Lady Jacks Relay Team is Young, Poised to Improve in Future
Check out the following article that was published in THE SUN newspaper highlighting three Titan Swimmers Allison Chaplin, Leah Gardiner and Alaina Roberts!
Eric Keppeler – Sun Staff Reporter
October 11, 2019
Last year, North Tonawanda swimmers Megan Orrange, Alaina Roberts, and Allison Chaplin and Leah Gardiner were thrilled that their 200 freestyle relay team made it to sectionals, especially since they qualified only at the very end of the season.
This year, the foursome decided to forego with any suspense, hitting the magic qualifying time in the first month of the season to already secure an invitation to the 2019 Section IV Swimming and Diving Championship at the University of Buffalo.
“We qualified late last year so we were really trying to hit it earlier this year. It was kind of surprising that we qualified so early, but it’s really exciting,” Chaplin said. “We just seemed more motivated. We were definitely motivated last year, but we were really going after it this time.”
The autiomatic qualifying time for the relay is 1:54 and the Lady Jacks clocked in at 1:52:20 during a meet in late September.
Last year at sectionals, the girls finished 12th overall with a time of 1:53:40, although their time in the preliminaries was 1:52:59.
So since the pressure to qualify is off, they can focus more on honing their craft.
“I was very surprised that they hit the time already. I didn’t think it would happen yet, but I’m certainly okay with it. Girls are swimming lights out this season,” NT coach Matthew Schutt said. “Across the board, the whole team has been averaging significantly faster times than last season.”
Equally impressive is the youth of the relay, Orrange is a junior, while Chaplin and Roberts are sophomores and Gardiner is a freshman – and they already have substantial experience and success.
“It’s a lot of build-up and there’s a lot of training for it,” Roberts said. “So although it is surprising, it’s also very rewarding. I hope we continue to get better as a team because this really is a team thing. You can’t do it unless everyone is pushing – it’s the epitome of what working as a team can accomplish.”
Roberts and Chaplin have also qualified for individual events.
Roberts has about her trip to sectionals in the 200 IM and the 100 Butterfly as well as on the relay. She’s also punched her ticket to the Class A Championship – the precursor to sectionals – in the 50 Freestyle.
Chaplin has qualified for the Class Meet in the 100 Breaststroke and the 500 Freestyle and is knocking on the door in the 200 Freestyle.
“This season, the goal is to get as many girls as we can to the class meat,” Schuttt said. “Then in the years to come, it’s to get as many to sectionals as we can. But we have to tackle the class meet first.”
In particular, Roberts has her eyes on the 50, gunning for the school record of 24.71; her best time so far is 25.95.
And she has plenty of time to get that job done.
“My goal right now is more for next season and the season after,” Roberts said. “I’m really going for the school record in the 50 Free by the time I graduate. I’d also like to make states by the time I graduate. For now I just want to place as high as I can and continue to get better.”
The playoff stretch starts in less than two weeks, with NT hosting the Niagara Frontier League Championship on October 23rd to 25th. The Class A Preliminary are October 30th at Sweet Home, with finals November 1st at the Erie Community College City Campus.
Sectionals are November 8th at UB, with States November 23rd at Ithaca college.