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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 30, 2010

Guilderville makes big waves, beats Shaker at Tuesday meet

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– The Guilderville girls’ swim team was already having a successful season after beating Saratoga and coming as close to Shenendehowa as it had in years. On Tuesday, Guilderville prevailed over Shaker, which it hadn’t beaten in 10 years, and it was the icing on the cake.

One of the Guilderville swimmers, Jenna Bickel, has qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials.

“This is a totally amazing win for us,” said Head Coach Brenna Autrey after the home meet on Tuesday. “I’m really proud of these girls; they win and lose with graciousness.”

The swim meet was a closely contested, with Guilderville winning, 98 to 88.

Guilderville took a 19-to-11 lead after two events –– the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle. Bickel, Nicole Das, Reynalyn Canchela, and Kendall Cietek won the medley relay with a time of 1:56.66, and Das won the freestyle with a time of 2:06.99.

“Beating Shaker would be a remarkable step forward,” Autrey said at a practice session on Friday.

On Tuesday, Guildervillle never gave up the points lead over 12 events. The Blue Bison came within six, at 42 to 36, after Bailey Wind, Megan Planz, and Kara Garbarino swept the top three spots in the diving competition.

After that, Guilderville extended its lead with first-place finishes by Canchela and Mackenzie Cietek in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard freestyle. Bickel, who is top in the state in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, set an even better time in the backstroke on Tuesday with a 57.84.

Olympic aspirations

Bickel’s previous state qualifying time in the backstroke was 58.04 and her state leading mark in the freestyle is 24.44. Bickel, a junior at Guilderland, will be competing in the State Championships this season for the fourth straight year in a row and she still has her senior year remaining.

The Guilderville team is made up of swimmers from both Guilderland and Voorheesville. Voorheesville has a pool; Guilderland doesn’t.

“I try to swim my best each time,” Bickel said on Friday. “I’m improving with every race.”

Bickel swims year-round with the Delmar Dolfins as do Guilderville sisters Das and Emma Grabek. Back on Aug. 8, Bickel qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials at the Speedo Meet in Buffalo with a time of 1:03 in the 100-meter backstroke. That time would translate to about 55 seconds in yards.

“I’m so happy to have a chance at the Olympics,” said Bickel, who will go to the trials in Omaha, Neb. in the summer of 2012 with Doug Gross, her Delmar coach. “I blew my own mind. This will take a lot of hard work.”

Autrey didn’t find out about Bickel’s big news until the beginning of the Guilderville season. Autrey said that Bickel is “surprisingly humble” for a star athlete, and “not quick to take credit over others.”

“Everyone on this team has total support for each other,” Autrey said. “No one is self-centered.”

No matter how many races she’s won or top times she’s recorded, Bickel still gets nervous before she hops into the pool. “That’s just how I am,” she said. “Once I dive in, the nervousness goes away. I can see the other swimmers in my peripheral vision, but I just try to go as fast as possible.”

Next year, Bickel will compete in either Junior Nationals or Nationals to get more experience and gauge her skills. “It’s too early to tell if I’d be able to swim professionally,” she said. “But, I’m definitely swimming in college.”

“She’s always been a great swimmer since day one,” Autrey said of Bickel. “Her times keep getting lower and lower. Her stroke hasn’t changed, but her delivery is getting better and she keeps going faster. She has a gift. It’s fun to watch her drive and ambition because she works her tail off.”

Twin times

After three years of going to States by herself, Bickel will be joined by teammates Canchela, and twin sisters Mackenzie and Kendall Cietek. The four girls qualified for States as a team in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:43.42.

“We’re glad to give Bickel some company,” said Canchela on Friday. “We’ll be nervous, but we get to have a lot of fun together.”

“They’ll be together as a team,” said Autrey. “I’m thrilled for Canchela because she’s tried so hard to get to States.”

Canchela, a senior, has been on the Guilderville team since seventh grade. The Cietek twins are new arrivals after transferring from Burnt Hills. The Cieteks never swam at Burnt Hills.

“We both needed a fall sport,” said Kendall Cietek, who plays on the Lady Dutch lacrosse team with her sister. “It’s really shocking to be headed to States after just starting this out.”

“We used to be fast swimmers when we were younger,” Mackenzie Cietek said. “We made the team and now we’re really into it. I thought we would just float along, but things have become more important.”

The identical twins finished with identical times (25.66) on Tuesday against Shaker in the 50-yard freestyle, sharing first place.

“They’re all-around athletes that have natural abilities,” Autrey said of the Cieteks. “We’re really glad that they jumped on board.”

The Cieteks aren’t the only twin sisters on the Guilderville team. Sophomores Jaclyn and Claire Levy both dive. Jaclyn is 18th in Section II with a top score of 162.20.

Telling the Cieteks and Levys apart can be tough at times, especially when they’re all in the pool at once. “It’s fun and challenging at the same time,” said Autrey. “One Levy has braces and the other doesn’t, and the Cietek sisters have different colored swim caps. It’s hard to figure out sometimes.”

More divers

Guilderville has seven divers this season and that’s the most the team has ever had. Seniors Alexa Patnaude and Kristi Russell lead the way with top scores of 193.20 and 182.25 respectively.

Diving Coach Brenda Goodknight, a gymnast, listed three important factors that are key to a well-completed dive: Height off the board, shape in the air, and vertical drop into the water.

“It’s really hard to find vertical entry,” Goodknight said at practice on Friday as she gave tips to the girls. “You’re either over or under and that hurts bad sometimes.”

Guilderville is 4-1 on the season with four meets remaining, including a home meet against Burnt Hills on Oct. 5.

“This team is a lot stronger this year,” said Canchela. “And we’re still very close to one another.”

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