ROME — Rome Free Academy’s boys swimming and diving team does not have any favorites entering the Section III championships Thursday at Nottingham High School.
But if you ask RFA junior Oliver Dragojevic, anything is possible.
Just ask coach Michelle Browne, who was pleasantly surprised to witness her RFA team capture the program’s first-ever Center State Conference regular-season and league meet championships this season. The Black Knights did not lose a single meet, finishing 10-0 in the league and 13-0 overall and beating out runner-up Cooperstown 464-416 in the league meet on Jan. 26.
"They wanted to win this year," said Browne, who also coaches the girls team. "They just put it all in."
"We knew we could’ve done it," said Dragojevic, who moved to Rome from Croatia three years ago. "Nothing is impossible. … It’s an amazing feeling."
The Black Knights are competing in the Section III Class A meet at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. While Liverpool and Jamesville-DeWitt/Christians Brothers Academy are home to most of the favorites on the psych sheet, RFA is coming off strong performances from the CSC championships.
Senior Jackson Sorbello was a double-winner in the league meet. He won the 100 freestyle (52.28) and 200 freestyle (1:57.60).
"He’s just a natural-born swimmer," Browne said.
Dragojevic won the 100 breaststroke (1:06) while many of his teammates registered runner-up performances for crucial points, including the 200 medley relay team (Jerome Gordon, Dragojevic, Sorbello and Nick Jordan), the 200 freestyle relay (Dragojevic, Charlie Gilroy, Sorbello and Gordon) and eighth-grader Tanner Brawdy, who was the runner-up in the 1-meter diving (175.20).
Cooperstown senior Ted Mebust, reigning All-Mohawk Valley Swimmer of the Year, won four CSC titles: He swam a state-qualifying time of 56.58 second in the 100 backstroke, won the 100 butterfly (56.58) and led the 200 medley (1:47.61) and 200 freestyle (1:35.41) relay teams. Mebust is the reigning Section III Class C champion in the backstroke and 100 free and is shooting for a fourth state meet appearance.
Fellow Hawkeye Maddox Aramini, a freshman, won the 200 individual medley (2:07.40) by almost 13 seconds and the 500 free by 24 seconds.
Oneida’s Aidan Hicks won the 50 free (24.76) and helped Ajay Hicks, Kyle Fisher and Lucas DiLego win the 400 free relay in 3 minutes, 44.16 seconds.
Holland Patent freshman Fellow Golden Knight Bobby Shivas won the CSC 1-meter dive title (190.95) .
Abraham defends diving title
New Hartford senior Matt Abraham was the only local winner at the Section III Diving championships, successfully defending his Class B title Saturday at Nottingham High School.
Abraham edged fellow Spartan Moaz Elazzazi 398.20-394.65 for back-to-back section titles.
Contact reporter Marquel Slaughter at 315-792-4963 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Slaughter).