The NEPSAC Division I Swimming Championships saw Brunswick School register three first-place finishes, post four All-American automatic times and establish two team records.
Those eye-opening performances added up to a second-place finish in the team standings at the ultra-competitive, 10-team championship meet, held at Hotchkiss School.
Phillips Andover Academy won its fifth straight NEPSAC Division I title on Sunday, amassing 457 team points. The Bruins were second (372), followed by Phillips Exeter Academy (277), Loomis Chaffee School (216) and Deerfield Academy (208).
“I couldn’t be more impressed with our performance, I am humbled by their success,” Brunswick coach Aaron Montgomery said. “We graduated more than 100 points from last year’s NEPSAC Championships and we lost about 40 points, due to several of our swimmers being injured. So to still score 372 points and be relevant in the meet, while posting All-American and team-record times was so impressive.”
It didn’t take long for the Bruins to set a team record at Sunday’s NEPSAC Division I finals. The 200-yard medley relay team of sophomore Lucas Hodgson, junior Max Meissner, sophomore Alex Hazlett and senior Marcus Hodgson finished second in the event in a team-record time of 1:32.34. Phillips Andover Academy won the rae in 1:31.59.
“That was the first time we put those four guys together in that event,” Montgomery said. “They hung with Andover and Exeter and did a nice job of getting our best time in the event.”
Marcus Hodgson, a senior, garnered the gold medal for Brunswick in the 50-yard freestyle. Hodgson, who will swim at Yale University next season, won the race in an All-American consideration time of 20.81 seconds. Brandon Garcia of Phillips Andover was second (21.05).
“Marcus won his first individual event at a New England meet and it was nice to see him get on the podium and get a gold,” Montgomery said. “He really developed into such a thoughtful teammate. He told me he swims for the team, which is the type of thing you like to hear as a coach.”
Also in the 50 freestyle, Gavin Molloy placed fourth for the Bruins in 21.71, while teammate Gavin West, a sophomore, took sixth (21.86).
Lucas Hodgson, a Brunswick sophomore and Marcus’ brother, touched the wall first in the 500-yard freestyle. Hodgson earned the first-place medal with a time of 4:30.84 (All-American consideration). Junior teammate Michael O’Malley was fourth in the race (4:46.13).
“Seeing Marcus win the 50 freestyle, fired Lucas up,” Montgomery said. “He and the Andover boy were side-by-side for 19-and-half laps. Lucas got the lead in the last 10 or 15 yards, it was a gutsy race.”
In the 200-yard freestyle, Bruins sophomore Alex Hazlett finished third, posting an All-American consideration time of 1:39.70. He also clocked in at 1:39.39 at Saturday’s preliminaries. Andrew Benson of Exeter was the champion in the event (1:36.88, All-American time).
“Alex had an unbelievable championship season,” Montgomery said. “He is so multi-purpose in the pool, we could have picked any event for him to swim. He is so versatile, which helps the team so much.”
Junior Michael O’Malley took sixth in the 200 freestyle for the Bruins (1:45.39). Meissner was the runner-up in the 200 individual medley, clocking in at 1:52.77. Sam Donchi from Andover was the NEPSAC champion in 1:49.34.
“Max is so positive and such a hard worker,” Montgomery said. “He’s willing to do whatever we need him to do. He’s a four-stroke swimmer and I thought his seventh-place finish in the 100 breaststroke in what was one of the fastest events in New England, was also very impressive.”
Meissner placed seventh in the 100 breaststroke (58.25), while teammate Patrick Mullen (59.64) was 11th.
In the 100 butterfly at the NEPSAC finals, Hazlett earned the second-place medal with a time of 49.48— an All-Amercian consideration time. Exeter’s Andrew Benson garnered the gold medal in 47.77 (All-American automatic time).
Mullen of Brunswick was seventh in the 100 butterfly in 51.72.
The Bruins scored plenty of points in the 100 freestyle, with Marcus Hodgson (46.15), Molloy (46.71) and West (46.98) placing third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Brunswick’s 200 freestyle relay squad of Hazlett, West, Molloy and Marcus Hodgson claimed the title with an All-American automatic time of 1:22.46. Lucas Hodgson took second in the 100 backstroke (49.97, All-American consideration and the Bruins’ 400 freestyle relay squad of Lucas Hodgson, Molloy, West and junior Michael O’Malley were second in the 400 freestyle relay (3:04.19, All-American automatic).
“We had so much athleticism on our team — football players, baseball players, water polo players — it was a pretty diverse group,” Montgomery said. “I called them the most competitive group of guys I worked with.”