By BRIAN JENNINGS
Quintin Kimmel looked as if his lunch was going to be all over the pool deck as he slowly lifted himself out of the water after the 200 freestyle race, but it would take more than illness to keep him out of the competition.
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Kimmel climbed back onto the blocks for the 500 freestyle with the score knotted, 47-47. He didn’t post his best time, but he beat out Conard’s last swimmer in the event after chasing a good 15 yards going into the last 100. The effort wasn’t lost on his coach.
“He always finishes strong and turns it over in the last 50 to 25,” said Southington coach Evan Tuttle. “And he did that today, despite the fact that he’s been sick…That was a huge turning point. The energy he brought from out-touching that kid after being down so much really brought back up the team and changed the momentum of the meet to finish things out.”
For the second year in a row, Southington edged Conard in a conference dual meet. It took three personal best times, close battles up and down the lineup, and a couple of brave swims by Kimmel, but the Knights outlasted the Chieftains, 95-75, at the Southington YMCA.
“It just shows the depth of talent that we have,” said Tuttle. “We’re tough, and I wouldn’t say that it was for a lack of effort by any means. The times weren’t there and they didn’t have the swims that we usually do, but we showed up when we needed to and had the finishes to gut it out in the end.”
The Knights held a lead through the first five events of the meet, but the Chieftains tied the score at 47-47 with first and third-place finishes in the 100 freestyle. However, the Knights regained the lead with first and second-place finishes by Derek Melanson and Tyler Heidgerd in the 500 freestyle and never looked back.
Second and third-place finishes by Brendon Egan and Julie Duszak in the 100 breaststroke clinched the win for the Knights.
“There were some surprises today, but I knew that Conard was going to show up ready to go,” the coach said. “I knew that they were going to be geared up and ready for us since we got them last year. But I knew that if we had a full roster and could swim our times, we’d be okay. We swam around our times, but it was enough to get the win.”
Other first-place finishes included the following: Melanson in the 200 freestyle (1:59.44); Brendon Egan in the 200 individual medley (2:14.19); Zack Blake in the 50 freestyle (24.00); Heidgerd in the 100 backstroke (59.60); Brendon Egan, Duszak, PJ Ramsey, and Evan Bender in the 200 medley relay (1:49.44); Blake, Brendon Egan, Nick Kelley, and Ramsey in the 200 freestyle relay (1:37.28); and Blake, Brian Egan, Bender, and Heidgerd in the 400 freestyle relay (3:39.63).
Win at Plainville
JAN. 27—A couple days later, the Knights remained undefeated with a 96-76 victory at Plainville. Southington clinched the win with four events remaining.
The following finished first in the meet: Brendon Egan in the 200 freestyle (1:54.84); Derek Melanson in the 200 individual medley (2:12.93) and 100 fly (59.77); PJ Ramsey in the 50 freestyle (24.17); EJ Suski in diving (192.35); Zack Blake in the 100 freestyle (52.79) and 100 breaststroke (1:10.56); Tyler Heidgerd in the 100 backstroke (59.68); Evan Bender, Julie Duszak, Brian Egan, and Nick Kelley in the 200 medley relay (1:52.56); Blake, Brian Egan, Kelley, and Ramsey in the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.34); and Brendon Egan, Brian Egan, Ramsey, and Heidgerd in the 400 freestyle relay (3:39.42).
Suski improved his state-qualifying mark in diving.
The Knights will look to remain undefeated this week with meets against Hall and Bristol Central-Bristol Eastern. Southington is currently 6-0 overall.
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