LINCOLN — At a practice session two days after Christmas, Lincoln High head coach Tom DiIorio watched as his boys' team swam through a set of 25-yard sprints, and – suddenly – he heard one of his star athletes, junior Jason Kimball, scream in agony.
“He and his twin (Cam) are both notorious practical jokers; you could call them my class clowns,” DiIorio recalled with a smile. “I'll tell you, they are funny, so I thought he was joking. He had stopped in the middle of the pool and said, 'Coach, I can't move my shoulder!' He just had that look on his face. That's when I knew he wasn't joking around.
“He had separated that same shoulder last year, so I thought, 'Oh, no, not again!'” he added. “At that point, I had one of the guys swim over to him to help him out (of the water). I told Jason, 'You better be at all of our meets, because I'm going to need your sense of humor around to get through this season.”
DiIorio believes that, had Jason been available to compete in a Division II dual meet against Mount St. Charles on Thursday afternoon, his Lions may have eked out a victory.
Instead, the Mounties captured two of the final three events to secure a 50-41 verdict at the new MacColl YMCA natatorium.
They did so on behalf of their depth, as Lincoln snagged wins in five of the eight individual events and two of the three relays. Junior Andrew Hebert led the way with triumphs in the 200-yard individual medley (2:30.28) and 100-yard butterfly (1:07.03), while Danny Cameron rolled in the 50 and 100 freestyles (with respective PR clockings of 24.08 and 53.95).
Hebert and Cameron also swam legs on the victorious 200 medley relay (with help from classmates Cameron Kimball and Spencer Good), as well as the 200 freestyle relay (also consisting of Kimball and freshman Ben Chiacchia).
When the Lions won that latter relay, they earned six points and moved into a 33-33 tie. However, junior Jonathan Dow and senior Jack McCarthy finished 1-2 in the 100 backstroke (Dow closed in 1:06.48) to notch seven more points; and junior Liam DeBeasi and senior Olin Perkins took second and third in the 100 breaststroke (behind the victor Good) to give MSC a 44-38 cushion.
All it had to do was not suffer a disqualification in the final 400 freestyle relay to reign, but it did itself one better; the contingent of McCarthy and juniors Greg Iovanel, Jonathan Dow and Carl (Douglas) Ciullio stroked to the win in 4:06.72.
Ciullio previously had become the lone Mounties' double-winner after taking the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle with respective clockings of 2:12.45 and 6:01.95.
“I'm not disappointed because we lost Jason,” DiIorio stated afterward. “I believe we would have had a chance to win had Jason been able to give it a go, but he wasn't. He's one of our top sprint freestylers and breaststrokers, so it may have been closer. We had some good times, which is a positive for our guys.”
Stated MSC coach Bill Evans: “I thought Carl had some OK times, but they could've been a little quicker. Again, we had some nice swims, and some PRs. This is a really big win for us, because – like I said – Lincoln's a good, well-coached team.”