Western/Central Massachusetts Girls Swimming

Asa Stone leads pack of Monument Mountain Spartans to 4th place

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SPRINGFIELD — Swimmers from Pittsfield, Taconic and Monument Mountain were greeted at Springfield College by a packed swimming complex, full of people wanting to see the best swimmers Western and Central Massachusetts has to offer.

"It's so different," Monument's Asa Stone said. "You kind of have to experience it to understand how it feels. It's amazing to be here with this team and the energy is amazing. When everyone is cheering it surprises you how loud it can get."

While the roars created by the crowd were fierce, it didn't stop Stone and the Monument Mountain girls from ending the tournament with a fourth place finish.

Stone led the way for the Spartans with two third place finishes. She cut three seconds off of her seed times in the 100 yard backstroke and 100 yard butterfly to earn two individual bronze medals on the day.

"We just have to trust ourselves that we are going to crush it," Stone said. "We can do it and I feel like we crushed it today."

The team of Spartans must've followed Stone's advice as the squad of Stone, Ashley Wellenkamp, Aubrey Blanchard and Maddie Fife started the day with an eighth place finish in the 200 medley to kick off the meet.

Somehow, the Monument girls weren't worn down after four hours of swimming. In fact, they were getting better.

In the race's ninth event, Fife, Olivia Rubino, Anna Rubino and Aubrey Blanchard cut five seconds off of their seed time in the 200 yard freestyle relay, good for a third place finish.

As the saying goes, it isn't how you start, but how you finish.

With that in mind, the girls from Great Barrington made quite the statement in the 400 yard freestyle. Blanchard, Olivia Rubino, Anna Rubino and Stone cut more than 12 seconds off of their seed time. The performance was good for a silver medal and solidified the No. 4 finish for the Spartans.

After the standings were announced, coach Jill Svirida brought her girls in for a group hug.

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"I am just so incredibly proud and honored to have this experience with them," Svirida said. "I am honored to be their coach. We work, and we work, and we work, and we work."

Sophomore Jenna Codey joined Stone and Blanchard in the water to compete for Monument in the 100 yard butterfly.

The dedication shows as the Monument girls continue their strong 2018-19 season. Svirida often describes the Western Mass. and state tournaments as a "new" season. After finishing the regular season with an undefeated record, she could not be happier with her team's performance.

"It is exhausting," Svirida said. "It is mentally challenging, but it is part of the process. [Maddie Fife] was a huge addition for us. She's very driven and she worked hard all season. Olivia and Anna also had incredible days. These girls are just incredible athletes and it's such a privilege to work with them."

Pittsfield, which finished the season 8-2, was represented by Emily Bradford, Jordan Bradford, Yael Snowise, Norah Miller and Abigail Marsh. Szofia Lewis, a junior on the Pittsfield squad missed the meet because she wasn't feeling well, however, both her and Jordan Bradford will be traveling to Boston next weekend to represent Pittsfield at states.

"It was a fast meet," PHS coach Jim Harrington said. "There were some solid swims and we had a few new swimmers make the tournament this year so it was good for them to come here and experience this."

Taconic was represented by Caitlin Hall, who swam in the 100 butterfly, and Delaney Ivas in the 100 breaststroke.

After a 14-hour day full of swimming, coach Svirida still isn't sick of thinking about the pool.

"Oh today was no problem," she joked. "I am going to go home and put my entrees in for states"

All three of Monument's relay teams will compete next week at states. Stone, Anna and Olivia Rubino, and Aubrey Blanchard will all compete in individual events as well.

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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