By BRIAN JENNINGS
Cheshire had built a comfortable 80-30 lead heading into the 200 freestyle relay. The second heat of the 200 freestyle relay gets up on the blocks. All of a sudden, a thunderous roar came from Southington (2-2) corner.
“It’s the team keeping themselves in the meet,” said Southington coach Evan Tuttle. “They know they’re down and have a deficit to make up. They had a choice to make, and it could have gone one of two ways.”
On Friday, Jan. 15, the Knights were down by 50 points at the halfway point against Cheshire. Southington swimmers could have hung their heads in defeat, but they didn’t. Although a second straight defeat was staring them in the face, Southington swimmers toughened up, kept their heads in the meet, supported their teammates, and finished strong during a 92-70 loss.
After the 200 freestyle relay, the Knights went on to earn six best times in a row. The Knights achieved 20 best times total in the meet, which was a far cry from three best times in their 93-77 loss to Avon a couple days earlier.
“That doesn’t happen if the attitude and energy dips because there’s no longer any drive,” said Tuttle. “When the roar started, Cheshire was probably wondering what the heck was going on because they knew they had built a sizeable lead. But that speaks to the character of this team that I know they have. It was lacking a little bit on Wednesday, but it was resurgent today in a big way.”
Notable performances from the meet included second-place finishes by Ben Wakefield in the 200 freestyle, and PJ Ramsey in the 100 fly. The meet went to exhibition races by the 100 backstroke.
After the loss to Avon on Wednesday, Tuttle stated that he definitively thought his Knights were going to bounce back from the loss.
“I told them that they’re battling one of the best teams in the state,” said Southington coach Evan Tuttle. “If you can’t win the external battle today, you better win the internal battle. That means do you give up on yourself when you start falling behind in your own individual race or do you buckle down and aim for that best time.”
At home against Avon on Wednesday, Ramsey was a double winner in the 50 freestyle (24.41) and 100 fly (59.81).
Other notable performances included second-place finishes from the team of Brendon Egan, Austin Bull, Dariusz Zajac, and Andrew Rogalski in the 200 medley relay, Egan in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, Zack Blake in the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle, the team of Blake, Evan Bender, Julian Figueiroa, and Ramsey in the 200 freestyle relay, John Stevens in the 100 breaststroke, and the team of Blake, Ramsey, Wakefield, and Egan in the 400 freestyle relay.
The Knights will look to qualify more athletes for the state meet and get back to winning ways when they host East Catholic on Friday.