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Fordham wins 2011 CHSAA Championships!

Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 by Mark Becker
                The Fordham Prep swimming and diving team won its fourth CHSAA championship in five years this season, going undefeated in the dual meet season and taking ‘A’ Champs with a total of 796 points, 126 more than defending champion St. Anthony’s and 127 more than third-place Chaminade. The victory marked the first time in school history that the team went undefeated and won the championship in both the freshman and varsity seasons.
                Fordham was awarded several honors at the meet, including the Fran Schnar Spirit and Sportsmanship Award, as voted on by league coaches. Senior Justin Berrios took home the Lester J Schloen Diving Award, senior Joe Casino was nominated for the Jack Kennedy Career Award and coach Dom Galimi was named Coach of the Year.
                The diving team of seniors Justin Berrios and Anthony Bronzo and sophomore Matt Dunworth and Matt Casino started the competition off on Friday, Feb. 11. Having to overcome the loss of Phil Truong, the top diver in school history, and Miguel Hummel, No. 5 on the all-time list, the divers held their own against formidable St. Anthony’s and Chaminade squads in the most competitive diving championship in league history, placing fifth, seventh, ninth and 13th. Berrios led the Rams with 362.70 after a scoring error was corrected a day later, Dunworth improved on last year’s score by 60 points with a 352.30, Bronzo snuck into the Top 10 in his only year of competition with 347.05 and Casino just missed breaking the 300 mark, scoring 295.10. Exhibition diver Billy Quintano scored 280.66 points, which would have placed him 15th had he been eligible to score. Thanks to the divers’ efforts, Fordham went into the swimming portion of the meet down only 14 points to St. Anthony’s and seven to Chaminade.
                Fordham started things off with a bang at prelims on Saturday evening, qualifying every swimmer for finals and all but three in either the Finals or Conso heat. No individuals or relays qualified in first place, but the Rams got three swimmers into the Finals heat of three events and all three relays qualified in the Top 3. Some exciting races were set up for the next day’s session and Fordham positioned itself well heading into finals on Sunday, but the highlight of Saturday was freshman Patrick Conaton breaking the school record in the 100 Free. Having just missed the All-America consideration cut and qualifying second to Chaminade’s Emmett Johnson in the 50 Free earlier in the day, the three-time freshman record holder stepped onto the block looking to get the better of Johnson, who would swim in the next heat, this time around. Posting a blistering 47.08, Conaton eclipsed Fordham sprinting legend Phil Davies’ 47.10 mark, set in 2006.
                Riding high off an impressive prelims showing, Fordham bused back out to the Nassau County Aquatic Center Sunday morning ready to take back the CHSAA trophy. 
                The Medley Relay team of Casino, junior Dale Wallace, sophomore Billy Fierro Joyce and senior Pat Banks put up a fight early but ultimately finished third, just over a second behind Iona Prep and under a second to St. Anthony’s. 
                Fordham’s fortunes quickly turned around in the next event, the 200 Free, with sophomore Joseph Eiden finishing first by nearly two full seconds with a 1:44.01 for Fordham’s only individual win of the meet. Freshman Matthew Lantin also got in on the final heat action, moving up one spot from qualification to finish seventh. Senior Pete Cahill represented Fordham in the Conso heat after just missing the Finals heat by one tenth of a second and finished 12th, with sophomore Danny McLaughlin holding his position in the Bonus heat at 18th with a lifetime-best 1:53.29.
                Next came the 200 IM, in which the Rams ceded some ground to St. Anthony’s in one of their strongest events. Junior Brian Hogan broke the 2:00 barrier to finish second to meet MVP Christian Yeager of STA, but got some backup from a trio of Conso heat swimmers – sophomores Sean Lyons and Colin Hogan and freshman Richard Mannix, who finished 10th, 16th and 13th, respectively.
