Ward Melville swims to gold in 200 medley relay
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ITHACA, N.Y. - As they sat in their hotel room Friday night, the Ward Melville 200-yard medley relay team couldn't help but dream. And who could blame them? After watching the newest "Hunger Games'' movie after the preliminary heats earlier, thoughts of theatrics and happy endings were understandable.
"We got back to the hotel and thought 'that would be so sick if we got first place. Can you even imagine?' '' Sarah Schoenfeld said.
They couldn't at the time but just a few hours later, the thought didn't seem so crazy. The relay, composed of Schoenfeld, Casey Gavigan, Cassandra Willie and Rachael Bertini, won in 1 minute, 48.38 seconds at the State Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Ithaca College. Gavigan is a sophomore, Schoenfeld and Willie are juniors and Bertini is a senior.
At first, it didn't appear as if the quartet would get gold. When all hands had touched and swimmers looked to the giant scoreboard, Clarence had won. But that squad from Erie County was disqualified for a rules violation, and the Patriots were awarded the gold.
"It was a goal we've had for the past few weeks,'' Bertini said. "We were so close to getting it and, when we finally did, we couldn't believe it. It was so unreal.''
Gavigan led off the relay with the backstroke, her strength.
"The strength of this team is that we all are the fastest at our individual strokes,'' Gavigan said. "Put together, we're like a dream team.''
Freestyler Bertini anchored the relay.
"I just tried not to start too early,'' Bertini said. "You have to snap your flip turn, kick off as fast as you can, move your arms, and finish hard.
"The medal is pretty heavy, but I guess that's good. Being able to say that we're first in the state is something that you'd never dream that you'd be able to say.''
St. Anthony's was second in the event to win the Catholic state title. Melissa Bischoff, LeeAnn Santore, Kylie Danin, and Meghan Slattery finished in 1:48.94.
"The atmosphere here is great,'' Bischoff said of the victorious weekend.