Two relay victories boost Belchertown to third place at West/Central Boys Swimming & Diving Championships

  • Belchertown junior Chris Chumbley had two individual second-place finishes and was on two winning relays at the Centra/West Boys Swimming & Diving Championships, Sunday at Springfield College. COURTESY EVAN WHEATON

  • Amherst's Vianka Acosta-McKenzie swims the breaststroke portion of the girls 200 yard medley relay Feb. 10 during the 2019 Girls West Central Swimming and Diving Championships at Springfield College's Art Linkletter Natatorium. SARAH CROSBY

  • Amherst Regional’s Maggie Thibault swims the backstroke portion of the girls 200-yard medley relay, Sunday during the West/Central Swimming and Diving Championships. FOR THE BULLETIN/SARAH CROSBY

  • Amherst's Lucy Smith swims the butterfly portion of the girls 200 yard medley relay Feb. 10 during the 2019 Girls West Central Swimming and Diving Championships at Springfield College's Art Linkletter Natatorium. SARAH CROSBY

For the Bulletin
Friday, February 15, 2019

SPRINGFIELD — By the end of the 500-yard freestyle at the West/Central Boys Swimming & Diving championships, the top three swimmers had shaved off nearly 10 seconds from their seeded times.

Belchertown sophomore Nathan Dragon placed second in 4 minutes, 58.09 seconds and was in great spirits after his performance.

“It felt great, honestly,” Dragon said. “Coming into the meet I felt really good coming off of my taper. I had a good almost week and a half of taper and it felt really good because earlier in the season I wasn’t able to swim for many high school meets because I was sick for a while. It was just a great way to come back to this.”

Dragon’s performance carried immediately into the 200 freestyle relay where he swam the first leg. Dragon was joined by Matthew Stelmokas, Kagan Sherson and Chris Chumbley and the relay finished first in 1:31.68. The victory was narrow as Longmeadow finished just 0.11 seconds later.

“Honestly the team mentality was great going into it,” Dragon said. “I just wanted to keep the momentum going from my 500 right into the 200 free relay and all my teammates right there with me, we were all able to get really fast times. We just fed off of each other and we make ourselves go faster everyday.”

Dragon led off the closing 400 free relay and was followed by Aidan Endress Stelmokas and Chumbley. The group won the event in 3:18.37 to cap a third-place finish for the Orioles.

Belchertown finished with 249 points. Longmeadow (282.5) was first followed by Minnechaug (275).

Dragon, Chumbley and Stelmokas had strong individual performances.

Chumbley placed second in the 200 freestyle in 1:45.45 and was followed by Dragon in third (1:48.58). Minnechaug’s Chase Konstantakos won in 1:41.74.

The event was difficult for Chumbley, but he managed to figure it out and finish strong.

“I was satisfied with it, definitely,” Chumbley said. “On the second 25 I choked on water so that kind of pulled my mood down a little bit, but then I just put my head down and grinded so I could get that good time.”

Chumbley also placed second in the 100 butterfly to Westborough’s Justin Papagelis (51.80). Chumbley took almost 2.5 seconds off his seed time with a 52.54 finish. Endress finished in sixth place (55.30) in the 100 fly and fifth in the 100 backstroke (57.31).

Stelmokas added a third-place finish in the 200 individual medley in 2:04.81. He was also sixth in the 100 free (51.18).

Evan Harrington, of Belchertown, was seventh in the 500 free (5:10.59).

William Gagne was 10th in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.94) for South Hadley.

Girls championship

Amherst Regional was sixth (120 points) behind the efforts of underclassmen and middle schoolers.

They started the meet strong with a second-place finish in the 200 medley relay. Maggie Thibault, Vianka Acosta-McKenzie, Lucy Smith and Sophie Schilling hit the wall in 1:56.25. Minnechaug won in 1:50.9.

“They’re only a second off our school record, so I’m hoping at states they get it,” Amherst coach Jennifer Albertine said.

Acosta-McKenzie also finished second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.43. She knocked more than two seconds off her seed time.

“I’ve been struggling with an injury for three years now, and it’s just this year that I’m feeling back into it,” Acosta-McKenzie said.

She also was fourth in the 100 fly (1:02.72). Lucy Smith placed sixth (1:03.67).

The Hurricanes’ 400 freestyle relay team of Thibault, Adda Hennessey, Acosta-McKenzie and Smith took sixth (3:52.47).

Belchertown was 10th with 91 points led by Brooke Podsiadlo’s fourth place in the 200 freestyle (2:03.9). She dropped six seconds from her seed time and qualified for the state meet.

Belchertown’s Nicole Beaumont took fifth in the 100 backstroke (1:02.56).

Anna Hellyar was 19th in the 100 breaststroke for South Hadley (1:17.9).