MILFORD, Mass. – After back-to-back seasons of finishing in second place to its league rivals, the Franklin girls’ swimming program brought home its first Hockomock Championship title with a dominating performance on Saturday at the Milford High pool.
The Panthers finished with an overall team total of 383, more than 100 points better than defending champion King Philip’s total of 264. The top five was rounded out by Taunton (230), Sharon (186) and North Attleboro (186).
The championship meet was the culmination of a season of first for the Panthers, who also finished undefeated in the dual meet season and won the Kelley-Rex title for the first time in the seven-year history of the program.
“This is a big deal,” said Franklin swim coach Jess Pridham. “For the last two years we’ve been runners up and I can’t take credit for their talent. I’m just the chessmaster. I put together the best meet possible and their talent has brought us this far.”
It was not that long ago that the Panthers finished a season winless, but a strong crop of swimmers entered the relatively new program and helped raise it to the championship level. Those swimmers are now seniors and capped their final year with Franklin swim with the title.
“There were seven that started together and seven that are finishing together,” explained Pridham, “and to be the Hockomock champions, finally that culmination of their senior year and being able to hang onto it…We talk about our favorite swim memories and I think this will quickly become a fave for them.”
Senior Leah Zogby, who recently signed her National Letter of Intent to swim at Holy Cross, added, “The whole senior group took charge in leading us to the title… I think we’ve really taught the rest of the underclassmen what it means to race and be a team and I can graduate knowing that we’ve left a good feeling behind.”
The Panthers jumped out to a quick start and took control of the meet. After four events, Franklin was ahead by nearly 40 points on second place Taunton. That jumped to a 195-109 lead after the fifth event and the meet turned into a race for second place.
Ashley Loomis was a standout for the Panthers on Saturday. She claimed the 200-yard freestyle title in a time of 1:58.58, which was 13 seconds better than Jennie King of Taunton in second. Loomis added a similarly dominant performance in the 500-yard freestyle, winning with a time of 5:15.49, which was nearly 20 seconds better than Sam Nason of King Philip.
Loomis also was part of the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that each took first for Franklin.
“We were confident, but we didn’t let that stop us from racing hard and I think that showed in how much we succeeded,” said Zogby about the team embracing the favorite tag that came from winning the dual meet season.
Zogby, who won the 200-yard IM and took third in the 100-yard butterfly, added, “We have a big team, great coaching throughout the year, and you just see kids get better in the pool everyday and that’s rewarding too.”
Depth was a key to the Panthers success in winning the meet title. Franklin had one of the larger teams in the meet and, as Pridham explained, it was not just Zogby or Loomis bringing in first place points, but the ability to score points up and down the roster that helped the Panthers win so decisively.
She said, “We have depth and, yes, we have girls that finish first in the Hockomock and we have girls that finish second and third, but we have a lot of what I like to call clean-up swimmers who come in sixth and seventh and 10th and accumulate points for us.”
When asked what it meant to be the top team in the league, Pridham replied, “In a dual meet we’ve got one other team to compete against but bringing the whole Hock together and being able to compete at everybody’s level…it’s awesome.”
In addition to Franklin swimmers, several others had notable performances in the pool on Saturday. Emma Bridges of Foxboro won both the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke. Tiffany Ha of Canton won the 100-yard freestyle, narrowly beating out Callie Sullivan of King Philip, and finished second in the 100-yard backstroke.
Tara Zhou of Sharon won the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard backstroke, was part of the Eagles’ winning 200-yard medley relay team that took first and the 400-yard freestyle team that claimed second place.
