Despite A Season Away, X-C and Swimming At Home In State Championships

Photo: Belmont’s Cross Country All-Star Stephen Carvalho

Due to the construction of the new Middle and High School, Belmont’s Cross Country and Swimming teams have lost their homes – the harrier’s Clay Pit Pond course and swimming’s Higginbottom Pool at Belmont High. But each program reached state finals this year with some strong performances.

Carvalho Leaves His Mark On X-C Honor Roll

Belmont’s Stephen Carvalho ended his high school harrier career with an outstanding performance at the Boys’ All-State Division l Cross Country Championships finishing 11th in a field of the state’s top runners.

Carvalho crossed the line of the 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) race in 16 minutes and 33 seconds, one second from a top ten finish and less than 30 seconds off the winning time of 16:06 set by King Philip Regional’s Mike Griffin.

It has been a stellar year for the senior capped by capturing the Middlesex League Championships title on Oct. 28 at Woburn Country Club as he broke away in the final stretch to out kick Lexington’s Adam Bernstein to win in 16:09.24, and being named Middlesex League Runner of the season.

In November, Carvalho paced the Marauders to a 16th place finish at the Division 2 championships in Wrentham. Once again placing 11th in 16:19.9, Carvalho was followed by junior Zach Gillette (17:25.7), sophomore Trevor Smith (17:34.6), junior Henry Yang (17:53.22), junior Alexan Athanasiou (18:07.50) and sophomore Lot Bates in 18:16.34.

The Belmont Girls’ X-C finished the season coming in 12th in the Division 2 finals. Junior Isabel Burger was the first Marauder across the finishing line in 45th place in 20:27.54. Junior Victoria Meringer (20:46.02), senior Joy He (21:05.65), senior Soleil Tseng (21:23.7), junior Matilda Hamer (22:20.4) and sophomore Zoe Dill (22:28.01) rounded out the runners from Belmont.

Running on opponents courses and riding the bus to meets, the Girls team finished with a 3-3 record and 2-3 in the Middlesex League while the Boys were 2-4 overall and 1-4 in the league.

Girls’ Swimming Score In DII Finals

Late evening practices at an undersized pool at the Belmont Country Club and weekends in Wellesley did not detour the efforts of the 4-6 Belmont’s Girls’ Swimming from a strong performance in the season-ending championship meets.

Belmont continued to show its decade long prowess in the 100-yard breaststroke as Katarina Chen led a trio of juniors into the top 15 at the Division 2 State Swimming and Diving Championship held at Boston University on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Chen erased nearly a second off her seeded time to power home in third place in l minute, 11.55 seconds. Alicia Lugovskoy came in fifth in 1:12.17 while Elena Li took more than a second off her season-best to finish 13th in 1:15.76 as Belmont took 34 points from the event.

And another group of third-year performers left their marks at the diving venue. Marina Cataldo took fourth in the one-meter event receiving 424.10 points. Sophie Cormier garnered 315.30 points for 11th while Samantha Burge survived the prelims and semi-final rounds to place 16th with 228.25 points.

Other Marauders in individual events included:

  • Junior Samantha Fogel, 16th in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:05.10.
  • Sophomore Alexandra Zarkadas, 100-yard backstroke.
  • First Year Alique Stepanian, 50 and 100-yard freestyle.

Belmont was represented in each of the relays contested at the meet:

  • In the 200 Yard Medley Relay: Zarkadas, Chen, Fogel and senior Meredith Chasse finished 9th in 1:58.73.
  • 200 Yard Freestyle Relay: Chen, Fogel, senior Chloe Park and Chasse came in 11th in 1:48.09.
  • 400 Yard Freestyle Relay: Zarkadas, First Year Clara Blagwati, Park and Lugovskoy finished 12th in 4:05.71.

Belmont finished the meet in 11th with 93 points. Wellesley took the title with 430 points.

Belmont’s Butte Powers To State Div. 2 Championship in 50 Free Sprint

Photo: Belmont High’s Sophia Butte with her Middlesex League champions banner from 2017 which she finally received in September.

