Saturday December 15, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Taconic and Pittsfield's boys city swim rivalry came down to a point last winter.

The two teams were in another battle at the Boys and Girls Club on Friday, with the result coming down to the final relay. The Braves needed to finish first and second to win, but were denied when the Generals' Aaron Coty reached the wall first.

"In meets like this, you're either up by a few or down by a few," Coty said. "Regardless, every swimmer on both teams knows they have to go as hard as they possibly can. That's what I did."

It was a wild and loud end to a back-and-forth final few races. The meet was tied with two events left before Pittsfield won those final races for a 51-43 win. The Pittsfield girls earned their first win, completing the sweep with a 54-40 victory.

Coty won the 100-yard breaststroke in addition to that 400 freestyle relay victory. He came up big again in the 100 freestyle, finishing second. That gave the Generals a 2-3 finish, negating the points earned by Taconic's biggest weapon -- George Sommerville -- in a comfortable win. Both of Sommerville's individual wins (100 freestyle, 200 IM) were followed by two Pittsfield swimmers.

"Even if someone gets first, the [2-3] cancels it out," Sommerville said. "... It's kind of how the game goes."

In the four-lane pool, second and third combine for the same number of points as a victory. That's what Generals coach Jim Harrington said he emphasizes to his team. In the girls meet, Taconic won just two events, both by Gillian Campbell (100 freestyle, 100 backstroke). The Generals were second and third with Nicole Belknap and Kayla Jones in the 100 free, preventing Taconic from gaining any ground.

Theresa Murphy led Pittsfield with wins in the 100 butterfly (2:45.19) and 200 individual medley (2:45.19).

"We never made any big concessions," Harrington said of his girls. "We'd gain two here and then we'd stay even, even. Then we'd gain two more and stay even, even."

The boys meet was a bit of a different story. The Braves' Quinton Cookis battled to keep his team within two points in the 500 freestyle, just edging Pittsfield's Jon Lee by .5 seconds as the cheers inside the pool area reached ear-shattering levels. Two races later, Taconic got a win and a second in the 100 backstroke from Lucas Benjamin (1:17.94) and Craig Spencer-Hopkins (1:19.04) to tie the meet at 38.

The Generals responded. Coty and Conor Dempsey paired up to go 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke and give the Generals a 6-point lead. Now, Taconic needed that to take the top two spots in the 400 freestyle relay.

"I sit at home at night and setting up the meets, I find it very stressful," said Braves coach Marisa Plant. "It's always going to be close."

Taconic showed the potential to go 1-2 in the first leg of the relay, but as soon as first-year swimmer Zach Williams hit the water, Pittsfield built a large lead. The Generals would need nearly all that cushion to hold off Sommerville's charge at the finish and clinch the win.

"I surprised myself," Williams said. "I knew I was far ahead but I couldn't tell where people were. I was just focusing on me. I was really happy that was the lead I had."

To reach Christopher James:
cjames@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @BECJ2k.