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Section V’s top dynasty wins again, a 4-peat for the Wellsville Sea Lions as sectional champs (story and photos)


Sea Lions 4-peat as Class C Champions behind 7 individual Section V titles, new 200 free relay record; Mattison, Bidzerkowny lead charge with 2 each to pace another magnificent season in water

By CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor,

WEBSTER — For the last several seasons in the water, the Lady Sea Lions of Wellsville have reigned supreme.

With more and more amazing talent gradually continuing to work their way through the ranks, getting better each and every year, they have blossomed into one of the most dominant programs in all of Section V. Because of it, three straight undefeated campaigns have led to that annual moment in time, Saturday afternoon at the Webster Aquatic Center.

Out of the 12 total schools in attendance to compete for Section V’s grand prize, only one could come out on top with it in their possession. For Wellsville, it was an opportunity to make it four straight years.

What better way to do that, than with the very first event of the championship. The 200 medley relay team of Hayden Waldon, Allie Bidzerkowny, Grace Kinnicutt and Emily Budinger set a tone for the Lady Sea Lions that was simply unmatched.

As a result, glory had awaited them once again.

Behind seven total Section V titles, five of them from three different Lady Sea Lions, Wellsville was able to get the job done from start to finish again in the year 2023, as they raced forwards towards a fourth straight Class C Championship in style with a 379-point first place finish over second place Livonia and third place Bath-Haverling to lay claim on the coveted title.

The Lady Sea Lions will celebrate their fourth straight Section V title with a fire truck ride around town beginning at the High School at 4:30 p.m.

But beforehand, the school record-breaking 200 freestyle relay squad, along with the rest of the team, will reconvene inside the pool one last time to change the record board at 3 p.m.

“It’s really hard to put into words what I’m feeling,” Lady Sea Lions coach Steve Hand said. “The swimming portion of the meet starts out with a relay this team has won in each of the last four years that we’ve now won Sectionals.

It has always set the tone for the meet, and it was the same again this year. Hayden, Allie, Grace and Emily, four of my five Seniors won by six seconds, and that’s huge,” Hand continued. “This was an absolutely solid win from top to bottom, as we finished another season undefeated.

“For the Seniors, they finish their careers without ever having a loss. I’m really lucky and proud to have them call me coach,” Hand added.

The Lady Sea Lions came out swinging for the fences right from the start in the 200 medley relay, as Waldon, Bidzerkowny, Kinnicutt and Budinger strolled towards victory with a tone-setting time of 2:03.26 to pick up Wellsville’s first big points of the meet. The relay department for the four-peat champions would also see a bit of record smashing later on.

In the 200 freestyle relay, a new school record was born, as the team of Kinnicutt, Waldon, Kaylee Oswald and Morgan Mattison swam towards gold in resilient fashion with a 1:45.13 time to claim top honors.

Individually, the Lady Sea Lions saw five total Section V patches being scooped up from a trio of swimmers. Among them, Waldon and Mattison, who each collected two in all to lay claim on championship glory, with Waldon propelling towards victory with wins in the 200 individual medley (2:20.53) and later on in the 500 freestyle (5:37.68).

Mattison would follow up with two titles of her own, claiming them in the 50 freestyle (25.22) and the 100 freestyle (57.55) events.

Bidzerkowny was the final swimmer for Wellsville to record a championship-clinching performance, as she recorded the winning time in the 100 breaststroke (1:18.61).

To go with all seven of their title-capturing performances, the Lady Sea Lions also saw a slew of secondary finishes help bolster their first place standing at the top of Class C in the meet, with Bidzerkowny adding a third place finish in the 200 individual medley. Kaylee Oswald recorded two second place finishes in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle, respectively. Ashley Oswald delivered a fine performance off the Diving board, placing second overall.

In addition, Grace Kinnicutt placed second in both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, while Reegan Perkins finished fifth in the 200 freestyle. Wellsville would also garner a second place finish in the 400 freestyle relay to close out the meet.

“Reegan and Megan (Vanetten) had personal bests in the 200, Hayden had a big lead in the 200 IM and Allie dropped time to take a solid third in that event as well,” Hand said about his team’s performances. “Morgan, Kaylee and Emily all swam in the Finals for the 50. It was great to see all three girls swim fast and do very well in the shortest, but most competitive race.

Last weekend, Ashley got a nice second place to add 17 points to the total. Grace had a nice second place in the butterfly, Hayden continued her dominance in the 500 freestyle with a seven second victory. We even got a new school record from our 200 freestyle relay team, so all in all, I was so happy and pleased with everyone and the way they performed to make this happen,” Hand added.

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