The Hoosac Valley girls' swim relay team was expecting to use the Western Massachusetts meet as a final chance to prepare for the state meet.
A wrinkle got tossed into those plans when Elizabeth Bernardy was sick and couldn't swim on Monday. The rest of the team, Michaella Vecchiarelli, Emma Whitney and Julia Whitney still wanted to swim the event, however. So at 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon they made a call to the team's alternate, Shyla Sexton.
Sexton hadn't been in a pool in over a week. She stopped practicing after the Berkshire County individuals, thinking her season was over.
The team exceeded all expectations by taking 10th in the 200 medley relay and then getting a medal for finishing in eighth place in the 200 freestyle relay. The success the team had with Sexton's help has now raised the bar for the team once Bernardy returns this weekend.
"We pulled Shyla out of school on our way to the meet and the time didn't drop much," Julia Whitney said. "That's really good because we haven't swam with her this year and a relay is about working together. Plus she hadn't swam in a while."
The Hurricanes entered the unofficial Western Mass. meet with a seed time of 2 minutes, 3.41 seconds in the 200 medley relay. They took 10th with a time of 2:07.65. In the 200 free relay, they entered with a seed time of 1:52.54. They medaled in the event by taking eighth place with a time of 1:52.57.
"It was really exciting to be here," Sexton said after the Western Mass. meet. "I was glad I was able to help the team. I just had to really push myself."
Now with Bernardy returning, the expectation is that the team will at least top both of its seed times.
"I am hoping we can place higher in our relays," Vecchiarelli said. "We'll have our original team back so that will help. We posted really good times [at Western Mass.] and still made the top 10."
All four members of the relay team will also be swimming in individual events.
Bernardy and both Whitney's qualified for states earlier in the season. Vecchiarelli was entered into the meet when the MIAA made the decision to allow all sectional qualifiers into states after canceling the official sectional meets because of the weekend's snow storm. She will now swim as an individual in the 50 freestyle. Bernardy also gained an event with the decision and will now swim in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke.
All four Hoosac swimmers will enter the meet looking to exceed their individual goals.
"Michaella has been really pushing hard for her state time this season," Hoosac coach Eryn Brewer said. "She got Western Mass. and just missed the state cutoff. I think she will be pushing really hard for that time just for herself. They'll all have specific goals to meet this weekend."
With the MIAA canceling the sectionals and moving all sectional qualifiers automatically into the state meet, space will be limited at Springfield College for the girls meet on Saturday.
Because space will be tight, the MIAA has restricted access to the tournament. There will be no tickets available for the event. A specific number of complimentary tickets have been provided to the schools and athletic directors. One ticket per athlete entered in the tournament has been issued to the schools.