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Cleveland Hill bounces back to capture Class C swim championship

Feeling as if the team underachieved during the regular season, Cleveland Hill swam one last meet together as a team last weekend and came out as champions.

The Eagles won the Class C Team Championship on Feb. 9 at Maryvale High School. With only one first place finisher at the meet, Cleve Hill won the team title off of their depth.

Champion in the 100 backstroke, sophomore Bryce Bielanin, was just .03 seconds away from a 20-year-old school record.

“I felt I was mentally prepared,” said Bielanin, who also placed third in the 200 individual medley. “It was more weight on my shoulders because I wanted to break the record so bad.”

“He has loads of talent and tons of potential,” said coach Doug Newman. “But I don’t think he realizes how good he can be.”

Early into the season, the Golden Eagles lost three meets in a row on their way to a 7-5 season. Not being able to capitalize off of their first ECIC championship since 1977 last season with another division title, the boys are happy to go out this way.

“It’s kind of tough to lose so many times,” said senior Sam Alfonso. “So ending the season this way is the best way to end my senior year.”

The Eagles displayed their depth, with many swimmers surpassing where they were seeded. Coming in as the 17th seed in the 50 freestyle, senior Sharrieff Fareed-Muhammad ended up placing fifth instead.

“I was really excited,” said Fareed-Muhammad. “I just went into it really focused and tried to do what I can do.”

Senior Julian Cavanaugh, who is fairly new swimming the 100 backstroke, finished in fifth place after being seeded sixth.

“I didn’t expect to do the 100 back all year,” said Cavanaugh, who has dropped over six seconds in just a few weeks. “I would’ve liked to place fourth so I can get a patch, but fifth is OK.”

Senior Scott Ferer, one-fourth of the second place 200 medley relay team along with senior Jacob Radlich, Bielanin and Fareed-Muhammad, hopes that his teammates can use this championship as a boost while competing in sectionals at Clarence this weekend Feb. 15-16).

“It gives us a lot of confidence because we’ve had a really bad season,” said Ferer. “We’ve had a lot more loses than we usually do. But to be one of the smallest schools, proving that we can compete is a huge confidence boost.”

Along with sectional qualifying freshman Zack Jones, the Golden Eagles are taking a group of swimmers to sectionals that have made their coach proud during their time at Cleveland Hill.

Cavanaugh, Alfonso and Joe Weber have also qualified for sectionals.

States are not out of reach, but it would be the cherry on top of another memorable season.

“They would have to come up with some pretty big swims to do it,” said Newman. “But if we have someone go to states, that’s just gravy.”


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