What can’t he do?

Dominant spring season earns Swabik Athlete of the Year nod

OBSERVER Photo by Tim Frank Clymer/Sherman/Panama senior John Swabik, bound for the University of Colorado in the fall, won the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association and Section VI Division II pentathlons this spring to cap his Wolfpack career.

Back in mid-June, John Swabik stood on the track in Randolph pondering his schedule for the evening.

He obviously wanted to be successful for himself and his Clymer/Sherman/Panama teammates, but he really had one thing on his mind that night.


Class championship meets were new to Section VI track and field this year, and the Clymer/Sherman/Panama senior — and many other athletes — weren’t really sure of the main purpose for the events.

Class meets were one of just a few multi-team meets — Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association championships and Section VI Division I & II meets being the others — this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

OBSERVER Photo by Matt Spielman Clymer/Sherman/Panama senior John Swabik, bound for the University of Colorado in the fall, won the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association and Section VI Division II pentathlons this spring to cap his Wolfpack career.

“Do we even get blue patches for winning?” Swabik asked his parents while waiting for his events.

As it turns out, the class meets were generally intended to crown boys and girls team champions throughout Section VI and not really for individual glory.

There was no pentathlon at the Class D championships and Swabik’s best talents were best used for Clymer/Sherman/Panama in four individual events as opposed to two individual events and a pair of relays as is common during dual meets.


As the 2019 New York State Public High School Athletic Association Division II pentathlon state champion, it’s widely known that Swabik could be successful in nearly every event in the track and field spectrum.

Consider his rankings in the Clymer/Sherman/Panama boys record book:

¯ 7th in the 3,200 meters (11:36.54)

¯ 4th in the shot put (40 feet, 7 inches)

¯ 3rd in the 1,600-meter relay (3:43.31)

¯ 3rd in the 100 meters (11:84)

¯ 3rd in the 200 meters (24.04)

¯ 2nd in the 400-meter hurdles (59.24)

¯ 2nd in the 1,600 meters (4:39.14)

¯ 2nd in the high jump (6 feet, 4 inches)

¯ 2nd in the 400-meter relay (47.04)

¯ 1st in the 110-meter hurdles (15.64)

¯ 1st in the 400 meters (52.00)

¯ 1st in the 800 meters (2:01.92)

¯ 1st in the long jump (21 feet, 1¢ inches)

¯ 1st in the triple jump (39 feet, 2 inches)

¯ 1st in the pole vault (11 feet, 6 inches)

¯ 1st in the pentathlon (3,527 points)

¯ 1st in the 3,200-meter relay (8:26.26)


So as the University of Colorado-bound Swabik weighed his options leading into the Section VI Class D meet in Randolph, it wasn’t necessarily which events COULD he win that warm June afternoon, but more which events did he WANT to win that day.

First he raced to a victory in the 110-meter high hurdles in 15.69 seconds — at the time a Wolfpack record.

Then Swabik cleared 6 feet, 2 inches in the high jump. He could’ve tried a greater height and maybe attacked his C/S/P record of 6 feet, 4 inches, but he already had won the event.

Next he trotted over to the long jump pit. Several other athletes had already taken their attempts before Swabik nonchalantly jogged to the end of the runway, sprinted toward the pit and leapt 20 feet, 8™ inches.

He could’ve taken two more attempts and tried to improve his distance, but he still had the 400-meter intermediate hurdles coming up and wanted to save his energy.

“If somebody passes me, I’ll come back and do it again,” he said.

Also, there was that whole issue of prom.

So finally, Swabik lined up for his final hurdles event.

Again he bested the competition in an event he hadn’t even tried very often, breezing to victory in 57.67 seconds for a new school record, smiling and pointing at the clock as he crossed the finish line.

One last check on the long jump it to make sure his distance held up, and he was off to Peek’n Peak for prom photos before the dance in French Creek.

Swabik’s best times and distances would’ve given him victories in five other individual events that afternoon.

Five days later, he put a stamp on his Clymer/Sherman/Panama and Section VI career with a pentathlon title at the Division II meet held at Falconer’s Bill Race Field. Personal bests in the 110-meter high hurdles and shot put led him to a personal best and school record of 3,527 points.

One of the finest all-around athletes to ever come through Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, Swabik is the choice for this year’s Post-Journal/OBSERVER Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.


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