Nan­tucket holds off Nat­ick late

Boston Herald - - SPORTS - BY TOM MULHERIN

As part of a dra­matic, nerve-wreck­ing fin­ish that came down to the fi­nal event, the Nan­tucket boys swim­ming team showed off its cold blood in the wa­ter en route to its first South sectional ti­tle Sun­day at MIT.

Af­ter lead­ing Nat­ick by just 11 points with div­ing re­sults left to be tal­lied and the 400 yard freestyle re­lay re­main­ing, the Whalers came up clutch. They took gold in the fi­nal re­lay to ul­ti­mately hold off Nat­ick’s come­back for a win­ning team score of 228 points. The Redhawks took se­cond at 213, and de­fend­ing champ Need­ham (195.5) fin­ished third.

An­chor­ing that fi­nal re­lay for Nan­tucket was ju­nior Tyler Roethke, as he edged Nat­ick’s An­to­nio Arena in the by 1.14 sec­onds to help him fin­ish with three of the team’s meet-high five first­place fin­ishes.

“It feels amaz­ing. When the psych sheets came out on Tues­day, we knew we had a big job ahead of us,” Whalers head coach Jim Pig­nato said. “They’ve worked hard all sea­son for this. They just had to come out here tonight and ex­e­cute.”

“It was awe­some,” Roethke added. “I’ve got to owe it to all my team­mates, coaches, ev­ery­one that’s helped us. I didn’t do it, the whole team did it. Ev­ery­one scored. It was just ev­ery­one stepped it up so much.”

Nat­ick didn’t win a sin­gle event, show­ing off its depth to nearly up­set Nan­tucket, which led by 35 af­ter the first eight events. Ben Sch­melmer proved huge for the Redhawks by tak­ing se­cond in the 200 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle, but Roethke and his team­mates flexed their mus­cles at the right time.

Nei­ther team placed in the top five in the div­ing event, leav­ing the meet up to the 400 re­lay. Roethke, who also won the 200 freestyle (1:42.55) and the 500 freestyle (4:39.88), said he, Grant Beebe, James Taaffe, and Ai­den Roberts knew a win in the fi­nal event would se­cure the ti­tle. He also said it was per­fect, as he “lives for those mo­ments.”

“It was just, ‘Al­right, if we win it, then we win the meet,’” he said of the con­ver­sa­tion be­fore the fi­nal re­lay. “We’ve got to play ev­ery­thing safe, and then just get ag­gres­sive in the wa­ter. And that’s ex­actly what we did. (Pig­nato) is the best at get­ting us fired up. … It’s been so fun.”

Beebe won the 100 but­ter­fly (51.47), while he, Roethke, Kevin John­son and Taaffe com­bined to also win the 200 med­ley re­lay. Other no­table win­ners were Oliver Ames’ Kyle Gray in the 100 freestyle (48.11 sec­onds), Ash­land’s Alex Pecze in the 100 back­stroke (52.72), and Need­ham’s Henry Kee­gan in the 200 in­di­vid­ual med­ley (1:56.79).

“It’s a huge team ef­fort to be able to win this meet,” Pig­nato said. “It’s a re­ally good core group of in­di­vid­u­als.”

AN­GELA ROWLINGS / BOS­TON HER­ALD

POINT MADE: Nan­tucket’s Tyler Roethke cel­e­brates his win in the 200 freestyle at the South swim­ming sectional cham­pi­onships yes­ter­day at MIT.

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