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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
ITHACA — Corning’s Angie McKane had a big goal this season.

The Hawks sophomore wants to be a state champion in the 100 fly.

All season long she’s worked to lower her times every fraction of a second she can to be in the best position to earn the gold medal.

Now, McKane is one step closer to making that goal a reality.

The Hawks star had the fastest time of any public school swimmers in the state int he prelims of the event with a time of 55.36. Two state titles will be handed out, the NYSPHSAA title and the Federation title. Sacred Heart’s Tess Howley, who is on the U.S. Junior National team and finished 10th in the 200 IM at the Olympic Trials, had the top overall time in the prelims in a state-record time of 52.06 as she competes for the Federation title.

“It feels really good,” McKane said of her day in the prelims at Ithaca College. “It hasn’t happened to me before, two years ago I was only in the B final, so it feels really cool to be in the A final for two events.”

For McKane the hope is to hold onto the second overall spot in the event giving her the state crown, and try and gain ground on Howley.

“My hope is that I can keep that second position and try and keep up with the other girl,” McKane said.

Howley’s times weren’t in the state rankings this year as many of the Catholic Schools don’t always have as many results posted, so it was a bit of a surprise for McKane to have someone so fast in her race. But, it’s a fun challenge for the Corning standout.

“It was surprising,” McKane said. “It was really cool though. I love to watch her, it’s good motivation. I am very excited to try and keep up with her, she is definitely going to push me to my limits.”

For McKane, who hopes to get looks from colleges after this year swimming with someone like Howley may have college coaches noticing her.

“I hope so,” McKane said. “She’s definitely got a lot of coaches looking at her, so hopefully they can also look at me.”

McKane will be bringing home a pair of state medals as she is also in the final in the 50 free with a time of 23.74, which has her sitting fifth going into the final, just .10 behind two swimmers tied for third place.

“I am really excited,” McKane said. “I went up four places so now I’m fifth instead of ninth (which is what she was seeded). So, my hope is to get that third spot and beat the two girls that tied.”

Getting personal best times in both of her individual events was the perfect way for McKane to start her day at states.

“It was a really nice way to start the day,” McKane said. “It was a motivator for my relays. It made me really excited for them. Even though they didn’t turn out as I had hoped, they were still really fun. I’m proud of my team.”

For Corning assistant coach Anthony Furstoss he knows there is still room for McKane to get even faster and that excites him.

“I think there are a couple tweaks she could make in both races, so I’m excited to see if she can make those fixes when she swims tomorrow,” Furstoss said.

The Corning coach is excited to see McKane have someone to try and catch in the 100 fly, and the 50 free.

“It will be a new thing for her to chase somebody downs,” he said. “So I think that will be an exciting race to watch and I think it will get the best out of her.”

The last time McKane came to states, two years ago with no state meet held last year, she was the only Hawks swimmer competing. On Friday she also was part of the 200 free and 400 free relays swimming in states.

“It was a lot nicer,” McKane said. “I had people cheering me on and I got to cheer others on.”

Swimming four events at states made Friday seem pretty normal for McKane.

“It reminded me of like a normal swim meet instead of a state championship, because I got to swim all four of my events,” McKane said. “But, it was very different from two years ago when I only swam one event.”

McKane, Kara Peters, Carolyn Heckle and Vanessa Turner took 22nd in the 200 free relay in 1:41.92 and finished in the same place in the 400 free relay in 3:45.17. They will get a chance to return for the bonus race on the second day of states.

“It was a lot of fun, I’m so glad I got the experience and was able to go,” Peters said. “It was really cool. I’m so happy I got to go my sophomore year and I got to go with my closest friends.”

For Turner, the lone senior among the state qualifiers, this is a special way to end her career.

“I am so happy I got to finish up my senior season with the state meet, and it’s even more fun to be here with some of my closest friends.

“I had a lot of fun. I got the senior treatment, like the walkout (all seniors are introduced before the meet), and on top of that all the normal stuff, it was great.”

For Heckle it’s been a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

“Pretty incredible,” she said. “I started swimming less than a year ago, last March, so to be here my second season at states is really quite an experience.

“Being here with this group you get all the energy and everyone wants to do really well. It’s definitely a good experience.”

For Corning coach Alyssa Helsing it’s special to see all the swimmers get the experience at states.

“It’s so much of a benefit to the kids when they come with their teammates and experience it together,” she said. “Having the relays here together to have the team bonding experience and push each other is absolutely positive.

“Vanessa is in her senior year, making it to states is extra special for her and the other girls just having this experience and doing it together means so much more when they come next year. They have that experience and they know what it feels like and it pushes them that much more in the offseason.”

The timers weren’t perfect, but Furstoss knows it can be tough when you taper for sectionals to get back up for another race a couple weeks later.

“I think it’s tough to come back from a taper at sectionals and do your best here,” he said. “We did our best to bring them down again and give them a little break. I think they swam pretty well, all things considered.”

Both Peters and Turner got a chance to swim in individual events as they had been alternates and made it into the field.

Turner was 26th in the 500 free in 5:23.93 and will be back in the bonus race on Saturday, while Peters was 29th in the 200 free and returns in the bonus round after a time of 2:00.64 on Friday.

“For me the 500 has been an event for me since I was nine-years-old so it was definitely kind of a dream come true,” Turner said.

“Same for me in the 200, I never expected to go, but it’s great. I got to swim. I’m so happy.”

The Corning swimmers loved having the chance to swim with so many fast swimmers.

“It’s definitely really crazy and when you are watching people swim who are so fast, like been to the Olympic Trials and all this stuff, it really helps you get into the right head space for your race and see all the energy,” Turner said.

“It’s great to watch such good swimmers and see their times,” Peters said.

And, racing with great competition just makes the Corning swimmers better.

“Back home in Section 4 we got pretty used to being the top seed, so it’s really cool to watch everybody else race and try and push ourselves as much as we can.”

For Corning having a busy meet with six events in the pool, and Brooke Terwilliger in diving, just made the whole experience more special.

“It is great we have a whole team here,” Turner said. “I know Angie was especially happy about that because she was all alone her first time.”
IN TOP PHOTO: Corning’s Angie McKane. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES

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