AHS swim team all smiles after first win

Eight first place victories and key second and third place finishes gave The Amsterdam High School girls varsity swim team plenty to smile about as they secured their first win of the season, 94-80, against Gloversville at the Lynch Literacy Academy pool on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m really proud of you,” Amsterdam coach Nancy Spagnola said as she addressed the team after the meet.

The Lady Rams picked up one of those key finishes early in the meet. During the 200 yard individual medley, Amsterdam’s Bella Porter was in a battle with Gloversville’s Simone Hunt for second place. Porter trailed Hunt with less than twenty yards to go, but with her teammates and coaches shouting encouragement to her, Porter caught Hunt with less than ten yards to go and powered past her reaching the line with a time of 3:12.12, just over a second better than Hunt’s 3:13.14. Amsterdam’s Paige Bertuch (2:53.53) took first in the event, and when AHS found out that Porter had the second spot, the atmosphere at the pool had a sense of victory.

“That set the tone for the meet from the beginning,” Coach Spagnola said.

Porter’s finish was just the right boost that the Lady Rams needed. Following that event, AHS senior Tessa Conti took first place in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 30.97 seconds. Her teammate Kelly Kilgallen (31.26) took another key second place finish. Conti and Kilgallen also took the top two spots in the 100 yard freestyle with Conti turning in a time of 1:08.84, and Kilgallen posting a time of 1:10.69.

“We’re kind of speechless,” Amsterdam captain Paige Betruch said after the win. “We had the energy, and we could pull out a few more wins before the season is through.”

Bertuch also took home first in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:27.58. Anastacia Montalvo (1:21.52) was best for the Lady Rams in the 100 backstroke, and Julianna Busseno (6:51.00) took the top place in the 500 freestyle. The Lady Rams also were best in the 200 medley relay even after having to swim the race twice. The first set of times were nullified due to the flags at the pool being in the wrong place. Amsterdam’s Montalvo, Bertuch, Busseno, and Conti repeated their effort with another first place finish in 2:23.96.

“They actually swam better the second time,” Coach Spagnola said. “Our relay teams helped pull us through.”

The AHS team of Porter, Liz Banewicz, Olivia Brahler, and Kelly Kilgallen (2:41.80) earned a third place in the 200 medley relay. The Lady Rams 200 freestyle relay team of Montalvo, Azia Aldi, Kilgallen and Conti also won helping Amsterdam build an insurmountable lead by the last event. The Lady Rams 400 freestyle relay team of Azia Aldi, Olivia Brahler, Paige Bertuch, and Julianna Busseno put up an event best time of 4:52.74, but entered only as an exhibition.

Amsterdam got second place efforts from Busseno in the 200 freestyle (2:38.13), and Montalvo in the 100 butterfly (1:26.58). Putting up third place times were Aldi in the 200 freestyle (2:42.87), Brahler in the 100 butterfly (1:31.21), Amelia Barkevich in the 100 backstroke, and Porter in the 500 freestyle.

“It was exciting,” Amsterdam senior captain Tessa Conti said. “All the races were close especially the relays. We all supported each other.”

Conti was one of two Lady Rams to qualify for sectionals at recent meets. She met the standard in the 100 yard freestyle. Her teammate Anastacia Montalvo joined the Lady Rams roster for sectionals with her time in the 100 yard backstroke on Wednesday.

Gloversville got a pair of first place finishes from Isabelle Willis in the 200 freestyle (2:22.03), and the 100 butterfly (1:16.64). Emily Brady and Libbie Sturgess took the top two spots in the diving competition for Gloversville. McKensey Biggie was second in the 500 freestyle, and Peyton Biasini was runner-up in the 100 backstroke.

Amsterdam has continued to improve since its opening meet less than three weeks ago. With plenty of meets left on the schedule the goals of getting more athletes to sectionals, and more wins as a team are well within reach.

“There were a couple of meets we thought would be close,” Amsterdam coach Marisha Gennett said. “This was one of them. We really came together and pulled through today.”

After the meet Amsterdam team captain Paige Bertuch said she would be sure to announce the Lady Rams victory during the morning announcements at AHS. Also, the AHS girls planned to attend the second annual bonfire for homecoming weekend near the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook bridge, but not before helping coach Spagnola to a victory dunking in the pool. Wednesday night was a victory with all the smiles.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.