GREENWICH — As the results have clearly illustrated, the Greenwich High School girls swimming team hasn’t missed a beat so far this season.
The defending State Open and Class LL champion Cardinals are on pace to produce another season to remember, beating everyone that’s come their way.
And Friday, it was a strong Staples squad that crossed Greenwich’s path.
Showcasing its depth, Greenwich remained undefeated posting a 99-85 win over the visiting Wreckers in a late-season FCIAC meet. With the victory, the Cardinals improved to 9-0 with one meet remaining in their regular season.
“I thought we swam really well today,” said GHS coach Lorrie Hokayem, who has guided the Cardinals to the State Open title the past two seasons. “I’m very enthused by the way we are swimming.”
One of the highlights of the meet came from Cardinals senior diver Kate Russack, who broke her own school record by winning the one-meter diving event with a score of 284.95 points. She earned two scores of 8 on her forward dive from the pike position, which included two somersaults. On her fifth dive, she drew two more scores of 8 with her inward 11/2dive from the tuck position.
“We have been working really hard and we all continue to push each other,” Russack said. “We have all improved incredibly and we all support each other. During practice, we help each other if someone is having a bad practice or bad day.”
Said Hokayem: “Our divers have been phenomenal. This was a really nice diving meet. Kate has been very focused and fun to watch and all four of our divers dove great.”
Senior Kelly Montesi won two individual events for GHS, touching the wall first in the 100-yard butterfly (56.96) and the 100 backstroke (57.40). Staples junior Marissa Healy was second in the butterfly (58.55), followed by Cardinals junior Emily Warner (1:00.86).
“The way we are swimming bodes really well for the postseason meets,” Montesi said. “I was really excited going into that race against Marissa (Healy). She is very fast, so I was ready to go and was feeling good. The backstroke was a bit of a closer race. My opponent was very fast as well and it came down to the finish.”
Staples started the meet with its foursome of Esme Hunter, Willow Woods, Healy and Annie Bowens winning the 200 medley relay in 1:51.01. Warner gave Greenwich a first-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:58.92), followed by Staples’ Michelle Kennedy (1:59.93) and Kortney Knudsen of GHS (2:01.24).
Woods was the 200 individual medley winner (2:14.47), while Kate Ennis of the Cardinals took second (2:20.24) and her sister Samantha placed third (2:16.08). Bowens touched out the competition in the 50 freestyle (25.47), with Ainsleigh Winget of Greenwich placing second (25.58).
Hunter won the 100 freestyle in 53.22, while Lousia Bjerke of the Cardinals was second (54.93) and senior Julia Merrill finished third (55.43).
“I am very proud, but not surprised that the team is undefeated so far,” Merrill said. “It’s really exciting for us. Winning the championship meets are some of our goals and that’s very possible for us.”
Each event featured two heats as the Cardinals’ and Wreckers’ junior varsity teams also competed against each other.
“With the JV team here, it was nice to have a big team and so many people here supporting one another,” Merrill said.
Michelle Kennedy, a junior, won the 500 freestyle for Staples in 5:18.09, while Knudsen was the runner-up. Woods had a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke for Staples, which is 6-3 on the season. The 200 freestyle relay saw Winget, Bjerke, Warner and Merrill register a winning time of 1:41.60. Though they swam exhibition, Greenwich also had the top time in the 400 freestyle relay.
“The relays were solid,” Hokayem said. “We have a pretty deep team, so it’s been exciting. People are still finding their way onto the relays.”
GREENWICH 99, STAPLES 85
200-yard medley relay — 1. Staples (Esme Hunter, Willow Woods, Marissa Healy, Annie Bowens) 1:51.01; 200 freestyle — 1. Emily Warner (G) 1:58.92; 200 individual medley — 1. Willow Woods (S) 2:14.47; 50 freestyle — 1. Annie Bowens (S) 25.47; Diving — 1. Kate Russack (G) 284.95; 100 butterfly — 1. Kelly Montesi (G) 56.96; 100 freestyle — 1. Esme Hunter (S) 53.22; 500 freestyle — 1. Michelle Kennedy (S) 5:18.09; 200 freestyle relay — 1. Greenwich (Ainsleigh Winget, Louisa Bjerke, Emily Warner, Julia Merrill) 1:41.60; 100 backstroke — 1. Kelly Montesi (G) 57.40; 100 breaststroke — 1. Willow Woods (S) 1:10.98; 400 freestyle relay — 1. Greenwich (Kortney Knudsen, Lousia Bjerke, Emily Warner, Kelly Montesi) 3:40.45.