Franklin – 383
King Philip – 264
Taunton – 230
Sharon – 186
North Attleboro – 183
Oliver Ames – 149
Foxboro – 136
Mansfield – 132
Canton – 126
Milford – 121
Attleboro – 105
Stoughton – 85
200-Yard Medley Relay
1. Sharon (Emily Zhou, Audrey Deszendeffy, Ilka Zaniewski, Tara Zhou) – 1:59.67
2. King Philip (Callie Sullivan, Fahra Whichard, Holland Niervergelt, Sam DeWitt) – 2:01.89
3. Franklin (Leah Benoit, Colleene Proulx, Leah Zogby, Helen Huang) – 2:05. 42
4. Taunton (Katherine Werra, Jennie King, Loena Li, Aimee Kistner) – 2:05. 53
5. Mansfield (Claudia Beasley, Danielle Shackley, Emily Weiner, Jen Prior) – 2:08.18
200-Yard Freestyle Freestyle
1. Ashley Loomis (Franklin) – 1:58.58
2. Jennie King (Taunton) – 2:11.23
3. Sam DeWitt (King Philip) – 2:12.97
4. Molly Brown (Franklin) – 2:14.07
5. Kaitlin Gallagher (Taunton) – 2:14.33
200-Yard Individual Medley
1. Leah Zogby (Franklin) – 2:20.66
2. Fahra Whichard (King Philip) – 2:25.23
3. Colleene Proulx (Franklin) – 2:27.82
4. Megan Lazarek (Franklin) – 2:28.63
5. Emily Zhou (Sharon) – 2:29.72
1. Tara Zhou (Sharon) – 25.92
2. Jen Prior (Mansfield) – 26.44
3. Jennifer Ayotte (Franklin) – 26.94
4. Helen Huang (Franklin) – 27.31
5. Jackie Dirschel (North Attleboro) – 27.56
1. Emma Bridges (Foxboro) – 1:03.82
2. Sam Nason (King Philip) – 1:04.17
3. Leah Zogby (Franklin) – 1:04.68
4. Katie Eckler (Stoughton) – 1:06.84
5. Holland Nievergelt (King Philip) – 1:06.96
1. Tiffany Ha (Canton) – 57.42
2. Callie Sullivan (King Philip) – 57.90
3. Elizabeth Saltz (Attleboro) – 58.21
4. Jen Prior (Mansfield) – 58.91
5. Jackie Dirschel (North Attleboro) – 59.39
1. Ashley Loomis (Franklin) – 5:15.49
2. Sam Nason (King Philip) – 5:34.83
3. Makayla Paquin (Oliver Ames) – 5:41.04
4. Mia Esterman (Oliver Ames) – 5:45.61
5. Jennie King (Taunton) – 5:46.49
200-Yard Freestyle Relay
1. Franklin (Colleene Proulx, Jennifer Ayotte, Helen Huang, Ashley Loomis) – 1:48.59
2. King Philip (Fahra Whichard, Jamie Buckley, Sam Nason, Callie Sullivan) – 1:51.34
3. Taunton (Erin Schrama, Kaitlin Gallagher, Katherine Werra, Aimee Kistner) – 1:52.25
4. Canton (Dasol Lee, Maddie Nourse, Kaitlin McCarthy, Tiffany Ha) – 1:52.51
5. Oliver Ames (Mia Esterman, Delaney Benton, Emily Freeman, Aprille Gangi) – 1:52.64
1. Tara Zhou (Sharon) – 1:00.62
2. Tiffany Ha (Canton) – 1:02.51
3. Callie Sullivan (King Philip) – 1:03.73
4. Alexa Lancisi (Milford) – 1:05.62
5. Holland Nievergelt (King Philip) – 1:05.99
1. Emma Bridges (Foxboro) – 1:10.74
2. Fahra Whichard (King Philip) – 1:13.06
3. Megan Lazarek (Franklin) – 1:16.76
4. Colleene Proulx (Franklin) – 1:16.83
5. Loena Li (Taunton) – 1:17.89
400-Yard Freestyle Relay
1. Franklin (Molly Brown, Jennifer Ayotte, Leah Zogby, Ashley Loomis) – 3:54.59
2. Sharon (Tara Zhou, Emily Zhou, Audrey Deszendeffy, Ilka Zaniewski) – 3:58.45
3. King Philip (Holland Nievergelt, Jamie Buckley, Sam DeWitt, Sam Nason) – 4:03.70
4. Taunton (Erin Schrama, Kaitlin Gallagher, Loena Li, Jennie King) – 4:04.53
5. Oliver Ames (Mia Esterman, Delaney Benton, Makayla Paquin, Aprille Gangi) – 4:05.29
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.