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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
Throughout this season Cullin Cole has had some huge celebrations when he sets records in the pool.

Breaking school and pool records has led to some fist pumping and splashing of the water as he reacts to the moment.

Now it’s time for the NYSPHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships and for Cole the goal is to bring home a state title, and if he does, the celebration will be something to behold.

“It will definitely be something to watch, it will be very explosive,” he said.

Cole is the second seed in the 50 free at 20.81 and in the 100 free he’s the seventh seed at 46.35.

“I’m very excited, I am super stoked,” Cole said of states. “I put in the work the whole season. Hopefully the work will go well and my taper will go well and I’ll swim my heart off.

“I have a big goal to get the team record in the 100 freestyle. I haven’t been able to get that yet. Potentially get All American in the 50 free and we’ll see what happens.”

A state title is the ultimate goal for Cole.

“It’s definitely a big goal,” he said. “Hopefully taking state champ one of the two events, but we’ll see what happens.

“I would really enjoy that (winning a state title), that is the top goal. That has been the top goal ever since I started swimming. I would love to take home another Section 4 state title like Ryan McNutt did last year.”

The 50 free the top two seeds are both from Section 4 as Jerrell Sackett of Waverly is the top seed at 20.76, while Cole is second at 20.81.

“It will be very fun,” Cole said. “It will be definitely a dog fight. It will be neck and neck and we’ll see what happens.”

Cole loves the races with Sackett. The last time the two met, at the Waverly Invitational, Cole posted that time of 20.81 seconds, his career best time.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Cole said. “Definitely having knowledge of how he swims, and him being next to me most likely in the A finals, it will be a great race to watch and a great race to swim for sure.

“I always look forward to this meet and all my races at this time in the season. Ever since the beginning of the season I have put as much work in and when it comes to the state meet taper to work off of.”

For Cole, this meet will mark his last as a Blue Raider swimmer.

“It’s a little bit (weird),” Cole said of his final meet. “It’s kind of good to have a feeling that I know I’ll be swimming four more years in Binghamton. It’s kind of weird to think about it, that it’s my last race ever of my high school career.”

In the 200 and 400 free relays the Blue Raiders teams of Cole, Shoonfon Li, Alexander Villegas and Kaden TenEyck are hoping to have strong finishes. They are seeded 22nd in the 200 free relay in 1:29.34 and 23rd in the 400 free relay at 3:17.59.

For Cole, as a señor, it’s special to get another chance to swim the relays with his teammates.

“It’s definitely nice to race with my buddies,” he said. “Definitely the four free and two free relays we will try and be competitive this year, last year definitely were. This year hopefully top 10 and see what happens.

“Our big goal is to try and take down our team record in both relays. Last year we took the four free, this year we want to try and deepen the four free and take the two free that we just missed last year.”

While Cole, and Li, will be swimming individual events, the other two will be focused on the relays and that’s something that Cole thinks can help.

“I think that will definitely help,” Cole said. “Shoonfon will have just come out of the 500 into the 200 free, so he could be a little tired, but we have Alex Villegas and Kaden TenEyck fresh and ready to swim.”

While Cole has two individual events, he’s always ready for the relays.

“For sure, just like last year, I’m always good at making sure I have enough energy for the whole meet, it just comes down to how I feel on race day,” Cole said.

One day away from states, the time is always here, and it’s something Cole has been waiting a while for.

“Every day it feels like it’s getting closer and closer,” he said. “Just more excitement every single second. Just getting more and more excited for this meet.”

Li is the 14th seed in the 200 IM in 1:55.71. He’s less than a second behind 10th seed Tyler Schultz of Chenango Valley, which would be the cutoff for the A final.

Li is seeded 29th in the 500 free in 4:51.59.

In the diving Corning and Elmira each have athletes competing.

Corning’s Brenden Jardin-Reed, who won sectionals, is the sixth seed at 538.85. Elmira’s Creed Hackett is the 18th seed at 489.85.
IN TOP PHOTO: Horseheads’ Cullin Cole.

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