Needham Rocket girls swimmers beat Braintree tonight 96-89, to bring the Rockets to 3-0 in league competition. But in perhaps a more telling show of how the team’s talent, the Rockets placed third in the coaches’ invitational meet for seven elite Massachusetts high school teams at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Sept. 27.
“The invitational is an early indicator for how Needham stacks up on the state level,” said Coach Rachel Waldstein. “Third place at an event with teams with such depth and ability is a promising sign that we will have a chance to compete with the best in the state during the post season. We edged out Framingham who we will race against next Friday [Sept. 27] in one of the biggest meets of the season. (That meet starts at 7 p.m. at Framingham’s Keefe Tech.)
Junior Emilie Despres led Needham at the invitational with a first-place in 100-yard freestyle at 57.15 and third in the 50-yard freestyle at 26.32. The Rockets’ 400-yard freestyle relay team took third place. And in diving, freshman Olivia Curran took 2nd in the six-dive dual meet category, followed by senior Paige Petronio in third place. Sally Doherty, the team’s only member to compete in the 11-dive category (a requirement for post-season competition) also had a strong showing.
Needham’s league performance in the past week included tonight’s Braintree win as well as a 93-69 defeat of Dedham Sept. 20.
Braintree brought a strong contingent of boys to swim in tonight’s meet. group of boys swimming tonight’s meet – they dominated the first place finishes in the meet. (Boys swim with girls at high schools without boys’ teams.) But Needham ultimately won 96-89 because the solid Rockets took almost all 2nd and 3rd places.
Julia Nascimben won Needham’s only first place in individual events with a 1:13.91 in the 200-yard breastroke. And Needham divers showed well with seniors Sally Doherty taking first place and Paige Petronio third.
The 100-yard backstroke was the nailbiter of the evening: Two Needham girls – freshman Victoria Budreau and sophomore Ellen Ingwerson – fought to a photo-finish against a Braintree boy who touched them both out with a time of 1:08.13. (See the accompanying video.)
In the Dedham win last Friday, Coach Waldstein pointed out performances by swimmers who clocked their best times in top finishes: Freshman Diana Nascimben who touched in first in the 200-freestyle in 2:09 and Ingwerson who took first in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:05, followed in second place by co-captain senior Becca Phillips at 1:06. Seniors Sally Doherty and Paige Petronio led Needham’s large diving contingent to victory, and sophomore Celia Stern and freshmen Aliza Phillips and Gwen Mecsas all were diving in their first meet.