In her final high school meet, Belmont High’s Sophie Butte goes out a state champion as the senior co-captain out-touched the two co-favorites to capture the 50-yard freestyle sprint at the MIAA State Division 2 Swimming and Diving Championships held at Harvard on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Seeded third, Butte completed the up-and-back race at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool in 24.59 seconds to edge out Wellesley High’s junior Nellie Thompson (24.68 ) and number-one seed Reading Memorial High’s senior Alana Loughman (24.79) to win the title in the “splash and dash.” Butte took more than 2/10th of a second off her time (24.80) finishing third in the North Sectionals last week at MIT.

After winning the 50, Butte returned to the pool to finish fourth in the 100-yard freestyle in 54.40, showing the best improvement over her seeding time of 55.08 of all the finalist. 

Just as impressive as the 50 individual was, Butte topped her effort in the first event of the day, the 200-yard medley relay (with teammates Angela Li, Luisa November and Samantha Fogel) where she anchored the Marauders home swimming the final 50-yard leg in 24.19, the fastest sprint time during the meet, as she overtook two teams to take eighth in 1:57.14.

Butte ended her night leading off the 400 free relay (with Chloe Park, Anna Bauerle and Li) with a 55.13 split to set the team up to finish seventh, the Marauders best relay performance. 

Co-captain Li was also a two-time scorer in individual events. She stayed in contention for third in the 200 individual medley until the final 50, finishing in fourth in 2:14.42. She would come back to repeat in fourth in a Belmont specialty, the 100 breaststroke, nearly catching Natick’s Helen Zhao in the run in only to be out touched, 1:10.20 to 1:10.21. Alicia Lugovskoy (1:12.27) and Katarina Chen (1:12.61) gave Belmont three in the top 10 as they finish 9th and 10th.

The team of Park, Meredith Chasse, Lugovskoy and Mayura Thomas took 10th (1:47.43) in the 200 free relay. 

Belmont’s trio of sophomore divers showed promise through the rounds as Marina Cataldo (359.25), Sophie Cormier (359.05) and Sarah Firth (345.85) finished in 12th, 13th, and 14th. 

Under second-year head coach Gretchen Turner, Belmont finished in 7th with 153 points, trailing Reading which won its third consecutive D2 title with 402.5 points.

Belmont Swimmers/Divers Head to States After Claiming 4th in North Sectionals

Photo: Belmont’s 2017 senior swimmers: Alison Sawyer, Sophie Lefebvre, Olive Kozelian, Olivia Hardy, Caroline Daskalakis, Julia Cunningham, Julia Bozkurtian. (Captains: Kozelian, Daskalakis, Cunningham and Bozkurtian)

A strong performance against some of the toughest Division 1 competition last Saturday has Belmont looking for a top-five finish as the Marauders head to the Division 2 state finals early Sunday morning in Worcester, Nov. 19.

Belmont’s 165 point total at the North Sectionals at MIT, Saturday, Nov. 11 earned the Marauders fourth place, one point ahead of Middlesex League rival Melrose. Andover took the title with 409 points followed by Reading (356) and Acton-Boxborough (264). 

After so many recent season without top-line sprint talent, Belmont has three as junior Sophie Butte and senior Julia Bozkurtian both recorded season-best times in the 50 yard freestyle with Butte finishing fourth in 24.74 seconds and Bozkurtian in seventh in 25.49, while sophomore Anna Doherty brought home a 10th place medal taking nearly a second off her best for a 25.68. 

Bozkurtian returned to the sprints with an eighth in the 100 free (55.35) while Butte equaled her teammate’s placement in the 100 backstroke in 1 minute 1.84 seconds, dropping nearly four seconds from her qualifying time. Senior Julia Cunningham took two and half seconds off her previous best to grab 12th in the 100 butterfly in 1:02.49 while Doherty finished 15th in 1:02.86. Cunningham would come back with a one-point grab taking 16th in the grueling 500 free (5:44.19, taking 11 seconds off her best) following sophomore teammate Mary Kilcoyne who finished 13th in 5:42.80. 

