Thursday January 17, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Tom Reimondo is a senior leader for a young Hamburg squad. (File photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Already enjoying a memorable unbeaten season so far, Lake Shore nearly put another notch in the program’s belt at its host tournament over the weekend but finished just short of a first-place finish.
For the first time this season at the end of a meet, the Eagles actually had to settle for second as they finished just 13 points behind Lancaster at the 12th annual Jon Brockhurst Memorial Invitational, which celebrates the life of a former Lake Shore swimmer.
As has been the case for much of the season, the senior-laden Eagles got many contributions in an array of events to pull close to Lancaster, which finished with 352 points to lead the six-team field.
“Each of our 11 seniors can score points for us and anyone can step up for us at any time,” Lake Shore head coach Chris Ignatowski said. “It’s not like we have a dominant swimmer. Different people are making a difference all the time.”
At the invitational, one of those seniors, David Dombrowski, won two events, taking the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:15.8 and 100 backstroke with a 59.9 second effort. He and co-captain Fred Ball, a freestyle sprinter and butterfly swimmer, have been the heart of the team, according to Ignatowski.
Maybe the most successful part of the team has been the Eagles’ divers. The combination of Travis Wright, Lee Gaskin and Tyler Wodja combined for 256.93 points to garner Lake Shore’s other first-place at the competition.
In fact, Wright, a junior, has already eclipsed the school record and by a good distance with a 296.33, shattering the old mark of 278. He’s also closing in on the pool record, which is 298.
Wodja is no slouch himself as the senior has put up a high of 213, which is ranked in the Top 10 in Western New York. Gaskin is up to a 190. The combination of all three also broke the Alden Invitational diving record earlier in the season.
“They all put in a lot of time and I’ve had them since their seventh and eighth grade seasons,” said Ignatowski, who said he spotted them all during gym class and quickly moved to make them a part of the program.
The invitational is dedicated to a former team captain who lost his life in a car crash shortly after graduation 13 years ago. Ignatowski said the competition was begun and modeled after the way Brockhurst lived his life.
“It’s about those who give 100 percent. It is also about self improvement, perseverance and internal motivation,” Ignatowski said. “Jon believed it doesn’t matter if you’re first or last — it’s about the effort you put in; giving your heart and soul to what is important to you; sharing goals and the commitment to achieving excellence within your self and supporting those around you as they do the same.”
Lancaster, along with Tonawanda and Cheektowaga, are original teams in this competition. Pioneer was added shortly after and then Maryvale. Each school has a connection with the coaching staff at Lake Shore.
Ignatowski said it’s always a special moment when each year Jon Brockhurst’s parents, who have moved out of town, come back to share in the competition.
The remaining teams standing in the way of Lake Shore’s division title are Maryvale and Pioneer. Maryvale will bring together brothers, Jeff Kunkel, the Flyers’ head coach, and Sean Kunkel, who’s Lake Shore’s assistant, in what Ignatowski calls the “Kunkel Bowl.” Sean Kunkel will take the reigns of the team that night in a fun sibling rivalry. Then the Pioneer meet will celebrate Senior Night.
Elsewhere, Hamburg’s many youngsters are helping the team come around as the Bulldogs have won three out of its last four meets after starting the season 0-6. A larger than usual Bulldogs squad, with 28 swimmers, defeated St. Francis, West Seneca East and West Seneca West.
Among a squad with only eight competitors returning, Hamburg is led by senior Tom Reimondo, junior Emmett O’Connell and sophomores Tim Madden and Gabe Waite, according to head coach Andy Godios.
Madden was a double-winner in the 200 and 100 freestyle in both West Seneca East and West meets. Madden, who won the 100 backstroke against St. Francis, also has qualified for the ECIC Championships in the 500 free and 200 individual medley.
Waite joined him as a two-time winner against East, as he took the 200 IM and 100 back. He also won the 200 free against St. Francis and took the 200 IM against West. He’s qualified for ECICs in six events, also including the 50 free, 100 free and 500 free.
Emmett O’Connell earned a separate win in each meet swimming in the 100 free, 100 fly and 50 free. He’s also qualified for ECICs in the 200 free and 200 IM. Reimondo has qualified for ECICs in three events — the 200 IM, 100 fly and 100 breast, which he won against St. Francis and East.
Other ECIC qualifiers include freshmen Kyle Griffin in the 50 free, which he won against St. Francis and East, and the 100 back; sophomore Ian Wilson in diving, which he won against East and West; junior Nick Kennedy in the 100 breast, which he won in the West meet; and seventh grader Liam O’Connell in the 500 free, which he also won in the West meet.
Also qualifying have been eighth grader Luke Kennedy in the 100 breast; freshmen Cody Wittmeyer in the 100 fly; and freshmen Ethan Reimondo in the 100 breast. Sawyer Reynolds won the diving against St. Francis.
Rounding out the team are Shawn Filas, Tommy Gorrell, Alex Gutowski, Derek Hall, Justus Hoffman, Brandon Hummell, Connor Long, Sal Pace, Mike Padovani, Christian Scholl, Alex Simano, Evan Taylor, David and Joe Violanti, Steve Weppner and David Uhlman.
“With 15 seniors last year having graduated and 20 new swimmers we are a very young team; this is the biggest team I have had,” said Hamburg’s seventh-year coach.