After Xavier experienced a resurgence in Ronnie Vaughan’s first season as coach last year, Vaughan expected plenty of positive results from his squad this winter.
And the Falcons have certainly soared to such expectations.
Entering its SCC showdown against rival Cheshire on Thursday night, Xavier sported a record of 6-2 and besides the solid mark had displayed a significant improvement in its times from last season.
“Being 6-2 is right about where we were projected to be at this point of the season,” Vaughan said. “I am proud of where we are and I am especially impressed with the maturity level our team has shown. There are only seven upperclassmen on our team, the rest are freshmen and sophomores, but they are very mature and they come prepared to compete each day.”
The Falcons’ two defeats came against Glastonbury and perennial SCC powerhouse Fairfield Prep — meets that saw them turn in solid times in each event.
“Both of our losses stand out as meets that we really swam well in,” Vaughan said. “Our three relays were great, giving Prep a run for their money.”
Vaughan is a familiar name in the Middletown area swimming scene. The 24-year-old was a top-tier swimmer for Middletown High School’s highly successful program, under the tutelage of Trevor Charles.
He spent a season as an assistant coach for the Mercy girls team and last winter took the helm at Xavier. The Falcons raised their mark from 4-8 during the 2016-17 season to 8-6 last winter, when they also placed eighth in the team standings at the Class L Championships.
“I fell in love with coaching 31/2 years ago,” Vaughan said. “It brought me back into the sport that I enjoyed competing in for so long. I couldn’t be in a better situation and I’m grateful for having the opportunity to coach at such a great school.”
Indeed, Vaughan learned plenty in his first season as a head coach.
“It taught me that I definitely don’t know it all,” he said. “I learned to talk less and listen more. The seniors, who were a group of hard-working athletes, helped me a lot and I’m fortunate to have coaches David Applegate and Devon O’Nalty (assistants) help develop the team.”
Sophomore Andrew Mitchill has helped spark the squad. He is currently undefeated for the season in the 100-yard breaststroke — an event he won in the team’s recent victory against Conard — and has also flourished in the 200 freestyle, as well as the relay races.
Mitchill finished fourth in the 500-yard freestyle at last season’s Class L Championships (4:50.66) and was ninth in the 100 breaststroke.
Mitchell Wollen, one of the Falcons’ 11 freshman, has produced standout results in each event he’s tested his skills in.
“All-around, Mitchell is one of our most versatile swimmers,” Vaughan said. “He’s outstanding in all four strokes and he has stepped up to the plate in every event we have put him in — he’s been incredible so far.”
Donald Frost, one of four sophomores on the squad, placed among the top 10 in the 200 individual medley at the 2018 Class L Championships and has also been Mr. Versatility for the Falcons. He’s posted winning efforts in the 100 butterfly, the 200 IM and has also been key in the sprint and relay events.
Yavier Carbo-Colon, has picked up right where he left off last season, when he emerged as a strong contender in the 100 butterfly and several other events.
Following their big meet against Cheshire on Thursday, Xavier has still has five more matchups before the postseason commences. So there’s still plenty of time to ready themselves for the challenges ahead.
“Getting a top-three finish at the SCC Championships and the Class L meet are some goals we are looking at,” Vaughan said. “We also hope to, of course, be competitive at the State Open.”
Matt Balcerzak, Shelton: Posted a winning effort in the 200-yard individual medley (2:13.99) and was part of the 200 medley relay team, which took first in 1:51.25 against Notre Dame-West Haven.
Michael Baldini, Northwest Catholic: Finished first in the 200-yard individual medley (1:58.17) and won the 100 freestyle (47.95) in a 98-76 loss to Hall.
Brody Biebel, Fairfield Prep: Gave the team first-place finishes in the 200 individual medley (2:05.85) and the 100 butterfly (56.14) in a 95-74 victory against North Haven.
Lucas Burgard, Milford: Topped the competition in the 200 freestyle (2:03.93) and 100 butterfly (1:00.82) for Milford in its 97-60 triumph against Stratford.
Jack Camporin, New Canaan: Was the 1-meter diving winner for the Rams in their meet vs. Darien, totaling 265.35 points.
Patrick Colwell, New Canaan: Colwell registered a winning time of 48.65 in the 100 freestyle against Darien and clocked in at 2:02.55 in the 200 IM — also good for a first-place finish. He also competed on the winning 400 freestyle relay squad (3:19.80).
Keegan Drew, Brunswick: Drew had first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle (47.33) and was part of the Bruins’ winning 200 freestyle relay squad (1:28.04) in the team’s triumph against Suffield Academy.
Ethan Gofrey, Glastonbury: Earned top honors in the 1-meter diving event (267.25) against Hall.
Justin Goglia, Milford: Was the 100 backstroke (59.01) and 50 freestyle (25.93) winner for Milford in its competition against Stratford.
Shiva Gowda, Amity: Winning performances in the 100 freestyle (51.75) and 100 backstroke (57.76) helped spark the Spartans past rival Daniel Hand.
Marcus Hodgson, Brunswick: Hodgson touched the wall first in the 50 freestyle for the Bruins in their matchup against Suffield Academy.
Hunter Johnson, Greenwich: Johnson won the 50-yard freestyle in 23.97, then touched the wall first in the 100 freestyle (53.96) in Greenwich’s 99-73 win vs. Danbury.
Andrew Lou, Cheshire: Recorded winning times of 23.52 in the 50 freestyle and 51.64 in the 100 freestyle for the Rams in their most recent meet.
McAllister Milne, Glastonbury: Placed first in the 200 freestyle (1:46.36) and 500 freestyle (4:49.04) in Glastonbury’s 93-83 victory over Hall.
Alex Ozonoff, Notre Dame-West Haven: Registered first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle (1:57.77) and 500 freestyle (5:14.82) in a 95-73 loss to Shelton.
Edward Platanov, Foran/Law: Platanov was the 200 individual medley winner (2:02.88) and took first in the 100 butterfly in the team’s 98-86 loss to West Haven/Platt Tech.
Jake Ritz, New Canaan: Ritz won the 200 freestyle (1:46.02), the 500 freestyle (4:49.18) and was part of the Rams’ winning 200 freestyle (1:32.66) and 400 freestyle relay (3:19.80) in the team’s win over rival Darien.
Tyler Roy, Amity: Roy gave Amity a first-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle, then came back to win the 100 butterfly (59.56) in the squad’s tight 87-83 win against Daniel Hand. He also swam on the winning 200 freestyle relay team (1:38.06).
MEETS TO WATCH
- Daniel Hand at Fairfield Prep, Friday, 7 p.m.
- Darien at Westhill/Stamford, Friday, 3:15 p.m.
- Greenwich at Ridgefield, Feb, 7, 4 p.m.
- Daniel Hand at Cheshire, Feb. 7, 7 p.m.
- Shelton vs. Xavier, at Wesleyan University, Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m.