MIAA Girls' Swimming

Wayland gets the message loud and clear

By Braden Campbell and Sarina Mathai
Globe Correspondent / February 14, 2010

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Wayland High girls coach Mike Foley’s voice succumbed to illness at a most inopportune time: the days leading up to the North Sectional Girls’ Swimming Championship.

In order to keep his ailment from affecting his team, Foley dictated his pregame speech to his assistants, who relayed it to his swimmers, much to their amusement. It must have worked.

The Lady Warriors rolled up 282 points yesterday to surge to their third consecutive sectional victory at MIT’s Zesiger Aquatic Center.

“It was great, we weren’t really sure how we were going to do, so it’s really exciting,’’ said Wayland’s Emily Wright. “I think everyone just improved so much, it made for a great atmosphere.’’

Weston, Wayland’s Dual-County League rival, was second with 201 points, followed by Marblehead (158).

Last weekend, Wayland toppled Weston and Lincoln-Sudbury (fourth in the sectionals with 156 points) at the DCL meet. Foley said competing against such tough teams all season has helped his team.

“We’re beating each other up all year so that when we come here we’re used to the tough competition, which really helps all of our teams,’’ he said.

Wright earned All-American consideration in the 50-yard freestyle with her winning time of 23.97 seconds. She also teamed with Emily Downs, Megan Pierce, and Michelle Cunningham to win the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:35.57) and the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:38.26). The 50 and 400 freestyle times established meet records.

Foley said it’s Wright’s character that makes her worthy of the potential All-American nod.

“She loves this team so much, she would pass up that record to make sure our team still wins and that’s why having a girl like that break a record is even more special,’’ he said.

Weston’s Bianca Tocci also earned All-American consideration with her win in the 100-yard freestyle (52.31). Lincoln-Sudbury (1:38.70) and Weston (1:38.97) also earned consideration for their performances in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

The same teams will clash again next weekend in the Division 2 North championship, and Foley acknowledged that anything can happen.

“We’re keeping a real close eye on Weston,’’ he said. “We’re going to have to be on our best game to make sure we can win again.’’

South/Central Sectional: A year after Gardner High’s string of 15 straight sectional championships came to an end, the Wildcats were determined to prove their dynasty was not over.

Mission accomplished.

The Wildcats regained the title yesterday at MIT, finishing with 174 points to outdistance Duxbury (164) and Barnstable (140).

Coach Don Lemieux didn’t buy into the theory the Wildcats’ reign was over.

“Last year was a heartbreaker for some of the kids,’’ Lemieux said. “Some people were like, ‘You guys had your time and it is someone else’s turn,’ but I told the kids that I don’t believe in that.’’

The Wildcats started quickly, capturing the first event, the 200-yard medley relay, in 1 minute 52.74 seconds, topping Barnstable (1:55.90) and Duxbury (1:56.94).

Freshman Taylor Strachon sparked the relay victory and also posted a victory in the 100-yard butterfly (57.34) and a third-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.45).

“Her best event actually was leading off the relay,’’ Lemieux said. “She led off the relay and that really got us out there and ahead.’’

Barnstable stayed on the Wildcats’ heels as Red Raiders senior Anna Cavanaugh broke her own meet record in the 200-yard freestyle, winning in 1:53.72.

Cavanaugh also set a meet record in winning the 100-yard freestyle in 52.77.

The Red Raiders were in first place until the fourth event, the 50-yard freestyle, when Gardner’s Kati Cornetta finished second (25.05) to give the Wildcats a 5-point lead. Strachon then won the 100-yard butterfly to give Gardner a little more breathing room.

Duxbury also remained in contention after a victory in the 200-yard freestyle relay and a third-place finish by Kaitlin Buckley in the 100-yard backstroke.

The Wildcats entered the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, with an 18-point lead. Duxbury won the relay (3:42.84) and Barnstable took second (3:43.47), but Gardner’s third-place showing was enough to clinch the title.

Lemieux said he coached the entire meet without looking at the scoreboard.

“Just take care of business and the points will take care of themselves,’’ he said. “You don’t want to be standing there doing math instead of racing.

“If we beat them to the wall, we beat them to the wall, that’s all it is.’’