By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knights finished out the regular season strong, bouncing back with a pair of wins after suffering a pair of losses the week prior. Now, it’s onto the CCC West Championship.
The Knights will enter the postseason next week when they send four divers to Westminster School in Simsbury for the diving portion of the conference championship on Tuesday, Feb. 27 (7:30 p.m.). Divers representing Southington will include Emerson Suski, Chase Galayda, Kian Siadat, and Ben Ragozzine. Both Suski and Galayda are only 15 points shy of the school’s diving record.
Southington coach Evan Tuttle said that their diving program has really been outstanding and untouchable for the past few years, and he couldn’t be more confident in those kids.
“I know they’re going to show up ready to go,” said Tuttle. “They want to improve on their scores to move up the ranks in the state seeds.”
The Knights will also return to the Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford for the third time this season for the swimming portion of the conference meet the next day (3:30 p.m.). Southington won last year’s conference meet, and although Hall beat out Conard to win this year’s CCC West title, based on regular season dual meets, Tuttle said that there’s still definitely something on the line at the conference meet with possible back-to-back wins.
He also said that he’s just looking forward to everyone being their best with about six or seven swimmers on the bubble of Class LL qualifying times.
“Because we’ve had an opportunity to taper down a little bit and get into competition shape, we usually put up an astronomical number of best times,” said Tuttle. “And that’s what I look forward to most…watching every race finish, looking up at the board, and seeing best time after best time.”
Southington finished the regular season with an overall record of 7-4 (3-0 home, 4-4 away), going 3-2 in the CCC West Division.
The Knights began the week by breaking their two-meet losing streak with a 90-71 rout of divisional NW Catholic at home on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Southington clinched the meet with three events remaining.
The following finished first in the meet: Tyler Heidgerd, Brendon Egan, Evan Bender, and Alex Kuhr in the 200 medley relay; Bender, Derek Melanson, Quintin Kimmel, and Kuhr in the 200 freestyle relay; Brendon Egan, Kimmel, Brian Egan, and Heidgerd in the 400 freestyle relay; Melanson in the 200 freestyle; Kuhr in the 50 freestyle; Brendon Egan in the 100 fly; Bender in the 100 freestyle; Jackson Malsheske in the 500 freestyle; and Heidgerd in the 100 backstroke.
Tuttle said that the meet really highlighted the depth of the team, finishing one-two in a couple of the relays and one-two-three in a series of other events.
“They have small numbers, but they have some pretty good talent on that team,” said Tuttle. “They have some kids that will be at the state meet and probably at the state open as well, but our strength in numbers was certainly able to persevere and get us the win.”
The Knights closed out the regular season a couple days later with a comfortable 89-75 victory over divisional Farmington at home. Southington clinched the meet with two events remaining.
The following finished first in the meet: Heidgerd, Brendon Egan, Melanson, and Kuhr in the 200 medley relay; Brendon Egan, Brian Egan, Kuhr, and Kimmel in the 200 freestyle relay; Bender, Brian Egan, Kimmel, and Heidgerd in the 400 freestyle relay; Melanson in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle; Brendon Egan in the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke; Heidgerd in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke; and Kimmel in the 200 freestyle. Heidgerd improved his Class LL time in the 100 backstroke (57.33).
Tuttle said that the day was all about the seniors, and they didn’t disappoint.
“I think nearly every senior posted a best time today, whether it be in a relay, split, or an individual event,” said Tuttle. “I told the team that we performed in a way that made the seniors proud, and the seniors certainly performed in a way that made us proud as well.”
The following seniors were recognized during the meet: Rachel DePonte, Kristian Izydorczak, Alex Kuhr, Tom Tsangarides, Evan Bender (captain), Brendon Egan (captain), Jacob Holbrook (captain), Quintin Kimmel (captain), and Ben Wakefield (captain).
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.