GREAT BARRINGTON -- Sometimes it takes that little bit extra to get over the hump. That can come from experience, luck or an extra player or two. Maybe it's a little bit of everything.
Whatever it is, the Hoosac Valley girls swim team found it this season and used it to claim the league title, the win over Monument Mountain being the difference.
"It was nice, exhilarating to get back to that because when I swam as a sophomore, [that] was the last time we had a team like this," senior Michaella Vecchiarelli said. "This year, it was nice to finish out senior season with an undefeated season."
The Hurricanes certainly benefited from gaining a few bodies they didn't have last season. But not all were new. Cori Ghidotti and Alyssa Bush, who had been on the team previously, returned from a one-year hiatus competing on a club team.
"Last year, I broke my knee in soccer season, so I knew I wouldn't really do much," Bush said. "So I just wanted to recover and come out this year."
With her return also came freshman Ellie Field, who has a good deal of experience in the water with Purple Valley Aquatics. What a get that has turned out to be.
The Hurricane is seeded in the top eight in both her events (seventh in 200 free and eighth in 100 butterfly) for Sunday's Western Massachusetts meet. Of the 33 swimmers in the fly, she's the lone ninth-grader. She's one of two in the 200 (the other is 23rd of 24).
"Since I'm younger, I didn't think I would do very good [this season] because it's all high school," she said. "But coming in, since I have experience with a bunch of other teams, I actually did really good."
They weren't the only ones to add depth to the team, but they certainly brought the most experience, which was a key ingredient.
"Last year, we were really green," coach Eryn Brewer said. "We had a lot of new swimmers, a lot of young swimmers. This year, we have more experienced swimmers, so I'm able to kind of have more play with meet lineups, which is more fun."
For the Hurricanes to climb the team standings at Western Mass., they'll need more than those three to perform at Western Mass. Judging by the seedings, that may not be a problem.
Hoosac is sending eight swimmers to the sectional meet. Seven will compete in two individual events each, giving the Hurricanes 15 chances to pick up points. Don't be surprised if it seems there are a lot of Hurricanes in selected events, because there will be. They've qualified four swimmers for the 100 breast and three in three others. For the most part, their times are packed together, which means more often than not, there will be multiple Hurricanes in a single heat.
"I think it's definitely an advantage" having more than one teammate in a heat, Brewer said. "They train together, swim well together. Sometimes it's better to have people who are familiar in the heat with them."
The relay teams should also give a boost to the team score. The Hurricanes are able to field a team for all three relays, and they've earned good seed times, too. Their best seed is fifth in the 200 medley relay, while their worst is seventh in the 200 free.
The Western Mass. meet didn't technically exist last season, but Vecchiarelli remembers her team scoring "a fair amount of points at the meet last year and there were only six of us."
In 2012, the year Vecchiarelli remembers being a lot like this one, the Hurricanes finished 11th at Western Mass. They did that with only three swimmers competing in individual events, two each, for a total of six. That's not even half the number of events this year's team has qualified for. The 2012 squad also swam three relays.
"I think we could definitely do some damage," Vecchiarelli said.
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