Returning a solid group from last season to join some exciting newcomers, Southington boys swimming was tested immediately in their season opener. The Blue Knights took on a Cheshire team that finished third in Class L just a season ago.
While Southington came up just short against the Rams, they responded with their first win of the season four days later at Plainville.
The main difference for the Knights in the win over the Blue Devils was the performance of the relay teams as three teams placed first. Here is the recap of the first two meets:
Loss at Cheshire
JAN. 3—Cheshire continued their dominance from a season ago as they won eight of the 12 events in a 98-85 victory. The Knights held their own against the deep and talented Rams, and their veterans picked up right where they left off last season.
Derek Melanson was a double winner in both the 500 freestyle, with a time of 5:01.81, and the 100 backstroke, with a time of 56.90 .
Tyler Heidgerd took first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:51.20. EJ Suski took first in diving with a score of 227.10.
Coach Evan Tuttle said he embraced the challenge early on in the season.
“We were fortunate to start our season against one of the best programs in the area,” Tuttle said. “While, by the end of the meet, we did not have the depth to keep pace, we had the opportunity to compete against athletes that will drive us to be our best. An experience that will prove invaluable for when we get into our conference schedule that is filled with quality programs.”
Win at Plainville
JAN. 7—The Knights had 12 winners on their way to their first win of the season, 91-84 over Plainville. Melanson was a double winner for the second straight meet and two others joined him in accomplishing that feat.
Melanson took first in the 200 free, with a time of 1:54.46, as well as the 100 butterfly, with a time of 55.85.
Heidgerd was also a double winner in both the 50 free (23.76) and 100 back (57.27), while Jackson Malsheske was a double winner in the individual medley (2:12.15) and the 100 free (53.79).
Three relay teams also finished in first for the Knights, including the team that qualified for the state open last season.
The 400 free relay team of Melanson, Landon Colby, Brian Egan and Heidgerd took first in a time of 3:40.40.
The 200 medley relay team of Heidgerd, Jon Cocchiola, Colby and Kyle Buchanan took first in a time of 1:47.04. Also, the 200 free relay team of Cocchiola, Buchanan, Malsheske and Melanson took first in a time of 1:38.44.
Colby and Cocchiola also each placed first in an individual event, with Colby winning the 500 free in 5:26.29 and Cocchiola winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.71.
Tuttle said the main focus is not only to win but to make sure the team is better than the previous meet, which was the case.
“As I’ve mentioned many times before, scores at the end of a meet are not necessarily an indicator of success,” Tuttle said. “One can win but do it the wrong way, just as one can lose and do it the right way. So while it is a team goal to win meets, it is more of a focus to win the right way. This is what we were able to do Tuesday. Not only did we come away with a win but we also came away with personal bests, and a perspective on areas to continue to improve.”
Several freshmen for Southington have already showed they can make an impact, including Alex Rosania, who took first in diving with a score of 183.15.
“I would like to highlight our diving core from the Plainville meet,” Tuttle said. “We put up 4 freshman divers in the meet, and the divers swept the event. These freshman divers, guided by their upperclassman teammates and our phenomenal diving coach Jan Zagorski, have had an impressive start to their high school diving careers.”
Southington had their home opener on Wednesday (Jan. 15) against East Catholic. They will travel to Newington on Tuesday (Jan. 21) for a 4:30 p.m. start.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.