MILFORD, Mass. – After one year without a title, perennial league power King Philip is back on top at the Hockomock Boys Swimming Championship. The Warriors, who finished third in 2015, finished with an overall total of 361 and won by nearly 100 points over second place on Sunday at the Milford High natatorium.
“I think overall the kids swam well,” said KP coach Kathy White. “There’s some really fast swimming in the Hockomock League this year, which I think great for the league…so I think for us to have as much depth, I think everyone stepped up.”
Remarkably, the Warriors got first place finishes in two of the first four events, but no other firsts for the remainder of the meet. The 200-yard medley relay team of Tim McQuaid, Tyler Stringfellow, Alex DiGiacomo, and Jack Poppenberger took first (and the double points) and DiGiacomo added a first place in the 50-yard freestyle.
Although there were no other event winners, KP continued to accumulate points by placing a number of swimmers in the top positions. Stringfellow and Poppenberger finished in second and third in the 200- and 500-yard free, Andy Sprague added a fifth to DiGiacomo’s first in the 50-yard free, DiGiacomo and Dean Whyte took third and fifth in the 100-yard fly, and Tim McQuaid and Colby Vieira took second and fourth in the 100-yard backstroke.
“We have a lot of kids who do a lot of things and are willing to do what you ask them to and step into roles where they might not be comfortable,” said White.
When asked if the consistent success of the Warriors through the years (KP has won all but two titles since the program began) adds any pressure to the team, White replied, “I think they take it on themselves and they want to carry on what’s started and carry on that tradition.”
In second place overall was Attleboro with 269 points, which was by far the Bombardiers’ best finish at the Hockomock Championship. According to head coach Rory Germain, when the Bombardiers joined the league they stood little chance of challenging for the title and had yet to finish higher than eighth, but now can compete with the Hock’s best.
“It feels like a win,” said Germain. “I’m beyond proud of these guys.”
“Three of my seniors, who are senior captains this year, were on the team three years ago when we didn’t have a shot…we finished in 12th place, we were bottom of the barrel, and to just see how far they’ve come as swimmers and really as people is just incredible.”
Attleboro had five first-place finishers on Sunday. Dylon Willis took first in the 100-yard free and 100-yard breaststroke and freshman River Wright made a splash in his first league meet, taking first in two events, including the 100-yard fly in which he edged out Milford’s Nick Antonellis, who he knows well from club swim, by less than a second.
“I’ve sort of bummed that he wasn’t going to seniors, which is a club thing,” said Wright about getting to square off against Antonellis. “I didn’t get to face him when we swam against Milford, but it was awesome to have someone to race today.”
Wright also won the 200-yard IM by five seconds and was part of the 400-yard free relay team, along with Nate Tellier, Colin Parkinson, and Willis, which fell behind by a couple of body lengths to the team from Sharon but managed to get nearly even after the third leg and then won by four seconds after River’s closing push.
“I was losing it,” said Germain with a laugh. “Dylan got us within one body length and then once River got in first…I have utmost confidence in my boys and especially River – he’s a notch above.”
About Wright’s impact on the team this season, Germain added, “It makes all the relays better, gets us more points in individual events, and he’s one of those kids who’s very modest and humble and not above helping the kids who just started and cheering them on.”
Wright did not try to contain his excitement at being able to share the excitement with teammates, in what is at the highest levels a very individual sport.
He said, “It’s absolutely nothing like I’ve ever experienced before…To have a team like this and race with your team as a whole, is something…absolutely breathtaking.”
Davenport dual meet champion Sharon took third overall and Canton finished in fourth led by Sebastian Melendez, who took first in the 200- and 500-yard free and joined with Diego Ferstler, Sean Mitchell, and Owen Guerini to take first in the 200-yard free relay.
In the end, the Warriors had enough depth to finish well in front and got back on top of the podium (or diving board, as the case may be) after a brief, one-year hiatus.
“We’ve got a really great crop of freshmen this year,” she explained, “and we want to apply that dedication to every kid who comes in here to carry that tradition on.”
