For an entire year, the West Genesee boys swim team reminded itself that it came within a small fraction of a second from earning a 2009 state championship in the 200-yard medley relay.
Determined to change that fate, the Wildcats returned, in the same event, with the same powerful quartet of swimmers, to this weekend's state meet at Erie Community College in Buffalo - and suffered an even crueler fate.
The team of Pat O'Donnell, Ben Seketa, Carson Elias and Tyler Olson qualified for the finals with a time of 1:35.63, a second slower than New Paltz (1:34.57), but that gap would shrink in Saturday's championship race.
Throughout the race, the Wildcats stayed right with New Paltz and took it to the wire. WG touched the wall in a time of 1:34.31, breaking a state record - but New Paltz touched in 1:34.26 and won by five-hundredths of a seconds.
Thus, for the second year in a row the Wildcats had to settle for a runner-up finish and All-American honors, the most dramatic moment of a state meet where several Wildcats, plus Westhill's Dan O'Connor, reached the finals.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the same WG quartet - O'Donnell, Seketa, Elias and Olson - finished third in a school-record clocking of 1:26.57, another All-American finish. Clarence won in 1:24.54 and Orchard Park (1:25.31) took second place.
Individually, O'Donnell found his way to fifth place in the 100-yard backstroke in 53.04 seconds, and Seketa had his own fifth-place effort in the 100-yard breaststroke, his time of 58.61 seconds setting another school record as he added a 10th in the 200-yard freestyle. Elias was eighth in the 100-yard butterfly in 52.88 seconds and 20th in the 50-yard freestyle.
As for O'Connor, who signs his national letter of intent to go to the University of North Carolina this week, he finished fourth in both of his specialties.
In the 500-yard freestyle, O'Connor earned All-American status with a time of 4:34.62 that put him in fourth. Shaker's Frankie Dyer won in 4:30.78.
And in the 200-yard individual medley, O'Connor pushed to a time of 1:54.73, inches behind Shenendehowa's Shayne Buckley in third (1:54.68). Matt DeBlasio (Half Hollow Hills) earned the victory in 1:53.24.