Taconic's Bencivenga Reaches State Meet in Home Win

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Taconic High's Mia Bencivenga checked off a major item on her "to do" list on Wednesday at the YMCA.
The junior freestyler finished the 500-meter freestyle in 4 minutes, 57.93 seconds to help her team beat Taconic Hills and, more importantly, qualify for the Division 2 State Championships in the event.
"It means a lot," Bencivenga said after helping Taconic take a 55-48 dual meet win. "I've been working this whole season, and it wasn't really a normal season because of COVID. It was a lot harder, especially with last year not having a year to swim to beat times. It's really good to be back where I was before.
"I can only improve."
In 2020, the last time the state held a swimming post-season, Bencivenga placed 19th in the state in the event as a freshman with a time of 5:31.00 in the 500-yard free at Boston University. Her 4:57.93 in the meter pool at the YMCA converts to 5:39.64 in a pool measured in yards, easily under the state cut time of 5:41.25.
She said she had the right attitude going into the midweek meet.
"I have a bigger goal I'd like to reach eventually this year, but this is a good starting point," Bencivenga said. "I didn't think I would make it, the last couple of meets. I didn't think I would get this close.
"I was a lot more positive today. The past couple of meets I haven't been as positive. I think I was just nervous. I hadn't had a meet in a while, so nerves played a part in the races. But this meet, I was very positive. I didn't have any negative thoughts in my head. It was all positive."
Her coach had a sense that Bencivenga was ready to post a good time.
"She came in and was really confident," Marisa Plant said. "She said, 'I feel good today. I'm ready.' She said she did her pre-meet ritual, which was the first time she'd done it this year. And I said, 'Wait, how come you haven't been doing that?'
"I'm really pumped about her performance."
Bencivenga also helped Taconic win the day's final event, the 400 freestyle relay, to clinch the dual meet win.
Alissa Schettini, Bencivenga, Kaitlyn Millette and Mia Zuccalo combined to swim a time of 4:52.66, nearly a minute ahead of the Titans' quartet.
Taconic Hills did not bring a boys team, giving Taconic a walkover. Scott Langlois, Ben Bradway and Stevie Zuccalo each picked up a pair of wins swimming against their teammates.
In the girls meet, Taconic Hills won most of the contested races, but with just four girls, the Titans could not keep up with Taconic's depth.
Autumn Lewis earned a win the 100 freestyle for Taconic, touching in 1:29.13. And Mia Zuccalo won the 100 breaststroke in 1:24.75.
"We do have a couple of other swimmers who are super close [to the post-season] as well and are really trying to get there," Plant said. "They're just fine-tuning their stuff at practice."
Mia Zuccalo already has qualified for the Western Mass Championships in the 200 individual medley and the state meet in the 200 breaststroke. Bencivenga has qualified for the 200 free at the sectional meet.
Taconic Boys 86, Taconic Hills 0
Medley relay: 1. Taconic (Jack Bradway, Scott Langlois, Ben Bradway, Stevie Zuccalo) 2:21.88.
200 freestyle: 1. Scott Langlois, T, 2:36.19; 2. Jack Bradway, T, 2:55.49.
50 freestyle: 1. Stevie Zuccalo, T, 28.98; 2. Guage Statley, T, 31.59; 3. Emmett Krantz, T, 40.07.
100 butterfly: 1. Ben Bradway, T, 1:20.48.
100 freestyle: 1. Stevie Zuccalo, T, 1:10.44; 2. Anthony Trapani, T, 1:16.24; 3. Emmett Krantz, T, 1:33.92.
200 free relay: 1. Taconic (Jack Bradway, Anthony Trapani, Emmett Krantz, Guage Statley) 2:23.65.
100 backstroke: 1. Ben Bradway, T, 1:27.80; 2. Jack Bradway, T, 1:30.10.
100 breaststroke: 1. Scott Langlois, T, 1:25.56; 2. Anthony Trapani, T, 1:37.97.
400 free relay: 1. Taconic (Stevie Zuccalo, Guage Statley, Ben Bradway, Scott Langlois) 4:49.95.
Taconic Girls 55, Taconic Hills 48
Medley relay: 1. Taconic (Mia Bencivenga, Mia Zuccalo, Alissa Schettini, Autumn Lewis) 2:30.81.
200 freestyle: 1. Avenia, TH, 2:36.15.
200 individual medley: 1. Arre, TH, 3:15.67.
50 freestyle: 1. Avenia, TH, 32.41; 2. Kaitlyn Millette, T, 35.09; 2. Autumn Lewis, T, 40.36.
100 butterfly: 1. Plaza, TH, 1:17.50; 2. Alissa Schettini, T, 1:18.62.
100 freestyle: 1. Autumn Lewis, T, 1:29.13; 2. Mia DiNicola, T, 1:30.24; 3. Drake, TH, 1:51.30.
500 freestyle: 1. Mia Bencivenga, T, 4:57.93; 2. Arre, TH, 6:42.90.
100 backstroke: 1. Plaza, TH, 1:21.65.
100 breaststroke: 1. Mia Zuccalo, T, 1:24.75; 2. Kaitlyn Millette, T, 1:45.71; 3. Drake, TH, 1:55.62.
400 free relay: 1. Taconic (Alissa Schettini, Mia Bencivenga, Kaitlyn Millette, Mia Zuccalo) 4:52.66; 2. Taconic Hills, 5:50.56.
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