BY BRIAN JENNINGS
Although they didn’t crack the top 10 at the Class LL championship, the Lady Knight swimming and diving team still managed to boast five school records and a medalist at the state meet, advancing a pair of relays and a swimmer in two individual events to the state open.
Moments before Saturday’s state open, Southington coach Evan Tuttle said that he told his girls that, in terms of the season, they had already achieved their goals in being there.
“Our number one priority today was to enjoy it and leave nothing left,” the coach said. “I wanted them to really go for it, be aggressive in the relays, and see if we can’t lower those best times and those school records a bit more.”
Southington advanced six Knights to the state open, which is the most Southington has had at the event in Tuttle’s tenure with the program. Tuttle said that the fact that the team had such a good representation at the state open, finishing in the top 20, with Olivia Fournier leading the way as senior captain has established the program to be in a really competitive position throughout the state.
“There were only two Central Connecticut schools that finished above us at the state open,” said Tuttle. “It also points out the fact that of the six ladies swimming, Liv was the only senior. Five of those six are returning next year, which means promising things for the future of the program.”
Southington finished the regular season at 8-2. The Knights are losing the following seven seniors to graduation after this season: Gina Calo, Isabella DiFusco, Olivia Fournier, Jessica Monte, Cheyanne Young, Patrycja Zajac, and Kara Zazzaro.
Class LL Championship
NOV. 14—In the Class LL championship at Wesleyan University in Middletown on Tuesday, Southington placed 12th out of 21 teams with 207 points.
Julie Duszak finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke, medaling with a time of 1:09.68, which was the first time since a Southington swimmer graced the podium at the state meet since 2015 when Olivia Fournier finished fourth in the 100 freestyle.
The following five performances broke school records: Meghan Hammarlund, Duszak, Maddie Symecko, and Fournier in the 200 medley relay (7th, 1:52.75); Duszak, Gianna Perugini, Andie Nadeau, and Fournier in the 200 freestyle relay (8th, 1:41.11); Hammarlund in the 100 backstroke (16th, 1:02.09); and Fournier in the 50 freestyle (8th, 24.63) and 100 freestyle (11th, 53.52).
Other notable performances from the meet included the following: Nadeau, Kara Zazzaro, Symecko, and Hammarlund in the 400 freestyle relay; Duszak in the 50 freestyle; Symecko in the 100 backstroke; Hammarlund in the 200 individual medley; and Patrycja Zajac in the 100 breaststroke.
Greenwich (828) won their eighth-straight (21st overall) CIAC Class LL title, fending off Ridgefield (535) by almost 300 points. The Cardinals produced six Class LL champions (4 individual, 2 relay) and two runners-up, breaking state records in the 100 fly (Kelly Montesi, 54.03) and 400 freestyle (3:27.16). Staples (475) placed third.
NOV. 18—The Knights reset school records in a pair of relays after concluding their season with a trip to the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University in New Haven for the state open on Saturday. Southington placed 20th with 82 points out of 54 teams.
Hammarlund, Duszak, Symecko, and Fournier took 10th out of 24 teams in the 200 medley relay, breaking the school record with a time of 1:52.16. The relay was seeded 15th with a time of 1:52.75 coming in.
Duszak and Fournier were back at it and teamed up with Perugini and Nadeau to rewrite the record books with a time of 1:40.52 in the 200 freestyle relay, taking 11th out of 24 teams. The relay was seeded 15th with a time of 1:41.11 coming in.
As the only Knight to represent Southington in the individual events, Fournier finished 17th out of 24 swimmers in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.69 and 18th out of 24 swimmers in the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.65. She was .06 seconds away from her seeded mark in the 50 freestyle and .13 seconds away from her seeded mark in the 100 freestyle.
“I was a little tired having swum two meets and then this one in the same week,” said Fournier. “That’s a lot for me. I was hoping to beat my records and put a lot of pressure on myself on not doing it, but still, those are good times. I’m happy with them, but I just wish they came out better.”
Fournier missed her season bests by hundredths of a second having never swum four events at the state open. But for someone who owns over half of Southington’s school records, either as an individual or leg of a relay, Saturday was the end of a remarkable high school swimming career.
“It’s been an honor to be a part of this team and swim under Coach (Evan) Tuttle and Coach (Tammi) Haynes,” said Fournier. “The girls are just amazing, and I couldn’t have wished for any better teammates. They push me every day to be the best that I could be, and I’m just so lucky to have them.”
Greenwich (633.5) sat high above its usual perch, winning their third-straight (18th overall) CIAC state open title by over 150 points over Cheshire (477). The Cardinals produced four state champions (3 individual, 1 relay) and four runners-up, breaking state records in the 100 fly (Montesi, 53.88), 200 individual medley (Meghan Lynch, 2:00.08) and 400 freestyle relay (3:27.00). Staples (344) placed third.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/11/20/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-nov-24-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.