Patriots swept in pool by Spartans


BENNINGTON -- For the past few years, the Berkshire League girls swim crown went through Mount Anthony.

Now, instead of the Patriots on top and the rest of the league behind, the Berkshire League is a three-team race.

Monument Mountain came to the Bennington Rec Center on Monday afternoon and swept both meets -- the girls winning 96-74 and the boys 132-34, putting the girls in a battle with the Spartans and Hoosac Valley for Berkshire League supremacy.

"We def have a fun back and forth with MAU, we're in a good groove," said Spartans coach Jill Svirida. "[Mount Anthony has] fast swimmers to push our kids. My girls that won did great, did what they had to do."

Maeve and Emma Wilber were each part of four victories for Monument Mountain, including together in the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay. Individually, Maeve won the 200-yard free and 100-yard backstroke, while Emma took the 500-yard free in a blazing time of 5 minutes, 55.75 seconds and the 100-yard butterfly, setting a state qualifying time in the process.

"We knew Monument Mountain was a top team," said Mount Anthony coach Anna Swierad. "We knew coming in it would be an uphill battle, the kids knew to go for the best times they could."

As for the Patriots, their only win came in the 200 free relay. The team of Bridget Ahearn, Cyonn Alexander, April Foley and Kate Ahearn got out to an early lead and extended it throughout the race to win in 1:55.37 -- nearly five seconds ahead of the Spartans in second.

"It was nerve-wracking, but my nerves helped me swim faster," said Bridget Ahearn, the first leg of the relay. "I was first, we needed to get a lead. Once I got a lead, I knew the rest of my team could back me up and win the race."

"The relay is a meshed group that works very well together," Swierad said. "I wasn't going to put April in, but she said, ‘My shoulder's fine,' and she stepped it up."

Bridget Ahearn also added a second in the 400-yard free relay and a third in the 50 free.

"When you get on the [starting] blocks, I just try to stay focused, I was just in the zone," said Bridget Ahearn. "It's encouraging to have the four of us win a race together."

While only winning one race, the Patriots kept it close with a plethora of second and third-place finishes. Those runner-up finishes can be the key in a close meet, Swierad said.

"What they do matters, second, third and fourth can seal the deal [sometimes], we didn't have enough swimmers today. [Svirida] has a stacked setup, something like six to eight of the top 10 times," Swierad said.

Phebe Hall was a part of four second-place finishes -- the 500 free, the 200 IM, the 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay. She wasn't the only consistent swimmer for the Patriots either: Foley also scored two runner-ups in the 200 medley relay and the 50 free, while Kara Sampsell was second in the 200 medley relay and the 100 back (with a personal record to boot in 1:21.72).

Other runner-ups for MAU were Jena Staab in the 100 butterfly, Kate Ahearn in the 100 free and KC Tiffany in the 100 back.

The Spartans' Caroline Bissailion was an individual double-winner too, in the 50 free and 100 free, along with two of the relays.

Rice Rowan also scored two victories for the Spartans, in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke.

"We count every point and I'm happy with how they swam," Svirida said. "We had three meets last week, we have three meets this week. To push as hard as they did and swim as well as they did, I'm pleased."

On the boys side, an outmanned Patriots group lost, but there were some encouraging results, including Ryan Spencer finishing second in the 100 back and third in the 50 free. The Patriots also got a second place finish for the 200 free relay by Zach LaForest, Sean Hamilton, Brian Steinhoff and Austin Ulrich on the anchor leg.

"Some of the boys gave it their all, others didn't and it makes a difference," Swierad said. "They were outmanned but consistent."

Despite the loss, the boys still have a chance at the Northern Division crown, while the girls have a tough road to be champions for 2013-14.

"It's nice to have the competition, but it stinks to lose," said Bridget Ahearn.


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