As fun and exciting as the regular season is, the postseason provides girls swimming teams such as Daniel Hand even more opportunities to display its depth and skills.
“The season has gone really well for our team and they are eager to showcase their work in the championship meets,” Daniel Hand coach Jennifer Lyman said. “During the dual meet season, you may not be able to show your full depth in key areas. So with more entries in the postseason, it is exciting to expand in certain events and showcase your depth in a lot of events.”
Hand certainly showed its superior depth at the 2018 CIAC Class M Championships. The Tigers swam away with the Class M title last fall, amassing 588.5 team points. Right behind the Tigers at the Class M finals was SCC rival North Haven (569 points).
Daniel Hand, which is 7-2, has two more meets remaining in its dual meet season (Amity, Branford), then it will compete in the SCC Championships at Southern Connecticut State University on Nov. 4 and the Class M Championships (preliminaries Nov. 16, finals, Nov. 20). Then, of course, there’s the much anticipated final competition of the season — the State Open Championships — on Nov. 21, at Yale University.
“North Haven is a big contender in Class M, they were only a few points behind us last year and we know they have such good strength in diving,” Lyman said. “For us to finish 1-2 last year was a great way for us to represent the SCC. Competing at the Moore Field House at Southern Connecticut State at the SCC Championships allows us to swim in one of the fastest short course pools. We’re excited to see the conference come together and we’ll see what we can do to raise the bar.”
Senior co-captain Kayla Mendonca is having another standout season for the Tigers. Mendonca won the 100-yard backstroke title at the 2018 Class M finals and was fourth in the 200 individual medley. At last season’s State Open, she was third in the 100 backstroke (57.25 seconds).
A University of Connecticut-bound swimmer, Mendonca has qualified for the State Open each season on the squad. Also captaining the Tigers is Erin Reilly. A senior, Reilly finished eighth in the 200-yard freestyle at last year’s Class M meet and was fourth in the 100 backstroke.
“Kayla is our most versatile swimmer on the team and Erin has been a strength to our team in the sprint freestyle events, the backstroke and she has given us depth in the IM,” Lyman said. “I’m excited to see what the postseason has in store for her. Kayla and Erin have displayed great leadership inside and outside of the pool, with their encouragement and enthusiasm.”
Senior Ruby Redlich posted a second-place finish at the 2018 Class M competition in the 100 freestyle and took fourth in the 200 freestyle. She has been a standout in the sprint freestyle races this season, while junior Emma Ruffo has aided the squad in several events.
“Ruby is a great sprint freestyler and she makes everyone smile, she makes it fun on the pool deck,” Lyman said. “Emma worked hard in the offseason to make sure she can give the team confidence that she can swim every event to score points for the team.”
Abby Chemacki, a sophomore, finished third and fifth in the 500 and 200 freestyle, respectively, at the Class M finals a year ago and also competes in the 200 IM. Junior Ava Keane provides depth as a sprint freestyler, while freshman Eva Alquist (diver), freshman Julia Urbowicz (multiple events) and sophomore Kacie Wines (butterfly, backstroke, sprint freestyle) have each made their mark in their respective events.
“Having that experience of winning the Class M title last year should definitely help us going into the meet this year,” Lyman said. “I know the girls have some pressure on them to keep a hold on the Class M title, but we are keeping our philosophy of every team achieves more, in the forefront.”
WESTON UNBEATEN AGAIN
With two meets remaining in its dual meet season, Weston finds itself in very familiar territory.
The 8-0 Trojans are closing in an another undefeated regular season. Should they defeat SWC opponents Masuk and Joel Barlow in their final two meets, the Trojans would complete their fifth straight undefeated campaign.
Weston has traditionally carried its success into the championship meets. The Trojans have won the Class S title the past six seasons, while finishing ahead of the class eight of the last nine years.
“It’s really the depth of our team that makes the difference,” Weston coach Brandon Barone said. “We are an incredibly deep team, with athletes who can finish second or third in each event and swimmers who can win races. That depth has helped us cruise through our dual meet schedule.”
