After Wakefield win, Melrose shines among small schools

Published in the October 20, 2017 edition

MELROSE SWIM team members: front left to right: Melissa Agguirre, Natalia Warton, Cam Werner, Fiona Doyle, Katie Tully, Alessia Pari di-Monrovia. 2nd Row l to r: Jennifer Kahler, Olivia DeCecca, Madeline Hughes, Capt. Virginia Guanci, Capt. Josefa Baeza-Diaz, Lauren Reilly, Molly Williams, Stefanie Overlan. 3rd row l to r: coach Deb Deacon, Julia Paiewsonsky, Natasha Brown, Samantha Farrell, Samantha D’Alessandro, Katie Meade and Helen Burtnett.


MALDEN—The Melrose Lady Raiders swim team are knocking out local teams, including rival Wakefield in a 87-81 thriller that took place on Oct. 12. Melrose remains 4-5 on the season, with postseason on the horizon, and remain undefeated in “league” play.

“This was an outstanding team effort,” said coach Deb Deacon. “We had a lot of personal best times. I knew Wakefield was going to be a tough team. We had to swim our best, not make mistakes and the place finishes would determine the meet.”

Melrose started off strong, taking the top spot in the 200 Yard Medley Relay for an 8-6 lead thanks to efforts from swimmers Molly Williams, Virginia Guanci, Maddie Hughes and Jen Kahler. In the next race, Molly Williams clinched first place in the 200 free to tie it,15-15. Virginia Guanci also clinched first, which kept it a tied meet at 23-23. But Melrose broke ahead in the 50 free, with Sam D’Allesandro (1) and Jen Kahler (2) sweeping the top spots, and that gave Melrose a 33-29 advantage. 

Maddie Hughes came up big for Melrose in the 100 fly (first). D’Allesandro took the 100 free to help Melrose take a lead of 53-41. Molly Williams clinched the 500 free, and the 200 free relay team of Kahler, Guanci, Williams and D’Allesandro also took first, which gave Melrose a larger lead of 72-52. Wakefield was back in the meet with a first place finish in the 100 backstroke, but Virginia Guanci placed first in the 100 breast, which allowed Melrose to pull away 87-69. In the final event of the day, the 400 free, Melrose earned a critical first place finish behind efforts of Olivia DeCecca, Natasha Brown, Maddie Hughes and Sam D’Allesandro. Wakefield’s solid 2-3 finish narrowed the gap, but Melrose prevailed in the meet, 87-81.

Deacon credited the collective effort. “There is more to winning a meet than first place finishes. Natasha Brown has been stepping up in many events and Olivia DeCecca has been a solid contributor. Both will be Sectional contenders in a relay event.”

Equally important for the team are decreased times, and those are happening at a rapid rate. Melrose capt. Josefa Baeza Diaz, Grace Nally, Delia Frederick, Jennifer Kahler and newcomer Melissa Aguirre have all dropped times. And some of the swimmers will see their season extended in post season competition.To date, Melrose has several swimmers qualifying for State and Sectional competition.They include Sam D’Alessandro, Virginia Guanci, Madeline Hughes, Jennifer Kahler, Molly Williams and all relays.

Melrose may go 4-0 in league. Wait, what league? 

It’s hard to overlook that in any other sport, the Melrose girls’ swim team would very likely be league champs (Freedom League Champs) and the banner in the MMVS gymnasium would reflect it. One problem: there is no such thing as the Middlesex Freedom League for girls’ swim. The question of why struck the chord of Deacon. 

“The team is reminded of this almost daily,” she said. “They ask why we aren’t broken down into Freedom/Liberty. In our eyes, if we win against Stoneham, we are the “Deb and Cassie’s Small Schools Middlesex League Champs.” It would be a title the swimmers have worked very hard for and are very deserving of all season.”

Currently, Wilmington is the only school in the ‘”Small’ that doesn’t have a swim team (“small and large” schools are designated by enrollment.) This year Arlington/Watertown, Burlington, Wakefield, Stoneham, Melrose theoretically make up five virtual Freedom teams, on the Liberty side: large schools Woburn, Arlington, Winchester, Reading, Belmont and Lexington would make up six in their bracket; perfectly balanced numbers mimicked in other sports. 

“Although all other teams in other sports have Freedom and Liberty, swimming hasn’t changed things and it’s frustrating,” says Deacon. “But I am so proud of the girls and their efforts, if we were to beat all of the teams in the small, I will consider us league champs.”

Melrose gets their chance to flex their muscle in the Middlesex League at the annual league meet held on Nov. 1 at Belmont High and Nov. 2 at Bentley University.