Thursday February 21, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Frontier junior Tom Stoklosa stands atop the first place pedestal after winning the 100 freestyle at the Section VI Championships. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)Eden's Miller just misses state cut in 50, 100 free
When it came time to decide how to better his chances at winning some of the biggest races in Western New York, Frontier junior Tom Stoklosa took the path that might be considered less traveled in the world of amateur swimming.
Instead of competing with a club team in addition to the high school, the Frontier junior backed away from club, instead choosing to train year-round in and out of the pool with his high school coach Jeff Moessinger.
Either way, Stoklosa seemed destined to win a sectional title; he just may have felt a little more prepared to get it done this season having taken the route that paid off for him Saturday (Feb. 16) at Clarence. Stoklosa won the Section VI 100-yard freestyle championship, outracing the field in 48.64.
“It was a goal from the beginning of the season to place first at sectionals and make states,” said Stoklosa, who made states for a second year in a row. “I’ve been working hard all year, pushing myself to get better...I really didn’t have time for club. I’ve been working with Jeff in the weight room, running and it’s really helped a lot to push myself to the next phase.”
Stoklosa swam the top time in the event during qualifying after coming into the Section VI Championships ranked third. He had taken sixth in the same event at last year’s sectional meet.
“He’s come a long way,” Moessinger said. “He’s been a great swimmer since he’s been young but he’s really been able to hone in on what he wants to do and what he needs to do to get there.”
Both swimmer and coach knew it was Stoklosa’s race to lose, so Moessinger told him to turn on his burners early and get the job done.
“It was pretty much a sprint all the way. Coach told me to take off as fast as I could,” said Stoklosa, who also had the best individual medley time in WNY at 2:00.07 and won the event last week at the Class A Championships, but already had qualified for states in the event and decided to focus on the freestyle sprints and Frontier’s 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Even when the times he was hoping to swim weren’t there at the beginning of the year, Stoklosa stayed the course.
“The year started out a little rough and I wasn’t getting the times I was hoping for so I was a little frustrated,” Stoklosa said. “I started working harder, got better and here I am.”
Moessinger was impressed with Stoklosa’s progression throughout the year and his ability to fight through some of those struggles to qualify for the state championships March 1-2 in Webster.
“Ever since getting off to a slow start in the first couple of meets, he’s swam with a chip on his shoulder and been working harder than he’s ever worked,” Moessinger said. “It’s all about the payoff now. He went out and got it.”
Eden senior Jamie Miller, after he raced in the 100 freestyle, finished fourth just missing the state cut. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)
One of his competitors providing the competition in the 100 freestyle was Eden senior Jamie Miller, who was seeded second after preliminaries and wound up fourth with a personal best 49.2. The Eden senior won the Class C Championships and broke the school record in the event a week prior on Feb. 9.
He and Stoklosa are friends who used to compete for the same Eden Dolphins club team. Miller, who continues to swim for that club, also took seventh in the 50 freestyle with a 22.42, while Stoklosa finished third in that race (22.29) and missed the state cut by .02 seconds. Miller went to states as a member of Eden’s record-setting 200 free relay and 200 medley relay in 2011 but came up .15 seconds short in the 50 and 0.3 seconds away in the 100 of returning.
Frontier was also pretty excited about the prospects for its 200 freestyle relay in what was a close field, but the team finished fifth in 1:30.04. The Falcons relay took third in Class A but had been neck-and-neck with the top two place finishers.
The relay team also consisted of Tom’s older brother, John Stoklosa, Evan Graesser and senior Mike Disare. Also at sectionals, John Stoklosa competed in the breaststroke.