By BRIAN JENNINGS
After placing 11th out of 21 teams at the Class LL championship, the Blue Knight swimming and diving team advanced a relay to compete against the best swimmers in Connecticut at the state open, held at the Yale University in New Haven on Saturday, March 18.
“Granted that we didn’t have as many bodies there as we would have liked to competing, we still made it to the final round and advanced as far as we could,” said Southington coach Evan Tuttle. “We performed well while we were there.”
Zack Blake (22.9), Evan Bender (23.5), Brendon Egan (22.81), and PJ Ramsey (22.38) took 16th out of 24 teams with a time of 1:31.59 in the 200 freestyle relay.
“They had a good race,” said Tuttle. “I know that they were aiming for the school record. They missed out on that, but they still posted a best time, which has been the motto of the team every meet.”
The current school record of the boys 200 freestyle relay is 1:30.43.
Tuttle said that he was very confident about the 200 freestyle relay advancing to the state open after they posted a time of 1:31.75 at Class LL finals, coming into the state open seeded 18th. But he was also hopeful for the 400 freestyle relay that was on the 24-cut bubble after Bender, Brian Egan, Tyler Heidgerd, and Blake took 12th at the finals. However, 3:23.85 wasn’t fast enough.
“Nonetheless, that time is incredible,” the coach said. “They dropped nearly seven seconds from their trials time to their finals time, which is outstanding.”
The 200 medley relay was also on the bubble of making the state open after finishing up at the Class LL meet. The few swimmers that just missed out on extending their seasons individually included Ramsey in the 100 fly (12th, 55.02), Blake in the 100 freestyle (12th, 50.09), and Heidgerd in the 100 backstroke (14th, 56.6).
Pomperaug finished first in the relay with a time of 1:25.88, followed by Greenwich (1:26.03), New Canaan (1:26.29), Fairfield Prep (1:26.72), Cheshire (1:28.09), and Notre Dame of West Haven (1:28.76).
The Knights placed 37th overall with 22 points out of 49 teams. Greenwich won their fifth-straight and 33rd overall CIAC state open title, finishing with 465.5 points. Pomperaug (459.5) finished as runner-up for the second-straight year.
Although the Knights advanced just one relay to the state open, a season that was decorated with an undefeated regular season (11-0) and a CCC South White divisional title—the first conference title since 2005—was still considered to be one of Tuttle’s best seasons, if not his best, in his tenure with the program.
“This season obviously will now serve as the benchmark for all future seasons,” said Tuttle. “That’s the expectation that we’re certainly going to try to live up to.”
The Knights are already in the process of trying to repeat the success they’ve had this season by adding new teams like Middletown and Glastonbury to next year’s regular season schedule.
The Knights are losing the following 10 seniors to graduation after this season: Katherine Bauer, Blake, Kyle Chinigo, Victoria Duszak, Kornelia Jez, Nicholas Kelley, Ramsey, Joseph Savarese, Adrian Swinicki, and Jonathan Symecko.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (http://southingtonobserver.com/2017/03/20/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-march-24-edition/). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.