LINCOLN — Though a year had passed, Lincoln High sophomore Mollie Westrick and junior Nicole Moneghan hadn’t forgotten how the Westerly aquawomen had sailed to a Division II dual-meet victory.
In fact, the Bulldogs had pulled off wins in each of the previous three winter seasons, and the Lions desperately wanted to “turn the tide,” so to speak.
The two veterans, with help from a bevy of underclassmen, achieved that goal and then some at the MacColl YMCA natatorium on Monday afternoon. Westrick garnered “double-winner” status, coasting in the 200-yard individual medley (2:19.84) and 100-yard butterfly (1:03.46) while Moneghan claimed the 500-yard freestyle (5:55.53) as Lincoln rolled to a 54-40 verdict.
“They crushed us last year, and it was our goal to beat them this time,” Moneghan stated simply afterward after the Lions remained unbeaten in league action at 4-0. “We thought we could because we have a bunch of new freshmen and sophomores who are swimming fast, and we have a few juniors who are pretty good, too.”
Noted Westrick, the defending state champion in both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke: “It feels great. This is just how we wanted to do this – with a lot of girls stepping up … My times weren’t great, but I swam a lot faster than I thought I would.
“I had a USA Swimming meet this weekend at Seekonk High School, and I only had one good race out of seven,” she added. “I just didn’t have very good times, but I swam pretty quick (Monday), and I really don’t know why, but I’ll take it!”
The Lincoln males didn’t fare as well, dropping a 66-28 decision to Westerly, which was paced by heralded sprinter Logan Hellwig. He took the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, while Mark Walker captured the 100 butterfly.
Those were two key reasons the Lions fell to 2-1.
As for the girls, the tandem of Westrick, sophomore Kaelyn Zak, Moneghan and Liza Korotkova, another 10th-grader, cruised to the win in the meet’s opening event, the 200 medley relay, in 2:07.16. The “B” team of Casey Gagnon, Melissa Gianetti, Emily Jacobson and freshman Angie Gagne managed second, and that immediately gave Lincoln a 9-1 cushion.
In the next race, the 200 freestyle, Danielle Jorge and Gianetti finished second and third, respectively, but head coach Tom DiIorio’s bunch took the next three with ease, courtesy of Westrick and Korotkova, who took the 50 freestyle (28.53).
It also snagged wins or runner-up placements in six of the next seven events to post the satisfying win. After Moneghan’s victory in the 500 freestyle, the foursome of Jacobson, Gagnon, Gianetti and Korotkova snatched the 200 freestyle relay; Kaelyn Zak managed second and Gagnon third in the 100 backstroke, both with PRs; Gianetti finished second in the 100 breaststroke; and the quartet of Jorge, Jacobson, Westrick and Moneghan closed the meet with a win in the 400 freestyle relay (4:08.75).
“We thought we had a shot at defeating Westerly last season, but they just had too much firepower for us,” DiIorio said. “We went 1-2 in the first race, took a big lead and just kind of rode the momentum after that. We have seven or eight sophomores who were freshmen last year; they now have a lot more experience under their belts, they’re stronger and most of them have been swimming year round.
“We also have a solid freshman in Angie Gagne (who placed third in the 50 freestyle),” he continued. “Emily Jacobson, Danielle Jorge and Mollie are all sophomores with a lot of experience, and Nicole and Melissa Gianetti are juniors.
“With that mix of swimmers, all underclassmen because I don’t have one senior, I’m able to fill all three relays with quality kids. Last year, I only had enough experienced kids to fill one fast relay. Now we have three, and that’s why we swept them. You’re only going to score more points.”
Only one boy, senior captain Andy Hebert, managed a victory over the strong Bulldogs’ club; he did so in the 100 breaststroke with a best-ever clocking of 1:12.81 (while classmate Spencer Good took third with another PR of 1:116.43).
Hebert, who posted a second in the 100 butterfly (1:02.89), also joined senior twins Cam and Jay Kimball and sophomore Ben Chiacchia on the second-place 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams.
“My 100 fly was my best time by two seconds, and the 100 breast by about four-tenths, so I’m thrilled,” Hebert offered. “I worked really hard during the off-season with Envious Aquatics (a USA Swimming club which trains out of Bryant University and Warwick’s McDermott Pool); I’ve been doing two morning workouts with Envious a week, then train a couple of more times in the afternoon.
“I also work out with Lincoln, so I’ve been doing a lot of swimming,” he added. “I still can’t believe it happened – two PRs. I was really excited coming into this season. I didn’t know how we were going to do as a team because we have so many newcomers, but everyone has worked hard.
“Westerly’s a really strong team, so I knew winning would be a long shot. I thought we could pull off a miracle if our depth swim phenomenally well, but they were too good. Still, we had a lot of best times, and that’s all I could ask for as captain.”