By Todd Peterson
Three of the area's best pool performers are preparing for their trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championships.
The event kicks off on Friday with the preliminaries beginning at noon. The finals are set for 10:15 a.m., Saturday at Webster-Schroeder High School's Aquatic Center.
Southwestern's Jordan Powers is one of those select athletes who will be competing in two events - the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. Powers is seeded ninth overall in that event.
Powers, now a senior, is no stranger to this level of competition, having made two previous trips to states as a sophomore and junior. According to his coach, Bruce Johnson, this will mark the first time he's competed in the 50.
"He's pretty diverse," said Johnson, who coached the combined Frewsburg-Southwestern program this season. "He's certainly one of the best I've seen and it's been a treat to be able to coach him. Jordan is just a tremendous worker and leader and he sets a good example for all of our younger kids."
Powers has verbally committed to Bucknell University, but surprisingly, swimming isn't in the picture for him at the collegiate level. Instead, Powers will attend Bucknell on a track scholarship as a 400 hurdler.
"He loves both sports equally," said Johnson.
Also heading to states will be Jamestown's Matthew Marsh, a sophomore, who will be making his first visit to states. Marsh will also compete in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.
According to the seeding sheet, Marsh is also tied with Powers for sixth place overall for the 50 freestyle (21.57), an event Marsh has dominated in all season. In fact, he tied the school record set by his brother, Andrew, in 2012.
As for the 100 freestyle, Marsh is the 17th seed out of 49 swimmers in that event. He is only one of two sophomores listed in the top rankings out of four in the state.
JHS coach Nancy Feenstra is looking forward to Marsh's first time in the state spotlight.
"It will be a good experience for him," she said. "I hope he finishes in the top 16 and the top eight in the 50 free. This will be very exciting for him."
The third local competitor has shined locally in diving for Panama all season long - Ray Fortney, who has racked up 420.82 points and is seeded 38th.
In a recent feature in The Post-Journal, Fortney's achievements were highlighted, noting that he had not lost a dual meet in the past two seasons. He was again this year's county champion and was the runner-up at the Section 6 meet.
Last year, Fortney's abilities earned him the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association championship as well as the overall championship for Class C diving, which he had also claimed in the previous season. He also finished third at the Section 6 championships.
See STATE, Page B4
From Page B1
In the article, Panama coach Todd Conklin paid tribute to his star diver.
"He not only excels in the pool, but also outside of it,'' Conklin said. ''He is an honor roll student and an Eagle scout, and participates in a ton of other activities. When I took over, Ray was our only diver and now we have four. He has really mentored them."
Conklin went on to say that "Ray really has helped to put Panama back in the swimming map. We are building a tradition here and this is another notch in our belt to help grow our program. The kids have rallied around him."
According to Feenstra, since there no individual classes (A, B, C, etc.), all schools, both public and private, are essentially lumped together.
Following the preliminaries on Friday, a select number of swimmers will earn their way into the circle seedings on Saturday. If someone places in the top eight in any event, they cannot be bumped out.
Consolation heats are also slated for swimmers placing ninth through 16th place and there are also bonus heats for those swimming in the top 24.