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Section VI shines in and out of pool in swimming

   * Erie Community College and Section VI chairman Bruce Johnson received high grades as hosts of the 35th annual New York State Girls Swimming and Diving Championships that concluded on Saturday.

   It was the 12th time since the Burt Flickinger Aquatic Center opened in 1994 that Section VI has hosted the event. Don't be surprised if the meet returns to Buffalo in 2011.

   "The venue has a large seating capacity for spectators and it has a huge deck area as well as a separate diving area," said state coordinator Diane Hicks-Hughes. "Bruce is easy to work with -- all the committee members actually. We all work well together and get a nice meet in place."

   * The meet drew an estimated 1,000 fans including the older sister of Courtney Otto. Amanda Otto is a captain in the U.S. Army and stationed in El Paso, Texas. She was able to get leave and flew in on Friday to watch her sister compete in her last high school competition. Courtney put on a show winning two state championships and breaking of her own Section VI records. Courtney will attend Harvard in the fall.

     "She's amazing," said Amanda, who swam at West Point. "Every time you think she can't possibly go much faster, then she does by a lot. She takes my advice on some things. If I'm trying to explain something about life to her, I'll use a swimming analogy. And she'll be like, 'Oh, OK, now I get it.' So it helps."

   * Jamestown senior Lauren Caldwell, a five-time state qualifier, was the Section VI recipient of the Good Sport award sponsored by the state. Caldwell made the final in the 200 IM finishing eighth in 2:10.62. She will attend St. Bonaventure next fall on scholarship.

   * Clarence was the unofficial winner of the state meet team title with 136.5 points, beating out runnerup Connetquot of Section XI with 130. It's unofficial because the state doesn't want Sections gearing their lineups for team points. The Red Devils brought 10 swimmers to the state meet, seven with qualifying times in individual events.

   * With four freshmen combining to win the state title in the 400 freestyle relay, how good is Clarence going to be in the coming years?

   "We had 55 girls on the team and they all push everyone in front of them," said coach Russ Sampson. "We're not as good at the top if we don't have the base that we have. It's a challenge to negotiate 55 girls in an eight-lane pool, but at the same time it makes people more competitive. It makes our ECIC team and our sectional team and our state team that much more driven through the year."

--- Mary Jo Monnin

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

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