Editor's Note: The following article was submitted by the Weston Athletic Department.
In an incredible display of teamwork and effort, the Weston High School boys’ swimming and diving team brought home team state championship number 20 last weekend, from Harvard. It was the 20th state title for the program in 40 years.
“I could not be more proud of a group,” said Head Coach Claude Valle, fresh off a celebratory dip in the Blodgett Pool. “Every boy played a role in this victory, including all our younger athletes who came to cheer us on; they’ve done a great job carrying on the winning tradition established here by Folz.” (Valle was referring to his mentor and program founder, Pete Foley.)
Entering the meet, the King Phillip Warriors (in Wrentham) were the favorite in the title chase, followed by Weston and Concord-Carlisle. A year ago, KP edged The Tide at the meet, 178-172; CC was third with 111. But Weston wasted no time in setting a new tone for the 2012 match-up with an upset victory in the medley relay. The team of senior Tommy Fitzgerald, junior Ryan Burrow, senior Tyler Lewtan, and sophomore Sam Cekala rocketed their way to a 1:39.83 clocking, out-touching the favored Warriors by just over a second. (Weston’s previous best was 1:41.34.)
With a 40-34 advantage, Tommy Peacher took to the blocks for the 200-yard freestyle. When the beeper sounded, the junior exploded from the blocks and never looked back, blowing away the field with a 1:43.07 clocking that was nearly three seconds faster than second place. With a second Weston upset over KP in two events, The Tide was rolling, and up 60-51. Burrow stepped up next in the individual medley and duplicated the Peacher feat, splashing his way to a lifetime best of 1:56.84 to take second in the state, finishing ahead of his KP counterpart, and giving Weston a 77-67 lead.
In the 50-yard freestyle, Weston got a little help from Concord-Carlisle as CC’s Drew Andre upset KP’s top seed in the event. The Tide got 13th and 14th place performances from junior Ian Delaney and Cekala, respectively, but the Weston lead disappeared as KP pulled even at 84 apiece. But Weston went on to outscore the Warriors 60-11 in the next two events and open up a 144-95 advantage.
Lewtan (51.96, second) and Burrow (52.28, third) flew to lifetime bests in the 100-yard butterfly, as did Peacher (47.41, third), Delaney (49.93, 11th), and Cekala (50.21, 12th) in the 100 free. But just as Weston was getting some breathing room over KP, a new threat in Concord was emerging. CC’s Andre took his second individual win in the 100 free, and CC pulled even with KP. With no entrants in the 500 free, The Tide had to watch as three KP swimmers and one from CC all scored. Weston had 178 points, followed by KP with 129, and CC at 101.
In the 200 freestyle relay, Weston’s foursome of Delaney, Lewtan, Cekala and Peacher dropped nearly two seconds from their seed to record a 1:28.16, good for second. But CC, on the strength of a 20.44 anchor by Andre, took the race in 1:27.43. With KP taking 11th in the relay, Weston now had 178, while KP and CC were knotted at 141.
Based on what was happening at the other end of the pool, Weston was expecting CC to eventually close the gap by 35 points when diving scores were added into the team totals.
“We were very concerned that this could come down to a winner-take-all last relay and the way Andre was swimming, there was no telling what might happen,” said Valle. “I spoke to the group, but looked right at Fitzy (Tommy Fitzgerald) and said we needed one more big-swim. And like out of an old movie, he said, 'I’ve got this one, Coach.'”
A few moments later, after rookie Alan Blaesser cracked the minute-barrier in the 100 backstroke for the first time with a 59.46, Fitzgerald readied himself at the blocks. The lanky senior was seeded 19th at 58.84 in the event, and had struggled last week just to break a minute.
When the beeper sounded, Fitzgerald blasted off en route to a shocking, 56.29 swim that landed him in eighth, and all but sealed the meet for Weston. In the 100 breaststroke, sophomore Jamie Noonan swam to a lifetime best of 1:05.70, tying for 16th, and adding half a point to the Weston tally.
Just prior to the final relay, the diving points were tallied and added; junior Jamie Packs (seventh) and senior Kian Nowrouzi (15th) performed a series of outstanding dives, and meet totals had Weston at 203.5, Concord at 188, and KP at 170. The Tide would only need sixth to bring title number 20 back to Weston. With conservative relay exchanges from Delaney, Lewtan, Burrow and Peacher, Weston took third in the race, and grabbed the overall team title, 235.5 to 222 to 210.
One day later, The Lady Tide raced their way to a second-place overall finish at their Division II State Meet. After a week of record-setting relays, Weston switched their line-up around a bit, and got more athletes in on the act, but with the same, three-win results.
The opening medley team of seniors Bianca Tocci, Maddie Pierce and Stephanie Palocz, and sophomore Victoria Bryson, took top honors to start the meet, with a time of 1:49.13. It is Weston’s second-fastest combine all-time, behind last week’s state-record setting performance.
In the 200-free relay, rookie Julimar Avila, Bryson, junior Katie Kim and Palocz duplicated the winning effort with a 1:39.18. Finally, The GLOWS closed the meet with a 3:31.59 clocking from Avila, Kim, Pierce and Tocci in the 400-free relay, second-fastest on Weston’s all-time list.
Tocci was the meet’s only quadruple-winner, as she also took top honors, individually, in the 50- and 100-freestyle races. Avila had a pair of seconds in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly (1:51.92 and 57.70, both new freshman records), and Pierce grabbed a fifth (200 IM) and fourth (100 backstroke) of her own. Pierce’s 58.95 in the 100 back was a lifetime best performance. Rookie Mikaela Thompson was Weston’s only other top-eight finisher, as she took fifth in the one-meter diving.
Seniors Laura Beaudry, Julia Meehan and Palocz, and sophomore Anna Neufeld, each posted a pair of lifetime best swims. Beaudry had a 2:02.69, 14th place swim in the 200, Meehan raced to bests in butterfly and backstroke, Palocz took a 10th and a 15th, individually, and Neufeld continued her month-long streak of best times in middle-distance free.
Junior Katie Kim provided additional depth in the 50 free (ninth) and 100 fly (11th). Senior Eliza Robson (15th) and junior Camille Casey (16th) were consistent throughout the evening in a highly-competitive diving field. Senior Libby Menders, junior Lydia Moore and freshmen Nicole Davenport and Sarah Varghese also gave much of themselves to Weston in the effort.
“Our girls are just a tremendous group of positive, caring and talented athletes,” said Valle. “This senior class has been so inclusive and such great role models; I’m really going to miss them.”
The team will celebrate their season at the annual banquet on Sunday, March 18. They will then wait to hear results from the various NISCA award programs in early July.