BETHLEHEM — Shaker’s nearly three-year dual meet winning streak ended when Bethlehem defeated the Blue Bison 105-79 Wednesday, Jan. 4.
The Eagles (5-1) took command with strong performances in the 100-yard freestyle, the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 100-yard backstroke. Brendan Cartwright, who earlier won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.78 seconds, took first place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 50.01 seconds, while Richard Sweeney placed third with a time of 52.03 seconds. Juneau Wang then won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:11.15, and the 200-yard freestyle relay of Sweeney, Cartwright, Jason Wu and Joey Chiarella finished first with a time of 1:34.43. Once Connor Doyle and Joe Beletti-Naccarato finished 1-2 in the 100-yard backstroke, Bethlehem’s lead grew insurmountable at 96-60.
Bethlehem’s 200-yard medley relay team of Beletti-Naccarato, Coyle, Chiarella and Cartwright started the meet with a victory in a time of 1:45.04, and John Moloney added a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:56.69. Chris Redmond took first place in the diving portion of the meet with a score of 273.90 points.
Steven Yu earned victories in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke for Shaker (3-1), which has won the last two Section 2 Division 1 team titles. John Fitzgerald added a win in the 100-yard butterfly, and he teamed up with Yu, George Enright and Ian McElrath to win the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Bethlehem stands a chance of winning the rest of its dual meets before Sectionals. The Eagles already swam against — and lost to — league-leading Shenendehowa. Their remaining schedule includes a struggling Schenectady team on Jan. 10, a home meet against Saratoga Springs — featuring Zac Zwijacz, one of Section 2’s top swimmers (see related story here) — on Jan. 17 and a visit to Niskayuna Jan. 26. As long as swimmers such as Wang, Beletti-Naccarato, Wu and Chiarella continue to add top-three finishes in their individual events to what Doyle and Cartwright do, Bethlehem should run the table.
Meanwhile, Shaker has a grueling schedule ahead of it with eight dual meets between now and Sectionals, which take place Feb. 16-18. Included in that stretch are meets against Ballston Spa (Jan. 10), Niskayuna (Jan. 17) and Shenendehowa (Jan. 26). Don’t be surprised if Shaker suffers a loss in one of those meets, especially the showdown against a deeply talented Shen squad in the Plainsmen’s pool.
Associate editor/sports editor