Relay, Connolly break school records at State Finals
Published in the February 26, 2016 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — In quite possibly their best state competition to date, the MHS Red Raider swim team left their mark at Boston University on Feb. 20 during the Division 2 State Finals. Among their accomplishments: shattering two school records, earning a medal and placing 16th collectively among 40 Massachusetts teams.
A Melrose High record was established by the team’s 200 freestyle relay team behind the swimming of Sam Foley, Joe Connolly, Justin Hori and Ben Fiesel. The quartet entered the State Finals with a seeded time of 1:36.91 but swam a record-breaking time of 1:34.23, now putting them in the record books at Melrose High School. However, junior Joe Connolly saved his best for last with his own record-breaking performance in the 100 backstroke. Connolly entered competition with a 56.84 time and left the pool with both a medal for 5th place and a new school record at 55.63. Connolly earned 14 points for Melrose, who earned 43 points, well above other Middlesex League teams such as Burlington, Winchester and Belmont. With his finish, Connolly breaks a 20-year Melrose High School record held by Dan Bradley in 1996.
Connolly and Fiesel had qualified in a number of events. Fiesel had a strong showing in the 50 free, with his personal best time of 23.31, 19th overall and a personal best time of 57.06 in the 100 butterfly. Connolly had qualified for the 200 IM and also swam a personal best time of 2:04.24, for a very solid 10th overall.
The four athletes had started the day on a strong note with an impressive 13th place finish out of 40 teams in the 200 medley relay. Swimming laps (in order) were Sam Foley, Joe Connolly, Ben Fiesel, Justin Hori. A best time was earned by Foley in the lead off spot.
Says the team’s coach, Richard Whitworth, “Every swim by each was a best time. I’m proud of the boys, they earned it.”
Departing this year as seniors are Ben Fiesel, Justin Hori and Joe Brach. Melrose will return a number of swimmers including Connolly and Foley.