GIRLS SWIMMING 2018: Led by reigning Class L champ Cheshire, locals look strong on the blocks

GIRLS SWIMMING 2018: Led by reigning Class L champ Cheshire, locals look strong on the blocks



reporter photo

Last year was a successful campaign for girls swimming in the Record-Journal coverage area, highlighted by Cheshire’s Class L state championship.

Southington and Lyman Hall also came through with winning seasons punctuated by postseason performances that set program records.

Sheehan and Meriden Co-Op put together some strong individual performances and improvements that were camoflauged by their win-loss record.

Check out the breakdown of the five area swim teams.

Lyman Hall

Donna Neary’s squad, which finished 7-6 in the dual-meet season, returns team MVP Faith Gambardella and her fellow All-State relay teammates Sarah Beverage and Kristina Driscoll.

That trio, along with graduated senior Nicole Cislo, were second in Class M in the 200 medley relay and fifth in the 200 freestyle relay.

Beverage and Driscoll are senior captains this year along with Maeve Montante and Stephanie Lebedeva-Lopez.

Gambardella, still only a junior, is coming off a sophomore season in which she was fourth in Class M in both the 100 backstroke and 500 freestyle.

Lyman Hall also brings in a trio of promising freshmen in Caroline Krawec (breastsroke), Elena Bielesz (backstroke) and Paige Wentzell (diving).

Ashley Joiner is Neary’s assistant coach.

“Lyman Hall is looking for our girls to strive for personal bests and enjoy being a part of a team while competing at the high level of the SCC,” Neary said.

Southington

Evan Tuttle enters his 10th year as head coach with the Blue Knights coming off of an 8-2 season with a 3-2 mark in the CCC West.

In 2017, Southington broke five school records, had six conference champions and saw eight named to the CCC West All-Conference team.

The Lady Knights graduated seven seniors, led by Olivia Fournier, one of the top swimmers to come through the Southington program. She holds six program records, either individually or as part of a relay, and is now swimming at Trinity College.

Also gone from last year’s squad are Isabella Difusco, Jess Monte, Cheyanne Young, Gina Calo, Pat Zajac and Kara Zazzaro.

This year, the Blue Knights will be led by a strong, veteran senior class. At the head of the pack are captains Abby Lo Presti, Lidia Prusak, Julia Holland and Julie Duszak.

Other returners are State Open finalists Meghan Hammarlund, Maddie Symecko, Gianna Perugini and Andie Nadeau. Class LL qualifier Jenna Famiglietti is also back.

In diving, Class LL qualifier Liz Beaulieu returns. Sarah Meade, a standout in the winter season with the boys team, joins the girls squad.

“We look to fulfil the Southington athletics motto of ‘Chasing Excellence’ by working tirelessly day in and day out to improve, and will not settle for less than our best,” Tuttle said. “The Lady Knights look to qualify as many athletes as possible into the postseason and make another historic push for the State Open.”

Tuttle is assisted by Tammi Haynes. Jan Zagorski is the diving coach.

Cheshire

The Rams were at the top of the mountain last year as SCC and Class L champs. Cheshire also finished second in the State Open.

A year later, the Rams have absorbed the losses of three-year Record-Journal Girls Swimmer of the Year Liz Boyer (Harvard), Jordyn Deubel (Marist) and Lexi Tejeda.

They also have a new coach in Dave Modzelewski, who takes over for Dan Mascolo (see related story).

Cheshire will be led by senior captains Ellie Murphy and Elli Haskes.

Among the returners is sophomore Sophie Murphy. She proved to be one of the top swimmers in the state last year as a fresman. At the State Open, Murphy placed second in the 50 freestyle, third in the 100 freestyle and was a member of the Class L and State Open championship 200 medley relay, which holds the state record.

Also back is junior Julia Stevens, the Class L champion in the 500 freestyle and a member of the State Open champion 200 medley relay.

Other Open qualifiers were Esther Han, Sammi Grenon, Bella Tejeda, C.C. Breton, Grace Pettit, Shannon Lindsey, Jillian Stevens, Haskes and Glover.

Promising newcomvers include senior Ola Nawrocki, sophomore Nora Bergstrom and sophomore diver Tori McCarthy.

“We are hoping to repeat all of the successes that we had a year ago,” Modzelewski said. “We have challenged some of the younger swimmers to make their first state qualifying times and potentially make it to the State Open. We would like to see more SCC and Class L qualifying times achieved as a team than last year.”

Modzelewski added that the Rams enter the season completely healthy.

“With key losses such as Liz Boyer and Jordyn Deubel going on to swim at Harvard and Marist, respectively, we will need our sophomore class to step up into their places,” Modzelewski said. “Sophie Murphy is approaching a few SCC records as a sophomore and Julia Stevens is looking to repeat or improve her successes in the distance freestyle events. Our relay teams continue to look strong despite our graduating senior class.”

Sheehan

The Titans were 1-9 last year with just 11 athletes on the roster, but Dan Wostbrock’s squad has doubled this year. Carly Conchado and Marissa Soldi were the biggest losses to graduation.

Wostbrock, now in his sixth year, calls this a “building year” after just one win in SCC Division II action in 2017.

“We have a small senior class, but we have high expectations,” the coach said.

Katie Cosgrove, Kate Santacrose, Cat Neal and Hannah Dale are Sheehan’s top returning seniors.

Junior Rachel Kerrigan and freshman Leila Sofiane project to be important point scorers for the Titans.

Sheehan’s top diver is Val Nicholson, who last year competed with the boys in the winter. Wostbrock added that four of Sheehan’s 11 newcomers this season are divers.

“Our goals this season are to utilize personal goals and achievement to drive our team toward a successful dual and postseason,” Wostbrock said.

Meriden Co-op

The Silver City squad finished 3-7 last year and graduated its two best swimmers, but head coach Ed Heath, in his 31st year coaching swimming in Meriden and fifth with the co-op, said his girls have been working hard.

With the graduation of Meriden mainstays Olivia Murphy and Jocelynn Rodriguez, a trio of seniors have been tapped as the 2018 captains. Katherine Aceves (backstroke/IM), Phoebo Charpentier (freestyle/backstroke) and Barbara Ruiz (breaststroke) will head a roster that features 23 athletes — 15 from Maloney and eight from Platt.

In addition to the captains, sophomore Samantha Morales-Barszcz (distance), sophomore Hind Moumen (sprints) and junior Haley Peacock (distance/butterfly) are Meriden’s top returners.

The co-op added four freshmen who enter the program with experience in the pool.

Meriden has also been reclassified by the CIAC from Class LL to Class L.

“We will train hard and improve our times and, hopefully, make the ‘L’ cuts,” Heath said. “I have a great bunch of girls. I lost my two ‘LL’ qualifiers from last year. We are hoping to fill those shoes, but with 23 girls, we have the numbers to fill every event and so far the team chemistry is good.”

Heath is assisted by Trish Wodatch and Wendy Doung.


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