Hauppauge's Justin Plaschka looks for state record in 100 free
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WEBSTER, N.Y. -- It wasn't until the Suffolk County championships two weeks ago that Justin Plaschka committed to swim the 100-yard freestyle in this weekend's state meet.
But the Hauppauge junior made that commitment ring true Friday when he clocked 45.05 seconds -- one-tenth of a second off the state record -- to lead all qualifiers in preliminaries of the New York State Federation Swimming and Diving Championships at the Webster Aquatic Center.
The time also earns Plaschka automatic All-American status in the event.
"We didn't realize we were going to swim the 100 free until the state qualifiers and it turned out I did really good," Plaschka said. "It was a spur-of-the-moment thing and we decided to go with it. I didn't expect to go that fast but I'm really happy with it."
Plaschka had only a few minutes to rest up for the 100 free, Event 7 in the meet. He also competed in Event 6 -- the 100 butterfly, in which he swam 49.81 to qualify second overall.
"He gets good practice doing this throughout the year -- at the varsity meets there's plenty of times that he'll swim two or three races within five to ten minutes of each other," Hauppauge assistant coach Brandon Modrov said. "I guess it's hindsight now -- we never thought we would do this -- but it ends up working out well because he practiced throughout the year going back-to-back races and putting up good times and now he's prepared and at his peak physical ability."
Plaschka, who was also part of Hauppauge's 200 medley relay team that finished 17th, shared the Day 1 spotlight with James Donlevy of Sachem North, the fastest qualifier in the 50 free in 21.06. Trevor Dearstyne of Massapequa finished second in 21.23 and Travis LeGuyader of St. John the Baptist was fifth in 21.54.
Donlevy also placed fifth in the 100 free in 46.68, and helped Sachem North clock 1:29.01 in the 200 free relay, which broke the school record of 1:29.48 set in 2002, and qualified 11th.
LeGuyader was sixth in the 100 free in 46.74.
"It means a lot," Donlevy said. "We worked really hard all season and to finally get this record it's big."
Speaking about the 50 and 100 in Saturday's finals, Donlevy said, "I think there's definitely room for improvement . . . I was hoping to be a little better but it's acceptable. I'm happy."
Defending state champion Gunther Cassell of Huntington was second in the 100 breaststroke in 56.72, and Daniel Mo of Great Neck South qualified seventh in the 100 butterfly with a time of 51.84.
Other Long Island qualifiers were Kevin Konarski of Lindenhurst in the 50 and 200 free; Garden City's Joseph Lozano in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke; Ben Cono of Smithtown in the 100 breaststroke, Connor Brown of Garden City in the 500 free and Chaminade's Dan Lagalante in the 100 backstroke.
Relay teams qualifying were St. Anthony's (200 and 400 free), Chaminade (400 free) and Great Neck South (200 medley).