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Newburyport’s Gabrielle Sergi undefeated in the pool at Bates

Sergi speeds out
to unbeaten record

With the firing of the starting gun, Gabrielle Sergi (inset) pushes off her mark, creating a reaction that is a bit scientific.

Her hands split the clear, calm surface of the pool, and before the blink of an eye, she is completely submerged, propelling herself forward with just enough force that she leaves a trail of a wake.

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Donning her silver swim cap emblazoned with the Bobcat logo of Bates College, she pushes herself to the brink, and to the finish.

The results are equally scientific, based on the pure fact that Sergi is the best each and every time she touches that wall to signify the end of one of her individual events.

Her sample size speaks for itself — the 5-foot-5 junior from Newburyport has won every one of her individual races this season.

“I’m still kind of shocked by it,” said Sergi, of her 9-0 individual mark. “It’s exciting, but it is also a little bit nerve-racking.”

Her wide grin and determined demeanor showed anything but a bundle of nerves, but Sergi, a psychology major, keeps her emotions in check with a simplistic approach.

“I try not to overthink any of it,” Sergi said. “For me, it’s about having fun. If I start to let that stuff get into my head before a race then it can mess with my technique and timing. So I try to keep things as simple as possible when I get out there and try to have some fun against the competition.”

“Her ultimate gift is that she is a fierce competitor,” said Bates swimming coach Peter Casares . “Not many know that about Ellie until they race her.”

Sergi first made her waves at Newburyport High School before heading off to Lewiston, Maine, and the NESCAC.

In her first two seasons with the Bobcats she found that adjustments were needed in her approach to swimming.

After her sophomore season, one in which a head injury and illness hampered her, Sergi said, she knew that she had to do even more to get to an elite level.

“I approached this season with the notion of trying to do more outside of the pool to make myself better,” Sergi said. “I worked on my diet and my weight training and it has helped so much.

“I also tweaked my swimming technique a bit to where I am focusing more on training for my specific events and how to approach them, than just trying to go as fast as I can each time I get in there.”

That commitment in and out of the pool has helped Sergi achieve her victories, mainly in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events, and despite a 2-3 team record her efforts have not gone unnoticed.

In a tri-meet at Middlebury on Jan. 6, she edged the Panthers’ Lydia Carpenter by .12 seconds in the 50 free, and also captured the 100 free, .92 seconds ahead of Courtney Haron .

“What she does really well is train day-to-day and practice with focus and total engagement in the practice,” said Casares. “She’s worked hard and deserves the success.

“It’s been great coaching her over the last three years, watching her improve year-to-year and we’ve enjoyed seeing her swim fast this year and take advantage of all that hard work and competitiveness.”

Sergi is more than happy to continue to test her own boundaries.

“I’d really just like to have some best times,” said Sergi, of what she wants from the rest of her season. “I feel excited to see what I can do and not just hope that I can go fast.”

Crawford a force
on blue line

With the University of Massachusetts Boston’s men’s hockey team lighting the lamp at a 5.07 goals per game clip (second best in Division 3), the defense may tend to go unnoticed, but Medford’s Andrew Crawford is doing his best to stand out on the blue line in his inaugural campaign with the Beacons.

The 6-3 bruising freshman defender is seeing plenty of ice time and making the most of it, notching three assists to accompany a team-best +10 plus/minus mark, something that has not gone unnoticed by head coach Peter Belisle .

“He keeps it simple out there,” said Belisle. “He is a big strong kid who works hard on and off the ice. Andrew is the kind of player who makes the smart, simple play first, passing up and out of danger, which is why his plus-minus is where it is.”

After playing at Arlington Catholic, Crawford spent a postgrad season at Hebron Academy, then a year of juniors with the Philadelphia Revolution of the ECJHL before landing at Harbor Point.

“[Crawford] is a force, a real defensive defenseman,” said Belisle. “We’re happy to have him.”

Agboola helps BU
on hot streak

Methuen High grad Rashidat Agboola is playing a pivotal role for the women’s basketball team at Boston University, which entered the weekend riding a 12-game winning streak.

The 6-1 junior captain is the Terriers second-leading scorer (11.4 points per game) and Agboola’s 9.2 rebounds pace the America East conference.

Agboola started 2013 with an ECAC Division 1 Player of the Week nod and has helped the Terriers jump to the top of the America East standings with a 5-0 league mark and 15-3 overall record.

Craig Forde can be reached at cforde@globe.com.
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