By Mike Zummo
Tomek Oakes was in position to win the Section 9 championship in the 100-yard freestyle in 2022, but that’s when things fell apart.
Two days after the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association championship meet, Oakes, then a sophomore at Pine Bush High School, was feeling sick and was sent home.
He had COVID-19.
He returned the week of the Section 9 championship meet and could only muster a fourth-place finish.
“I was very disappointed with my performance,” Oakes said. “I felt like I let a lot of people down, but I brought the motivation this year because everyone who didn’t know me personally was talking trash.”
He silenced them by winning the 100-yard freestyle during Saturday’s Section 9 championship meet at Valley Central High School, clinching a New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship meet berth in two events and leading a contingent of seven Pine Bush Athletes into Ithaca College on March 3 and 4.
He had already qualified for the state meet during Thursday’s preliminaries, but there was an extra celebration as he slapped the water in celebration after touching the pad ahead of New Paltz’ Koby Wulfmeyer and Kingston’s Mason Crowley with a time of 47.94 seconds.
“I like to keep my word,” Oakes said. “I was saying, ‘I’m going 47. I don’t care. (Pine Bush coach) Kevin Blackwell said, ‘you have to dominate that first 50. You have to show them what’s going on because during prelims Koby Wulfmeyer was on top of me the whole time, and I really had to come out and show him what was going to happen.”
It was Oakes’ second celebration of the day.
He finished fourth in the 200-yard medley relay, but got in less than a second under the qualification time to punch his ticket to states with a time of 1:59.90.
“I was amazingly happy,” Oakes said. “Thursday I barely missed it. I missed it by .18 on Thursday, and at OCIAAs, I missed it by .6. So, after Thursday’s miss, I looked at the film and I knew what to work on, but I didn’t think It was going to happen.”
Oakes will be part of two relay teams attending the state meet. The Bushmen’s team of Oakes, Liam Blackwell, Dominic Licardi and Bryce Sloley made the state cut during Thursday’s preliminary swim with a time of 1:40.48, just under the qualification time of 1:40.67. They finished second on Saturday with a time of 1:40.10 behind Monroe-Woodbury.
The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Oakes, Jack Vuksanovich, Licardi and Sloley finished second behind Warwick with a time of 1:30.10, just under the state standard of 1:30.12.
Sloley finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 53.82. He qualified for states during prelims with a time of 53.22. Kaeden Fisher qualified for the state championships in diving with an 11-dive score of 505.50.
The Bushmen finished third overall with 209 points, and the Valley Central Vikings finished 13th with 67 points.
“I’m very happy with all the teammates who also helped because I couldn’t have done it without them,” Oakes said. “That’s the reality. I wouldn’t be able to do much with the sport without them. That’s how it is for us.”
Section 9 Swimming and Diving Championships
Team results: 1. Monroe-Woodbury - 293; 3. Pine Bush - 209; 13. Valley Central - 67.
200-yard medley relay: 1. Monroe-Woodbury (Nicholas Bruno, Ariel Koyfman, Dylan Cobb, Anthony Kaminskiy) - 1:38.06; 2. Pine Bush (Liam Blackwell, Dominic Licardi, Bryce Sloley, Tomek Oakes) - 1:40.10; 12. Valley Central (Thomas Grabinski, Dardan Cenalia, Caleb Sahlstrom, Noah Storaski) - 1:52.61.
200-yard freestyle: 1. Jesse Abramson (Warwick) - 1:43.07; 4. Timothy Grabinski (VC) - 1:49.07; 9. Thomas Grabinski (VC)- 1:52.22; 13. Jack Vuksanovich (PB) - 1:55.60.
200-yard individual medley: 1. Finn Quested (Rhinebeck) - 1:54.48; 4. Tomek Oakes (PB) - 1:59.90; 16. Joshua Gallagher (PB) - 2:13.00; 24. Matthew Webster (PB) - 2:19.51.
50-yard freestyle: 1. Josh Johnson (Marlboro) - 21.98; 7. Bryce Sloley (PB) - 22.79; 14. Blaze Devlin (PB) - 23.70; 20. Chase Dodson (PB) - 24.46; 24. Andrew Donaldson (PB) - 24.59; 26. 28. Dardan Cenalia (VC) - 24.86.
Diving: 1. Luke Albanese (Goshen) - 566.00; 4. Kaeden Fisher (PB) - 505.50.
100-yard butterfly: 1. Josh Johnson (Marlboro) - 52.03; 4. Bryce Solely (PB) - 53.82.
100-yard freestyle: 1. Tomek Oakes (PB) - 47.94; 13. Jack Vuksanovich (PB) - 51.71; 17. Dominic Licardi (PB) - 52.80; 18. Liam Blackwell (PB) - 53.25; 24. Jayden McCord (PB) - 53.93; 25. Andrew Donaldson (PB) - 54.50; 33. Chase Dodson (PB) - 58.57.
500-yard freestyle: 1. Jesse Abramson (Warwick) - 4:47.41; 4. Timothy Grabinski (VC) - 5:00.25; 12. Joshua Gallagher (PB) - 5:20.58; 16. Noah Storaska (VC) - 5:40.01; 20. Erik Frankl (VC) - 5:44.91; 24. Jack Vero (PB) - 5:52.28.
200-yard freestyle: 1. Warwick (Jesse Abramson, Youssef Moustafa, Michael Kelly, Connor Holland) - 1:30.01; 2. Pine Bush (Tomek Oakes, Jack Vuksanovich, Dominic Licardi, Bryce Sloley) - 1:30.10.
100-yard backstroke: 1. Finn Quested (Rhinebeck) - 50.10; 7. Liam Blackwell (PB) - 56.97; 12. Thomas Grabinski (VC) - 59.19; 17. Jayden McCord (PB) - 1:01.91; 19. Matthew Webster (PB) - 1:02.74; 27. Noah Storaska (VC) - 1:07.28.
100-yard breaststroke: 1. Andrew Sammons (Kingston) - 59.33; 8. Dominic Licardi (PB) - 1:06.81; 19. Anthony Giannini (PB) - 1:11.02; 20. Dardan Cenalia (VC) - 1:11.19.
400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Warwick (Jesse Abramson, Youssef Moustafa, Michael Kelly, Connor Holland) - 3:17.12; 8. Pine Bush (Joshua Gallagher, Blaze Devlin, Jack Vuksanovich, Andrew Donaldson) - 3:33.84; 11. Valley Central (Thomas Grabinski, Dardan Cenalia, Daniel Osekavage, Timothy Grabinski) - 3:36.00.