Girls swimming places at state meet


Photo credit: Sam Villani

Sophomore Sam Villiani poses for a picture with the Oakland University mascot and fellow swimmers Hannah Mattes and Angelina Cavaliere.

By Alex Harring, Staff Reporter

For sophomore Sam Villani, who has spent every day in the water since August, qualifying for states was the ultimate goal. Now, her hard work has paid off. Michigan’s state-level swim meet was held on Nov. 20-21 at Oakland University, in which Villani placed third in the 100 backstroke and ninth in the 100 freestyle. She most enjoyed spending time with fellow teammates and her cousin, senior captain Olivia Asimakis.

“(My favorite part is) being with my friends; I mean like my cousin is a senior and it’s her last year, so I think it will be really fun going to states with her,” Villani said.

Villani took a more relaxed approach to her training during practices leading up to the meet, which is called tapering.

“I have (been working harder) because I’ve been training a lot lately, I think more than last year,” Villani said. “(I) taper for my practices, which is taking it more easy so I can have full energy at the meet. So, I won’t be practicing as hard.”

Head coach Allison Scarfone was proud of Villani and the team for earning 19th place overall. Scarfone knew that qualifying was tough, and ranking high at the state meet would be even harder.

“There are certain time qualifications that individuals on the team need to achieve to qualify for the state meet. We are Division 2,” Scarfone said via email. “The girls need to follow the training regimen at practice and work hard to achieve these times.”

Scarfone focused on a variety of events so that the team would be successful not only as individual competitors, but also as relays. A tapering regime was put into effect, but she still expected the swimmers to work hard.

“The girls train all year for the state meet.  The last two weeks of practice … the girls reduce their training to prepare their bodies for the big races so swimmers can deliver their best times at the meet,” Scarfone said. “Two weeks prior to states, we reduce the yardage by 30 to 50 percent and suddenly start doing short, fast sets on longer rest. We have the 200 Medley Relay and the 400 Freestyle Relay going to states this year so we will spend some time on the relay starts and transition from swimmer to swimmer to maximize efficiency.”

Scarfone believes it has been a long road to states, especially with the loss of a long-time coach and friend, Mike O’Connor. Scarfone had to take on the position of head coach, but they still refer to O’Connor’s signature saying, “with hard work and mental toughness, anything is possible.” They believe that this saying has led them to success this year.

“We learned how to adapt, how to rely on each other and work as a team,” Scarfone said. “This year has been a blessing. The girls have been phenomenal leaders and have worked hard to achieve their goals.”

To see a recap of the meet, check out North’s athletic website.

Contributing: Emma Puglia