Working for next weekend

Working for next weekend

Junior Cam Erickson, shown competing in the 100-meter backstroke during last Thursday’s meet against Smithfield, won the 100-meter freestyle in a time of 1:03.20 to help lead the boys’ team to a 49-26 victory that was the Cougars’ fifth win in six meets. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
NP swim teams hope to repeat success at division meets

NORTH PROVIDENCE – There are still a meet or two remaining in the North Providence High swim teams’ dual-meet seasons, but in head coach Crystal Bozigian and her swimmers’ eyes, there’s no meet bigger on their schedule than next week’s divisional championships at Roger Williams University.

The Cougars took on neighboring rival Smithfield in their Brother Anthony Division showdown last Thursday at the North Providence Pool & Fitness Center with one eye on continuing their winning ways, and the other eye on improving their times and doing the little things that will help get them prepared for next week’s extravaganza.

The boys’ team was able to outlast a four-man Smithfield team, 49-26, for its fifth straight victory, but the girls’ team was unable to top the Sentinels in what was a battle for second place in the standings, as Smithfield came away with a 54-40 victory that improved its record to 6-1 and halted NP’s five-meet win streak.

While the boys improved to 5-1, the girls slipped to 5-2, but wins and losses, in front of a full house at the Cougars’ pool, were the furthest things from the minds of head coach Crystal Bozigian and assistant coach Steve Muccino.

“It’s all about divisions,” Bozigian noted. “We kind of built today’s meet just to be a little bit of a dress rehearsal, as we’re trying to get people who already swim their events just that little bit faster, so maybe the placements in their lanes at divisions, or even the heat that they’re in, ends up giving them that competitive advantage.”

“And for some people, it was their first time swimming in events,” she added, “because now we’re looking for that third or fourth spot to fill in the lineup card at divisions.”

Both the boys’ and the girls’ teams gave exceptional performances at last year’s divisional meets. The boys, who went 7-2 last season, competed in the Division II meet and came home with the second-place plaque, and the girls, which went winless, took part in the D-III meet and placed fourth, missing a top-three finish by just 11 points.

Only seven workouts separated the Cougars from last Thursday afternoon’s meet to the divisional meets – the girls will be back at the D-III meet on Friday, Feb. 15, and the boys will return to the D-II event the following morning – and even though she gave her swimmers last Friday off from the pool, Bozigian expected to get in plenty of work with her teams this week and next.

“We’re going to regroup and get ready to work for the divisions,” she said. “Now it’s all about fine-tuning our techniques: finessing our starts, finessing our turns, emphasizing our finishes. That’s really what the focus will be for those two weeks.”

In the boys’ victory over the Sentinels, the Cougars stormed out to a 49-6 lead after seven events before electing to swim the final four as exhibitions. Jeff Cotoia led the way by winning multiple events, the 200-meter individual medley in a time of 2:46.77 and the 500-meter freestyle in 5:28.07.

Jason Kudish also highlighted the meet by capturing the 100-meter butterfly in 1:14.23 to qualify for the state meet for his eighth different event. Cam Erickson (100-meter freestyle, 1:03.20), Jason Tiner (200-meter freestyle, 2:46.19), and Tony Azevedo (50-meter freestyle, 27.14 seconds) also won events, as did the 200-meter medley relay squad of Dylan Castle, Juan Zapata, Henri Moise, and Azevedo in a time of 2:28.44.

As for the girls’ team, freshman standout Andrea Cortes was the lone NP swimmer to place first, as she won the 200-meter (2:26.99) and 500-meter (5:26.37) freestyles. The Sentinels, which won the last two D-III championships, only brought 12 swimmers to the meet, but saw seven either capture an individual event or swim on a winning relay team.

“I cannot be disappointed with the season the girls have had,” added Bogigian. “To just collect the batch of wins that we got is exciting for them. In the last three or four seasons, we can’t even total what we have this year, so it’s been an exciting season for them.”

The Cougars were coming off a sweep of Mount Hope that took place at the Pods Aquatic Center in East Providence. The boys rolled to a 66-28 victory that saw them win all 11 events on the docket and Jeff Cotoia, Kudish, and Erickson each win a pair, and the girls captured nine events, two each by freshman Cassie Russo and Cortes, to down the Huskies, 54-40.

The boys’ and girls’ teams will be back at their home pool on Thursday, hosting Burrillville in a 4 p.m. meet. Next Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 5:30 p.m., the girls will visit Toll Gate, which is also 5-2, at Warwick’s McDermott Pool – the boys will not swim because Toll Gate does not have a boys’ team.

North Providence senior Mabel Huynh competes in the 100-meter butterfly during last Thursday’s meet against Smithfield. The lone 12th-grader on the girls’ team, Huynh has been one of the top point-getters during the Cougars’ 5-2 start.
Sophomore Jason Kudish shows off the North Providence High swim teams’ legendary “Angel” jacket he received for being the Cougars’ swimmer of the meet last Thursday afternoon. Kudish won the 100-meter butterfly in a state meet-qualifying time of 1:14.23 to help the boys’ team defeat Smithfield, 49-26.