By John Goralski
For only the second time this season, the Lady Knight swim team was edged by a perennial power. For the second time this season, they rebounded with a spirited win.
On Friday, Oct. 24, Southington trailed by 13 points after Berlin scored three divers against the Lady Knights’ empty lineup. They entered the event tied, 31-31, but with seven races remaining Southington had dug itself a hole.
“We knew that diving would put us into a pinch going into the second half of the meet,” said Lady Knight coach Evan Tuttle. “We knew that we’d have to have some girls step up, but that’s what we’ve been doing at away meets all year. We’ve been overcoming those diving points. It took us a few more events than it typically does, but we got the job done.”
Olivia Fournier was the only Knight to score a win in the first half of the meet with a victory in the 50 freestyle (25.66), but Southington rallied for four wins over the first six races in the second half.
Fournier started the charge with a new school record in the 100 freestyle (55.57). Kerry Buchanan followed with a state qualifying time in the 500 free (5:48.75).
Marisa Matthews, Kristen Loose, Buchanan, and Fournier teamed up for a win in the 200 free relay (1:48.69). Bailey Potter won the 100 backstroke (1:07.91). Southington turned to exhibition in the final race even though Buchanan, Potter, Allison Schroeder, and Fournier scored the fastest time in the 400 free relay (4:03.72).
The Knights came away with a 92-89 win.
“I knew that it was going to come down to the end, and it did exactly that,” said Tuttle. “Luckily we were able to get the upper hand.”
Tuttle wasn’t as pleased following the loss to Conard on Tuesday. Once again, the Knights were challenged by a clean sweep in diving. This time, they couldn’t overcome a top-heavy Conard lineup. Tuttle was more disappointed in the disheartened effort than the loss.
“There are good losses and bad losses, but this wasn’t a good loss for us,” said Tuttle. “Our energy level wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, so it was that much more important to come back against Berlin—mentally and physically—on the pool deck. Our girls responded very well.”
On the other hand, Tuttle did like his team’s competitiveness against the clock. Fournier scored a victory in the 100 freestyle (56.39). Matthews won the 100 breaststroke (1:12.02), but Southington swimmers combined for nine second place finishes. Still, it wasn’t enough, as Conard cruised to a 100-78 win.
“Year after year, Conard and Hall put together great programs, and this year wasn’t any different,” said Tuttle. “It made it harder to go on the road and face them, but it wasn’t impossible. I still like to think that, at both Hall and Conard, the outcome of the meet could have been different if a few of the races went differently.”
Now, Tuttle is looking to raise the bar with a 10-win season that would be unprecidented since the CCC West was created. At 9-2, the Knights will need to beat Plainville in the season finale. Once again, they will be hampered by their lack of divers.
“That Plainville pool’s always been good for us, and I expect it to be close this year as well,” said Tuttle. “Hope-fully, we can come out of it with another victory and come away with double digit wins.”
By John Goralski