SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a major weekend for Saratoga athletics, with three Blue Streaks netting state titles across two different state meets on March 4.
At the NYSPHSAA 2017 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Staten Island, senior Nick Cavotta bested his personal record as well as the overall Saratoga Springs High School record in long jump to claim the state title, while sophomore Kelsey Chmiel set a meet record on her way to claiming the state title in in the 3,000 meter event. Meanwhile, a short ways east at the Nassau County Aquatic Center, junior Zac Zwijacz swam his way to the state title in the 200 meter freestyle event.
For Cavotta, it was a day of firsts and bests. With his win last Saturday at the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Complex, he claimed his first ever state title with a 23 foot jump. In the process, he bested his own personal record for long jump by four inches, and set the overall record for his school by two.
“Obviously I was a little nervous, my first state meet,” Cavotta said. “But I was just excited to be there, cause I knew I didn’t have anything to lose. I was just trying to have fun.
Cavotta’s winning jump came last after five others. Before making the jump, he started to get the audience clapping in hopes of feeding off the positive energy. Prior to jump, he noted that he had been having difficulty jumping from the board, the point from which a jump’s length is measured. He had been starting his jump a little bit behind the board, negatively impacting his results, and so was sure to practice jumping from the right point prior to real jump. Beyond that, Cavotta said that his main strategy was to just keep a level head and focus on the jump.
“They were all really, really good,” Cavotta said of the other competitors. “It was just good to be with the best competition in the state and knowing that I could actually perform with them.
For Chmiel, the hope for her performance in the 3,00 meter event was simply to focus and best her personal record. In the end, she bested the competition by 23 seconds. Going forward, her focus remains the same, getting her times down.
“I knew they were fast,” Chmiel said of her competitors. “So I just wanted to get out fast too.”
Although it was not his usual individual medley event, on account of recent hip problems, Zwijacz put in a strong performance in the 200 meter freestyle, claiming the state title with a time of 1:38.62. His coach, Bill Asay, remarked that Zwijacz showed impressive consistency in speed throughout his swim, which he believes is what propelled him to victory.
“He’s got a lot potential and talent, and he’s not taking it for granted,” Asay said. “That’s the mark of a champion.”
“The atmosphere was amazing and everyone was really competitive so everyone knew it was the time to compete,” Zwijacz said. “The other athletes all had their own strengths and were everything you would want in a race. I respect them all.”
Moving forward, Cavotta and Chmiel are focused on preparing for the national level competition, which is being held in New York City this weekend.
“I’m feeling a little more confident after the state meet,” Chmiel said about the upcoming national meet.
Zwijacz said that he is focused on maintaining his sustainability going forward, as well as improving his times. Asay hopes that his hip problems will subside so that he can go on to once again compete in individual medley events next season.