For the third year in a row East Hampton High's boys swimming team won the League II meet, this one contested Saturday at Hauppauge High School, topping four teams — Hauppauge, West Islip, Sayville-Bayport-Blue Point, and Northport — that had defeated the 3-4 Bonackers in dual meet competition.
East Hampton, at full strength "for the first time all season," its coach, Craig Brierley, said, swam with the bottom-tier teams on Saturday morning, leaving the top-tier ones to duke it out in the afternoon, by which time the Bonackers had returned home.
"We knew on the bus ride going back that we had done our absolute best, though finishing first may have even been harder for us because we weren't pushed in our races that morning," Brierley said during a telephone conversation Monday.
Rich Lionetti, Hauppauge's coach and Section XI's boys swimming coordinator, didn't call him with the final results "until around 6 p.m., at my mother-in-law's, where we were celebrating my wife's birthday. I called our captains [Jack Duryea, Colin Harrison, Fernando Menjura, Owen McCormac, and Joey Badilla] with the news and they called the other kids."
When East Hampton won the 2019 and 2020 league meets it had gone into them undefeated.
"I did think we had a chance, even though we'd finished fifth out of eight teams in the regular season," Brierley said in reply to a question. "We didn't have our full team in any of the meets we lost. None of our kids got sick -- it was largely because of quarantining. One week the Pierson kids would be out, the next week the East Hampton kids. . . ."
"We know how to compete," he continued. "When our kids finish a race they know they've given it their absolute best. . . . On Saturday, I couldn't have asked for anything more from them."
Seven of Brierley's charges as a result of their league performances qualified to compete in the county meet that is to be held this weekend at Stony Brook University, but only three — Duryea, Harrison, and Aidan McCormac — are going. The other qualifiers — Joey and Nicky Badilla, Menjura, and Owen McCormac — "will be traveling," said the coach, adding that the travel plans had been made "before we knew we'd have a season."
The league's top three — Hauppauge, West Islip, and Sayville-Bayport-Blue Point — each went into Saturday's meet with 6-1 league records.
East Hampton's toughest competition, as expected, came from Hauppaugue, which finished with 260 points to East Hampton's 263. West Islip finished with 218, Sayville-Bayport-Blue Point with 177, Northport with 158, Lindenhurst with 76, North Babylon with 66, and Deer Park with 62.
East Hampton wound up winning both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, the latter victory being the one that put the Bonackers over the top. Hauppauge had led 236-231 going into it.
The winning 400 free relay comprised Duryea, Nicky Badilla, Joey Badilla, and Menjura, who was to be named by the captains as swimmer of the meet, not only for anchoring the last event, but also for the facts that he swam a leg on the winning 200 free relay team, placed second in the 100 butterfly, and placed third in the 200 freestyle -- in personal-best times in the latter two events.
"An absolute workhorse, Fernando can compete in most any event and score," Brierley said in an emailed meet account. "He is a wonderful and respected leader on the team, and we are all better because of him."
The Bonackers, with Joey Badilla, Owen McCormac, Harrison, and Duryea swimming the legs, placed second to Hauppauge in the meet's opening event, the 200-yard medley relay; Menjura, third, Daniel Piver, sixth, and Luke Tarbet, ninth, scored for the Bonackers in the 200 freestyle; Joey and Nicky Badilla finished third and fourth in the 200 individual medley; Owen McCormac, Duryea, and Harrison finished first, third, and fourth in the 50 free, reaping 39 points in that event.
Menjura (second), Harrison (fifth), and Nicky Badilla (seventh) scored in the 100 butterfly; East Hampton took second (Owen McCormac), sixth (Aidan McCormac), and 12th (Tarbet) in the 100 free; Piver placed third in the 500 free, and Joey Badilla was third and Aidan McCormac was sixth in the 100 backstroke.
The winning 200 freestyle relay team comprised Duryea, Harrison, Menjura, and Owen McCormac.
The county meet particulars weren't known as of Monday, said Brierley, "but most likely it will be split in half and will be held on Saturday and Sunday. Then, after a week off, the girls will start, on March 1."