CHESHIRE – Dan Mascolo and his Cheshire girls swimming and diving team hadn’t spoken about winning a state title at all this year, but with a solid group returning and a talented crop of freshman joining, it was always a possibility.
After winning the SCC championship in record fashion earlier this month, the Rams won their first state class title since 2009 and the 27th in program history by unseating six-time Class L champ Darien on Wednesday night at Wesleyan University.
“It was a lot of fun to watch,” Mascolo said. “It was as about as close as perfect as we could have drawn it up. There’s always going to be wildcards, but as far as what we could have hoped for, scoring 850-plus points, it’s just amazing.”
The night of domination began with a state record and All-American consideration time of 1:43.99 in the 200 medley relay, with Ali Tyler, Liz Boyer, Julia Stevens and Sophie Murphy starring.
It was the first of three relay wins and a handful of records for the Rams on Wednesday night.
Tyler, just a freshman, broke the Class L 100 backstroke record with a 56.98. The previous standard of 57.71 had stood since 1993.
Cheshire featured six school records in the meet, including the 200 medley relay and Liz Boyer’s championship swims in the 200 IM (2:02.86) and the 100 breaststroke (1:02.35).
“It was really cool to be able to win a state championship with my team on my last state meet,” Boyer said. “Every year we have been moving up at states and each year we had all worked harder and harder. To be able to reach it was so special. It meant so much.”
Boyer was a part of four school records. She was on the 400 free relay team along with Samantha Grenon, Tyler and Stevens. They set the new standard for Cheshire with a 3:30.91.
“When we started the night with an All-American time in the relay, we all got pumped up from that,” Stevens said. “That’s the first time I had ever had an All-American time. It was really fun. We broke the state record and that was really exciting. We all pushed each other. This was a great team win.”
Individually, Murphy was a double-winner, sweeping the 50 and 100 freestyles. Her time of 23.76 in the 50 is a new Cheshire record. She collected the 100 free title in 51.61.
“I’m proud to be a part of it,” Murphy said. “It was a long time ago when we won a lot and to bring that back for Cheshire swimming, we proved Cheshire swimming is very strong and we can achieve greatness like we did last night.”
Stevens continued the domination with gold in the 500 free with a time of 4:59.07.
Grenon, Jordyn Deubel, Murphy and Esther Han took the 200 free relay in 1:38.13.
“It means a lot,” Mascolo said. “We never set it as our goal to win. We set it as our goal to swim fast, and they swam fast. By being able to just focus on our swim and not on the points, it helped them do things the right way all season long and it showed.
“They were thrilled to win, but understand the reason they won was because of the work they put in and the focus they had on swimming fast. We said all season, ‘If we swim fast, we will be very happy how the team does at the end.’”
Mascolo praised the senior class, a group that performed with excellence for four years.
“They had a tremendous four years and they had been through a lot between not having a pool to getting back here and getting used to it,” Mascolo said. “It’s been a long four years for these girls and they’ve gotten better every year. Each year they have gotten stronger. They were 44-0 in dual meets with four SCC titles, a state runner up and a state title. That’s pretty awesome.”
Now the Rams turn to the State Open on Saturday at Yale.
“I think we stack up pretty well,” Mascolo said. “I think Greenwich is going to win it. They are going to get possibly 100 points from diving alone, which is going to be too much of a head start to overcome. I think that, head to head, we can swim with anyone in the state. Sienna Breton is a very competitive diver for us, but they are going to put four girls in the top six. In the swimming end of it, we are going to go in and race and try our best to finish as high as possible.”
Cheshire is the No. 1 seed in the 200 medley. Individually, the Rams have No. 1 seeds in Boyer (breaststroke) and Murphy (100 freestyle. Boyer is No. 2 in the IM and Murphy is No. 2 in the backstroke.
In total, Cheshire has qualified 14 different girls and all three relays for the Open.
Lyman Hall and Southington will also be represented. Here’s the breakdown for the Trojans and Blue Knights:
■Lyman Hall: The 200 medley relay team of Kristie Driscoll, Nicole Cislo, Faith Gambardella and Sarah Beverage is in after finishing second in Class M. The same quartet also qualified in the 200 freestyle relay.
Individually, Gambardella made it in the 500 freestyle.
■Southington: Olivia Fournier leads the Blue Knights into Yale. She qualified in both the 50 and 100 freestyles after breaking her own school records during the Class LL meet.
Fournier anchors a pair of relays that also broke school records at the Class LL meet and qualified for the Open. She teams with Meghan Hammarlund, Julie Duszak and Maddie Symecko on the medley and with Duszak, Gianna Perugini and Andie Nadeau on the 200 freestyle.
Swimming starts at 5:30 p.m. at Yale on Saturday.