Belmont put two swimmers in the scoring column in the 100 breaststroke with junior Angela Li (1:12.07) and sophomore Katarina Chen (1:13.41) coming in 12th and 15th. 

Over in the diving area, two of Belmont’s three freshmen competed with Marina Cataldo finishing in 10th with 328.95 points followed by Sophie Cormier (319.2 points) in 12th. Also scoring for the Marauders was Li in the tough 200 individual medley coming in 11th in 2:17.29. 

Belmont garnered a total of 72 points from three outstanding relays; a 9th in the 200 free (Doherty, Olive Kozelian, Kate Sandage and Anna Bauerle in 1:47.72), 7th in the 200 medley (Butte, Li, senior Julia Cunningham and Bozkurtian in 1:55.32, an improvement of four seconds from qualifying) and 4th in the premier relay event, the 400 as Doherty, Li, Bozkurtian and Butte powered through in 3:44.00, taking 4th. 

Swimming: Unbeaten Belmont Girls’ Ready To Host Perfect Reading Friday

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.

Sports: Volleyball Rebounds for First Win, Girls Swimming Tested by Melrose

Photo: Jane Mahon serving.

Volleyball stones Stoneham, 3-0, to even season

After meeting one of the toughest opponents it will see this season in its opener, Belmont High Volleyball rebounded to grab its first victory of the young season, downing Stoneham 3-0 (25-10, 25-23, 25-21) in a warm Wenner Field House on Friday, Sept. 9.

With a strong defense digging numerous balls from the floor, Belmont was the beneficiary of some fortunate bounces including one of the more bizarre incidents you’ll see on the court. During the third set, after clawing back from nearly a ten point deficit to take a slim 20-19 point lead, a Stoneham player put the ball into her net, causing the Belmont players to turn to celebrate the point.

But the ball was still in play and a Stoneham player hit the ball over to the Marauders’ side where it hit sophomore Jane Mahon on her head. Realizing the situation, Belmont’s Katrena Daldalian stuck the ball over to Stoneham which lost the point due to a returning error. 

Head Coach Jen Couture named Daldalian the player of the match “for helping to shift the momentum” in the critical third, as she started serving at 12-18 and brought us to 21-19.

“It was very clutch,” said Couture, who added that Mahon also had a great match hitting 17 for 18 with 9 kills.

Belmont is 1-1 and will take on Wilmington away on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Depth propels swimming to victory over a strong Melrose squad

Anyone who thought the first meet of the year for Belmont’s swimmers against Melrose High School would be a cakewalk has not been following the local swimming scene lately. The Red Raiders are a young but strong team that finished last year’s Div. 2 state championship in 7th place. And the 2016 team brought back all its top rate competitors including junior freestyle sprinter Samantha D’Alessan and a slew of good relays.

The Red Raiders are a young but strong team that finished last year’s Div. 2 state championship in 7th place. And the 2016 team brought back all its top rate competitors including junior freestyle sprinting champ Samantha D’Alessandro and a slew of good relays.

“I knew we had to be on our toes to get by this team. They have wonderful girls and great coaches,” said Belmont’s long time head coach Ev Crosscup.

With the help of a sophomore stalwart and surprising depth in several events, Belmont was able to secure a hard-won victory, 90-75, with scoring stopped with two events remaining. 

Taking over from recently graduated swimming star Jessie Blake-West – she is competing for Brown this year – is 10th grader Nicole Kalavantis, who came off three state championship swims last year. And the sophomore picked up where she left off, powering through some very impressive times this early in the season, winning the 200 and 500 yard free with ease (2:05.57  and 5:37.07) and anchored the 200 medley and the 4×400 free relays to victories.

The Marauders’ deep bench was seen in events such as the 200 individual medley as Dervla Moore-Frederick, Angela Li and Molly Thomas finished 2, 3 and 4 to secure 9 of 16 points while Sophie Butte, Stephanie Zhang and Lulu November performed the same feat in the 100 free with Butte chomping at D’Alessandro’s heels coming home in 58.68. 

Butte came back to finish second in the 100 backstroke as Molly Thomas secured first in 1:05.66 with Moore-Frederick winning the 100 breaststroke. 

