For most high school teams, it is difficult to maintain a level of success that is consistent each season. However, just two seasons after finishing undefeated in the regular season, the Southington boys swimming and diving team is on the verge of their second regular season CCC west title in three years.
The Blue Knights have won nine straight since a season-opening loss to Cheshire, and they could have lock up the division in their regular season finale against NW Catholic. They also picked up a resounding win over Avon. Here is what happened:
Feb. 19 – Southington picked up a divisonal win in front of their home crowd after a lengthy stretch of road meets. The Knights won four of the final five events to seal the victory.
Tyler Heidgerd and Derek Melanson were double winners for the fifth time this season. Heidgerd took the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:52.54 and the 100 back with a time of 57.25. Melanson won the individual medley in 2:07.98 and the 100 butterfly with a time of 57.17.
Brian Egan and Jackson Malsheske were the other individual winners, with Egan winning the 100 free in 54.32 and Malsheske taking the 500 free in 5:16.38.
The relay teams also continued to shine for the Blue Knights. The medley relay team of Melanson, Heidgerd, Jon Cocchiola, and Landon Colby took first in a time of 1:43.79.
The 200 free relay team of Cocchiola, Egan, Malsheske, and Kyle Buchanan took first in a time of 1:38.77. The 400 free relay team of Melanson, Colby, Buchanan and Heidgerd took first in a time of 3:38.10.
It was the first meet since Jan. 15 that Southington was without its diving team due to hosting at the YMCA, but the Knights showcased their depth in the win.
“Our diving core is vital to the success of this program, and proved it again tonight with our win over Avon,” head coach Evan Tuttle said. “Coming away with a victory last week at home, without diving certainly highlights the swimming depth of the team, but this program would not be in the position it is without our divers.”
Win over Avon
Feb. 24 – Southington’s diving team returned on Monday when Southington hosted Avon at Plainville High School. Like Tuttle said, they made a difference in a 23-point victory. EJ Suski took first in diving with a score of 256.85.
Other than that, Southington’s results came as expected at this point in the season. Heidgerd and Melanson were double winners for the third meet in a row, and all three relay teams took first again.
Heidgerd was a winner in the 100 free with a time of 50.34 and the 100 back with a time of 58.78. Melanson took first in the individual medley for the fourth straight meet with a time of 2:05.32, while also placing first in the 100 fly in 55.55.
The medley relay team of Heidgerd, Cocchiola, Melanson and Dan Perez took first in a time of 1:45.75. The 200 free relay team of Cocchiola, Colby, Buchanan, and Malsheske took first in a time of 1:38.14. The 400 free relay team of Melanson, Colby, Buchanan and Heidgerd took first in a time of 3:40.15.
Cocchiola was also an individual winner in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.19.
On average, Southington’s best finishers in each event have improved their times by about two seconds since the beginning of the season. Tuttle said that is a testament to the team’s desire to improve every day.
“The growth and drop in time is exactly what we work for each day,” Tuttle said. “We know that if we can be a little better each day than the growth by end of season will be dramatic. They have done that consistently since day one and will continue to do so through the last day of the season and even in the offseason.”
The division title could serve as a confidence boost for the Blue Knights as the postseason approaches, but Tuttle said there are other victories the team will be looking for.
“We go into each meet looking for three victories,” Tuttle said. “One in terms of score, one in terms of personal bests and most importantly in the intangibles, like their character, integrity, attitude, energy and sportsmanship. I’ve told them all season that if they take care of what is in their control and attain best marks then the rest will take care of itself. We will seek to do the same Wednesday and finish our regular season with another set of three wins.”
Southington wrapped up the regular season on Wednesday (Feb. 26) hosting NW Catholic. The CCC west championship meet will take place on Tuesday (March 3) at Westminster School in Simsbury, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at Sports@SouthingtonObserver.com.