NP swim teams dunk Mounties

NP swim teams dunk Mounties

North Providence sophomore Vinny Cotoia, shown swimming in the butterfly portion of the 200-yard individual medley during last Thursday afternoon’s meet at the Woonsocket YMCA, captured the I.M. in a time of 2:30.62, took second place in the 100-yard breaststroke, and swam on two winning relay teams to help the boys’ team defeat Mount Saint Charles, 73-14. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Young girls’ squad continues turnaround with second victory

WOONSOCKET – For the past four seasons, the North Providence High swimming program has seen its boys’ team take top billing, and for good reason.

Since their promotion from Division III to II after the 2013-14 season, the boys had won their fair share of dual meets, and no season was better than last winter’s, which saw them end their regular-season schedule with seven straight victories and then grab second place at the D-II championship meet at Roger Williams University.

The girls, meanwhile, had struggled against their D-II competition, totaling just four victories during that time.

But after watching their girls’ team improve their record to 2-1 last Thursday afternoon by cruising to a 65-28 victory over Mount Saint Charles Academy at the Woonsocket YMCA’s pool, NP head coach Crystal Bozigian and assistant coach Steve Muccino agreed that there could be a shift in the limelight, with their girls poised to have a superb season.

After dropping its season opener to Classical, the girls’ team snapped an 11-meet losing streak dating back to last winter by squeaking out a 49-45 win over Pilgrim on Dec. 18 at Warwick’s McDermott Pool. And while that win was certainly a thrill for the Cougars, so was their victory over the Mounties, which saw NP win 10 of the meet’s 11 events.

“I’m happy the girls are getting a taste of winning,” Bozigian said. “It’s been good for them. I think our boys are going to do fine and it’s going to be kind of status quo for them, but it seems like the excitement is on the girls’ side, and I think they’re going to be the surprise of the season.”

Two reasons why Bozigian is optimistic about her girls’ team are two of the freshmen that joined the team, Andrea Cortes and Cassie Russo, and both 9th-graders showed last Thursday that they indeed have a bright future with the Cougars by each capturing a pair of individual events and helping two relay teams win their races.

Cortes, who also won two individual events in the win over Pilgrim, captured the 200-yard freestyle event in a time of 2:15.47 and the 500-yard freestyle in 6:19.97, and Russo, who broke her nose in a freak accident during the Cougars’ first practice of the season and just returned to the pool over the Christmas break, made a dynamic debut by winning the 100-yard backstroke in 1:10.25 and 200-yard individual medley in 2:38.63.

Cortes and Russo also joined junior Marie Sinyan and sophomore Valentina Lopez on the Cougars’ 200-yard freestyle relay team that won its event in 2:02.38 and 200-yard medley relay team that also took first place in 2:13.34.

Speaking of Sinyan and Lopez, they are two of the Cougars’ top returnees, as are Mabel Huynh, the lone senior on the team, and junior Erin McKeen. Huynh, Sinyan, and McKeen are the girls’ captains, and Bozigian likes the idea of having two juniors share in the captaincy because “they will get a little taste of leadership for next year because we do have a young team.”

Another freshman to watch for is Linda Guo, who captured the 100-yard freestyle in 1:12.09, and also winning events in last Thursday’s meet were Sinyan (50-yard freestyle, 37 seconds), Lopez (100-yard butterfly, 1:23.31), and the 400-yard freestyle relay team of sophomore Meta Konte, Huynh, Guo, and McKeen (5:08.31).

As for the boys’ team, which evened its record at 1-1 by easily topping a two-man Mount squad, 73-14, the Cougars won’t be able to duplicate their win streak from last year, simply because they only have seven meets in their new Brother Anthony Division, which contains most of the teams that will participate in next month’s D-III championship meet.

While the girls’ team will swim two more meets than the boys – Toll Gate and Pilgrim do not have boys’ teams – the Cougars, who have 15 swimmers on their squad, will also be competing against two other teams with no more than five swimmers on their rosters, Smithfield and Burrillville, and only Mount Hope and East Providence have teams with more than 10 swimmers.

“It’s going to be a little less competitive dual season for the boys,” said Bozigian. “They’re going to hold their own during the dual season, but unfortunately, they’re going to see a couple more teams like they did today. And while the girls will be swimming again at the D-III championship (meet), the boys will be back in D-II and not see a lot of their competition from the dual season, so that’s a little frustrating as well.”

The Cougars, who went into last Thursday’s meet minus one of their top underclassmen from last season, sophomore Jason Kudish, still won nine of the 11 events on the docket and were led by junior co-captain Cam Erickson, who won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:14.00 and 200-yard freestyle in 2:12.68.

Erickson also swam the opening leg on the first-place 200-yard freestyle and medley relay teams, which also included sophomores Jeff Cotoia, Vinny Cotoia, and Tony Azevedo. The freestyle team posted a 1:50.25 time, and the medley squad finished in 2:02.50.

Also winning individual events were freshman Dylan Castle (500-yard freestyle, 7:18.97), Jeff Cotoia (100-yard butterfly, 1:11.16), Vinny Cotoia (200-yard individual medley, 2:30.62), and Azevedo (50-yard freestyle, 24.53 seconds). Henri Moise, who along with co-captain Gian Salvatore and Juan Zapata, are the lone seniors on the roster, also helped the 400-yard freestyle relay team, which also included junior James Tiner, Castle, and Azevedo, win its event in 4:26.46.

The boys’ and girls’ team will return to the North Providence Pool & Fitness Center on Thursday for a 3:30 p.m. meet against East Providence.

North Providence junior Marie Sinyan won the 50-yard freestyle in 37 seconds to help the girls’ team cruise past Mount Saint Charles for its second victory in three meets.
North Providence sophomore Jeff Cotoia, shown competing in the 100-yard backstroke during last Thursday’s meet, won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:11.16, finished second in the backstroke, and also helped two relay teams win their races.