“It was a nice victory because it shows that I have some talent to work with this season,” said Crosscup.

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Sports: Belmont Swimming’s Final Goal, Winning a State Championship

Photo: Belmont High Swimming and Divings captains, (from left) Sara Noorouzi, Sarah Steward, Jessica Blake-West, Emily Quinn, readies for the state championship on Sunday at Harvard.

At the beginning of each swim season, the Belmont High Swimming and Diving’s senior captains come together to set a team goal.

Train harder, chase pool records, take home the Middlesex League title, those are the common aspirations made every year.

On Aug. 25, the four senior co-captains – Jessie Blake-West, Emily Quinn, Sarah Stewart and Sara Noorouzi – set the team’s target to a level not sought by past leaders.

Let’s win the state championship.

“We have never said, as long as I’ve been on the team, said our goal is to win states,” said Stewart on Thursday, Nov. 20, after the team was feted at the Belmont High School Athletic Awards Night. 

“So for us to even vocalize that to the team and to think of that goal ourselves is huge,” said Stewart.

On Sunday morning, Nov. 22, at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool, the final step in that goal will be taken when the Marauders take to the water in the MIAA Division 2 State Championship.

“It’s what we’ve been seeking since August, and we have given ourselves that chance,” said Stewart. 

Three teams will battle for the Championship: Belmont, fellow Middlesex League team Reading Memorial and two-time defending state champions Bishop Feehan. In the Shamrock’s past two victories, Belmont placed second each time.

But long-time Head Coach Ev Crosscup and the team’s expectation were peaked this past weekend at the MIAA North Sectionals where Belmont finished fourth behind Andover, Acton-Boxborough and Reading.

But it wasn’t the team’s placement that sparked all the hubbub, but the times recorded, which broke or matched season bests.

“We were asking, ‘where are these times coming from?” said Crosscup, pointing to the 200 Medley Relay. Those kids dropped four seconds,” said Crosscup.

Leading the way were freshman Nicole Kalavantis in the 200 (rated the best time coming into the meet according to the “Psych Sheet”) and 500 yard freestyle (in which she is considered the odds-on favorite to win the event), Quinn in her speciality the 100 breast where she cut four seconds from her season’s best to rank first, and senior diver Cynthia Kelsey who has registered a rare “10.0” on a dive this season.

But when you talk about the leader of the Marauders in the pool, it is Blake-West. Her 54.67-second 100-yard butterfly win at the North Sectionals earned her National Scholastic All-American honors.

“First time I’ve ever had an All-American in over 20 years,” said Crosscup. “I’ve had some real good swimmers, but no one has ever qualified for All-American automatically. Jessie’s very special,” he said.

Going into the pool for the last time for her school on Sunday, Blake-West said Thursday she’ll come to the pool “centered on my races and not get caught up in the meet.” 

Blake-West, who has committed to swim at Brown next year, said she’ll be chasing the state butterfly record – 53.56 set by Andover’s Rachel Moore in 2011 – and will be seeking a new title, in the 50-yard freestyle rather than defend her 200-yard individual medley.

“That was a tactical move so that I’m fresh for the relays,” said Blake-West.

“I think I have some good times still in me,” she said.

Crosscup believes the girls have not peaked despite the big time gains at sectionals. 

“We haven’t got the team fully tapered, so that’s why I think we have something left in the tank,” he said.

“But we’ll have to show up and swim become Bishop Feehan, and Reading are all within 10-15 points of each other,” he said.

But the captains’ goal of holding the state championship plaque poolside on Sunday afternoon is attainable, said Steward.

“Every day we work hard. We are in the pool and Ev pushes us and doesn’t hold back, and that’s really important,” she said.

“With all the freshmen, we’ve added to the team, and how they are swimming, we are looking really good and I am excited for Sunday,” Steward said.

For Crosscup, who has been forced to take a step back from coaching due to a serious lung illness, his team “will be in the hunt. It will be a lot of fun.”

“Even if we don’t make it, I couldn’t be prouder of this group of girls and how hard they have worked. Probably one of the strongest group of swimmers I’ve had in my career,” said Crosscup.

