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Ward Melville girls win another League I swim title

Ward Melville swimmers pose for a photo before

Ward Melville swimmers pose for a photo before racing in the Suffolk League I girls swim team championship on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Ward Melville girls swimming is methodical in its domination. The Patriots tend to go undefeated in the regular season, dominate in the League I championship and, after every county championship, they send a slew of girls to the state tournament upstate. They are disciplined, they work tirelessly, and they have the legacy to show for it.

So even though they didn't meet all of their goals yesterday -- a number of girls were just short of state-cut times -- veterans like Sarah Schoenfeld know to trust the process and enjoy every victory along the way.

Led by their first-place 200-yard medley team, which came less than a second short of the state-qualifying time, and Brittany Coughlin, whose first-place time of 1:08.84 was .24 seconds short of a state cut time in the 100-breaststroke, Ward Melville took the League I title with 333 points Wednesday at Sachem East.

Half Hollow Hills came in second with 282.

"We came in with lofty goals," said Schoenfeld, who helped the 200-medley relay to a time of 1:53.17. "A lot of us wanted to make states and I know I didn't make it, but we weren't [rested] and I know we can do better at the county tournament . . . We accomplished what we wanted to and we had fun."

The girls still can qualify for the state tournament at the Suffolk championship that will be held on Nov. 8 at Suffolk CC-Brentwood.

"Mostly this was about team spirit and getting ready for counties," said Casey Gavigan, who came in first in the 200 freestyle in 1:58.09 and swam in the 200-medley relay. "There's a lot more competition there and meets like this get us pumped."

Added co-captain Hannah Parbst: "A win like this is great, because even though we've won counties 22 years in row, we haven't won every league title since then."

Though the Patriots secured the title, the Northport/Commack 400-freestyle relay team managed to attract its share of the spotlight in the tense final heat. Katie Dennin, Katelyn Hahn, Chloe Stepanek and anchor Shanna Haddow clocked in at 3:41.31 -- a state-qualifying time twenty seconds faster than their seed time. The same crew took first in the 200-freestyle relay in 1:42.07, .38 seconds short of the state time.

Other standouts were Smithtown's Jacqueline Dominger and Sachem East's Kianna Papele. Dominger, who'd already made state-cut times in the 200-IM and the 100-butterfly, improved on both times, with a 2:11.60 and a 59.17. Papele won the 100 freestyle in :54.58 and the 50 free in :25.00.

Ward Melville's Cassandra Willie was first in the 500-freestyle in 5:16.09, Half Hollow Hills' Jessica Coffey won the 1-meter dive with 236.15 points, and Hills' Kelly Lennon won the 100 backstroke in 1:02.80.

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