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Swimming: Shen coach not showing his hand

Friday, January 31, 2014
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Ryan Gordon of Shenendehowa and Gunnar Zemering of Bethlehem went head-to-head in two highly anticipated races at the Section II swimming championships a year ago and ended up with a split.

A rematch or two between the standout seniors could be a part of the upcoming area meet. Then again, maybe it won’t.

Like a gambler with a stacked hand in a big game, Shenendehowa coach Chuck Dunham is keeping that information close to the vest.

“I don’t know what they’re going to swim. From a coach’s perspective, the fun part is studying and seeing what’s out there and seeing what other people are going to swim,” Dunham said at a recent practice. “Sometimes, you go into a season thinking your people are going to be in certain spots, and you end up doing something completely different.”

Dunham said he’ll be making final decisions for the Feb. 13-15 sectionals at the Shenendehowa pool after the Plainsmen complete their regular season with a non-league meet against Glens Falls Tuesday.

“I have an idea about some things, but there are so many factors,” Dunham said. “I’ll get the swimmers’ feedback. I’ll do my homework. You want to put kids in the best position to succeed.”

Dunham was talking about his lead swimmers, but also his supporting cast that has played a significant role in racking up points at past sectional meets. The Plainsmen came out on top in each of the last seven of them, setting a points record last year with 539.

“Whether it’s a Ryan Gordon or one of our other seniors, or a seventh-grader, they all have different roles. Some guys go out to win everything. Some guys are trying to sneak in to a get 16th,” said Dunham. “They’re all important.”

Gordon is the key swingman in the Shenendehowa mix because of his diverse ability. He won his fifth Section II freestyle title last year in the 100-yard event after placing second to Zemering in the 50. At the state meet, Gordon prevailed in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley with area record-setting times.

“Ryan is the epitome of our whole team. He’s very versatile,” said Dunham of the two-time Section II championship meet Most Outstanding Competitor Award winner. “He’s not pidgeoned-holed in one or two events. What that does for us is it gives us a lot of options.”

Shenendehowa’s other lead characters are Gordon’s sophomore brother Luke, seniors Mike Conley and Connor Killane and juniors Eric Burdge and Piotr Czajowski.

Luke Gordon won the 100 breaststroke title at last year’s sectionals and joined his brother and Conley on a 200 medley relay that placed first while setting an area record. Ryan Gordon and Conley were also part of a triumphant 200 free relay.

“We don’t focus on the winning aspect. We focus on the things that will give us a chance to win,” said Dunham. “We focus on the process. We focus on pushing and doing our best and representing ourselves in a positive way.”

Notebook

Shenendehowa (8-0, 10-0) completed its eighth straight unbeaten Suburban Council season Thursday with a victory over Niskayuna. Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Plainsmen have lost only once in dual meets, against Pittsford in December of 2010. . . .

Ryan Gordon currently has the top Section II times in six of the eight individual swimming events (200 free, 200 IM, 100 fly, 500 free, 100 back, 100 breast). . . .

Amsterdam senior Kristian Santos placed first at Saturday’s Mononasen Diving Invitational, with Shenendehowa freshman Ian Killane and Plainsmen eighth-grader Nick Lydon taking the next two spots. Santos, the reigning Section II small-school champion, totaled 528.80 points in his 11 dives.

 
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