“I told the girls I’m going to do nothing but smile on Sunday regardless of what we do.”

Like a Butterfly: Blake-West Sets Sectional Record, Swim Team Prepares for States

Photo: Jessie Blake-West.

Senior star Jessie Blake-West threw down a couple of gauntlets as the Belmont High Swimming and Diving team prepares their game plan as the team put some serious times on the board finishing fourth in the MIAA North Sectional Meet held at MIT Saturday, Nov. 14.

If this weekend’s times are any indication of what the Marauders – which finished fourth with 236 points as powerhouse Andover won the meet with 474 points – are looking to do this weekend at the Div. 2 State Finals at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool, the Marauders – who placed second behind Bishop Feehan in consecutive years – will have something to say who wins. 

And Saturday’s meet showed that Blake-West must be considered one of, if not the best, all-around swimmer in Massachusetts.

In her favorite race, the 100 yard butterfly, Blake-West destroyed the field taking out the race in 25.5 seconds for the first 50 yards and coming home in 54.67 seconds, smashing the meet record by a second-and-a-half and defeating her nearest challenger, Taryn Waite of Lexington, by nearly four seconds in races that are usually measured in tenths of seconds.

A few events earlier, Blake-West took home the 50-yard freestyle sprint title in 23.95 seconds, just missing the meet and state record. 

If all that wasn’t impressive enough, she joined freshman Sophia Butte, sophomore Julia Bozkurtian and fellow captain and senior Emily Quinn to defend the team’s title in the 200-yard medley relay. Blake-West’s mind-blowing 24.9-second butterfly leg (the next nearest time for the same segment was nearly three seconds slower) led the team to the win in 1 minute, 51.8 seconds, beating out Reading by three-quarters if a second. 

Blake-West finished the night with a 51.6-second final leg in the 400-yard relay to bring Belmont up to third in that race.

Following Blake-West in high finishes was freshman distance specialist Nicole Kalavantis, who took first in the 200, breaking two minutes with a 1:59.6, thanks to a 30.7 second last 50 yards. Kalavantis took second behind another frosh, Andover’s Victoria Amborse, in the 500 yards free, taking more than 12 seconds off her qualifying time, swimming the distance in 5:16.45. 

Quinn (who also scored in the butterfly) upped her game for the meet, placing third two more Andover freshman, with a 1.09.87 in the 100-yard breast stroke final. She was joined by Dervla Moore-Federick in 8th in 1:11.4. Moore-Federick also finished 16th in the 200-yard individual medley relay.

Senior diver Cynthia Kelsey placed a solid third behind fellow seniors Michaela Sliney of Haverhill and Lexington’s Emily Zitkozsky in the one-meter springboard with 460.35 points. 

Also swimming well were Elizabeth Levy and Sara Noorouzi in the 200 and 500 free, senior Solvay Metelmann in the 50 free, freshman Angela Li in the 200 IM, Butte and Bozkurtian scoring in the 50 and 100 free, Allie Beecroft in the 500 free, Molly Thomas scoring in the 100-yard backstroke which also saw sophomore Stephanie Zhang and Grace Newberry in the competition and a couple of sophomores, Caroline Daskalakis and Katerena Nalbandian in the breaststroke.

Sports: Belmont Swimming Back on Top Winning League Meet Championship

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. 

Sports: Postseason Begins Thursday for Four Belmont High Teams


A quartet of Belmont High School teams will begin their postseasons within a few hours of each other on Thursday, Nov. 5 

Belmont Field Hockey will host Central Catholic of Lawrence in a first-round Div. 1 North Sectional match at 4 p.m. at Harris Field. Here is your chance to see the 4th-ranked Marauders (14-2) in action against the 13th-seeded Raiders (10-6-2).

Belmont Girls’ Soccer travels to the edge of Logan Airport to take on the 6th-ranked Jets of East Boston High School (11-3-2) in a first rounder in the Div. 2 North Sectionals at 3:30 p.m. The Marauders are ranked 10th with a record of 11-6-0. 

