By John Goralski
Southington never trailed as they flirted with an almost 50-point lead against Plainville. Eight Knights won, and the contest switched to exhibition races long before it was finished.
Mack Golos was a double winner in the 200 freestyle (2:04.22) and the 500 free (5:46.82). Joe Taglia was a double winner in the 50 free (24.16) and 100 free (53.69).
Nick Brazil (200 IM) and Zack Blake (100 back) won easily, and Southington swept the relays. Matt Duszak (1:08.45) claimed the team’s second state berth with his win in the breaststroke (1:08.45), but Coach Evan Tuttle wasn’t pleased with the win. The celebration was spoiled when the coach threw down the gauntlet.
His team answered in the following meet. The final score doesn’t matter to Tuttle. It’s the effort that counts.
“I told the guys that we were fortunate to have depth on our side at Plainville because our energy was lacking,” he said. “We rebounded really nice today with high energy at the home meet. Even if we didn’t have a guy next to us pushing us, we were pushing ourselves against the clock. When you have a meet with a big disparity between teams, that’s what you need.”
East Hartford never knew what hit them. Once again, Southington’s top guns scored eight wins in the 95-70 victory, but it was the depth effort up and down the lineup that impressed Tuttle the most.
Jeramy Olan (6:30.57) dropped 10 full seconds from his previous best to claim third place in the 500 freestyle and pull within two seconds of a state qualifying time. Austin Bull overcame a two-length deficit in the final leg of the 200 freestyle to score a third place finish in the relay. Brian Szuba put his guy away in the last lap to claim fourth place in the 500 freestyle.
“Those are the ones that finished their races the hardest today, and that’s an area where we’ve been struggling—finishing races,” said the coach. “Often times, we come out strong off those blocks but we’ve been having trouble finding that extra gear in the last 25 and finishing into the wall.”
Tuttle knows that the rest of the season will be determined by those seconds, thirds, fourths, and fifths. Unlike their lopsided victories over Plainville and East Hartford, it’s going to take every bit of effort this week against Farmington or down the stretch against Conard, Hall, or Simsbury.
That’s why Tuttle threw down the gauntlet for a little midterm exam. This time, Southington swimmers passed the test.
“That’s what I’m looking for,” said the coach. “I’m looking for us to continue conditioning. I’m looking for endurance. I want to see us starting strong in our races and still have something left over to put guys away at the end. It comes from going above and beyond in practice, and we can’t settle for the bare minimum.”
Now comes the final test…