As Katherine Connolly shot into the wall to finish the anchor leg of the 400 yard free relay, she helped her teammates set a new standard for the Hingham High girls swim and dive team: for the first time, all three Harborwomen relays finished in scoring position at the MIAA South Sectionals.
What's more, all seven of Hingham's entrants contributed to the accumulation of 69 points - also a team record - in their 14th-place finish. Duxbury, Hopkinton, and Bishop Feehan claimed the meet's top three spots.
"It was great to see strong performances all across the roster," said coach Kait McDonough.
The curtain at MIT's Zesiger pool opened with Hingham's 200 medley relay, which was seeded 17th, outperforming expectations into ninth place, clocking a season's best 1:58.16. In the eight-lane pool, that seeding left Hingham without a close challenge in their own heat. As they've done all season, backstroker Amanda Kenn and breaststroker Cate MacDonald bolted through the lane, setting the team up for the hunt, before Connolly's quick butterfly leg created open water for freestyle anchor Margaret Strehle, who shut the door with a 26.17 split.
McDonough filled the boat with elites for the 200 individual medley, with all three qualifiers finishing in the top half of the 40-swimmer field. In her heat, freshman MacDonald (19th) got to work immediately in the butterfly and backstroke legs, but it was her powerful breaststroke that contributed most to the three seconds shed from her seed time. Senior captain Kenn cut a swath through her own heat, erased two seconds from her season's best time, and slipped beneath the States mark to pick up 15th-place points (2:22.78). In the final heat, junior Connolly aced each of the four strokes, submitting a 2:15.59 for seventh.
This is junior Angelanah Petrillo's first season as a diver, and she said, "(I) didn't know what to expect," at the 40-team stage that is the sectional. It's loud. At dual meets, the crowd hushes to silence for the diving competition. But at championship meets, the hours-long diving competition unfolds alongside the cheers and roars erupting for the swimming races.
"I actually hate the silence," confessed Petrillo, "the noise didn't bother me at all."
Petrillo drew from the energy, spiraling her way to a ninth-place finish in her debut. Improving to 374.05 points, she thanked Hingham's diving coach, Theresa Kerrigan.
“She has helped me this year not just with diving, but with what I need to do prepare, and even advice on choices about eating and everything else,” said Petrillo.
Connolly returned for the 100 butterfly, bounding to fourth place (58.69), the best placement of the day for Hingham. Freshman Sofia Matera raced to 29th in the 100 butterfly, then jumped back in minutes later to improve to 5:33.41 in her thoughtfully-paced 500 free, scoring in 16th place.
The 200 free relay team placed 16th; Hingham's first points in this event in six years. Senior captain Strehle delivered a 26.68 opening leg - her fastest ever - tapping in for classmate Margeaux Fortin who reciprocated with a season's best 27.87, before quick legs by Kenn (27.03) and Matera (26.94) sewed up the race just a half-second off the school record (1:48.52).
"After four years at Sectionals with Amanda and Margeaux," cheered Strehle, "we hadn't all three been on the same relay until today. I'm so proud of Margeaux's '27' and of Amanda for making the 200 IM state cut for another year."
As the meet approached its end, MacDonald dove in for the 100 breaststroke (17th). With long underwaters and a steady beat of solid pulls, she completed the course in just 1:14.38, her personal best, and the second-fastest time in school history.
Hingham punctuated the long day by calling once again on Matera (59.48), Kenn (1:00.27), and MacDonald (59.40) for reliable opening speed, before Connolly tore through the final leg (56.11) to propel the team into 12th place (3:55.26).
The Harborwomen will compete at the MIAA Division 1 State Championships on Saturday night (Feb. 17) at Boston University.