Girls’ Swimming and Diving are in Waltham at Bentley College to participate in the Middlesex League meet. The event at the school’s Dana Center gets started at 2:30 p.m.

Finally, Cheerleading will be off to Woburn for the Middlesex League meet that begins at 7 p.m.

Sports: Belmont Swimming Can’t Defuse Rockets at Home, Sets Sights on League Meet

Photo: Jessica Blake-West swimming the 100 butterfly against Reading.

“No tears,” said long-time Belmont High Head Coach Ev Crosscup as he talked to his girls’ swimming and diving team after falling to the visiting Reading Memorial High School in the final dual meet of the season, and clinching the regular season Middlesex League championships to the Rockets on Wednesday, Oct. 28. 

And like a good coach will also do, Crosscup took the blame for the 96-84 defeat at the Higgenbottom Pool. 

“I told [the girls] they should hold their heads up high. It was just some little things that, in hindsight, we could have done better, and I accepted the blame for that,” said Crosscup.

“They did nothing wrong. I should have had them just a little bit better prepared. But we can’t take anything away from Reading. They were the better team today,” he said.

In fact, the meet came down to the final relay, the 4×400-yard freestyle, in which Belmont needed to win and a second for a win, and a win and a third place finish for a tie. By the final leg, as Belmont’s senior captain Jessie Blake-West took off from the blocks, she was nearly 10 yards behind Reading’s sprint specialist senior captain Christina Tzianabos, who finished eighth in the 100-yard freestyle in last year’s state championships. But in one of the most impressive swims of the season, Blake-West cut seconds off the advantage, chasing down and nearly catching Tzinanbos, being inched out by less that a half a second as the standing-room-only crowd urged her on.

“She’s exceptional. [Blake-West] is a once-in-a-lifetime swimmer to coach,” said Crosscup.

While Reading, coached by Hall of Famer Lois Margeson – in her 28th season – threw down personal best times, the Marauders appeared less than sharp in the water.

The sense that something was amiss came in the first event, the 200-yard medley relay in which Belmont is the defending Div. 2 state champions. While Blake-West (in her favorite butterfly) and breaststroker Emily Quinn established a lead, it wasn’t enough of a buffer as Tzinanbos swam down Belmont’s Solvay Metelmann to out touch the senior by six-hundredth of a second (1:55.50 to 1:55.56).

And while Belmont won the same number of events as Reading (five to five with a tie), the Rockets came up big in what has been a Belmont bug-a-boo for the past two years, the sprint freestyles, (the 50 and 100 yards) taking home a total of 22 points to only 10 for the Marauders.

One bright spot in the frees was Belmont’s freshman Nicole Kalavantis, who dominated the distances, winning the 500 yard going under five-and-a-half minutes (5:28.91) and the 200 (2:04.59) where she pulled away from Reading’s freshman phenom and winner of the 100 yards free, Marie Letendre.

“Our freestylers did a wonderful job. [Reading] just has some real strong ones,” said Crosscup.

Blake-West dominated the two individual events in which she won at last year’s state championship, the 200 individual medley (2:14.62) and the 100 butterfly, in which she swam in 57.10. 

Belmont’s diving stalwart Cynthia Kelsey took home a comfortable 266.70 to 199.73 point decision over freshman Maddie Doyle in the 1 meter. 

In some surprising results, Belmont lost each of the relays (200, 400 and medley) and Quinn, who finished third in last year’s state championships, was caught and passed in the 100 breast by yet another Rocket freshman, Anna Roberts, 1:11.00 to 1:11.57. 

When Blake-West could not make a remarkable comeback in the final event and the handshakes given, the team sat before Crosscup, who was sitting on a starting block. Rather than speak about the meet, he congratulated swimmers who set times that qualified them for the coming sectional and state championships.

And Crosscup was already thinking about the league meet being held Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 4 and 5, at Bentley College. 

“We should be solid at the league meet. I think we could win that,” he said. “I’ve always felt that the League meet is the true test of who is the best.”

Before leaving the pool, the senior co-captains led the team in the team cheer, as they looked forward to the league meet and the state championships.