Northampton’s Amalia Guerra, Ursula Von Goeler capture titles at Central/West Swimming Championships

Northampton’s Amalia Guerra paced the Blue Devils at the Central/West Sectional Swimming Championships on Sunday at Springfield College.

Northampton’s Amalia Guerra paced the Blue Devils at the Central/West Sectional Swimming Championships on Sunday at Springfield College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE


Staff Writer

Published: 02-11-2024 8:53 PM

SPRINGFIELD — It was quite the day for Northampton’s Amalia Guerra.

The junior had already qualified for the state meet ahead of Sunday night’s MIAA Central/West Swimming Championships at Springfield College, so she viewed the sectionals as a tune up.

Well, that tune up included an individual championship.

Guerra dominated the 100-yard backstroke, finishing more than two seconds ahead of any other participant – touching the wall in 58.70 seconds to earn her first place.

“This is like a step for her on the way to states,” Northampton head coach Peter Davis said of Guerra. “She’s always really good being a part of our relay, but for her individual events, this was a step toward states. She’s gonna be ready to go. She always is.”

On top of her first-place finish, Guerra took fourth (2:11.70) in the 200 individual medley, and also competed in relay events for the Blue Devils. Guerra’s busy day is exactly what Davis has come to expect from her, and he’s ready for her to have a big performance at the Division 2 state championships at MIT on Saturday.

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“It doesn’t surprise me that she won an event here, and I think if she races her best next weekend, I think she could have a great shot at winning an event at states,” Davis said.

Elsewhere, Northampton’s Ursula Von Goeler had a fantastic day on the boards.

Von Goeler’s score of 473.40 points on the 1-meter board earned her first place, nearly 35 points ahead of the next finisher. The senior was seeded third in the event, but put together an outstanding performance to capture the sectional title.

Hurricanes turn in strong individual performances

Senior Annabel Culbreth-Loomis stepped to the board at Springfield College with confidence as she looked to set the tone for years to come.

The Amherst diver will compete for the Pride next season upon graduation in the spring, but first came Sunday’s Central/West Swimming Championships. Culbreth-Loomis’s score of 438.90 was good enough for second place (only behind Von Goeler), and she will be competing in next weekend’s state championships at MIT.

“Annabel is gonna be going to school here, so this is a nice way to have her say hello to this school and this pool,” Amherst head coach Denise Leckenby said. “The competition on the board was stacked this year, so it’s always beautiful stuff to watch.”

Bette Sherr-Garcia also qualified for states in diving.

In the pool, Finnley Chambers continued her stellar sophomore season. Chambers came in third in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:01.91, and third in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:28.99. Her year will progress into the state championship meet as well, looking to add to the valuable experience she’s gained.

“She’s really focused and driven right now,” Leckenby said of Chambers. “She’s locked in and looking forward to next weekend at states.”

Amherst’s 400 freestyle relay (4:03.56) finished in eight place.

“We always have some feisty relays, and we’re just happy to be in the mix once again,” Leckenby said. “This year feels a little calmer in terms of intensity compared to last year, but everybody’s excited and pushing for it.”

Orioles mishap prohibits girls from competition

Earlier Sunday, the Belchertown boys team captured the team championship at Springfield College. But later in the day, the BHS girls team was nowhere to be found.

All tournament entries for the MIAA swimming sectional were due by 4 p.m. on Feb. 5. According to information printed in a story by MassLive, one of Belchertown’s two co-coaches thought the other had submitted information for the girls team, while the other thought both teams were submitted at the same time.

The miscommunication cost the girls' team a chance to compete on Sunday.

Belchertown’s administration reached out to the MIAA, but the organization stood by its policy and prohibited the Orioles from competing in Sunday's championship meet.

One of those coaches, Johanna Manduley, declined to comment Sunday when asked about the situation, but admitted the miscue was “heartbreaking,” and mentioned she feels awful for the girls as their season ended in unfortunate circumstances.