By BRIAN JENNINGS
When you walk downstairs and into the swimming area at the Southington Community YMCA, you will notice that a scissors lift, tools, and some steel beams surround the pool deck. However, ongoing construction wouldn’t delay the momentous swimming meet between the Southington Blue Knights and Conard Chieftains.
The Knights (6-1) suffered their first loss of the season in their first divisional matchup against the Chieftains. The Knights slipped a spot down to fourth place in the CCC West.
“I was talking to Jen and John, the coaches of Conard, and said that I mapped out this meet maybe a dozen different ways and each time it ended in a tie, and they said the same thing,” said Knights coach Evan Tuttle. “It was a matter of who wanted it most and we turned it on a little too late. The second half of the meet, we performed well, but we were just a little timid coming out of the gates.”
The Chieftains started off the meet with a first place time (1:48.15) in the 200 medley relay, followed by second and third place finishes from the Knights, putting the Chieftains up 8-6.
In the second event, the Knights tied the meet up at 15-15 with second and third-place finishes in the 200 freestyle and would be the closest they would come to the Chieftains. From there, the Chieftains continued with first place finishes in the 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 100 fly, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, the 100 backstroke, and the 100 breaststroke.
The Knights had second and third place times in the 200 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, and 100 breaststroke, but Southington only captured first place finishes in two events.
Mack Golos (5:38.88) edged teammate Kevin Corcoran (5:45.94) to win the 500 freestyle. Golos and Corcoran teamed with Evan Bender and Zack Blake (3:49.02) to capture first place in the 400 freestyle relay.
“One of our captains Kevin Corcoran put in a really gutsy performance,” said Tuttle. “He swam the 100 fly, got back in the pool an event later and swam the 500 free—two of probably the more demanding events in the meet. And then he made up about four or five body lengths of a deficit in our 400 free relay, and we ended up winning that relay…I’m sure he’s frustrated because he didn’t get the times he wanted today, but he did what it is I asked of him.”
The Knights would come close to catching the Chieftains after the 100 breaststroke with a score of 83-73, but would fall short by the 200 medley relay. The Chieftains clinched the match after second and third place finishes in the 400 freestyle relay, defeating the Knights 95-89.
Although his team lost, Tuttle said he thought his boys still had a solid meet. “Were there opportunities where we could have performed better? Absolutely,” he said. “Could that have made a difference in the meet? Absolutely. But, as I tell the team, the past is only useful if you learn from it. We’re not going to dwell on it. We’re going to pick one thing, as we always do, from this meet that everyone can improve on and we’re going to get back to work tomorrow.”
Tuttle said that he felt better going up against a school like Conard in this meet, than in past meets.
“I went into this meet today confident that we would win it,” said Tuttle. “I told some of the guys if we swim against this team 10 times, we would go 5-5. So you have to go after it today. You have to give it everything you’ve got. Conard came out with the same mentality, and they just executed a little better.”
With a possibility of a three-way tie for conference champion in the CCC West still looming, the Knights look to get back on track in the water against the Hall Warriors and Simsbury Trojans at the Southington Community YMCA.