Western/Central Mass.Swimming: Monument Mountain's Asa Stone claims 2 sectional championships

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SPRINGFIELD — Some stones can float on water, others are the best swimmers in the pool. At last year's Western/Central Massachusetts championships, Monument Mountain's Asa Stone earned bronze medals in both the 100-yard backstroke and 100 butterfly. After a year of hard work, the junior exchanged those two third-place medals for first-place golds.

"I had no idea I was capable of [winning the backstroke]," Stone said. "I was nervous, but trying to be confident. After the 100 fly, I thought anything in the backstroke would be great and to just focus on my turns... to win it... I am just so happy."

While Stone couldn't believe her success, there was one person at the Art Linkletter Natatorium at Springfield College who wasn't surprised by the performance, which helped the Spartans to a fourth-place finish at the meet.

"I knew she had [the 100 backstroke] when she took that final turn," Spartan coach Jill Svirida said. "She's a really special kid and deserves every moment she had today. She believes in the process and I think that is a big part of being a successful swimmer. Understanding that it is about hard, hard work and knowing that at times during the season your times aren't going to be where you want them to be.

"When you buy in and work through that, that is when you see these results. I've seen her grow a lot this year in her self confidence and I think that really showed for me today."

Stone's win the 100 butterfly couldn't have been any closer. She touched in 59 seconds flat, defeating North Hampton's Ruby Gottlieb by 1/100th of a second. Stone swam the backstroke in 59.76, topping the field by more than half-a-second.

"I think that being confident is one of the biggest things that can happen," Stone said. "Swimming is mostly mental and if you're not there and not confident, it isn't the same."

While Stone's performance highlighted a big day by the Spartans, sophomore Maddie Fife and freshman Zoe Holmes made waves for Monument Mountain as well.

Fife cut 14 seconds off her seed time to finish 10th in the 500 freestyle and shaved five seconds off of her 200 freestyle, good for fourth. Holmes, on the other hand, swam a 2:18.35 in the 200 IM to take third place and added a seventh-place performance in the 100 butterfly.

"They buy in and invest in what we are doing," Svirida said. "They trust us as coaches, each other as teammates and they work knowing that this day and next weekend are coming, knowing that these kids get there in the best shape they can be. That is why we swam like this today, they believe it and do it so well."

Holmes, Stone, Fife and Carolina Chassi solidified the fourth-place finish by coming in fourth in the 400 freestyle relay to end the meet.

It was a long day for swimmers, especially getting to the bus at 5:45 a.m., in order to get a spot alongside the pool area

However, the early morning wasn't a problem, according to Pittsfield's Szofia Lewis.

"Everyone was excited to swim today," Lewis said. "Everyone that is here earned their place and they wanted to show that they've made it this far and that we could accomplish something great together as a team."

The Generals' 400 relay team of Caitlin Hall, Kiera Devine, Jackie Roccabruna and Jordan Bradford won its heat and finished eighth in the race. Lewis finished ninth in the breaststroke and the 200 medley relay team of Bradford, Lewis, Hall and Roccabruna cut almost two seconds of its seed time to land in eighth place.

"We've worked really hard for a long time," Lewis said. "I am so grateful for all the girls who stuck with me for the last four years. Every swimmer was a part of this, nobody was left out. I think our team came together and I am really proud of that."

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Taconic freshman Mia Bencivenga was the only other local swimmer at the meet and cut five seconds off her time in the 500 free in order to earn eighth place.

Stone and a handful of other local swimmers aren't done. They'll make the voyage to the state swimming championships next, which will take place at Boston University on Saturday, Feb. 15.

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Standings — 1. Minnechaug 314; 2. Longmeadow 234; 3. Amherst-Pelham 157; 4. Monument Mountain 150; 5; Tgd Coop 146... 14. Pittsfield 75; 23. Taconic 11.

200 medley relay — 1. Northampton (Ripley, Murphy, Gottlieb, Tischler), 1:56.63; 2. Tgd Coop (Gribbin, Loucraft, Dudevoir, Koval), 1:57.13; 3. Chicopee Comp (Cushing, Smith, Guntly, Nawrocki), 1:58.21.

200 freestyle — 1. VanZandt (Minnechaug), 1:56.54; 2. Church (Broomfield), 1:57.32; 3. Stronage (Minnechaug), 2:01.42.

200 IM — 1. Smith (Chicopee Comp), 2:05.92; 2. Dustin (Agawam), 2:14.39; 3. Holmes (Monument Mountain), 2:18.35.

50 free — 1. Petruzzelli (Minnechaug), 24.51; 2. Smith (Amherst), 24.90; 3. Goggin (Longmeadow), 25.21.

100 butterfly — 1. Stone (Monument Mountain), 59.00; 2. Gottlieb (North Hampton), 59.01; 3. Petruzzelli (Minnechaug), 1:00.06.

100 free — 1. VanZandt (Minnechaug), 53.86; 2. Goggin (Longmeadow), 54.48; 3. Malone (East Longmeadow), 55.86.

500 free — 1. Roback (East Hampton), 5:21.21; 2. Dustin (Agawam), 5:25.49; 3. Lavoie (Belchertown), 5:31.30.

200 free relay — 1. Longmeadow (Tran, MacElhiney, Jia, Goggin), 1:40.39; 2. Minnechaug (Petruzzelli, Strange, Ranck, VanZandt), 1:40.60; 3. East Longmeadow (Malone, Chebotarev, Bedard, Iacobucci), 1:44.96.

100 backstroke — 1. Stone (Monument Mountain), 59.76; 2. Baxter (Amherst), 1:00.30; 3. Gottlieb (North Hampton), 1:02.15.

100 breaststroke — 1. Smith (Chicopee Comp), 1:04.72; 2. Acosta-McKenzie (Amherst), 1:08.22; 3. Church (Broomfield), 1:09.31.

400 free relay — 1. Minnechaug (Petruzzelli, Strange, Ranck, VanZandt), 3:40.96; 2. Longmeadow (Train, Shafiei, MacElhiney, Goggin), 3:45.02; 3. Amherst (Baxter, Cyr, Acosta-McKenzie, Smith), 3:49.64.

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


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