                Conaton then stepped up for a 50 Free showdown with Johnson, with Banks also in the Finals heat, and despite falling behind early nearly grabbed the win, losing by a mere .01 second, while Banks held his position with a lifetime-best 22.22, good for sixth. Freshman Declan Kennon and Wallace filled out the rest of Fordham’s 50 Free lineup, finishing 10th and 15th, respectively, with Kennon just missing qualifying for state by .04.
                During the break before the 100 Fly, the score was announced, which stood at: St. Anthony’s320, Fordham Prep 317, Chaminade 310.
                After the break, Fierro Joyce and Casino came out strong, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Finals heat of the 100 Fly. Senior Michael Marte and Colin Hogan rounded out Fordham’s scorers, finishing 15th and 16th, respectively, with Marte breaking 57.00 for the first time in his career.
                Next up was the 100 Free and another Conaton-Johnson showdown, which Johnson would once again win, leaving Conaton in second and Eiden to finish fourth. Banks and Cahill also scored, finishing 12th and 15th in the Conso heat, and Fordham took the lead.
                Not at all content to stand on its slim margin, Fordham hit its stride down the home stretch of events, having placed three swimmers in each of the remaining three individual events’ Finals heats. Brian Hogan led the way in the 500 Free, hanging with and nearly taking down Iona’s Charles Barry on the last 100, to finish with a 4:39.34. Lyons and Lantin closed out the Finals heat with fourth and seventh, respectively, and McLaughlin did his part in the Conso heat, dropping his time to a lifetime-best 5:05.22, good for 11th.
                With the 200 Free Relay next, Fordham prepared to go head-to-head with Iona Prep, the favorite by three seconds after breaking the CHSAA record in prelims. Banks led off with a 22.47, giving Fordham the lead on Iona by .01 but falling behind St. Anthony’s. Kennon followed him with the fastest second split in the pool at 21.71 and taking the lead.   Then Conaton dove in and pulled ahead by almost a full second, splitting a 21.15 and giving Eiden enough room to hold off any further challenge as he came in at a CHSAA record-breaking 1:27.01, which qualified the relay for All-America consideration.
                Three more Rams jumped into the pool to prepare for the 100 Back after the amazing relay swim, including Kennon, who would finish fifth. Mannix followed close behind, coming in sixth and just missing the state cut, but the focus here was on Yeager and Casino, who continued their rivalry from last year to blow the rest of the field away by over two seconds, with Yeager getting the edge over Casino’s 52.46 in record-breaking time.
                Fordham closed out the individual events with perhaps its strongest event, the 100 Breast, in which three Rams placed in the Top 5 – junior Dan Murphy in second with a 59.61 (just behind St. Anthony’s Bernil Carmichael-Lopes, the defending champion, Wallace in third just missing breaking 1:00 by .05 and Fierro Joyce in fifth. Sophomore Thomas Masseo placed in the Bonus heat, finishing 21st despite adding time onto his lifetime-best prelims swim of 1:07.43.
                At this point, not even a disqualification would allow Fordham to be caught; but the 400 Free Relay team did anything but take it easy knowing the win was already secured. Conaton, Brian Hogan, Casino and Eiden ended the meet as impressively as possible, combining to post a school-record 3:12.40 to edge St. Anthony’s in dramatic fashion. Conaton led off and took the lead on St. Anthony’s Brian Galan by just over a second, but Christopher Canon pulled dead even with Brian Hogan on the second leg. Casino then stepped up to drop a full second from his lifetime best, falling only .01 behind Sean Sullivan and giving Eiden a close enough race to Yeager on the final leg. Eiden put everything into his first 50, pulling a half-second ahead of Yeager and holding on for the incredible win.
                Altogether, Fordham set four school records and one league record, and almost every swimmer swam a personal-best time in at least one event.
                Ten swimmers qualified individually for the NYSPHAA State Championships on March 3-4, several in-season; the Rams will have 13 individual swims and three relays at states. 

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