WINSTED >> In a battle of Berkshire League swimming titans, defending league champion Northwestern (7-0) notched a pool record in the first event against perennial power Shepaug (8-1; 6-1 Berkshire League) Saturday afternoon at the Winsted YMCA.
It was just the opening gun for Northwestern.
Thoroughly pumped for the clash, the Highlanders rode the opening wave to a 98-86 win over the Spartans.
“It was an awesome way to start it,” said Highlander senior Barrett Langendeorfer, who churned Northwestern into the lead in the 200-meter medley relay’s first leg, then cheered teammates Christian Royer, Nate Cunningham and Braden Feyer into a 1:58.90 time that smashed a mark (2:01.63) set just two times before.
“We swam really well. They swam better,” said Shepaug coach Todd Dyer.
“You guys were awesome,” Highlander coach Mary DiMauro beamed to her team.
The term was accurate for a group that took first place in six of the 11 contested events (Northwestern clinched the meet before the final 400-meter freestyle relay), including two pool records.
The second record fell mid-meet, in the 200-meter freestyle relay. Rickie Traub, Peter Kamianowski, Kiley Stotler and Frey swam to a 1:50.23 finish, bringing down the old 2:05.46 like a tidal wave.
Still, this was arch-rival Shepaug, the only school in the league with its own pool and holder of twice as many league titles as anyone else.
Nobody dared call it a shoo-in for the Highlanders until it was.
“Don’t tell my kids the score,” said DiMauro, when Northwestern held a 44-34 lead after diving, five events into the meet.
“We knew it was up after the breaststroke,” smiled Cunningham.
Northwestern junior Christian Royer won that one, the next-to-the-last event of the meet. His first and third places, with Frey, put the Highlanders over the top, 98-74. Finally, nobody could take it back (94 points clinches a dual meet).
The last event went exhibition with first and second-place points to Shepaug.
Long before that, there was reason for Northwestern caution.
The Highlanders started out huge.
Peter Kamianowski and Mitchell Gryniuk followed the record-setting medley relay with a first and third in the 200-meter freestyle.
At 21-9, Northwestern, newcomers might have yawned. The Highlanders knew better.
Spartans Colin Decker and Freddie Pitcher went one, two in the 200 individual medley.
Shepaug’s Nathan Ong touched out Frey by a head in the 50 freestyle.
Northwestern’s lead was 33-29; nobody yawned.
Northwestern sophomore Lauren Parente and freshman Victoria Masucci caught the Highlander spark, finishing one, two in diving, 44-34, Northwestern.
“They dove incredibly,” said Spartan coach Dyer. “We have a strong second half, but we have a lot of work to do.”
“I didn’t expect this kind of lead,” said Highlander coach DiMauro. “We’re swimming well.”
So were the Spartans.
Spartans Ken Buell and Clayton Firmender left a wake in the 100-meter butterfly, finishing one, two, 50-44.
Shepaug’s Decker was back for a win in the 100 freestyle, 58-52, Northwestern.
This meet, the Highlanders always had an answering surge.
This time, Kiamanowski and Kiley Stotler were one, two in the 500 freestyle by half a pool length.
Their success pushed Northwestern’s lead back to 68-58.
From there, it was all downstream for Northwestern, with wins by Langendoerfer in the 100 backstroke and Royer in the breaststroke.
“It was a great meet,” they all agreed.
Northwestern gets the edge.
Shepaug hosts a re-match next month; if they split, the winner of the BL Meet takes the final prize.
“We’re not done yet,” grinned Christian Royer.
Northwestern 98, Shepaug 86
At Winsted YMCA
200-meter medley relay: 1. Northwestern (Barrett Langendoerfer; Christian Royer; Nate Cunningham; Braden Feyer), 1:58.90 (POOL RECORD); 2. Sehpaug; 3. Northwestern. 200 freestyle: 1. Peter Kamianowski (NW), 2:00.15; 2. Clara Wolfe (S); 3. Mitchell Gryniuk(NW). 200 individual medley: 1. Colin Decker (S), 2:22.76; 2. Freddie Pitcher (S); 3. Kiley Stotler (NW). 50 freestyle: 1. Nathan Ong (S), :26.74; 2. Frey (NW); 3. Clayton Firmender (S). Diving: 1. Lauren Parente (NW), 151.50; 2. Victoria Masucci (NW); 3. Mairead Rosa (S). 100 butterfly: 1. Ken Buell (S), 1:08.71; 2. Firmender (S); 3. Cunningham (NW). 100 freestyle: 1. Decker (S), :57.46; 2. Langendoerfer (NW); 3. Christian Royer (NW). 500 freestyle: 1. Kamianowski (NW), 4:37.07; 2. Stotler (NW); 3. Wolfe (S). 200 freestyle medley relay: 1. Northwestern (Rickie Traub, Kamianowski, Stotler, Frey), 1:50.23 (POOL RECORD); 2. Shepaug; 3. Northwestern. 100 backstroke: 1. Langendoerfer (NW), 1:05.51; 2. Pitcher (S), 1:06.09; 3. Buell (S). 100 breaststroke: 1. C. Royer (NW), 1:16.58; 2. David Geyer (S); 3. Frey (NW). 400 freestyle relay (exhibition): 1. Shepaug; 2. Shepaug
Records: Shepaug 8-1 (6-1 Berkshire League); Northwestern 7-0 Berkshire League.