Wednesday February 13, 2013

CHICOPEE -- Taconic's George Sommerville turned in a pair of sterling performances in the sprint events to lead the Berkshire County contingent at the unofficial Western Massachusetts boys' swim meet at Chicopee High School on Tuesday.

Sommerville finished second in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events. His time of 21.99 seconds in the 50 and 48.46 in the 100 were both personal bests this year.

Sommerville was seeded first in the 50, and lost to Westfield's Jimmy Stinehart by .04 of a second. He was philosophical after the race.

"The 50 is three things: how you start, how you make the turn and how you finish," he said. "My start was a little tentative."

There were several complaints of slippery starting blocks, and Sommerville hesitated just a fraction of a second before he took off.

Still, when Stinehart mounted the podium to accept his medal, Sommerville clapped him on the shoulder and shook his hand.

The 100 was another barn-burner, as sprints often are. This time, Sommerville was edged by Northampton's Colin Machat by .15 of a second. Sommerville was third going into the final lap. His sprint overtook Cameron Braz of Monson but not Machat.

The only other individual medalist was Monument's Will Palmer, who finished fifth in the 50. Palmer edged Minnechaug's Joe Beaupre by .08 of a second in recording his best time of the year, 23.37.

Palmer led the Spartans to a win in the meet within a meet, as the Spartans scored a total of 60 points to finish 12th overall, best in Berkshire County. Taconic was 14th with 58 points. Pittsfield High was 20th overall with 21 points. Minnechaug, with 345 points won the meet.

In addition to Palmer, the Spartans' 400 freestyle relay squad of Dominic Roy, Zach Richardson, Palmer and Derrek Rueger was eighth overall in 3:43.58, shaving an impressive eight seconds off their previous best.

"I could not be happier," said Spartan coach Jill Svirida. "We couldn't have ended the night any better. All my swimmers did exceptionally well. This is as good as my boys have done in the postseason in several years."

The inclement weather of the past weekend relocated the meet to Chicopee High School. The gave school officials and others who planned and executed it four days to pull it together. The event ran a tidy 3 1/2 hours, despite a late start.

"I have to thank the swimming community for pulling this together so quickly," said Jim Blain, the school's athletic director. "From the coaches to the athletes, the officials and the parents, everyone came together to make this work. And I think we did a good job."