback by going 1-3-4 in the 500. Senior Shayla Clark clocked a 5:51.86 to set a personal record by 10 seconds to lead the charge.
“I knew she could do it,” Tuzzolino said, “but she hadn’t done (the 500) in a while. She just had to figure out her pace.”
Clark seized the lead from the start in the event while Russo gave chase admirably. But Clark steadily pulled away and the WCV deficit steadily began to shrink.
“I was super nervous before the race,” Clark admitted. “They have some fast girls. But I had a really good warm-up and I was in it mentally.”
Elli Smith, Schlesier, Caeli Campbell and Clark then swam a 1:58.79 to win the 200 free relay for more valuable points. Whitesboro had a slim lead at the start then WCV grabbed a slight lead before Clark extended it with a great 27.89 at the end.
Russo and Mull gave the hosts breathing room by going 1-2 in the 100 backstroke but WCV overcame Olejarnick’s win in the 100 breaststroke with a 2-3-4 finish to set up the drama of the last relay.
Schlesier, Ellie Smith, Campbell and Shayla Clark posted a 4:38.03 to win it for WCV, but Osilovskiy, Alyssa Trinh, Olejarnick and DeCarlo swam a 4:50.88 for the runner-up finish that clinched the meet.