The Syosset boys swim team has been in this position before — they enter Saturday’s county meet at the Nassau Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park with a third straight undefeated dual meet season. However, the Braves are still seeking their first team county championship during that span.
“It’s something we’ve been falling short of for really the last two seasons,” coach Chris Schleider said. “We have this nice dual meet season streak and it’s great to go head-to-head with teams like Garden City and beat them, but in the end, the kids do clamor for that county title.
Garden City has won the last five county championships.
Javier Ramirez, who placed second in the 500-yard freestyle at last season’s county championships, is a four-year varsity swimmer for Syosset and wants to leave his legacy with a team title.
“The past two years, even though we’ve won the dual meet season, we’ve always come up short at counties but this year I really implemented onto the guys that this is our year,” Ramirez said. “We kept coming back and working hard and this year, I want to give the alumni of Syosset a present and say ‘We finally did it.’ ”
Syosset was 9-0 in the dual meet season, extending its winning streak to 31. Along with Ramirez, the Braves feature Michael Jiang, who won the 100 backstroke (52.06 seconds) as a sophomore at last season’s championships.
“They are both the linchpins for the team,” Schleider said. “As they go, we go and the two of them are definitely people that we need and can count on to give us the big swims in the big moments.”
But there will be strong competition for the Nassau League I champion Braves.
Great Neck South’s Andy Lee broke the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke county records. He posted an All-American automatic time of 20.38 in the 50 free and All-American consideration time of 56.37 in the 100 breast. Lee won last season’s 200 individual medley and 100 breast county titles.
Ryan Davidoff, Timothy Marski, Kyle Bergin and Daniel Dalrymple, of the combined Stony Brook-Lynbrook team, broke the 200 medley relay county record, touching in 1:36.44 at the league final, while Marski broke the 100 butterfly county record in an All-American automatic time of 48.54.
Orry Zayit (Port-Washington Roslyn) will defend his county championship in the 100 fly.
So, can Syosset unseat Garden City? “They want that prize,” Schleider said. “And this year, again, it feels like we have an opportunity and they are going to fight hard to take it. They want it.”
Meanwhile, St. Anthony’s looks to return to the top of the CHSAA. The Friars were kings of the league from their 2016 state championship season through a second-straight undefeated dual meet log last season. But St. Anthony’s, lost to Chaminade in the 2017 CHSAA finals and to Fordham Prep in the state finals.
St. Anthony’s has a third straight undefeated dual meet season entering Sunday’s CHSAA championship at the Nassau Aquatic Center.
“Our team is definitely angry with ourselves for letting that happen last year and this year we are coming back fighting,” said St. Anthony’s Michael Chang. “And we really just want this more than ever because we know what we’re up against and it’s no joke.”
Chaminade boasts Christian Sztolcman. Last year he was Newsday’s Nassau swimmer of the year, and led his team to its first league title since 2006. He placed second in the 200 free, third in the 500 free and was a member of the winning 200 free relay team. Fordham Prep remains state power.
Chang and Justin Meyn lead St. Anthony’s. They were on the last year’s winning 200 medley relay and the second-place 400 free relay. Chang won last season’s league 100 breast in 56.96, a league record at the time. He broke his record in the event this season against Fordham Prep, in 56.36, for the state CHSAA record.
St. Anthony’s doesn’t consider itself the favorite, despite an undefeated dual meet record.
“We didn’t win it all,” coach Dan McBride said. “We were able to win what we were able to win . . . we’re still a hungry team. It’s not like they are champions and they are taking a back seat. Chaminade’s the champions, Fordham’s the state champions.”
Meyn, of Brightwaters, and Chang — both juniors — want to put St. Anthony’s back on top. “As our coach said the whole year . . . we’re not the defending champs for states and the league so we’re the ones that’s hungry for it this year,” Meyn said. “We’re the underdogs, in a way, and we have more motivation to go out there and take it back.”