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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
In 2016-2017, the Westwood High School varsity swim and dive team bounced back from a tough 1-7 campaign from a year ago, going 5-3 on the season (4-2 within the TVL, 1-1 in non-conference play).
On Sunday, February 5, the Wolverine swimmers earned a third place finish at the TVL Conference Championship and this past weekend, the girls performed very well at Sectionals. Unfortunately, the boys Sectionals meet was cancelled due to weather, and will not be rescheduled due to venue arrangements.
Coaches Kate Curtin and Jen Rodger have been coaching together for the last two years at Norwood (fall season) and Westwood (winter season) and have clearly built something special at both schools.
Curtin says that despite the team’s record last year, she and Rodger saw something special in the group when they finished well in the 2015-2016 Conference Championship meet, and showed great promise heading into 2016-2017.
“Last year, everything about the Westwood High Swim Program was so new,” said Curtin. “It was the first season that the boys and girls teams had combined and it was the first season for Jen and I as coaches. Even though we finished the 2015-2016 season with a dual-meet record of 1-7, we placed third at the TVL Conference Championship and performed very well at States and Sectionals.”
Curtin also says that the successful experience at the 2015-2016 TVL Championships gave the Wolverine swimmers and coaches a better knowledge of what they were up against and what they were capable of heading into the 2016-2017 season. Curtin also stated that the leadership brought to the team by senior captains Evan Smith, Ethan O’Rourke, Caroline Barrett, and Georgia Lucas really played a crucial part in the incredible improvement in Westwood’s record in 2016-2017.
“This year, we came into the season with better knowledge about what our athletes were capable of,” said Curtin. “We have had great leadership from our senior captains and have relied heavily on our veteran swimmers as well as an excellent group of underclassman for some incredible performances this season, especially at our TVL Championship meet.”
According to Curtin, the results of the 2016-2017 TVL Championships are an accurate depiction of their season as a whole, with Smith, O’Rourke, Lucas, Shauna Curran, and others excelling all throughout the year and at the conference championship.
“Our seniors earned 145 out of 365 total points for us at the TVLs,” said Curtin. “Evan and Ethan have been such incredible assets to our team this season and their success and competitive drives have spread to the others.”
According to Curtin, Evan Smith qualified for states and sectionals in almost every event he competed in this season. At the TVL Conference Championships, Smith placed first overall in the 500 freestyle, winning with a personal-best time of 5:09.17, and second in the 200 freestyle, with a season-best time of 1:53.84. Smith earned 37 individual points.
“Evan’s 500 freestyle race was electrifying and played a key role in our team’s overall third place award,” said Curtin. “His efforts throughout the season and at the conference meet earned him a place in the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle races at States.”
Along with Smith, the rest of the Wolverine seniors also had an incredible performance at the conference championships as well.
Georgia Lucas placed seventh in the 200 individual medley (2:34.91), while also placing sixth in the 100 butterfly (1:07.74) at the TVL Championships, earning Westwood 25 individual points. Lucas’s efforts earned her a spot in the 100 butterfly race at the State Championships.
Ethan O’Rourke placed ninth in the 200 freestyle with a season-best time of 2:07.16, while also placing seventh in boys one-meter diving, earning 21 individual points for the Wolverines.
Shauna Curran placed tenth in the 100 freestyle (1:04.18) and placed sixth in the 100 backstroke at a season-best time of 1:11.59 while earning 20 individual points for Westwood.
The Westwood juniors earned 109 out of 365 total points for Westwood at the TVLs.
Richard Li placed sixth in the 200 I.M. (2:31.00), and eighth in the 100 backstroke (1:07.78), earning 24 individual points for Westwood. Sunny Fox placed eighth in the 50 freestyle with a season-best time of 28.52, while Bryce Whitney placed sixth in the 50 freestyle with a season-best time of 25.15, and placed seventh in the 100 freestyle with a season-best time of 56.23. Whitney earned 25 individual points for Westwood.
Casey Murphy placed fifth in the girls one-meter diving at the TVL’s and 12th at sectionals, earning 14 individual points.
The Westwood sophomores earned 80 out of 365 total points at the TVL Championships.
Kate Burkart placed ninth in the 200 freestyle (2:12.60) and seventh in the 100 freestyle with a season-best time of 59.92, all while earning 21 individual points.
Bridget Pickard placed eighth in the 200 freestyle (2:12.55), and placed third in the 100 breaststroke (1:14.69), qualifying her for Sectionals where she went a personal best 1:14.24. Pickard earned 27 individual points for Westwood.
The Westwood freshmen earned 102 out of 365 total points for the Wolverines at the TVLs.
Jess Wong finished second in the 200 freestyle with a season-best time of 2:04.07, while also placing third in the 500 freestyle with a season-best time of 5:38.49. Wong earned 33 individual points for Westwood.
Sam Zonderman placed third in the 200 freestyle with a season-best time of 2:01.12, while also placing sixth in the 500 freestyle with a season-best time of 5:35.16. Zonderman earned 29 individual points.
Matt McDonald qualified for states and sectionals in almost every event he competed in this season. At the TVLs, McDonald placed second in the 100 butterfly (54.12), and placed first overall in the 100 backstroke (56.76). Both of McDonald’s times were season-best and new WHS Records. The freshman’s efforts qualified him for both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke at States. McDonald earned 37 total points.
Curtin praised McDonald for his hard work throughout the season, especially after returning from a serious back injury.
“It has been exciting to work with Matt, who has returned to swimming competitively this season after a bad back injury,” said Curtin. “He has been an incredible asset to our team, helping our relays to qualify for the postseason. Jen and I are excited to see what’s in store for him as he continues to compete in high school athletics.”