By BRIAN JENNINGS
After they produced one of their most successful seasons under head coach Evan Tuttle by completing the regular season undefeated, the Blue Knight swimming and diving team carried that momentum into the postseason.
The Knights advanced 10 swimmers in nine events to the Class LL finals—held at Wesleyan University in Middletown on Monday, March 13—and finished 11th overall with a score of 183, reaching nine best times out of 10 entries. The Knights also qualified at least one swimmer in every event, but the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
“I know we wanted to crack that top 10,” said Tuttle. “That’s something we set as a goal for ourselves when we came in here and nearly made it. But 11th is the strongest finish we’ve had since Mike Smigelski was swimming, and he was a two-time Class LL champ. This was a very good team effort.”
Greenwich won their fifth-straight and 42nd overall CIAC Class LL title with a score of 789.5, triumphing the next closest competitor by 123.5 points. The Cardinals had two state champions and two runners-up. Fairfield Prep (666) finished as runner-up with five state champions, followed by Cheshire (474), Ridgefield (470.5), Staples (451), and Glastonbury (450.5).
The following were notable individual performances from the meet: Zack Blake in the 100 freestyle (12th, 50.09) and 50 freestyle (18th, 22.91), PJ Ramsey in the 100 fly (12th, 55.02) and 50 freestyle (20th, 23.04), Brendon Egan in the 200 freestyle (18th, 1:52.04), Tyler Heidgerd in the 100 backstroke (14th, 56.60), and Derek Melanson in the 500 freestyle (23rd, 5:05.92).
Evan Bender originally qualified for the 100 backstroke at the Class LL trials, but was pulled out of the event so he could swim in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle. However, the switch paid off.
“It turned out to be a necessary move,” said Tuttle. “I thanked Bender before the meet, and I’ll make sure to thank him again for making the personal sacrifice for those two relays.”
Bender helped Blake, Brendon Egan, and Ramsey achieved Southington’s best finish in the meet by taking eighth (1:31.75) in the 200 freestyle relay.
“Getting Bender in there was huge,” the coach said. “He’s really emerged as a strong sprinter this season. So, I knew getting him in there was a must.”
In the other team events, Heidgerd, Joe Savarese, Ramsey, and Nick Kelley placed 10th (1:45.68) in the 200 medley relay, and Brendon Egan, Bender, Heidgerd, and Blake placed 12th (3:23.85) in the 400 freestyle relay.
The Class L championship took place earlier in the day on Monday, but the Knights still have to wait for the Class M and Class S championships to finish on Thursday, March 16 to see which individuals and relays advanced to the state open. The open is scheduled to take place at Yale University on Saturday, March 18. Warm-up is at 12:30 p.m., and competition is at 2:30 p.m.
Class LL Swimming Trials
MARCH 11—The Knights fared well at the Class LL swimming trials at East Hartford High School, and that set up the team’s strong finish at finals.
Individuals that advanced to the finals included the following: Blake in the 50 freestyle (T16th, 23.23) and 100 freestyle (14th, 51.02), Ramsey in the 50 freestyle (19th, 23.39) and 100 fly (15th, 56.14), Heidgerd in the 100 backstroke (13th, 57.21), Brendon Egan in the 200 freestyle (17th, 1:51.94), Bender in the 100 backstroke (20th, 58.70), and Derek Melanson in the 500 freestyle (24th, 5:06.43).
Egan was also a second alternate in the 100 breaststroke (26th, 1:06.04).
In the team events, Heidgerd, Savarese, Jacob Holbrook, and Kelley in the 200 medley relay (10th, 1:48.01); Blake, Brendon Egan, Ben Wakefield, and Ramsey in the 200 freestyle relay (8th, 1:34.41); and Bender, Brian Egan, Ben Wakefield, and Heidgerd in the 400 freestyle relay (11th, 3:30.12).
Class LL Diving Championship
MARCH 9—Southington sent four divers to compete in the Class LL diving championship at Hamden High School on Thursday.
Chase Galayda marshaled the Knights by finishing 14th out of 35 divers with a score of 353.55, setting a new school record. Emerson Suski finished 25th (198.45), followed by Kian Siadat in 28th (178.7) and Victoria Duszak in 33rd (91.75).
Justin Sodokoff of Greenwich won the Class LL diving title with a score of 537.7. Sodokoff’s fellow teammate, Devin Satir, finished as runner-up (520.2), followed by Kevin Bradley of Brien McMahon-Norwalk (490.45), Sergei Shaw of Greenwich (438.25), Ethan Godfrey of Glastonbury (421.1), Kyle Gaynor of Newtown (406.3), Nicholas Jefferson of Glastonbury (402.1), Jason Bagdasarian of Glastonbury (398.05), Eamon Mahoney of Westhill-Stamford (373.75), and Mikel Kyle of East Hartford (367).
The top 10 divers from the meet advanced to the state open.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (http://southingtonobserver.com/2017/03/15/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-march-17-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.