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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
ITHACA — As Angie McKane hit the wall she looked to the side, a slight look of shock seeming to come over her face.

The sophomore turned back toward the Corning coaches at the other end of the pool and a big smile crossed her face.

McKane had just done something no one in school history had ever accomplished, she had just captured a NYSPHSAA swimming gold medal.

“It feels absolutely incredible,” McKane said. “I am really excited to go back to school and see all the people congratulate me.”

The little bit of shock may have been as McKane noticed her time of 54.63 displayed on the scoreboard. The time broke her own school record, was an All-American Consideration time, and shattered the Section 4 record, which was a 55.07 by Samantha Suer of Chanango Forks in 2014.

“She’s been working really hard and we are happy to see her have some improvement from last season,” Corning assistant coach Anthony Furstoss said. “It’s been a long time with this taper. I’m sure she’s ecstatic about it.”

While Corning has had a state champion diver in the past, they had never had a swimmer win a state title, that is until Saturday.

“It’s our first opportunity in the Corning program,” Furstoss said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Not only did McKane win a state title, she did it in her sophomore year.

“Obviously it’s exciting and there aren’t really any words to explain having a sophomore be a state champion after how hard she worked for it,” Corning coach Alyssa Helsing said. “We are thrilled.”

“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d go that fast,” McKane said. “I just thought I’d try my best to keep up with her.”

That her that McKane was talking about was Tess Howley of Sacred Heart Academy. Howley, a U.S. Junior National Team member, who finished 10th at the Olympic Trials in the 200 fly and also swam the 100 fly at the trials and broke the state record in the 100 fly (52.06) in the prelims, won the Federation title racing in the lane next to McKane with a time of 52.37.

For some swimmers it might be intimidating swimming against one of the top swimmers in the nation. For McKane it was a challenge that motivated her.

“I was trying my best to keep up with her and in the end I almost caught her,” McKane said. “I was still pretty far, but it was cool to try and keep up.”

For more than half of the race McKane sat just behind Howley and in the end the two pulled away from the rest of the field. McKane finished .7 ahead of third-place finisher, Leah Treglia of Hauppage-Smith.

How fast was McKane on Saturday? She was .8 under the All American Consideration time and she was just .21 off of being an Automatic All-American.

For McKane having someone swimming that fast in the next lane over just made her go faster all race long.

“It definitely helps a lot,” McKane said. “I felt a lot more fast because I was swimming next to someone who was faster than me.”

As McKane hit the wall, it was just a mix of feelings for the Corning star.

“It was surreal,” McKane said. “I have never felt something like that before.”

All season long McKane has had the goal of being a state champion, and on Saturday that’s exactly what happened.

“Honestly, yes,” McKane said of having a state champion as her season-long goal. “I just wanted to beat some of my competitors, and if state champion came with that then so be it and that’s awesome.”

It was quite a day for McKane, who also earned a fifth-place state medal in the 50 free with a new school record time of 23.69, breaking her own school mark set in the prelims.

McKane then also helped the 200 free relay move up the standings and finish 11th among the public schools, tops in the B final as she teamed with Kara Peters, Vanessa Turner and Carolyn Heckle in the event.

The Hawks sat 22nd after day one, and in the bonus final, but they wound up moving into the B final and took advantage, dropping nearly a second off of Friday’s time as they swam a 1:40.97.

“It is honestly incredible,” McKane said. “I have never felt anything like this.”

In the 400 free relay the Hawks were the top team in the bonus round, finishing 21st overall in 3:44.13 with a team of Turner, Peters, Mckane and HIlker. They dropped more than a second off of Friday’s time when they swam 3:45.17.

Peters finished 30th in the 200 free in 2:03.74 racing in the bonus round and Turner finished 27th in the 500 free, swimming in the bonus round, as she finished in 5:24.20.

While McKane is now a state champion, it just means she is ready to work even harder.

It makes me really motivated,” McKane said “I qualified for a new swim meet, so now I want to qualify for another swim meet, which would be int he summer.”

For McKane winning states gives her a chance at these national level meets, and it just makes McKane want to keep working to prepare for those meets.

“I am super excited,” she said. “This is definitely going to motivate me to work harder in practices in the offseason.”

While going in the 54s is special, McKane is now ready for even lower numbers.

“I think I’d like to get into the 53s by next year,” McKane said “Maybe by the end of spring of next year, possibly early summer, I’d like to get into the 53s.”

And, now that McKane has won the state title, she’d like to work toward adding the Federations title to her collection as well.

“That’s definitely on my mind for next year,” McKane said. “But, more likely my senior year when Tess Howley will be in college.”
IN TOP PHOTO: Angie McKane stands on the podium after winning the 100 fly NYSPHSAA title. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES

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