Williams is state silver medalist, breaks MHS record
Published November 23, 2018
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose Lady Raider swim team finished their season on a high note with an appearance at the Div. 2 State Finals at Harvard University on Sunday, Nov. 18. Melrose saw nine different athletes compete over the day and crowned a state silver medalist.
Senior captain Molly Williams become the Div. 2 state silver medalist in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:58.01, nearly two seconds off her personal best time. The tireless distance swimmer than competed in the 500 free and made the podium again with a 4th place finish at 5:17.09.
“What a year for Molly,” said Melrose coach Deb Deacon. “You won’t find a more humble or kind athlete or one who works harder. We’re so proud of our silver medalist. Whether leading or anchoring, Molly Williams is the heart and soul of this team.”
Williams broke a school record during the race: her own record set in the 200 free in of 1:58.68 (now replaced with 1:58.01) that was set last year, a record that Deacon notes will be longstanding in the history books at Melrose High School. After earning her silver, she went on to swim the 400 and anchor the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. “She fought to the finish and gave a true Herculean effort,” says her coach.
Overall, Deacon was happy with Melrose’s effort, as so many Melrose swimmers earned personal best times. As a team, they placed 13th overall. “The overall performance was outstanding. What more could I ask for them swimming their last meets with their best times?”
Melrose had kicked the day off with the 200 medley relay, swam by Natasha Brown, Grace Haseltine, Lucy Tyson and Emily Boutchia. They swam in a time of 2:09.48.
Senior Jen Kahler then competed in the 50 free with a strong time of 26.60. She doubled down and swam the 100 and finished with a time of 59.56. Her coach was thrilled for her. “Jen has worked so hard and she continues to amaze me as our ‘seasonal swimmer’. She doesn’t compete in swim off-season, yet her production in the water is spectacular. She made qualifying in the 100 a goal and that hard work paid off. She ends her high school swimming career at Melrose High on personal best swims. We’re so proud of her.”
Melrose’s 200 free relay finished ninth behind the effort of Kahler, Abby Gauch, Milania Saggese and Molly Williams. That group also wrapped the day up with another strong relay effort in the 400 freestyle relay and placed 10th with a time of 3:55.20.
As Deacon looks back on the season, she notes the leadership of her senior captains, Natasha Brown and Molly Williams. “Our captains, Molly and Tash, worked so well together this year. We will miss their leadership but more importantly, we will miss them. They are two incredible young women we are proud to have coached and worked with on the Melrose HS swim team.”
And while Williams is sure to pursue the sport in college, Melrose is not left empty handed in talent at the graduation of their seniors. “We’ve been low in numbers and depth in the past few years due to large graduating classes, but it is exciting that two freshmen (Grace Haseltine and Milania Saggese) and two sophomores (Lucy Tyson and Abigail Gauch) joined us at the State meet this year. Their hard work in practice and in the off season has shown them what it’s like to qualify to swim at the Sectional and State level. We’re so looking forward to their efforts in the off-season and what they will bring to the team next year.”
Deacon also commends the volunteer work of Katie Tully and Jenna Thorpe at Sectionals and States. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of team manager Jenna Thorpe and Katie Tully, our good luck charm.”
Overall, collecting medals statewide simply never gets old for this Melrose High team or their players.
Says the coach, “What a season! We have mixed emotions as we often do at the end of a season, but it was fun to watch this group of girls learn to work together for a common goal: to qualify for the big meets.”