GREAT BARRINGTON -- The Hoosac Valley swim team set its sights on closing the season out on a positive note at Saturday’s Berkshire County individual swim meet.
Elizabeth Bernardy and Julia Whitney were the only two members of the team to earn individual victories, but nearly every Hurricane beat the goal they had set for themselves.
"Everybody knew what they needed to do and did it," Bernardy said. "I think a lot of us went out there and gave it our all for our last meet. A lot of us got best times, which is great."
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Kendra Piantoni. She entered the 200 freestyle with a seed time of 3 minutes, 7.72 seconds. That had her ranked as the No. 19 swimmer in the event -- out of 20. She won her heat and finished fifth overall with a time of 2:33.91. Whitney won that race with a time of 2:10.92.
Maria Mazzu also continued her rapid improvement. She cut an additional seven seconds off her best 500 time and finished the event eighth overall with a time of 6:51.31. She finished sixth in the 200 IM, cutting more than three seconds from her time.
"I’ve been working hard the last couple of weeks in practice," Mazzu said. "I just went in and did my best. It came out better. I didn’t think I was going to do as well as I did."
Emma Whitney earned a fourth-place finish in the 50 freestyle, while Bernardy took fifth in the event. Emma Whitney also took a top finish in 100 butterfly, finishing third in 1:06.57. Michaella Vecchiarelli finished seventh in the 100 freestyle. Piantoni’s other top finish came in the 100 backstroke, as she took sixth place. In the breaststroke Julia Whitney finished less than a second behind Bernardy for second place.
Hoosac Valley’s 200 medley relay team of Bernardy, Vecchiarelli, Julia Whitney and Emma Whitney took first place with a time of 2:05.01. The same combination finished second in the 200 freestyle relay. All four swimmers have qualified for Western Massachusetts in both the relays and individual events.
"I think everyone has come a long way this year," Bernardy said. "We had swimmers who couldn’t complete a 50 very well and now they are big parts of our team and helping us get points."
The boys’ team also showed how much it has improved this season. The Hurricanes entered the season with several first-year swimmers and just six members on the roster. Saturday’s roster was even smaller as Mike DiSanti was unavailable to swim for the Hurricanes.
Trevor Ciempa completed his first career swim season on Saturday. The sophomore won his heat of the 100 freestyle by cutting more than five seconds off his previous best time. He finished 13th overall with a time of 1:06.58.
"I guess shaving time off has been good," Ciempa said. "I wasn’t thinking about it [Saturday], no stress, no pressure. I just went out and did something that I didn’t think I was going to do."
Ciempa also finished the 50 freestyle with a personal best time. He did it 29.27 seconds.
Keith Pero had his team’s best finish in the meet. He took fourth place overall in the 200 freestyle, completing the race in 2:18.73. David Rowe took 13th place in the event.
Micah Tassone finished fifth in the 200 IM.
Every member of the boys’ squad cut some time off their events. The individual meet was the final meet for them, as well, as no Hoosac boy qualified for Western Mass. or states.
"I think everyone really improved on their times," Pero said. "Everyone has really improved since the beginning of the season, it’s really pretty remarkable. The times are all way down and everyone has really come together as a team."
With all nine teams that swim in Berkshire County present, each event was broken into heats. The heats were seeded based on the swimmer’s best times through the season.
Not only does the format help speed things along, but it also helps prepare the swimmers who have qualified for Western Mass. for the event.
"It gives us a good idea of how swimming with a bunch of people in your own time lets you stack up," Vecchiarelli said. "It’s different than a normal meet, where you have a big spread of people. It’s an entirely different feel."
Swimming similar times with competitors also allows swimmers to be competitive.
"It’s really good to have people that are close you," Mazzu said. "I was able to see them out of the corner of my eye and it just pushed me that much harder than when someone is 30 seconds ahead of you. It’s just different competition when someone is right next to you."
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