ANDOVER – Back in November of 2019, the Andover High swim team captured its 11th straight Division 1 state championship title, which came after winning its 11th straight Division 1 North sectional title and its 17th sectional title dating back to 1999.
To say that Andover built a dynasty in swimming is certainly an understatement.
Last fall, swim season was pushed to Fall-2 season, and the teams competed this past March, but under an abbreviated schedule without post-season meets.
This past Friday afternoon, for the first time in 19 years and what's believed to be the first time in program history (including before the co-op with Tewksbury), the Methuen/Tewksbury Co-Op/Co-Ed team defeated the 11-time state champions in an epic battle, 96-90 at the Greater Lawrence Tech Pool.
The Red Rangers are now 3-0 with wins over Chelmsford, North Andover and now Andover.
“The kids were in shock and were so excited. They have worked really hard to be in the position they are in now. I'm really proud of them,” said head coach Jason Smith. “I knew that we had some pretty good depth in most events, and I knew that we were closer to Chelmsford and Andover than we had been in the past. However, I never expected this. Normally, we get blown out by both teams and use those meets to work on kids' secondary events.
“I knew going in that we should be able to keep it respectable, so I figured that we would put the strongest lineup together and see what happens. The rest is history.”
Two of the four Tewksbury residents on the team certainly played a significant part in the victory. Freshman Matthew Jo was second in the 100-yard freestyle at 57.40 seconds, was third in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:13.84, and then was part of two relay teams which placed.
The 200-yard freestyle team of Cory Boisselle, Philip Nguyen, Jo and Johnathan Phan won it at a combined time of 1:44.03. The in the 400-freestyle, the team of Katie LeFebvre, Rebecca MacLeod, Jo and Carter DeLano were second at 4:13.48.
“These meets are a boost for the whole team's confidence. We have big meets with Central and Haverhill coming up, and these wins put us in a good spot mentally. Matthew had a big second place finish in the 100-freestyle, a huge third place in the 100 breaststroke and was part of the winning 200-freestyle relay and second place 400-freestyle relay,” said Smith.
Dang was part of the fifth place 200-medley relay team, along with Jacquelyn Gaigals, Jenny Nguyen and Caitlyn Nims as they had a combined time of 2:18.22 and then Dang was part of the sixth place 200-freestyle relay along with Caitlyn Nims, Kristin LeBlanc and Jonnie Charest with their combined time of 2:09.40.
The Red Rangers won this meet because of the team's depth. The lone individual wins came from Carter DeLano in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:09.93), Cory Boisselle in the 100-yard freestyle (57.17) and Lex Flores in the 1-meter diving (248.15 points).
In addition, Carter DeLano was second in the 500-yard freestyle (5:30.66) and was part of the second place 200-yard medley relay along with Julia Galuska, Johnathan Phan and Boisselle, who came in at 1:59.89. Boisselle was also second in the 50-yard freestyle at 25.66.
Callie DeLano had a busy day – as usual. She was part of the third place 400-yard freestyle relay team along with Brady Lyons, Julia Galuska and Jacquelyn Gaigals, who had a combined time of 4:22.92, and then DeLano was part of the fourth place 200-freestyle relay along with Brady Lyons, Marissa Connolly and Katie LeFebvre with a collective time of 1:57.52.
Individually, DeLano was third in the 200-freestyle at 2:14.55 and fourth in the 500-yard freestyle at 6:06.03.
Galuska was also second in the 100-yard backstroke at 1:13.03 – and fifth in the 200 IM at 2:41.40 – with Lily Forsythe fourth at 1:15.07 and Gaigals fifth at 1:15.18. Forsyth also joined up with Connolly, Nims and Jenny Nguyen to take fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay at a time of 4:34.47. Finally, Forsyth was with Philip Nguyen, Rebecca MacLeod and Lyons to place third in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 2:08.46.
Rounding out the individual performances included Katie LeFebvre and Marissa Connolly taking fourth and sixth at the 200-freestyle with times of 2:18.63 and 2:24.29; Johnathan Phan was second in both the 200-IM at 2:20.96 and the 100-yard butterfly at 1:03.59; Philip Nguyen was third in the 200-IM at 2:29.04 and fourth in the butterfly at 1:09.78; In the 50-free, it was Rebecca MacLeod and Brady Lyons taking third and fourth at 27.51 and 27.90, respectively. MacLeod was also sixth in the 100-freestyle at 1:02.99 and LeFebvre picked up a sixth in the 100-butterfly at 1:15.78.
Finally, Caleb Canavan (242.90) and Jan Polanco (172.90) finished second and third in the diving and Jenny Nguyen was sixth in the 500-freestyle at a time of 6:47.60.
North Andover Meet
Last Tuesday, the Red Rangers knocked off a strong North Andover team, 96-85. In the three relay events, Methuen/Tewksbury placed in the top four eight of the nine possible times, which was beneficial in the victory.
In the 200-yard medley relay, the team of Gaigals, Philip Nguyen, MacLeod and Lyons were second at 2:08.51; the team of Forsyth, Dang, LeBlanc and Connolly were third at 2:23.64. In the 200-freestyle relay, the team of Boisselle, Nguyen, Jo and Phan were first at 1:43.09. Lyons along with Connolly, Callie DeLano and LeFebvre were third at 1:57.84 and the team of Nims, Rachael Kaipo, Dang and Charest were fourth at 2:09.19.
In the 400-freestyle relay, the Red Rangers took second, third and fourth. The second place group of LeFebvre, Callie DeLano, Jo and Carter DeLano finished at 4:18.12. The third place team finished at 4:27.13 and that foursome included Nims, Connolly, MacLeod and Galuska. And the fourth place team of Charest, LeBlanc, Jenny Nguyen and Giagals were clocked at 4:46.29.
For the individual events, taking first included Carter DeLano in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.37), Callie DeLano in the 200-yard freestyle at 2:15.46 and Jo in the 100-freestyle at 56.53.
Second places belonged to Phan in the 200-IM at 2:20.02 and 100-butterfly at 1:02.18, Carter DeLano in the 500-freestyle at 5:31.47, Boisselle in the 50-free at 25.89 and 100 free at 59.25, Flores in the diving (211.40 points) and Galuska in the 100-backstroke at 1:12.83.
Third places came from LeFebvre in the 200-freestyle (2:18.17), Philip Nguyen in the 200-IM at 2:33.81, Lyons in the 50-free (27.34). Anna Bolduc in the diving (171.90 points), Callie DeLano in the 50—free (6:08.38), Forsyth in the 100-backstroke at 1:15.47 and Jo in the 100-breaststroke at 1:15.27.
Coming away with four places included Galuska in the 200-IM at 2:41.46, MacLeod in the 50-free at 27.53 and 100-free at 1:05.42, LeFebvre in the 100-butterfly at 1:17.00 and Jenny Nguyen in the 500-free at 6:46.26. Gaigals in the 100-backstroke (1:16.06) and Jenny Nguyen in the 100-breaststroke (1:26.81) earned fifth places to round out the place finishers.
On Friday, the Red Rangers will travel for the first of three straight road meets going to the Lawrence YMCA Pool to face Central Catholic. That will be followed up by trips to face Notre Dame Academy and Haverhill the following two Fridays.