By John Goralski
In every race but one, Southington scored three swimmers, and they would have swept the entire contest if it wasn’t for an opening meet mistake in an early race.
On Tuesday, Jan. 7, Southington took a 10 point lead after one event and cruised to a 95-73 win. Coach Evan Tuttle said that he wasn’t worried about the score. This meet was a benchmark for the winter season.
“For guys that were returning, their times are right where they were at the end of last season, and that’s what we were looking for,” said the coach. “We have some kids that are going to have to drop some times, but we’ve been really killing them at practice. They’re sore, but for a first meet out the kids ran great.”
Nobody qualified for the state meet, but that wasn’t the goal as the Knights shuffled handfuls of rookies into the lineup for their first look at varsity swimming.
“No pun intended, but we were trying to test the waters and see what kids were capable of doing,” said Tuttle. “They’ve been working really hard over the last few weeks in practice. I knew that they’d come in here tired and hurting, but they were still able to fight and get a win.”
Veterans Matt Duszak and Joe Taglia teamed up with newcomers Zach Blake and PJ Ramsey to set the pace with a victory in the 200 medley relay (2:04.88). Taglia partnered with Nick Brazil, Peter Masters, and Charles Morelli for an upperclassmen relay and clinched the meet with a victory in the 200 freestyle relay (1:39.2) with two races remaining.
In between, the roster was peppered with a mix of veterans and newcomers.
“It was our first meet out, and we were trying to get everybody into the pool,” said Tuttle. “Those that are new to the program—freshman and newcomers—got in, and everybody looked good.”
Mack Golos anchored the roster as a double-winner in the 200m freestyle (2:04.83) and the 500 freestyle (5:46.37). Taglia went on to capture first place in the 50 freestyle (24.52).
But newcomers contributed as well. Blue Knight rookies Hallie Altweiss (123.65) and Victoria Duszak (97.55) placed first and second in diving to give the Knights a 30 point lead at the break.
“In just a short month our divers have done such a tremendous job,” Tuttle said. “I can’t say it enough how excited that makes me. I can’t wait to see where their careers will take them over the next four years.”
The takeaway is that the Knights are deep enough to compete in any meet, and that was proven in a 94-91 loss to Manchester that was decided on the final event despite just one Southington win.
Blake, Duszak, Morelli, and Taglia opened the meet with a victory in the 200 medley relay (1:51.02), but that was the only win as the Knights battled in the pool. Once again, Southington scored three swimmers in every race but one. As they entered the final relay, Southington trailed by just one point despite having just one win.
“If we can go through a meet without a guy missing any points-essentially that’s not taking any sixth places-we’ve had a good meet,” Tuttle said after the Maloney win. The Manchester loss was his proof.
Now, it’s just about paring down times.