Smithfield girls set sights on D-III meet

Smithfield girls set sights on D-III meet

Smithfield sophomore Autumn Blakely, shown swimming in the 100-meter butterfly during last Thursday’s meet against North Providence, was a double winner, seizing the butterfly in a time of 1:15.58 and the 200-meter indvidual medley in 2:40.24. The Sentinels improved their dual-meet record to 6-1 by defeating the host Cougars, 54-40. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Swim team dunks NP for sixth victory in seven contests

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The number 13 has long been synonymous with bad luck, but don’t tell that to the members of the Smithfield High girls’ swim team.

With only 13 swimmers on their squad, a large drop from the 21 that occupied last winter’s roster, the two-time defending Division III champion Sentinels are still enjoying an exceptional season, one that could see the girls joyously hoisting another championship plaque in two weeks at Roger Williams University.

Last Thursday afternoon at the North Providence Pool & Fitness Center, the Sentinels took firm control of second place in the Brother Anthony Division by posting a 54-40 victory over North Providence, which had won its last five dual meets.

Junior Meghan Laflamme and sophomore Autumn Blakely each won multiple individual events to lead the Sentinels, who improved to 6-1 in their division, which is mostly vacated by teams that they will battle at the D-III meet that is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m.

“They’re swimming well right now,” said Smithfield head coach Jennifer Bibeault. “It’s not their top times, but they’re right there. With more practice in two weeks, hopefully, they’ll be right there at the top again and they’ll bring their ‘A’ game to the divisions.”

At last season’s D-III meet, the Sentinels ruled their competition by scoring 427 points, 76 more than second-place Toll Gate, but they did so by bringing 16 swimmers to the meet. This season, Bibeault will need all 13 of her swimmers bringing out their best efforts at Roger Williams, as well as a couple of things to go her team’s way, if they plan to three-peat as champions.

“We don’t have enough (swimmers) to fill every event, which makes it tough,” she added. “I really hope that my relay teams place in the top two of their events. You can only have one relay team (in each event), so I’ll take my best relay team for each event. And you get points for placing in the top 16 of the individual events, so we’re going to need points from everyone.”

The good news for the Sentinels is that undefeated Classical, which handed them their loss this season, by a 59-35 score on Jan. 24 at the Smithfield YMCA, will be competing in the Division II meet, along with Toll Gate, which is 5-2 and currently tied for third place in the Brother Anthony Division with North Providence.

“Classical’s top four swimmers are a little faster than my top four,” Bibeault added. “When we swam against them, they won every event, so that made it tough because we didn’t have enough to take the (second and third) places. We won’t see them at divisions, but Cranston East comes down (from the Division II-based Rossi Division) and that will be the first time we’ll see them.”

In last Thursday’s meet against the Cougars, Laflamme captured the 50-meter freestyle in 31.33 seconds and the 100-meter backstroke in a time of 1:15.24 and Blakely seized first place in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:15.58 and 200-meter individual medley in 2:40.24.

Both swimmers and junior Megan Devlin also joined senior Emma DeCoste on the 200-meter medley relay team that won in 2:20.51 and sophomore Dana-Lee Harrington on the 400-meter freestyle relay squad that took first place in 4:48.70.

The Sentinels ended up sweeping the relay events, as senior Emily DiDonato and freshman Madison Fitts teamed up with DeCoste and Harrington to also take the 200-meter freestyle event in 2:21.11.

Devlin also captured the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:31.70 and took second in the 200-meter freestyle; DeCoste placed first in the 100-meter freestyle in 1:11.97, and runner-up finishes were also provided by DiDonato in the 100-meter butterfly and Harrington in the 500-meter freestyle.

On the boys’ side, Smithfield only had four swimmers in action in its dual-meet finale with North Providence, which came away with a 49-26 victory that improved the Cougars’ record to 5-1. Junior Ben Iannuzzi missed the meet with a broken finger, and Bibeault hopes he will be back in action when the boys compete in the Division II meet on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The boys, who wrap up their schedule with a 2-5 record, saw the relay team of juniors Michael Mancino, Chris Cassidy, and Nick Bottone and freshman Matthew Wheeler claim the 200-meter (2:22.41) and 400-meter (5:44.16) freestyle events.

Bottone also won the 100-meter backstroke (1:43.15) and Cassidy took first in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:49.27).

The girls’ team, which took on Pilgrim on Tuesday night at Warwick’s McDermott Pool, will host Toll Gate in their dual-meet finale on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Both Pilgrim and Toll Gate do not have boys’ teams.

Smithfield junior Megan Devlin on her way to victory in the 100-meter breaststroke during last Thursday’s meet. Devlin, who posted a time of 1:31.70 in that event, also took second in the 200-meter freestyle.
Smithfield junior Meghan Laflamme, shown competing in the 100-meter backstroke, captured that event in a time of 1:15.24 and the 50-meter freestyle in 31.33 seconds.