One-hundredth of a second — for Newburyport native Elle Sergi, that fraction of a second was the difference between third and fourth place at the New England Small College Athletic Championships and a place on the All-NESCAC team.
Needing just a bit of good fortune, the junior standout swimmer for Bates College out-touched her competitor in the 50-yard freestyle to break her own previously held school record set earlier in the meet with a time of 24.04.
Sergi would finish the meet with another pivotal performance in the 200 freestyle relay where she once again helped her relay team earn third place with a time of 1:36.57, earning another school record and another spot on the All-NESCAC team.
“One of the things that is key in our sport is consistency,” Bates swimming coach Peter Casares said. “Our season is very short. It starts Nov. 1 and ends at the end of February, and most swimmers know you’ve got to be committed 40 to 50 weeks out of the year.
“She took on a full year approach to her junior year,” Casares said. “She started in the summer and wanted to learn more and do more and helped out at the camps with us, was a great councilor and coach, but she also really invested in her season at that point right there in the middle of June. It was just a wonderful thing to see her hard-working approach pay off when February rolled around.
“The consistency she displayed really paid off,” Casares said. “You can get hot in sports, but in swimming you don’t have to be great often. I need my swimmers more importantly giving me nine solid months than to gain three or four great weeks, and she was very good from June all the way through to February. She peaked at the right time, which is what it is all about, having the right timing, have that work behind you.
“She had great moments, there’s no doubt about that. When you become All-NESCAC, and you’re setting school records, and you’re one of the best ever in the history of the college, it takes much more than piecing together a season with greatness. She got much better at understanding the big picture,” said Casares. “She was undefeated in her race the majority of the year, she really was consistent and successful, but she really saved the best for last.”
As for the meet itself, Casares said the 200 freestyle’s All-NESCAC performance was the first for a relay team at the school since 1994.
“(Elle) came right out of the gate with some pretty amazing accomplishments leading our freestyle relay in the first event of the meet,” Casares said. “She set that tone by hitting the wall. Later in that evening she jumped into her favorite race, the 50 freestyle, and got third in that one too by .01 of a second. You have to get lucky sometimes in a sport, and so the harder you work the more often that luck shows up for you. It was great to see her on that side of a .01 of a second because it’s such a big deal to be top three in our conference with Amherst and Williams — two top five programs in the country. That’s quite the feat.”
Giving credit to her offseason workouts, Sergi said there were a combination of factors that led to her success in the pool.
“Before I came to college I didn’t weight lift at all, and so I think coming back this year and having more of an idea to start with made it a lot better,” she said. “I think it was a combination of being a lot more prepared coming into the season in terms of being in shape already when we started official practices. I also did a lot more weight lifting this year, and I took that a lot more seriously this year.”
The goal for next season, Sergi said, “I’d really like to make the national cut before I graduate. I would love to go individually, but I would really love to go with a relay team. I think that would be a lot more fun.”
Kinter’s first crack at the pros
Newburyport’s Jillian Kinter’s prestigious Colgate collegiate career is over and has been in the books for a few months now.
The next step for once is not a given. Certainly she still has plenty of competitive soccer left in her boots, but where those boots will take her remains a mystery.
Monday Kinter, along with her college goal-keeping teammate Ashley Walsh, attended open tryouts for the Boston Breakers of the New Women’s Soccer League.
“I went down with my keeper, who is in the same boat as me, we’re both still looking to play,” Kinter said. “There were two two-hour sessions — 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. — and it was just a cool experience. A few of the girls who are on the team on the roster played with us. That’s cool to be able to play with them, and there were some really great players (there).
“The first session was a lot of small-sided soccer, 4-v-4, and then also speed testing,” described Kinter of the day’s events. “The second session was full field play, 8-v-8 and 11-v-11. I think I did well, but it’s hard to grasp what they’re looking for.
“The past few months have been, not really stressful, but hard not knowing really what the next step is in my future, so it was nice to actively take a step forward.”
Kinter said she will not know anything for a few days to come.
McNamara leads Southern Maine to Little East Conference double
Former Pentucket standout Erin McNamara helped perennial LEC power Southern Maine return to glory during her junior year as the team Huskies won both the regular season and conference tournament titles and rose to No. 8 in the national rankings.
The Huskies did bow out last Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament at home to Smith College, a tough first-round opponent and an even more disappointing result considering Southern Maine was favored to reach the Final 4. Despite the season-ending loss, McNamara was quite pleased with how her junior year played out.
“This was definitely my favorite year so far out of my college season because we had such a great team and good team chemistry together all the time on and off the court. It was a really exciting year all around,” McNamara said. “This was the first year in my three years that we won the LEC championship and our school is known to do that, so it was nice to get that tradition back.”
As for a season highlight, the scrappy guard did not have to take the lead often with a wealth of talent surrounding her. But on Feb. 10, she hit her biggest bucket of the year, a buzzer-beater on the road against Rhode Island College.
“I had an awful game shooting something like 1-for-14,” McNamara said. “It came down to the end, we had the ball with like 28 seconds to go, we ran a play, and they defended all our options, so I just had to drive to the hoop, and I got lucky and I got a layup.”