No matter how many times it happens, the celebratory toss of the coach into the pool never gets old, according to St. John’s Prep swim coach Tony Padvaiskas.
“Not at all,’’ he said while drying off after his team blitzed the field for its seventh consecutive North Sectional title at MIT’s Zesiger Fitness Center yesterday.
“Today was all about the seniors,’’ said Padvaiskas. “They led by example for a great overall team effort.’’
The Eagles started the meet with a big statement as the 200 medley relay team of seniors Aaron Athanas, Ryan Fortin, Brendan Sweeney, and sophomore Alex Swaim broke the meet record, taking first place in 1:35.12.
Senior Peter Fallon then followed up with his first win of the day in the 200 free in 1:44.23. Fallon would add a second win in the 500 free with a finishing time of 4:44.70. Fallon’s third and final win of the day came as part of the 200 freestyle relay team that took home top honors in 1:28.28.
Fallon wasn’t the only individual standout, as Athanas added a win in the 100 backstroke (51.09) and second in the 100 free, while Swaim finished second in the backstroke and third in the 200 free. John Bateman finished second in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 butterfly.
The seniors then closed out the meet in impressive fashion as the quartet of Fortin, Bateman, Fallon, and Athanas set a meet record in 400 freestyle relay.
The individual achievement of the day came in the diving pool where Concord-Carlisle’s Sean O’Brien broke his own state record, set a year ago, posting a 704 to cruise to another North title.
“It’s great to have a personal best and keep improving,’’ the Texas-bound senior said. “I’m just really glad I was able to put all my dives together, you really have to go one by one.’’
For the St. John’s Prep team, the final tally was 432 points, more than doubling the next closest team. Lincoln-Sudbury took home second thanks to wins from Ryan Fleming (50 free) and Sam Mackie (100 breast).
Weston finished third, followed by Andover and Reading to round out the top five. Reading had two winners with Connor Daly taking the 100 butterfly (51.32) and Scott McGinty taking the 100 free (47.28). The day’s other winner was Westford’s Brian Poon in the 200 IM (1:55.23).
The focus for the Eagles now is to defend their state title on a short turnaround with the state meet Friday night. Catholic Conference rival and South champion BC High will be waiting, but the Prep’s senior experience will be tough to knock off.
“It was a great day for the Catholic Conference,’’ said Padvaiskas. “With states right around the corner, we’ll focus on resting this week and be ready to go.’’
South/Central Sectional - BC High rallied to win the championship with 237 points, with King Philip (202 points) and Hopkinton (185) not too far behind.
It was the Eagles’ first title since 2009, and a reversal of last year when King Philip was able to hold off BC High for the crown. The Eagles trailed the Warriors through the first six events, but finally grabbed the lead after a first-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle by senior Tyler Lueck (48.06). The Warriors, however, were still only a few points behind.
It came down to the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, in which the Eagles’ team, anchored by Lueck, edged the Warriors, 3:16.85 to 3:16.88, to a thunderous ovation at MIT.
Coach Kate Brennan, who took over the BC High swim team this year, acknowledged how the loss last year helped motivate the Eagles.
“We were definitely keeping an eye on them the whole meet because they were definitely our biggest competition,’’ Brennan said. “We have a lot of seniors on this team, and they were here before, so it’s great for them to go out on a winning note.’’
King Philip could not have wished for a better start thanks to a meet-record breaking performance in the 200-medley relay (1:38.58). Senior Aaron Gustafson also set a meet record in the 50 freestyle (21.09) and earned All-America honors for the 100 backstroke (49.84). It just wasn’t enough.
Brennan acknowledged the importance of the 400 freestyle relay in sealing the win, but thought the 200 freestyle relay truly prevented the Warriors from regaining the lead.
“Our 200 and 400 relays were huge,’’ said Brennan. “Once we won the 200 relay, we were confident going into the last couple of events.’’
Lueck won two individual events as well: the 200 freestyle (1:45.24) and 100 freestyle (48.06). His time in the 200 freestyle was a personal best.
Other top performers included Milford’s Kevin Bradley, a double winner in the 200 IM and 500 free, Hopkinton’s John Lagasse (100 breast), Needham’s Alex Treil (100 fly), and Brookline’s J.D. Nurme (diving).