Photo: Jessica Blake-West waiting to swim at a recent meet.
A week after a dispiriting loss in the season’s final dual meet to rival Reading Memorial High School, Belmont High School’s Girls’ Swimming and Diving team followed the lead of one of the great swimmers in program history and a freshman phenom to take home the Middlesex League Meet Championship title contested at Bentley College on Thursday, Nov. 5.
Belmont took 369.5 points for first with Reading second with 349.5 followed by Lexington with 226.5 and Winchester at 218.
Senior Jessie Blake-West set a meet record in her favorite event, the 100 yard butterfly and came in second to a boy in the 200 Individual Medley while 9th grader Nicole Kalavantis took both freestyle distance events, the 200 and 500 yard, to go along with a slew of mid-level swimmers garnering points and positioning themselves to set times that will allow them to head to the state championships in two weeks.
Blake-West’s 57.47 second time in the butterfly erased a record going back to 1989, destroying Belmont’s Lena Eriksson’s past record of 58.22, and winning the event by more than four seconds. Her 2 minute, 14.52 second time in the IM was two second clear of the next girl as Blake-West finished second to Wakefield’s Christopher Anastasiades who swims with the girls since the school does not have a boys’ program.
In the relays, Blake-West threw in a 25.76 fly leg in the 200 Medley Relay (with Molly Thomas, Emily Quinn and Solvay Metelmann), a time faster than all but a few freestyle legs as Belmont finished second to Reading.
Kalavantis has become a big time scorer, first winning the 500-yard race the day before in Belmont breaking the 5 minute, 30-second mark (5:29.61) while tying for first with Bryan Filard of Woburn in 2:03.41, coming home in 31.25. Kalavantis also anchored the 4×200 free relay, cutting a seven-second deficit to two to see Belmont finish second.
With Belmont needing only to finish second in the final event, the 4×400, to win the title over Reading, Belmont’s junior Julia Bozkurtian and senior Sara Noorouzi kept the team within striking distance of Reading when Kalavantis, who swam a 56.87 third 100 yard, touch off to Blake-West who proceeded to cap the night with a stunning 52.79 last 100 to catch and out touch Reading by three-tenth of a second, 3:47.66 to 3:47.95.
Also of note in the meet were senior Emily Quinn, junior Dervela Moore-Federick and freshman Angela Li qualifying for the state championships in the Medley Relay, while the same swimmers finished second, third and fifth respectively, in the 100 breast stroke with state times.
Belmont’s long-time head coach Ev Crosscup said he was a little disappointed with some of the times posted by his charges at the Middlesex League Meet Championships held at Bentley College on Thursday, Nov. 5.
“Some didn’t do what I thought they could,” said Crosscup. “We’ll see hope things work out.”
But in talking to him, one could tell that he was proud at what the girls accomplished in taking home the championship crown a week after falling to Reading at Belmont’s Higginbottom Pool.
Next for the team is the North Sectionals which Belmont will be placed with powerhouse programs such as Andover, Chelmsford and Acton Boxoborough. Crosscup said he will be focusing on girls who are within reach of achieving a state qualifying time.
Then, it will be the state championship meet in which Belmont finished second in the past two years.
“It’s looking good, it really is. I think this meet meant a lot to where we want to be heading to states,” said Crosscup.