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Half Hollow Hills eyeing eighth Suffolk League I title in a row

Half Hollow Hills' Max Gerber competes at the

Half Hollow Hills' Max Gerber competes at the Suffolk diving championships. (Feb. 15, 2013) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

For Half Hollow Hills, the names keep changing but the result is always the same. The Thundercolts have won the Suffolk League I swimming championship seven years in a row, and they've got their eyes on No. 8.

"Each team is different every year," coach Jason Wiedersum said. And yet there is a constant: intensity.

Wiedersum said most of his swimmers train twice a day, six or seven days per week. The majority, he said, train year round.

"The more year-round athletes a team has, the better a team will be," Wiedersum said. "I have about 20 year-round swimmers. It makes all the difference."

The team focuses on sprint-based practices, starts and relay exchanges.

"That level of training can be very intense and counterproductive if not handled the right way," said Wiedersum, who has been coaching the team since 2003. "I think I ask a lot from my team, but never more than they can handle."

Freshman Alex Park has qualified for his first appearance at states. James Gordin and senior captain Michael Mattera were both state championship qualifiers last year, and have already qualified for states this year.

"I'm pretty confident in our team," Mattera said. "I think we can get another county title."

Wiedersum expects big things from his diving team.

Freshman Max Gerber, senior Lawrence Wolf-Sonkin, junior John Natalone and junior Alex Cohen return after placing among the league's top 11 divers last season.

"They were a major reason we were able to win in 2012-13," Wiedersum said. "It only accounts for one out of 12 events, but it can mean the difference between a championship trophy and a runner-up plaque."

Cohen has been on the squad since eighth grade, and Half Hollow Hills diving coach Chris Blumenstetter has seen continuous progress since. "He's improved tremendously over those four years," Blumenstetter said. "He's a great diver."

"We hope we can get some of the guys to qualify for the state championship meet," Blumenstetter said. "We would also like to help the swim team compete for their eighth title in a row."

Half Hollow Hills will have some tough competition in a league that boasts some of the best squads on Long Island, including Sachem North, Smithtown, Ward Melville and Hauppauge.

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