pburke@ricentral.com

EAST GREENWICH – Avenger swim meets have been a bit unbalanced with the often overmatched guys side struggling and the girls dominating, but all are staying positive with some inherent mismatching in the meet system. 

“All girls and boys teams swim the dual meets in the same division,” Avenger swimming head coach Regina Hand explained.  “When they go to the Division meet in February, they change it.  I had requested for the boys to swim in the Division II meet, but they are going to end up staying in Division I.  They’ll have a tough season all the way through.”

“This is the smallest boys’ team that we’ve had in EG in last five years,” Hand said.  “We’ve lost a number of seniors over the last three years, and we’re going to lose a couple more this year.  It’s going to be a season or two of regrowth, waiting for those young guys to step up and turn things around.  But it is a great team with tremendous leadership.”

The girls continue another strong season in a long stretch of league success, and the boys are staying encouraged while swimming in some overmatched meets.  The girls moved to 5-1 in the Valerio Division with their most recent win over Cumberland 57-37 at the Cumberland-Lincoln Boys and Girls Club, and the boys fell 64-30, moving to 0-4.

Against the Clippers, the Avenger girls had two swimmers pick up wins in four single events and help out in EG’s two relay victories.  Exceptional sophomore Grace Sheridan took the 50-meter freestyle in 25.64 seconds and the 100-meter butterfly at 1:03.87.  Freshman Kelsa Dator won the 100-breaststroke (1:10.27) and a 200-individual medley (2:17.76).  Both Sheridan and Dator also contributed to two winning relays.  Senior Jillian Valente won the 500-freestyle at 5:54.67.

EG’s girls also won two of three relay events.  In the 200-medley, senior Emma MacDonald, Dator, senior Joanna Jarrell, and Sheridan took first at 1:59.82.  In the 400-free, Sheridan, freshman Audrey Kling, MacDonald, and Dator took it at 3:56.18.

For the boys, Avenger junior C.J. Perrone won the 50-freestyle at 0:24.82, and junior Justin Chen won the 100-breaststroke at 1:14.90.

“They do a great job,” Hand said of the boys’ team.  “The boys have not gotten discouraged.  They go into every meet doing the best they can.  They are getting some personal best times and having excellent swims.  We’ve been in a lot of close races; they’ve really been in every meet.  Seven out of the 13 have made state meet qualifying times, and they’ll be swimming at states.  There is still a little bit of season left to go.”

They have competitive swimmers race to race, but their lack of quantity is the issue as they lose on numbers against most teams.  Freshmen Nick Britta and Jacob Pierce are some of the young Avengers of note.  Hand also noted the small but talented junior class, which includes Perrone, Chen, and distance-swimmer Anthony Morganti. Captains are seniors Zang Gee and Owen Petito, who help keep everyone staying positive.

“We started the year swimming against La Salle,” Hand said of the girls.  “In my seven years at EG, we’ve never beaten La Salle, and we beat them in our first meet.  For the returning girls, they knew that was a really big win for us.  It really pumped everyone up and motivated them, and we knew that we were going to be competitive.  They are doing really well, and they are upbeat.”

Their only defeat was a close home meet against rival North Kingstown, a margin of only eight points.

Senior Riya Sen and MacDonald are the captains for the girls among a strong six-swimmer senior class, including Grace Kiernan, a four-year swimmer who is great in the pool as well as a helping hand on the deck.

“We have an impressive freshman class,” Hand said. “Kelsa Dator came away from the Bay View Invitational with the freshman swimmer of the meet, winning the 100-breaststroke and taking third in the 200-IM.”

The girls’ roster dropped from 30 to 25 over the last graduation, but the bulk of that 25 is a 14-person sophomore class.  There is only one junior Ana Karabots, who has been contributing in relays and solo events for three years as the only one in her class.

“Twenty-five girls is the perfect number,” Hand said of the size of the girl’s team.  “Any more, and it’s hard to get all the girls to swim in the meets.”

“Katie Morgan has done a nice job in the breast-stroke,” Hand added, noting some of the large sophomore class.  “Ivy Lin has been good in the sprint freestyle.”

“We have the potential to be right up at the top,” Hand said of the state meet.  “It depends on how we swim the divisions.  We have the ability and the depth to be able to do that.  There are teams that are bigger than us, but if the girls swim well they can compete with anybody.”

“We were fifth at states last year,” Hand said.  “And we’re looking for fifth this year, if not closer to the top.”

The girls finished with a 6-3 record in 2017-’18 and placed fifth at the state meet with 155 points, just behind Prout with 159.

“It’s been a really positive season for both teams,” Hand said. “The kids get along.  They work hard in practice and lift each other up.  They cheer for each other at the meets, and there is a lot of good team spirit.”

David Evans is the new assistant coach, a longtime swimmer with a lot of enthusiasm for the sport.

EG’s next dual meet will be against Prout on Tuesday, January 29 at the Westerly YMCA at 4:00 p.m.  The Prout boys are a co-op with Narragansett and Chariho.  EG follow up with meets on February 5 and 8, against Barrington then Lincoln, both at 7:15 at the Fox Point Boys and Girls Club.

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