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Newton North grad Graf setting the pace in the pool at Regis

ALEX GRAF ALEX GRAF
By Marvin Pave
Globe Correspondent / January 29, 2012
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Regis record-setter has Navy dream

His dream is to enroll at the US Naval Academy, but for the present, Alex Graf is putting together a record-setting freshman season for the men’s swim team at Regis College in Weston.

The Newton North High graduate began the season by breaking the school record in the 200-yard individual medley (2:11.26) at the New England Catholic Invitational, where he earned three first-place finishes. Graf bettered that mark with a 2:06 at the Great Northeast Athletic Conference championships at Simmons College.

At that event, in which the Pride captured second place, Graf set three GNAC and school individual records: in the 100 freestyle, and the 100 and 200 individual medley events. He also anchored the winning 4-by-100 relay team.

Graf also holds Regis records in the 200 freestyle and the 400 individual medley.

“Alex is very skilled in all four strokes and I expected him to do well, but his success has come as a bit of a surprise to me because he’s making the transition to college in and out of the pool,’’ said first-year coach Breda O’Connor, whose team was 5-1 entering its final dual meet of the season.

O’Connor, a swim captain at Bentley in 2009, previously coached Graf with the Bernal’s Gators Swim Club, which is based at the university.

“She’s an outstanding coach and she’s played a major role in helping me develop as a student and an athlete,’’ said Graf, a Bay State Conference All-Star at Newton North. As a senior, he broke a 22-year-old school record in the 50-yard freestyle and was also state champ in the event.

Graf applied to the Naval Academy last year, but was urged to reapply after taking calculus and chemistry courses, which he has completed at Regis.

“I’ve submitted my new application,’’ said Graf. “I’ve had a great experience at Regis which I’ll never forget. I’ll know about my application in the next week or so.’’

What will remain unchanged for Graf, said O’Connor, is “he’s coachable, dedicated and a great teammate.’’

Loiseau was a hit at Shrine Game

Shrewsbury’s Shawn Loiseau was a Division 2 All-American linebacker at Merrimack College, and more than held his own against Division 1 competition in the East-West Shrine Game last weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Although the West prevailed over Loiseau’s East squad, 24-17, on a late touchdown, the 6-foot-1, 242-pound middle linebacker undoubtedly caught the attention of NFL scouts.

“I had a some good tackles, played special teams, and called the defensive signals and the experience was something I’ll never forget, especially meeting the children in the Shriners Hospital,’’ said Loiseau, who has been in touch with former Bentley University lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau of Waltham, who made the jump from Division 2 to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

“I learned a lot playing last weekend,’’ said Loiseau. “At that level you have to be quick and decisive in what you do, and it sure was different than the Northeast-10.’’

Loiseau, the first Merrimack team member to earn Northeast-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors, broke his own program mark with 133 tackles last fall and ranked second nationally in tackles per game.

He left an impression on Dane Brugler, who analyzes the NFL draft for the Sports Xchange online news service.

“For teams looking for a hard-nosed, aggressive linebacker, look no farther than Loiseau, who brings enough intensity to the field for the entire defense,’’ Brugler wrote after the Shriners all-star game. “Loiseau fills the run lanes hard. He should be a special teams player standout at worst and will make it tough for pro coaches to cut him.’’

Loiseau said he plans to attend the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next month. The NFL draft is set for April 26-28.

Loiseau was joined on the East squad by tight end Emil Igwenagu of Boylston, a two-year captain at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who can also line up at fullback.

Igwenagu (1 catch, 21 yards in the Shrine game) was also picked for yesterday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He was a first-team Colonial Athletic Association pick as a senior after snaring 38 catches.

Headliners

Groton’s Nick Lampson, a junior forward at Salem State University, was a repeat selection as the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference Men’s Ice Hockey Player of the Week. He was leading the Vikings (9-5-2, 6-2-2 MASCAC) with 10 goals and 8 assists heading into Thursday’s game against visiting Framingham State . . . Southern Connecticut State University sophomore gymnast Kirby Pallis of Pepperell was named the ECAC Division 2 Coaches Pick of the Week after she posted a school-record 9.85 score on the uneven bars to capture first place in a quad meet.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.

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