HALF HOLLOW HILLS, New York, Mar. 12
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Jason Wiedersum, head coach for Half Hollow Hills’ boys swimming and diving team, has a lot to be proud of.
As head coach since 2003, Wiedersum and the “Thundercolts” – so named because it includes both Thunderbirds from High School East and Colts from High School West – have claimed nine-straight Suffolk County swim titles. This year, at the New York State meet in Ithaca Feb. 27-28, Wiedersum’s Thundercolts finished second out of all public schools statewide – the highest Half Hollow Hills has ever placed at a season’s end. And to top it all off, Wiedersum has several state public school champions in 2015: Alex Park, a sophomore crowned in the 200-yard individual medley, and his 400-yard free relay squad, made up of Park James Gordin, Justin Chang and Dylan Chan.
But, above all, the most important thing that Wiedersum is, he said, is “blessed.”
“I’ve been blessed to have such a good group of kids,” he said. “They’ve always been very mature, and obviously they’re a very talented group. This was the best year we’ve ever had.”
Half Hollow Hills finished its League I season this year a perfect 7-0. Two non-league meets put the Thundercolts to 9-0 heading into this year’s Suffolk championships at Suffolk Community College on Feb. 14. There, the Thundercolts dominated, finishing in the top three in 11 of the 12 events while accruing 495 total team points – that’s more than double the second-place team’s score; Huntington Harborfields finished with 247 points.
“Overall, this is the finest team that we’ve ever had,” Wiedersum, who also teaches at High School West, said. “I would say one of the biggest reasons for our success is the great relationship between myself, [diving] coach Chris Blumenstetter and the kids.”
Park, Gordin, Chang, Chan, Daniel Lee, Ethan Tack, Harrison Tack, Mikko Sims and Brandon Baraban all placed with state qualifying individual- or team-times.
Half Hollow Hills would ultimately send six swimmers and two divers, Alex Cohen and John Natalone, to the meet in Ithaca.
“That’s a record for us,” he said.
Reflecting on the season, Wiedersum was grateful for his senior class. Gordin and Cohen make up two of the seven Thundercolts on this season’s roster that are set to graduate in the summer. Playing a major part in paving the way for Half Hollow Hills’ younger swimmers and divers, Wiedersum couldn’t understate the importance of those senior leaders.
“I would say that’s one of the keys to have a program that succeeds year after year,” he said. “We’ve had seniors that have done very well in the county and state meets so [younger guys] get to see what it’s like to compete there.”
Having learned from their senior teammates and this season as a whole, Half Hollow Hills’ six other state qualifiers will be making a comeback next year.
“We look really good for next year,” he said, “We even have a lot of talented kids coming up from the middle-school level.”
Looks like Wiedersum and the Thundercolts have at least a few more “blessed” seasons ahead of him.
Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills
(Thursday, Mar. 12, 2015; A30)