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St. Anthony’s off to strong start in CHSAA swimming championship

St. Anthony's Conor Rutigliano swims in the 100-yard

St. Anthony's Conor Rutigliano swims in the 100-yard butterfly during the CHSAA boys swimming prelims at Nassau County Aquatic Center on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

The St. Anthony’s boys swimming team isn’t sneaking up on anybody this season.

The defending CHSAA and state champions are looking to win consecutive league titles on Sunday starting at 11:30 a.m. after an impressive showing at Saturday’s preliminary races at the Nassau Aquatics Center at Eisenhower Park. But the Friars still view teams like Fordham Prep, the five-time defending league champions entering last season, as the team to be shooting for.

“Honestly I still think as we’re on top now, we’re still trying to take (Fordham Prep) down,” said senior co-captain Conor Rutigliano, who had the fourth-best time (21.92) in the 50-yard freestyle preliminary race. “Chaminade, too. Fordham and Chaminade have some great swimmers . . . and as good as they are, we just have to try to be better.”

St. Anthony’s (8-0) is coming off its second straight undefeated dual meet season.

“It’s been pretty awesome to say ‘Wow, we’re defending,’” said senior co-captain C.J. Arena, who posted the fifth-best time (1:45.22) in the 200-yard freestyle preliminary. “And to be able to go up against all these awesome teams that really want to beat us and to be able to pretty much knock them down is a really great feeling.”

Michael Chang and Andrew Stange also had impressive starts for St. Anthony’s, posting the top time in the 200 IM and 200 freestyle, respectively.

Chaminade had an impressive showing with Christian Sztolcman posting the second best time in the 200 free and Kellenberg’s Patrick Wilson had the top time in the 50 free.

“You look across the pool and you see your two rivals and you know what has to be done,” said Chaminade’s Tom Daly, a member of the third-seeded 200 medley relay team. “Everyone knows what has to be done to win, including us. With the dual meets coming up a little short, we’re ready to go and looking across the pool, we see what we’re up against.”

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