In Tuesday's meet against Sachem North, the Huntington boys swimming team faced an uphill climb from the start. Not only was it challenging a far larger school – North is in League I; Huntington's in League II – but it looked to score a victory without any divers and without a meet under its belt already.
While the talented and deep Flaming Arrows got acclimated with a duel against crosstown Sachem East, the Blue Devils last swam competitively on Dec. 1 in a "scrimmage" against Jericho. Still, Huntington more than just competed Tuesday night – it won six events, and even though it came up on the short end of a 100-80 result, head coach Gil Smith was pleased with the overall effort.
"The kids swam really well," Smith said. "I was pleasantly surprised. They're League I and we're League II – it's a crossover – and if you take away the 10 points from diving, it's really close."
No swimmer shined brighter for the Devils than junior Jake Goldstein, who shattered the school's record in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:48.91. Goldstein broke the old mark, set by former HHS standout Sean Sullivan, by 12 seconds. The Blue Devil junior had plenty in the tank at the end too, registering his third-fastest 50 split on his final lap.
"I expected him to break the record [this season], but not by 12 seconds," Smith said of Goldstein. "I think he has a good shot at being a high school All-American."
Earlier in the meet, he cruised to victory in the 200 individual medley, logging a strong butterfly split and finishing with a quick freestyle to post a time of 2:01.30. A year ago, Goldstein took 10th in the 200-yard IM at the state championships in Buffalo. He also placed 16th in the 100 butterfly.
Another underclassman, Gunther Cassell, showed he's well on his way to a fine season, and he's just an eighth-grader. Cassell won the 100 free with a time of 55.46 seconds; he also grabbed second in the 200 free (2:02.15) and was part of the 400 free relay team with Goldstein, Thomas Scott and Ryan Pavelka that placed second, a mere four one-hundredths of a second behind North's victorious quartet.
"This year, he's matured," Smith said of Cassell. "He's gotten a little longer, a little taller and he's put on some weight. He's a lot stronger."
Wins were also recorded by Joey West and Pat O'Brien. West was first to touch the wall in the sprint freestyle, completing one 50-yard lap in 25.65 seconds. In the 100 breaststroke, O'Brien (1:08.42) held on to beat Adam Enzinger by less than a second.
"That's his best fly time," Smith said of O'Brien's win. "It's not even his best event (100 breast). He swam well. We just have to do better in the outer lanes."
The Blue Devils started off the night by taking three of the top four spots in the 200 medley relay. Goldstein swam the third leg on a team that included Scott, O'Brien and Todd Colvin; they breezed to a first-place finish in a time of 1:50.09.
Scott had an excellent all-around day. In addition to the medley relay win, he was on two relay teams that placed second, just missed out on first in the 100 butterfly (58.25) and placed third in the 100 backstroke (1:03.17).
North, however, proved to have a leg up in terms of depth, piling up valuable points for third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes. The Blue Devils will face an equally daunting task on Thursday when it visits Ward Melville in their final non-league match. They open the League II schedule at Hauppauge on Jan.10.