Weston was also highly successful at the 2018 State Open, placing an impressive third in the team standings (417 points) and not far behind champion Greenwich and runner-up Cheshire. The SWC Championships has seen Weston win the title each year since 2015.
Junior Isabella Gary has helped anchor the Trojans’ lineup. Gary was second at the 2018 Class S finals in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke and placed seventh and fifth in the events, respectively, at the State Open.
“She (Gary) is our strongest athlete on the team, she has not lost a race, or been on a losing relay this season,” Barone said. “She has competed and excelled in every event that’s offered and is one of those athletes who leads by example. She is truly a student of the sport.”
Senior Katie Linell placed second in the 100 freestyle at last year’s Class S competition and has flourished in other events, such as the breaststroke. Her sister, Nicole Linell, a junior, had top-five finishes in the 100 butterfly (fifth) and 100 breaststroke (third) at the class meet a year ago and also brings versatility.
“Breaststroke is probably our strongest event,” Barone said. “We have five swimmers who can be in the top-15 at the State Open. Having that depth there at the end of the meet is a nice cushion to have at the end.”
Sophomore Alexandra Bradley, sophomore Katie Franco and senior Sarah Franco have helped the team in various races.
“Bradley and Katie Franco have made big progress,” Barone said. “They have extended their repertoire and can swim any freestyle event from the 50 to the 500.”
The SWC Championships is scheduled for Nov. 9 at Masuk.
“We could have three athletes scoring in every single event,” Barone said of the SWC Championships. “It’s that next step in the championship process for us. Our goal is to win the Class S title again, Lauralton Hall pushed us last time, so our girls are keeping an eye on them. We’ve developed a nice out of conference rivalry with Lauralton Hall.”
GLASTONBURY ON A WINNING PACE
With Suzie Hoyt and her son Stevie coaching a squad, which has two sets of twin sisters and another pair of sisters, Glastonbury has an interesting team dynamic.
Hoyt has headed the girls swimming team at Glastonbury for 17 seasons and has guided the boys program at the school for 30 years. Her son Stevie, who swam for her while he was a student at Glastonbury, is in his first season as an assistant coach. He also swam at McDaniel College.
“He is an excellent coach, I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to join our staff,” Suzie Hoyt said.
Glastonbury, which has won the CCC East Division title the past seven seasons and placed sixth at the 2018 Class LL Championships, currently sports a record of 9-1.
“We have an excellent team with incredible depth,” Suzie Hoyt said. “Unlike some years, where a team may plateau, I still have kids getting lifetime best and season best times. We have a lot of freestylers, which is good and a lot of kids have qualified for states.”
The squad is captained by seniors Carleigh Motycka, Emma Samson, Rachel Flaherty and Kate Tandon. Samson is one of the team’s two divers, while Motycka, Flaherty and Tandon provide depth in several events. Motycka, who qualified for the 2018 Class finals in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, also competes on the international level as an Irish step dancer.
Freshman twin sisters Emily and Madelynn Booth and Avery and Riley Kudlac have made key contributions in their first season on the team.
“Every year, we have seniors go out and we rely on the junior class to replace them,” Hoyt said. “The leadership from the senior and junior class is exceptional and our freshman and underclassmen have been doing well wherever they compete.”
So far, 21 athletes have qualified for the Class LL Championships, one of whom is sophomore Rachel Davis, who raced in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke at last year’s state meet.
Sisters Madelyn Mastroianni (senior) and Juliana Mastroianni (junior) have sparked the team in several events, along with junior Caroline Cermignani, sophomore Norell Paluska and freshman Brooke Sowka. Sophomore Alana Mondschein has complemented Davis on the diving board.
Following their final dual meets, Glastonbury will seek to continue its reign at the CCC East finals.
“We seem to be in a good spot for that meet,” Hoyt said. “Our goal is to get at least four athletes in every event for the Class LL trials and then get many of them back to finals.”