PORT HENRY — At the end of the Sept. 24 Champlain Valley Athletic Conference girls swim meet between Moriah and AuSable Valley, Moriah Coach Brenna Provoncha tallied the meet results.
She had to check them four times just to make sure they were right.
In the end, they could not have been more right.
Moriah had pulled off the miraculous, winning over the Patriots by a scant margin of 83 to 79.
The win snapped an 18-year losing streak for the Viking program, and sent the girls into a frenzy.
"It was so amazing to be a part of this, and to see the girls' reaction when we won," Provoncha said.
The 18-year losing streak fact is not a misprint.
The Vikings last won a dual meet in 2001.
Not 18 meets, not 18 days, not 18 weeks, not 18 months, but 18 long years.
Moriah students were born and graduated in the time the Vikings went winless.
There have been countless Bulwagga Bay sightings of Champ, the legendary Lake Champlain sea monster in that time frame, but there had never been a Moriah girls swimming W.
Provoncha, a 2008 Moriah graduate, and former member of the swim team, has well experienced the futility.
Now in her third year as coach, she reflected on the streak.
"Nobody ever really got down," she said.
"We worked as a team for everybody to do their best, and go for their personal best, and if it (winning) happened, it happened, but we focused on individuals doing their best,"
Going into this season, Provoncha and her assistant coach, Brooke Dever, put together a little bit different training regimen.
The focus was more on strength work.
"We changed our tactics a little bit and put more strength work in our drills, and that helps shave off seconds from your times,' she said.
The numbers were in favor of the Vikings this year as well, as 12 girls came out for the team, allowing Provoncha a little more flexibility when filling out her race card, leading to some valuable points.
Normally in recent years, the team only featured seven to nine members.
"The numbers this year really helped," Provoncha said.
One of the newcomers to the program is eighth-grader Jillian McKiernan, who played a pivotal role in the win over AVCS.
McKiernan won both the 100-yard breaststroke and the 50-yard freestyle in the meet.
"I'm really excited about her future," Provoncha said.
Emma Collard also won the 200-yard freestyle for the Vikings, and Provoncha's strategy of filling out her lineup to garner the most points, worked.
McKiernan and Collard teamed up with Jaiden Varmette and Taylor Brassard to capture the 200-yard freestyle relay, and the rest of the team scored enough points to put the Vikings over the top.
But the win was far from certain when the meet began, and 18 years of losing was prominent in Provoncha's and Dever's minds.
"Going into the meet we were hoping it could happen, but we didn't want to get too high because if we didn't win, it would have been disappointing," she said.
"We just told the girls to do their best."
The victory has reverberated throughout the southern Essex County community.
"I've been receiving a lot of congratulations, and the girls are very excited," Provoncha said.
"We went to a meet on Friday (CVAC Pentathlon Invitational) with all the other teams, and they all were excited and congratulated us. It was really nice."
While the win has helped boost confidence and brought some smiles to the team, there is still business to take care of.
"It was nice for them to win because they now finally understand they can do it, and it is not impossible," Provoncha said.
"We've been telling them about working hard in practice and taking it seriously and swimming in practice just like it's a meet."
The coaches are pleased with the girls' efforts and happy for them.
Provoncha said the age-old sports life lesson of perseverance and hard work was never more meaningful.
"It is just great for them to be part of the team that ended it (losing streak)," Provoncha said.
"It really says a lot about the girls' hard work."
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