Weekly Feature

2017-11-08 / Sports

Lady Red Devils swimmers excel in postseason

Ella Costich comes up for air while competing in the 200 freestyle at Friday’s Section VI Girls Swimming Championships at ECC’s Burt Flickinger Center. Costich finished in 16th place overall for the event with her time of 2 minutes, 6.01 seconds. 
Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Ella Costich comes up for air while competing in the 200 freestyle at Friday’s Section VI Girls Swimming Championships at ECC’s Burt Flickinger Center. Costich finished in 16th place overall for the event with her time of 2 minutes, 6.01 seconds. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Clarence’s girls swimming squad continued to showcase its status as a perennial contender for success at both the team and individual levels recently with its exploits at both the annual ECIC and Section VI Championships meets.

Wednesday’s first round of sectional competition at ECC’s Burt Flickinger Center also served as the Class Championships, where the Lady Red Devils finished third out of 15 Class A teams before moving on to place fifth out of 45 teams in Friday’s championship portion of the sectional meet.

“The girls did great in both meets, considering that we’ve lost so much talent each season for the last five seasons,” coach Joe Zwierzchowski said. “It’s a big accomplishment to maintain such a high level of consistency against such a deep talent pool in the programs in the area.”

Anna Kottakis gave Clarence its only Class A champion when she touched out Jamestown’s Allison Stockwell to win the 100 backstroke in 59.53 seconds to meet the state meet cut time by full second. Ashley Felber finished 10th in the event at the Class meet and followed that up with 13th-place finish at the sectional finals.

Kottakis also hit the state standard at the Class meet with her personal-best time of 53.64 in the 100 freestyle that was good for second place. Maddie Panus finished eighth at the Class meet in that event, as well. Both were also part of the 200 medley relay, along with Emma Colson and Isabelle Lange, that made the state meet cut by more than a second with their sixth-place time of 1 minute, 51.33 seconds.

Panus, Kottakis and Colson also teamed up with Ella Costich to place second in the 400 free relay with their state-qualifying time of 3:38.30, a season’s best.

“Every girl stepped up with a great split,” Zwierzchowski said. “It was so fun to see the surprised looks on their faces when they looked up at their time on the scoreboard. Anna’s anchor split time of 52.47 was really fast and just a great way to close out a fantastic meet for our girls.”

Clarence also placed second at the Class meet and fourth at sectionals in the 200 free relay, with the foursome of Panus, Ella Costich, Lange and Colson qualifying for states with their time of 1:40.69 at sectionals.

Individually, Charlotte Costich placed sixth in the 500 free in the Class meet and followed that up with a 10th-place finish overall in the section, while Ella Costich placed 16th overall in the 200 free at the sectional finals. Lange swam a personal best of 59.71 in the 100 butterfly to finish sixth in the section, and also took eighth at the Class meet — and 17th in the section — in the 50 free. Ella Costich chipped in with a 15th-place finish in the butterfly. Felber had a fantastic swim in the 200 IM, placing 11th in the section with a personal-best time of 2:18.40.

“Ashley is such a hard worker but was stuck at 2:20 for a while, so it was great to see her have a breakthrough swim,” Zwierzchowski said. “She’s joining our state team as an alternate in the freestyle relays and we’re happy to have her lead off our state medley relay team in the backstroke.”

Clarence kicked off its postseason in strong fashion by hosting the ECIC Championships on Oct. 21. The Lady Red Devils placed third in the 14-team Large Schools field and captured two relay titles in the 12-event meet.

The 200 medley relay team of Felber, Colson, Lange and Ella Costich placed fifth overall to start out the meet with what Zwierzchowski said was “a great finish” considering that Clarence started the season without an established breaststroker. The Lady Red Devils “took a chance on Colson, one of the best freestylers in the section, and she took the challenge in the breaststroke and performed really well,” Zwierzchowski said.

Panus finished 15th in the 200 free and Felber followed that swim with a fifth-place finish in the 200 IM. Lange placed eighth in the 50 free, followed by Ellie Erbacher in 15th in her first ECIC meet. Three Clarence girls then scored points in the 100 butterfly: Lange (fifth, state qualifying 59.89). Ella Costich (eighth) and Sofia Hall (16th). Hall trimmed three seconds off her previous-best time.

“Lange’s a tough competitor and is one of the few top tier swimmers that doesn’t swim year-round,” Zwierzchowski said.

The 100 free also had three Clarence girls make the finals: Colson (third), Kottakis (fourth) and Panus (12th). Both Colson and Kottakis hit the qualifying standard for the state championships.

Charlotte Costich “had one of the most outstanding swims for Clarence” in the 500 free, Zwierzchowski said, placing fourth with a time of 5:24.98 that was a seven-second drop from just a few weeks ago. Lindsay Scanio added a 14th place finish in the event.

Clarence captured its first event title when Panus, Lange, Colson and Kottakis swam to a state meet cut time of 1:40.73 in the 200 free relay. Zwierzchowski said the foursome “made their minds up before the race that they were going to win and get the state cut” and dropped three seconds from their previous best to hold off Williamsville East by less than a second.

“The 200 free relay is one of the most exciting events in every championship meet,” Zwierzchowski said. “Relays are fun and fast, and the girls love that feeling of supporting each other with a great split in their leg.”

Kottakis, Ella Costich and Felber provided the strongest overall point finish in an individual event for Clarence, as the trio took fourth, eighth and ninth place, respectively, in the 100 backstroke.

The final event of the meet, the 400 free relay, was by far the most exciting, Zwierzchowski said, as it was Clarence versus Williamsville East once again. Clarence’s quartet of Panus, Ella Costich, Colson and Kottakis swam to victory with a time of 3:40.38.

“We swam 3:48 most of the season and when the girls looked up and saw that time, they were elated,” Zwierzchowski said. “Adding to that feeling was a state meet cut time by a wide margin and a victory over East. Maddie and Ella got us off to a great start, and Emma and Anna were relentless in the final two lengths in the come-from-behind win. It was incredibly exciting and was a perfect way for our girls to wrap up the meet.”

For those who have qualified, the season will conclude Thursday, Nov. 16, through Saturday, Nov. 18, with the state championship meet, held this year at Ithaca College.

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