At the start of this season, the Weston boys’ swim team was less confident than in past years, despite having won the state title in 2013.
After graduating a superb senior class, Weston looked at this season as a challenge, and senior Sam Cekala rose to it, leading the Wildcats to the MIAA Division 2 state title Sunday at MIT’s Zesiger Center, the school’s 22d crown in 32 years of swimming.
“Sam’s been great,” said coach Claude Valle. “He’s been here four years. He’s the only guy on the team that’s been to four state meets, so he’s been a part of those last two state titles and those were very different. We kind of ran away with them.”
Last year, Weston easily took the title with 299 points, while second-place Wayland had 171. On Sunday, Weston finished with 244 points. Bishop Feehan finished second (225) and Amherst-Pelham was third (163).
Bishop Feehan took the first two events, the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle, but Cekala changed the tone when he won the 50 freestyle, finishing in 21.94 seconds.
Cekala placed second in the 100 freestyle in 48.32 seconds, right behind sophomore Alessandro Rastelli of Norwell (48.30).
“We lost 90 percent of our points coming into this year and we really didn’t know how we were going to recover,” said Cekala, “and I feel like the whole senior team has been phenomenal in leading this group through the year.
“If you had asked me at the beginning of the year would we have any chance at states, I would have just said no. It’s probably my most treasured win of the past few.”
Cekala will attend University of Rochester in the fall and plans to play soccer, thus ending his swimming career as a winner.
Weston started the meet by placing third in the 200 medley relay. The team of Austin Critchlow, Jamie Noonan, Alex Mortimer, and Cekala finished in 1:41.25.
In the 200 freestyle relay, Weston’s team of Jono Seel, Cekala, Dan Spellman, and Mitch Revers finished in 1:29.84 for second place. Spellman also placed fourth in the 100 freestyle (49.50).
Weston secured their win by placing third in the 400 freestyle relay. The team of Seel, Spellman, Critchlow, and Nick Diebold finished in 3:20.59. Bishop Feehan placed first when Jackson Perry, Timothy McDonald, William McLaughlin, and Grant Casey finished in 3:15.56.
Casey, a senior, also placed first in the 200 freestyle in 1:43.46 and the 500 freestyle in 4:40.81.
Valle has been coaching at Weston for 26 years, seven as head coach, and agrees that this year’s win is his most treasured.
“That’s what makes this so special, a true team effort,” said Valle. “We’re like the Red Sox of 2013, a wonderful, unexpected gift of a season. We didn’t expect this.”