Amherst’s Noah Labich wins two state swimming titles; Belchertown places third

  • Amherst Regional senior Noah Labich swims the butterfly section of the 200-yard individual medley at the boys Division 2 State Swimming & Diving Championships, Sunday at Boston University. He won the event in 1 minute, 50.69 seconds, a meet record. STAFF PHOTO/ KYLE GRABOWSKI


  • Belchertown junior Nathan Dragon swims the 500-yard freestyle at the boys Division 2 State Swimming & Diving Championships on Sunday at Boston University. He won the state title in 4:41.53. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Belchertown junior Aidan Endress swims the butterfly leg of the 200 medley relay at the boys Division 2 State Swimming & Diving Championships on Sunday at Boston University. The Orioles placed second in the race. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI—


  • Amherst Regional senior Noah Labich swims the 100-yard butterfly at the state Division 2 boys swimming & diving championships, Sunday at Boston University. He won the event in a meet-record 48.99 seconds. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos and video. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton junior Oliver Schalet swims the 100-yard freestyle at the boys Division 2 State Swimming & Diving Championships on Sunday at Boston University. He placed second i GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton senior Chris Vayda swims the 500-yard freestyle at the boys Division 2 State Swimming & Diving Championships on Sunday at Boston University. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton senior Oliver Schalet swims the 100-yard breaststroke at the boys Division 2 State Swimming & Diving Championships on Sunday at Boston University. He placed third in the event. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Saturday, February 22, 2020

BOSTON — Noah Labich only needed a half hour to rewrite the state Division 2 swimming & diving championship record book.

The Amherst Regional senior won two titles and set two meet records in the span of three events, Sunday at Boston University.

He opened with a blistering 200-yard individual medley, touching the wall first in 1 minute, 50.69 seconds. That bested the 2013 meet record by more than two seconds and was nearly seven seconds faster than his closest competitor. After hitting the wall, he had time to inspect his championship mark and smack the water with one hand, creating a massive celebratory splash before the second-place finisher even crossed the flags.

“Sometimes in the IM it really hurts once you get to the breaststroke leg, but I was having a really good time,” Labich said.

Once he won the title, Labich walked to the podium and accepted his first-place medal from Hurricanes coach Jenn Albertine. Five heats of the 50 freestyle, each clocking around 24 seconds followed before a short break then the first heat of the 100 butterfly. Labich barely had enough time to warm down from the IM before it was time to warm up again for the butterfly.

“I have a good amount of practice with that. I swim on club and I’ll be doing triples a day,” he said.

Labich outpaced the rest of the field after the first turn in the 100 butterfly. During the second 50 he was only racing records, finishing in 48.99. That time set a meet record, breaking the four-year old mark (49.03) of Northampton’s Johnny Williams. But it was .02 seconds slower than his swim that won the sectional final. Sunday’s time missed the state record by .05 seconds. The swim still earned All-American consideration.

“I was sad I didn’t beat my time and get that state record. But it was a good time for me,” Labich said. “Before last week it would have been a best time. I’m happy with it.”

Labich led off the backstroke leg of Amherst’s 200 medley relay that placed ninth (1:44.87). Alvin Li, Maradiaga Evander and Eric Lian followed Labich.

Labich anchored a ninth-place 400 freestyle relay (3:25.93). The Hurricanes were in third in the penultimate heat before Labich hit the water, and he pulled the team of Callum McDonald, Evander and Lian to a heat victory.

“When he’s getting ready for his race, he’s turning around and giving his teammates pointers and always showing good sportsmanship,” Albertine said. “He’s such a leader in and out of the pool.”

Amherst finished 12th with 76 points. Wayland claimed its fourth straight title with 343 points.

Belchertown posted its best finish in team history, accruing 198 points for third.

Nathan Dragon put an exclamation point on the day by becoming the Orioles’ third individual state champion. He won the 500 freestyle in 4:41.53. Weston’s Ben Guzovsky and Bishop Feehan’s Ryan Shute went out faster, but Dragon laid in wait to make his move. The junior kicked into gear during the 15th lap then held the field at bay for the event’s final 100 yards.

“I’ve noticed that my competition, a lot of them go out very quickly and sort of die off by the end of it,” Dragon said. “I tried to play off that and come back stronger than them and sealed the win for myself.”

Matt Stelmokas and Evan Harrington joined him on the 500 podium in fourth (4:45.83) and eighth (5:00.13), respectively.

The Orioles were second for most of the meet, but dropped to third after the 100 breaststroke. They only trailed No. 2 Nantucket by eight points entering the 400 freestyle relay, where Belchertown held the top seed. The winning relay team earns 40 points in the standings.

Nantucket beat Belchertown to earn the title and seal second in the meet with a winning time of 3:13.81. Dragon, Aidan Endress, Matthew Stelmokas and Christopher Chumbley were second in 3:14.66.

The same foursome also took second in the 200 medley relay (1:38.25).

Dragon added a third-place finish in the 200 IM (1:58.27). Chumbley took third in both the 100 butterfly (51.77) and 100 backstroke (school record 52.16). Endress was seventh (54.51) in the 100 fly and 15th (58.11) in the 100 back.

Stelmokas placed fourth in the 200 free (1:46.47) while Harrington was 10th (1:52.49).

Northampton junior Oliver Schalet couldn’t defend his state title in the 100 freestyle, but dropped almost a second off his 2019 championship time (47.59) finishing in 46.34. He held a brief lead over Nantucket’s Tyler Roethke beginning the second 50, but Roethke snapped a textbook final turn and held off Schalet down the stretch in 45.8.

“I was giving it everything I got,” Schalet said. “Part of the reason I dropped so much time was because it was such a good race.”

Schalet also took third in the 100 breaststroke at 58.53. Both finishers in front of him, Catholic Memorial’s Charles Nascimben (57.21) and Jiming Xu of Wayland (57.39) broke the meet record.

“This season I’ve really broken out in the 100 breaststroke, it’s a fun event for me,” Schalet said.

Easthampton senior Chris Vayda closed his career with a 24th-place finish in the 500 (5:19.62).