ENDWELL, NY – When you talk about high school swimming and diving in the area, there seems to be a couple programs that stand out.
This year, though, there’s one that has risen above the rest for both boys and girls, and they have the medals to prove it.
“Every single last girl on the team scored for us. I’ve never had that happen ever before on boys or girls team. That’s how incredible an effort these girls put forward,” says Coach Chris Verity.
As you heard coach Verity just say, the Maine-Endwell girls swimming and diving program put forth a championship-worthy effort this past weekend as the Spartans captured the Class B section title, their first in five years, an accomplishment not easily achieved considering their competition.
“We we’re swimming against a powerhouse in Chenango Valley. And, as luck would have it, on that day, everything went our way. Stay humble, work hard, and that’s what we did. I could not be happier with how they all performed,” he said.
There aren’t many girls on this team that were a part of the 2016 championship team.
However, one of them is senior Ashley Morgus.
And if experiencing that once is good, twice is even better.
“We knew we had a solid chance this year. We just worked so hard, even with the short amount of time. We performed so well in prelims, and then, we performed even better. It was just an amazing feeling when we brought it home on Saturday,” she said.
Morgus is a part of the 200 medley relay team, which won their race and hit a state cut time of 1:51.53.
And the four of them can all pinpoint at which moment they knew they were going to be champions.
“I think the medley relay. The first race. Right out of the gate,” said Sophomore Swimmer Aleah Nale.
“Honestly, probably, based on how the first relay went,” says Junior Swimmer Maria Pignatelli.
“The beginning medley relay,” Senior Swimmer Ashley Morgus said.
“It was the first race. We call it a tone setter,” Sophomore Swimmer Leah Krise says.
The final leg of that race was swum by sophomore Leah Krise, but not the way she was used to.
“The funny thing, we actually changed my stroke the day before, and it just opened up a new game. I dropped an insane amount of time. I was like, I didn’t really understand when I popped my head out of the water after finishing, I was like, wow we just dropped like three seconds and got state cut.”
Speaking of state cuts, Maria Pignatelli knows a bit about that.
Pignatelli won two individual section titles, including setting a section record in the 100 freestyle, and was a part of two relays that won their events as well, posting state cut times in three of those four races.
The junior knew she was capable of setting a high mark, and used the energy of the day to do so.
“At the preliminaries, my time was really close to the record, and obviously, there was such a nice energy at finals. So, I just kind of had a feeling that I was going to be able to do it just because of how happy everybody was that day,” she says.
Another individual champion was Aleah Nale in the 100 backstroke.
Nale, also a part of the medley relay team, says this wasn’t an easy season, but it was all worth it.
“I just feel like we’ve overcome so many obstacles this season, with the shortened season and the quarantine. We really got into shape really quick. So, I feel like we all worked really hard, and I feel extremely fortunate we were able to compete in sectionals.”
Morgus added with all the young talent the team still has, including her fellow relay members, she feels they can run it back next year.