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The reign of Shepaug Valley High atop the Berkshire League swim realm is, at least temporarily, at an end.

Coach Jessica Wilson's Spartans placed third in the March 3 Berkshire meet at Hotchkiss School in Lakeville to clinch the runner-up spot to new champion Litchfield in the league's overall title race.

The Cowboys' ascent ends a 10-year run of league titles for the Region 12 pool crew, a skein matching one created by former coach Dick Ayer's squads during the 1980s and '90s.

The team paid the price this winter due to the loss of school enrollment and when other key athletes opted not to swim this winter for the Spartans.

"The kids quickly realized it was going to be a different season than years past," reflected coach Wilson, "but they adjusted to the idea and reevaluated their goals.

"They still wanted to maintain a strong presence in the league, which I think they have proven," she added with pride.

The Spartans posted a 10-2 league record and 11-7 overall, including a number of narrow defeats.

"We have had other very close meets and they never give up," noted coach Wilson. "They fight until the end. It is incredible, really."

In her first year of varsity coaching, coach Wilson soon came to understand the mindset Spartan athletes have long shown that has carried them to so many championships.

"This team has shown so much heart," she concluded.

Among the highlights of Shepaug's performance at the Berkshire meet:

Colin Reilly won the 50-yard freestyle in 23.61 and 100-yard freestyle in 51.99, and Freddie Pitcher claimed gold in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:00.72.

The Spartans scored 291 points to trail Litchfield (394) and Northwestern (296) while outswimming Lewis Mills (165), Gilbert (123) and Wamogo (123).

Many of Shepaug's swimmers went on this week to compete in state Class S competition.

-- Norm Cummings