King Philip – 361
Attleboro – 269
Sharon – 260
Canton – 206
Taunton – 181
Milford – 170
Franklin – 160
North Attleboro – 155
Mansfield – 132
Oliver Ames – 125
Foxboro – 35
200-Yard Medley Relay
1. King Philip (Tim McQuaid, Tyler Stringfellow, Alex DiGiacomo, Jack Poppenberger) – 1:47.24
2. Sharon (Tadhg Daly, Benjamin Mo, Greg Klimov, Jason Hertz) – 1:48.18
3. North Attleboro (Nick Haddad, Victor Cai, Randy Wentworth, Brian Hines) – 1:50.05
4. Attleboro (Samual Seybert, Dylon Willis, William Healy, Nathan Tellier) – 1:50.21
5. Mansfield (Zack Costello, Jared Gabrilowitz, Sebastian Gwynne, Matt Weiner) – 1:54.62
1. Sebastian Melendez (Canton) – 1:48.20
2. Tyler Stringfellow (King Philip) – 1:51.77
3. Jack Poppenberger (King Philip) – 1:53.44
4. Benjamin Mo (Sharon) – 1:56.39
5. Andrew Abramson (Oliver Ames) – 1:57.92
200-Yard Individual Medley
1. River Wright (Attleboro) – 2:00.46
2. Victor Cai (North Attleboro) – 2:05.04
3. Nick Haddad (North Attleboro) – 2:05.99
4. Greg Klimov (Sharon) – 2:07.10
5. Kyle Gray (Oliver Ames) – 2:07.14
1. Alex DiGiacomo (King Philip) – 22.92
2. Connor Bourgeois (Franklin) – 23.18
3. Sean Mitchell (Canton) – 23.61
4. Marchello Panno (Milford) – 23.93
5. Andy Sprague (King Philip) – 24.21
1. River Wright (Attleboro) – 53.23
2. Nick Antonellis (Milford) – 54.08
3. Alex DiGiacomo (King Philip) – 54.44
4. Greg Klimov (Sharon) – 58.32
5. Dean Whyte (King Philip) – 1:01.71
1. Dylon Willis (Attleboro) – 50.98
2. Caelan Schrama (Taunton) – 51.97
3. Kyle Gray (Oliver Ames) – 52.17
4. Andy Sprague (King Philip) – 52.46
5. Marchello Panno (Milford) – 53.30
1. Sebastian Melendez (Canton) – 4:52.45
2. Tyler Stringfellow (King Philip) – 4:54.28
3. Jack Poppenberger (King Philip) – 5:04.63
4. Andrew Abramson (Oliver Ames) – 5:13.18
5. Tate Duffy (King Philip) – 5:15.64
200-Yard Freestyle Relay
1. Canton (Diego Ferstler, Sean Mitchell, Owen Guerini, Sebastian Melendez) – 1:34.17
2. Attleboro (Samual Seybert, Nathan Tellier, Colin Parkinson, River Wright) – 1:36.34
3. King Philip (Andy Sprague, Colby Vieira, Tim McQuaid, Alex DiGiacomo) – 1:36.87
4. Milford (Marchello Panno, Chris Watson, Michael Koury, Nick Antonellis) – 1:39.28
5. Sharon (Tadhg Daly, Alexander Lurie, Nishanath Mankame, Jason Hertz) – 1:39.44
1. Nick Haddad (North Attleboro) – 56.93
2. Tim McQuaid (King Philip) – 59.35
3. Colin Parkinson (Attleboro) – 1:00.51
4. Colby Vieira (King Philip) – 1:01.49
5. Samual Seyhart (Attleboro) – 1:03.41
1. Dylon Willis (Attleboro) – 1:00.72
2. Nick Antonellis (Milford) – 1:04.21
3. Victor Cai (North Attleboro) – 1:04.46
4. Benjamin Mo (Sharon) – 1:05.04
5. Tate Duffy (King Philip) 1:08.38
400-Yard Freestyle Relay
1. Attleboro (Nathan Tellier, Colin Parkinson, Dylon Willis, River Wright) – 3:28.28
2. Sharon (Greg Klimov, Jason Hertz, Nishanath Mankame, Benjamin Mo) – 3:32.33
3. Canton (Owen Guerini, Sean Mitchell, Diego Ferstler, Sebastian Melendez) – 3:32.93
4. King Philip (Andy Sprague, Colby Vieira, Tyler Stringfellow, Jack Poppenberger) – 3:35.70
5. Milford (Marchello Panno, Chris Watson, Michael Koury, Nick Antonellis) – 3:40.58
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.