Photo: Relay Exchange; Lexington at Belmont.
First-year Belmont High Girls’ Swimming Head Coach Gretchen Turner looks at the scoring sheet after a recent meet against Winchester and shakes her head: two freshmen swimmers had just qualified via time to swim the 100-yard breaststroke the state finals. That makes eight Marauders who have met the time requirement, but Belmont can only take four to the finals.
“What am I going to do with all those swimmers?” Turner asked.
Talk about an embarrassment of riches for Belmont’s new coach, who this year took over the squad from the legendary Ev Crosscup.
After spending two years as Crosscup’s assistant, Turner has made a smooth transition at the helm leading the team to a 7-0-1 Middlesex League record. The only blemish was due to “a classic rookie mistake” which resulted in a tie against a mid-level Stoneham squad.
But that small bump in the road has been the only one Turner, and her team has encountered. In the past week, Belmont defeated arch-rival Lexington and a good Winchester group.
But on the horizon looms the giant shadow of one of the strongest teams in eastern Massachusetts. Reading High has returned to being the dominating squad in Division 2 swimming as they come to Higgenbottom Pool on Friday, Oct. 20 as the two-time Middlesex League and last year’s state champions.
“We know where Reading stands regarding their times. So we’ll continue to try and get sectional and state times and having a good team come at the end of the season will pump our swimmers up,” said Turner.
Even before the final two league meets – against Reading and Melrose – and the Middlesex League meet, Belmont has qualified a multiple number of swimmers in each event with the relays all securing their place.
“We’re going to have a big team at sectionals and states which puts us in the running,” Turner said.
Belmont took care of business beating visiting Lexington by emphasizing the Marauders’ depth in the meet relays, resulting in 24 points – three firsts, a second and a third – from the three events.
“I did that on purpose trying to get better times on our A relays by putting our three fastest swimmers in each which limited them to a single individual event,” said Turner.
“And it worked as each swimmer hit their split times which means they were swimming really hard even though they didn’t have anyone swimming next to them,” she said.
Belmont got off to a fast start going 1, 3 and 4 in the opening 200 yards medley relay with the quartet of Anna Doherty, Caroline Daskalajkis, Sophie Butte and Julia Bozkurtain taking the win in 2 minutes, 3.51 seconds.
Angela Li took the 200 free with a 2:10.5 while Belmont’s Katarina Chen prevented a Lexington sweep taking third in the 200 IM as Grace Zhang won the 200 yard free in 2:31.89.
Bozkurtain returned to win the sprint 50 free in 26.19 seconds with Doherty following in second in 26.93 to give Belmont a 33-29 lead at the diving break.
Lexington’s sole diver Ava Barrentine with consistent scores in the 6.5 range took first with 191.475 Belmont’s Marina Cataldo with 185.12 Sophie Cormier in second in 175.3
In the best race of the afternoon, Belmont senior Julia Cunningham overtook Lexington’s Irene Cheng in the final 40 yards to power to the victory in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:07.27.
Butte dipped under the minute mark to take the 100 free in 56.77 while Mary Kilcoyne broke the six-minute barrier in the 500 free (5:59.00) while Kate and Camille Sandage came through in fourth and fifth place.
The foursome of Bozkurtain, Ella Baurele, Doherty and Butte swam away with the 200 free relay in 1:47.81
By the time of the 200 free relay, the score was 86-85 in Belmont’s favor. Win the relay, win the meet. And Bozkurtain, Doherty, Butte and Angela Li finished the job with a first in 3:53.70 and a 94-91 victory.