Hudson Falls-South Glens Falls coach Joe Hart only rosters eight swimmers, and one of them is a diver.
So when deciding how to platoon his athletes this weekend at the Section II Boys Swimming and Diving Championships at Shenendehowa High School, the veteran coach is forced to get crafty competing in Division I.
“With a small team, it hurts in sectionals because I only have so many kids, so instead of having them swim two individual races, I put them in a lot of relays,” Hart said. “And that is because you can get more points with relays.”
Numbers are numbers, and there is only so much Hart can do with such a small number of competitors.
However, that did not stop Hudson Falls-South Glens Falls from improving upon last year’s season.
Under Hart’s coaching and led by two seniors, Hudson Falls-South High finished its dual-meet season with a record of 4-6.
“Overall things went pretty good,” Hart said. “I want to get more numbers on the team going forward.”
Hart realizes the Section II championships are the definition of an uphill battle, but he is optimistic a few of his swimmers can make it to day two.
“I hope our kids get better at this meet,” Hart said. “We are trying to improve our numbers from last year and get some swimmers competing on day two.”
One program that will have no problem making it to day two is Queensbury.
The Spartans have already qualified swimmers for the state meet in four events. Queensbury’s 200-yard medley relay team will compete at states, with a time of 1:39.39.
Individually, freshman David Walton qualified for the state meet in the 200-yard individual medley, beating the qualifying time of 2:00.63 by more than four seconds. Walton also will compete in states in the 100-yard backstroke.
TJ Bearor is ranked second in the 200-yard freestyle, behind Albany Academy’s Bryce Henkel, but both Bearor and Henkel have already qualified.
With those state qualifying numbers out of the way — though Queensbury is still hoping to get a few more in — Spartans coach Mike Anderson can focus on defending their Section II championship.
“For us, this is kind of a hunter-versus-hunted kind of thing,” Anderson said of seeking a rare repeat. “We were excited to win last year and then the year before that we were runners-up. So we’ve had these natural steps up. There are 12 Section II titles here and not many are back-to-back.”
Anderson knows completing such a feat will not be easy, as Division II is stacked with talent at the top.
“We are here to take care of business because we have a title to defend,” Anderson said. “We know that it is very, very, very close this year. We are taking nothing for granted and we understand our position at the top.”
For Glens Falls, the Indians feature four individual swimmers ranked in the top four and embody the exact opposite problem of Hudson Falls-South High, as Glens Falls rosters 36 swimmers.
Neil Hogan is ranked fourth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:19.06. Thompson Collins is swimming in the 500-yard freestyle in the fourth spot, and both Luke Borgos and Will Center are ranked within the top five of the 100-yard backstroke.
Though coach Kevin Crossman knows the Indians do not possess the top-tier talent to contend for a section title, Glens Falls is a deep team that is gunning for a top-five finish.
“We have a huge team and that is a great problem to have,” Crossman said. “We are hoping our depth will be a key for us at this meet. It is probably a battle between us, Gloversville and Burnt Hills for a top-five spot.”
Finishing where Crossman wants to means he is focused on getting as many swimmers finishing in the top 16 after day one. It is known that Crossman always has a knack for getting the Indians to peak at sectionals. He credits his swimmers for that, as this group has been a loyal and selfless bunch all year.
“The kids get credit for their ability to be good listeners, which built their swimming IQ over the season,” Crossman said. “Because of that, they challenged each other and oftentimes the races they had were in time trials, against their teammates, competing for each others’ spots.
“That’s why our depth is so good,” he added. “Because they fought every day to have their name be one of the four names that got to swim at sectionals.”
Day one of Division II begins at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, while Division I starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, Division II will start at 10 a.m. and Division I will begin at 3 p.m. All diving takes place Thursday at 4 p.m.