With the boys state championships returning to Long Island’s Nassau Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park Friday and Saturday, the top swimmers in the area will be able to perform on the grandest stage in front of an abundance of family and friends.
There’s no shortage of storylines heading into the state final, but here are the top 10 to keep in mind at Friday’s preliminary races and Saturday’s championship final, both starting at 10:30 a.m.
1. Alex Park’s quest for ‘3’
The senior from Half Hollow Hills East will be swimming for Brown next season, but has some unfinished business before then. Park won his second 200-yard IM state title last season in 1:51.21, but enters Saturday’s championship with the fifth best time in the state this season. Michael Chang (St. Anthony’s) and Andy Lee (Great Neck South) and Park are all separated by .21 of a second for third, fourth and fifth in the state, respectively. Park’s eyeing on improving his time to take a third state crown.
“That’s the end goal at the end of the season,” said Park at the Suffolk championships. “I’m definitely going to be training hard the next two weeks for whatever little additions and tweaks I can make.”
2. Patrick Carter looks to dive into the record books
Park won’t be the only Long Islander looking to defending a championship. After a decorated career as Suffolk’s first five-time diving champion and holder for the best score in 6- and 11-dive events, the West Islip senior enters as the favorite to win Friday’s state diving championship at 1 p.m. He would become the state’s first back-to-back champion since Shawn Hoffman of North Tonawanda in 2007 and 2008.
“I’ve thought about that, too,” said Carter, who will dive for the Naval Academy next season. “I’m really excited for states. I’m really pumped up. I’ve been training pretty hard. I’m looking forward to that, especially it being on Long Island, so close to my home. I live like 20 minutes away so I want to put on a good show there and just hopefully dive my best.”
Brett Hebert of Huntington-Harborfields and Youssef Ibrahim of Bellmore-Merrick will also be diving in Friday’s final.
3. St. Anthony’s, Half Hollow Hills try to win back-to-back team titles
With St. Anthony’s winning last season’s Federation team championship and Half Hollow Hills winning the public schools title, both schools look poised to compete for the crown again. Each team had undefeated dual-meet seasons as Hills won its 11th straight Suffolk championship. St. Anthony’s fell in the CHSAA championship to Chaminade, as the two schools finished first and second with 825.50 and 816 points.
Hills, led by Park and senior co-captain Daniel Lee, has the top public-school time in the 200-freestyle relay (1:27.04) with a team of Alex Jakubiak, Ethan Tack, Dylan Chan and Park.
The Friars, led by Georgetown-bound Andrew Stange, have the second best time in the 200 medley relay with a team of Conor Rutigliano, Michael Chang, Stange and Justin Meyn and 400 free with Meyn, C.J. Arena, Chang and Stange.
4. Stange also searches for individual title
The St. Anthony’s senior has the top time in the state in the 200 free by more than a second (1:39.20). But the All-American consideration time doesn’t guarantee him the title with Chaminade’s Christian Sztolcman coming in second at 1:40.60.
5. Chaminade on the way up
The Flyers saved their best performance this season for when it mattered most. Despite losing two dual meets during the season, Chaminade won the CHSAA championship, led by a 200 free relay team which has the top time in the state (1:25.93). A senior-heavy lineup of Joseph DeLyra, Duncan Kaja, Jonathan Virga and Sztolcman, a junior, looks to keep the Flyers trending in the right direction toward a state championship.
6. A quest to break his own record (again) and take home a championship
Roslyn’s Orry Zayit swimming for Port Washington-Roslyn has gone from an elimination at last season’s state preliminary 100 fly to setting and resetting the Nassau record in the event, highlighted by his 49.63 to win the county championship. The junior has the top time in the state entering this weekend.
7. Speaking of records . . .
Imagine looking up at the clock after a race and seeing your time beat the county record, but then placing second in the race. That happened to Massapequa’s William Eng at the Nassau championship when he swam a 21.07 but lost to Hewlett’s Delano Townsend (20.84). In the highly entertaining, quick sprint race, both swimmers look to improve their times and vie for the state title in their senior seasons.
8. Who will emerge with Nassau’s top score?
In a tightly contested dual-meet season, Garden City won its fifth straight county championship despite three losses in the season. Long Beach, which had one loss, and Syosset, which had an undefeated dual meet season, placed second and third. All three schools will be highly represented at the state meet and in close competition for the top team score in the meeting of the state’s best.
9. All-American talent in 100 breast
Long Island has four of the top six times in the 100 breaststroke, all which are All-American consideration times. Jason Louser of Shoreham-Wading River leads the local talent with a 56.31, the second-best time in the state. John Casey (Hauppauge, 56.44), Chang (56.96) and Lee (57.38) wrap up the remaining top six in what’s sure to be a highly-contested race. The top time in the state belongs to Evan Zhang of Francis Lewis in an All-American automatic time of 55.79.
10. Plenty of talent — A list of all swimmers with a top-five time in the state in an event:
200 medley relay: St. Anthony’s (second);
200 free: Stange (St. Anthony’s, first), Sztolcman (Chaminade, second);
200 IM: Chang (St. Anthony’s, third), Lee (Great Neck South, fourth), Park (Hills, fifth);
50 free: Townsend (Hewlett, third), Eng (Massapequa fifth);
100 fly: Zayit (Port Washington-Roslyn, first), John Gaffney (Garden City, third);
100 free: Stange (fourth);
500 free: C.J. Arena (St. Anthony’s, second), John Hurley (Sewanhaka, fourth), Kabir Randhawa (Hills, fifth);
200 free relay: Chaminade (first), Hills (third);
100 back: Christopher O’Shea (Rocky Point, second);
100 breast: Louser (Shoreham-Wading River, second), Casey (Hauppauge, third), Chang (St. Anthony’s, fourth);
400 free relay: St. Anthony’s (second).