CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, February 21. MASSACHUSETTS' Winter Division 1 and 2 Championships took place the weekend of Feb. 17-19 at Harvard University. The girls championships were held Feb. 19; the boys Division 1 meet was Feb. 17, while the boys Division 2 meet followed a day later.
Controversy surrounded the girls competition even before the meet began. Longtime Gardner head coach Don Lemieux was told the Thursday before the meet that he would not be able to accompany his team to the state championships due to an unspecified infraction of either state or school rules. Allegedly, practice violations were involved but not confirmed.
The school waited just hours before the meet to inform Lemieux. The Gardner program, which had won an amazing 16 state titles, was stunned–to say the least. Lemieux resigned immediately and the vast majority of the team refused to attend the state meet (only three swimmers did so). That ensured that Gardner would not retain its state crown.
Westford Academy took over as the girls team champion with 305 points. Lincoln-Sudbury Regional defeated King Philip Regional, 202-201, for the second spot. Minnechaug Regional took fourth with 183.5 points, with Concord-Carlisle Regional coming in fifth with 152.5 points.
Jen Marrkand of Westford Academy led the team's victory with a district record in the 200 IM (2:02.78) and 100 free (51.52). She led off Westford's triumphant 200 medley relay (1:47.97) with Kelly Huber, Courteney Martin and Tori Weinstock. Jayne Pilachowski joined Weinstock, Martin and Marrkand for a first-place 3:36.45, 2-hundredths ahead of King Philip Regional's squad of Carly Schnabel, Emily McQuaid, Sydney Masson and Stephanie Nasson (3:36.47).
Stephanie Nasson also put together two victories, taking first in the 200 free (1:52.77) and 500 free (4:57.87). Megan Griffin from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional grabbed firs tin the 50 free (24.62).
St. John's Prep dominated the boys competition, amassing 388 points for the team title. Minnechaug Regional was second with 185.5 points, followed closely by Lowell (180) and Lincoln-Sudbury Regional (178). Andover came in fifth with 167 points.
St. John's 200 medley relay of Aaron Athanas, Ryan Fortin, Alex Swaim and John Bateman claimed victory with their district record 1:34.46. Bateman, Brendan Sweeney, Swaim and Peter Fallon captured the 200 free relay in 1:27.87. Athanas, Bateman, Fallon and Fortin made it a sweep with their 3:12.05 in the 400 free relay.
St. John's Fallon was a double event champion courtesy of his 1:44.07 in the 200 free and 4:41.94 in the 500 free. Fortin was tops in the 200 IM (1:53.27) and Athanas' 100 back was a first-place time as well.
Wiktor Karpinski of Minnechaug powered his way to victory in both the 50 (21.38) and 100 (46.42) free.
The only state record set during the Massachusetts championships fell to King Philip's Aaron Gustafson, who posted a 49.24 in the 100 back. Nauset Regional's Marie Chamberlain set a division record in the girls 100 back (55.62).
Several swimmers were victorious in two events apiece: Megan Alexander of Marblehead in the 200 IM (2:04.96) and 500 free (4:59.00), Concord-Carlisle's Drew Andre in the 50 (21.40) and 100 free (46.33), Kevin Bradley from Milford in the 100 fly (51.62) and 200 IM (1:54.58), Weston's Bianca Tocci in the 50 (24.35) and 100 free (52.58), Meriza Werenski from Holyoke Catholic in the 100 breast (1:04.08) and 200 free (1:50.81).
Wayland claimed the girls team championship with 349 points with Weston taking second (299). Marblehead followed in third (269), with East Longmeadow fourth (193) and Holyoke Catholic fifth (130.5). Weston edged out Concord-Carlisle for the boys title, 235.5-222. King Philip Regional took third (210), followed by Hopkinton (163) and Mystic Valley Regional (144).