First, the Niskayuna girls swim team cheered loudly after its 400-yard freestyle relay team won its race at Saturday's Section II Division I championships at Shenendehowa.
Then, the girls screamed even louder when they realized what they had accomplished.
By winning the final relay over Shen, the Silver Warriors got the six extra points they needed to edge the Plainsmen by one point for the team title 399-398. It was the first time that a Sectional swim meet title had been decided by one point.
\It feels so good -- not just because we beat Shen, but because we won the meet, said sophomore Kina Zhou.
"It's kind of an unexpected thing," said first-year Niskayuna coach Steven Hall. "We went in as an underdog [to win the team title], but the kids knew they could do it."
Niskayuna and Shen waged a back-and-forth battle for that championship. The Silver Warriors built a slim lead through the first seven events before the Plainsmen used their depth of talent in the 500 freestyle (four swimmers placed in the top eight) to tie the score at 260.
Shen eventually grabbed the lead on the basis of a strong performance in the 100 breaststroke, but it was only by five points. That opened the door for Niskayuna to win the team title by taking first place in the final relay.
"Kudos to Niskayuna. They were the champions," said Shen coach Chuck Dunham. "They out-swam us today. I'm proud of my girls for hanging in there as long as they did."
Zhou led off Niskayuna's 400 freestyle relay with a blistering 100-yard split time of 51.60 seconds. Freshman Mikayla Frodey followed with a 55.51-second split before Terwilliger (52.92) and Whitaker (53.12) helped the Silver Warriors pull away from the pack. Niskayuna finished with an All-American consideration time of 3:33.15.