PROVIDENCE — Bishop Hendricken sophomore and Ashaway resident C.J. Sheldon had a perfect day in the pool at the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center on Saturday morning, leading the Hawks to a fourth straight state boys swimming title.
Sheldon won the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:40.78 (nearly three seconds better than his seed time) and the 100 freestyle (46.59). Sheldon also anchored Hendricken's winning 200 freestyle relay (1:28.90) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:15.17).
“The team's good, and everything really came together,” Sheldon said. “You never really know where the times are going to land, so the goal is to go out there and win, and to keep the team's spirit high in the meet.”
Sheldon said the team practices in the afternoon, and, typically, he's staying at school until 5 or 6 p.m. He said mornings like Saturday make the sacrifice worth it.
“When it all comes together at the end, you get that good feeling in your stomach like it all paid off,” he said.
The win by Hendricken continued a streak of dominance in the pool by the Hawks. The title is their fourth straight, and their 27th in the past 28 years.
Co-op led by Westerly, Pawcatuck swimmers
The surprise of the meet was the strong performance of the South County co-op team, which took third place with 203 points. The effort was helped out by two local swimmers that attend Prout and swim for the co-op, which also has students from Narragansett and Chariho.
Pawcatuck's Wes Rea took first in the 100 butterfly (50.93), with teammate and Westerly resident Drew Jalbert, a freshman, earning third (52.93). Jalbert also took first place in the 200 individual medley (1:56.99).
“There's definitely a lot more competition in these races, and all of my good friends were right there with me,” Rea said. “It's much more exciting, and also a lot more pressure, but that's fun.”
Jalbert, Rea, Teddy Evans and Aidan Carberry also earned points for the co-op with a sixth-place finish in the 200 medley relay (1:45.41) and a second place finish in the 200 freestyle relay (1:30.27).
This is the first year for the co-op. Prout fielded its own team last year, with swimmers from Narragansett and Chariho competing as individuals. Rea said his swimming career will continue with club meets, but he enjoyed being on a team with his friends.
“This was my last high school meet, so it was good to go out with the placements I did, but I wish the times were a little better,” he said. “It was so much fun [overall]. One of my good friends, Teddy [Evans], he goes to Narragansett, and it was cool to be able to swim with him.”
Bulldogs take ninth place
The Bulldogs finished ninth with 112 points, five behind the Wheeler School for the eighth and final spot on the podium. However, Westerly received a strong effort from senior Rhys Johnstone.
Johnstone took second in the 50 freestyle (22.59), beating his seeding time by nearly a full second. He also earned second in the 100 backstroke (51.91), again beating his seed time by 1.5 seconds and setting a school record.
“I felt just really strong,” he said. “I took a break from lifting for a little bit, and I think that really helped.
The Bulldogs also scored points in the 200 medley relay, with a fourth-place finish (1:42.87) that also set a school record. The team was comprised of Johnstone, Jensen Lund Jr., North Infante and Spencer Bernat.
"In the relay, the team did a really good job all together; it wasn't just a single man. The individual events, I guess I was just in the zone today," Johnstone said.
Outside of Johnstone, sophomore Madigan Hiltz earned points for the Bulldogs. He finished eighth in the 500 freestyle (5:06.58) and 10th in the 200 freestyle (1:53.56). The 200 freestyle relay team also earned points for a ninth-place finish (1:39.95). The team consisted of Hiltz, Bernat, Brandon Larossa Jr. and Brayden Champlin.
Johnstone said he still has several club swimming races on his schedule, and he also hopes to continue at the collegiate level. He has been accepted at Boston University
“I'd love to swim at BU, and my times are close enough to their walk-on standards, so I'm going to train during the offseason and see if I can make it,” he said.