Cougar mermen take Division III title

Cougar mermen take Division III title

The North Providence High School boys swim team captured the Division III state championship this season during the annual meet at Roger Williams University. (Breeze Photo by Paul R. Dubois)

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Swim team captain Trestin Wehbe put it best after he and his teammates shattered the North Providence High School record for the 200-yard freestyle relay and led the Cougar team to the Division III state championship.

"The last team to set this record had Jeff," Wehbe said. "We just had each other."

Jeff is legendary NPHS swimmer Jeff Laliberte, who holds most of the individual and relay records at the school.

"When Jeff was in the pool, you knew it was going to be a win," said NPHS coach Crystal Bozigian. "These guys had each other and it took each of them swimming their fastest to set the record and help us win the championship."

Wehbe and other members of the relay team, Brady Erickson, Jordan Alecio and David Santamaria, did not stop there. They were all multiple point scorers in different races, helping the Cougars compile 374 points to 342 for Middletown and 308 for Classical as the Cougars took their first state title since 2011.

During the regular dual meet season, North Providence was 6-1 and tied for first place with Middletown and Classical, each having beaten the other to create a three-way tie, so everyone was aware it was going to be close at the state meet at Roger Williams University.

"It was those four individuals who had outstanding meets, plus our team depth that made the difference," said Bozigian. "We have enough quality swimmers to fill out all four spots we got for each race and a lot of different people picked up valuable points. Even if you finish in 16th place, you get one point. It all adds up."

A prime example of that was team member Joseph Corselli, who Bozigian said is not dynamically fast, but is steady in the water.

"He swims two of the hardest events, the individual medley and the 100-yard butterfly, and he gave a great effort and earned us 18 points, and that was huge," said the coach. "It was contributions like that from everyone that got us to the title."

The coach said that it was fitting North Providence won the championship in this, its 25th year with a competitive swim team. The team was formed for the 1988-89 season.

While the team pulled together and amassed enough points to take the title, the relay team's effort was the only gold medal that the Cougars took home. But there were several other standout performances.

Freshman Jordan Alecio received the bronze medal in the 200 medley relay, bronze in the 100-yard freestyle, gold in the 200-yard freestyle relay and bronze in the 100-yard backstroke.

Sophomore Brady Erickson earned bronze in the 200 medley relay, bronze in the 50-yard freestyle, gold in the 200 freestyle relay and bronze in the 100-yard breast stroke.

Sophomore David Santamaria claimed the bronze medal in the 200 medley relay, gold in the 200 free relay and silver in the 500 yard freestyle and senior Wehbe earned the bronze medal in the 200 medley relay, bronze in the 200 individual medley and gold in the 200 freestyle relay.

The NPHS boys swim team 200-yard freestyle relay team broke a school record while winning a gold medal at this year's Division III state championship meet at Roger Williams University in Bristol, helping the Cougars to the state championship. From left are head coach Crystal Bozigian, Brady Erickson, Jordan Alecio, Trestin Wehbe, David Santamaria and assistant coach Steven Muccino. (Breeze photo by Paul R. Dubois)