D2 girls state swimming & diving: Amherst collects 2nd-place trophy

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 02-23-2023 8:46 PM

CAMBRIDGE — Lucy Smith placed one hand on fellow Amherst Regional senior Deborah Wells’ back, said, “I’ve got something for you.”

She handed over the MIAA Division 2 Girls Swimming state finalist trophy she’d held since the Hurricanes received it to Amherst’s other senior.

It wasn’t the repeat state championship trophy they wanted. But they still remember a time when Amherst could just dream about those trophies, not chase them.

“I’ve seen it all. Thinking back now, I never would have thought we would have got first one year and second another year,” said Smith, who has been on the team since seventh grade. “That’s crazy. We’re still really proud of each other. It was a really good day for all of us.”

The Hurricanes scored 196.5 points Saturday following two event championships as Marblehead captured the team title with 241 points.

“They certainly had their goal to come in first, but they held on to make sure that second happened,” Amherst coach Denise Leckenby said. “They executed what they needed to execute, and they did it together.”

Starting with the opening 200-yard medley relay. Amherst hadn’t lost that race in two years and kept the streak running. Rowan Albertson, Wells, Smith and Finnley Chambers hit the wall first in 1 minute, 50.89 seconds.

“It’s so fun to be able to end on that my senior year. We never really go into these big meets knowing we’re going to win. We always know there’s gonna be people pushing us, and there was,” Smith said. “Not wanting to break that streak, for me and Deb, it was a really good way to end the season.”

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Smith also repeated as the 50-yard freestyle state champion in 24.18 seconds followed closely by Albertson (24.32).

“I went into it the same as I always do. It’s just a 50, I have to go as fast as I can,” Smith said. “It was really helpful having Rowan in the same heat because we push each other. The fastest seed time was also really fast, so I was motivated to try and win that.”

Albertson also placed second in the 100 backstroke (59.45), while Wells was fifth (1:01.3). The Hurricanes’ 400 freestyle relay of Albertson, Chambers, Wells and Smith took second in 3:42.13.

Chambers tied for fifth in the 500 free (5:20.95) and placed sixth in the 200 free (2:00.2). Wells also was eighth in the 200 individual medley (2:15.35).

Smith added a silver in the 100 free, touching the wall in 53.04 seconds. That was .04 seconds behind Easthampton senior Natalia Robak, who won her first state championship by one of the slimmest margins. They also went 1-2 at the Central/West championships just a week earlier.

“It was crazy. I knew I was going to have to bring it home like crazy to try and out touch her,” Robak said.

Assembled friends sang Robak “happy birthday” as she stood on the top of the podium.

“It meant a lot as my last (high school) race. My birthday was icing on the cake,” said Robak, who will swim at Providence next year. 

She also placed second in the 200 IM despite winning the final heat in 2:08.37. Robak watched Seekonk’s Addison Abreu post a 2:06.24 time earlier but couldn’t chase down that time.

Northampton senior Sydney Abild repeated as the 100 breaststroke state champ in a school-record 1:04.2, more than three seconds clear of the field.

“I’m just glad that I could represent Northampton since I’m the only swimmer representing Northampton at states. I’m glad I could win for my senior year,” Abild said.

“We've had a really rough season. A lot of people had to quit for different reasons. We've had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs. So just getting Northampton’s name out there and putting it on the map means a lot.”

Abild added a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly, as well (58.2).

Northampton was represented on the diving board, however, as junior Ursula von Goeler was the top Western Massachusetts finisher in eighth with 420.35 points.

Belchertown junior Bethany Lavoie placed 15th in the 100 backstroke (1:04.08).

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>