Gavin Friedrich won the Section VII 500 freestyle for AuSable Valley last season.
Several members of the AuSable Valley Patriots varsity winter sports programs earned Section VII championships over the weekend as the winter sports post season officially began.
Senior Hank McCormick collected his fifth and sixth sectional titles for the Patriots in his home pool Feb. 9, claiming the Section VII championship in the 200 medley with a time of 2:15.04 and the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.81.
“You go into the race as a favorite, and you hope that you do not screw it up,” said McCormick, whose personal best time was over one second better than his competition in both events. “Overall, my goal was not as much to get my best time as it was to just win the events.”
McCormick said he was pleased to be heading back to states with a solid group of Section VII and X swimmers.
“You are swimming with a great group of guys, and it is a big honor to go back to states with them,” McCormick said. “The people on this sectional team know each other really well.”
McCormick said that he will use the two weeks between sectionals and states to work on his stroke and endurance.
“I will use the next two weeks to fine tune my strokes,” he said. “For me, this is just a chance to prepare more and use it as a stepping stone to next year because I want to swim in college.”
For Hank, swimming is a family affair, as he was presented his sectional championships by his father, Mike, who was one of the first sectional swim champions in 1974. His sixth sectional title also keeps him four ahead of little sister, Emily, who captured her first two crowns as an eighth grader during the fall.
“I’m sure I’ll have the bragging rights when she gets done,” McCormick joked. “It has really been great to work with her and to see her come from floundering in the pool as a little kid to winning two sectional titles. I am very proud of her.”
While McCormick won his titles in relatively easy fashion, junior Gavin Friedrich had a race on his hands in the 500 freestyle from the gun, pacing himself with Plattsburgh High’s Matt Evans.
Entering the event, the two swimmers were only separated by .03 seconds when looking at each other’s personal best times, with Friedrich holding the lead. There was not much change in that gap, as Friedrich out-touched Evans by a eye-blinking .16 second to earn his first sectional title with a time of 5:38.28, making it the fifth straight year and AuSable swimmer had won the 500 free.
As soon as I touched the wall, I looked up to my lane on the board and saw the “1” next to my name — I was really excited,” Friedrich said. “It was back and forth the entire race and I knew that I would have to give my best to win.”
Friedrich said he was proud to continue the Patriots winning ways in the 500 meter, which was won the past four years by Ben Ford.
“Ben helped me out a lot,” he said. “Hank (McCormick) has also helped me out a lot getting me better and working on my stroke.”
Friedrich said that the next two weeks are about working on conditioning and getting “a little bit better.”
Indoor track and field
Paul Ford earned a repeat sectional championship as he won the high jump at the Section VII Championships Feb. 9 with a leap of 5 feet, 8 inches in a jump-off tie breaker. He also finished fourth in the 55-meter hurdles in 8.9 seconds. The 640m relay of Ford, Jacob Ashline, Ridge Perkett and Jonathan LaDieu also had a strong showing as they finished third in 1:25.3, a new best time for this group.
For the Lady Patriots Ashlee Estes won the girls high jump title with a leap of 4 feet, 7 inches. Rachel Ford established a personal best in the 1500m run in 5:56.1. Rachel also edged her previous best in the 1000m run in 3:54.2.
The state qualifier meet for indoor track takes place Saturday, Feb. 16 starting at 12:30 p.m. at the Plattsburgh State Field House.
The Patriots boys bowling team finished third in the Section VII championships Feb. 11, with Josh Taylor rolling a personal season-high series of 687. Mike McDonald added a 658 series, while Ben Coolidge rolled a 613 series and Brandon Ano tied his season high with a 603. For Willsboro, Dakoda Latford rolled a 655 series while Tyler Bridge had games of 200 and 212.
In the girls championships, the Willsboro Lady Warriors were led to a fourth place finish as Gabi Yeager rolled a 536 series and Alyson Arnold added a 208 high game.
Dylan Baker represented the Patriots in the sectional finals on the mats at Saranac Feb. 9, but was unable to solve defending sectional champion Ethan Feazelle of Peru at 120 lbs., who scored a takedown win over the top seed to advance to the state tournament in Albany. Kenneth Rivers finished third in the heavyweight division.
With sectional champions being crowned in four winter sports events, the stage is set for the top basketball teams in the region to start their quests for a Section VII championship next week, with preliminary and quarterfinal rounds being played over the first week leading towards the semifinal round before championship weekend March 1-2.