Ridgefield put the finishing touch on an undefeated regular season with its Senior Night win over Danbury on Wednesday, but its signature victory came one week earlier against a team that’s ruled the roost for quite a while — six-time defending State Open, Class LL and FCIAC swimming champion Greenwich.
The Tigers’ 115-71 triumph over Greenwich was a dream meet for the team, which got almost everything it wanted to out of the competition against their conference rival.
Coached by Emmanuel Lanzo, Ridgefield knew it had to perform at its highest level to post its second duel meet win in two seasons against Greenwich and it certainly did when the squads met in Ridgefield last week.
Ridgefield won 11 of 12 events en route to registering its biggest victory of its season to date.
“I feel like Greenwich’s strongest lineup was when they faced Fairfield Prep (a Greenwich win) and when we took a look at their times, we saw that our times were just hundreds of a second off theirs,” Lanzo said. “Our kids knew they needed to step up and bring their ‘A’ game, because Greenwich was going to bring their ‘A’ game.
“We knew the meet would be about cheering, energy, the ability to be focused on the moment and competing at a high level.”
The Tigers finished first in the opening event against Greenwich — the 200-meter medley relay — and carried the momentum thereafter.
“I tried to make sure everyone on our team understood how important it was to score in the relays,” said Lanzo, whose squad took first in all three relay events against the Cardinals. “We beat Greenwich last year for the first time in a while and against them last week, everyone swam well.”
Sophomore Connor Hunt won the 200-meter freestyle for the Tigers in their meet against GHS in a time of 1:58.28, while junior Luke Hruska placed first in the 200 individual medley (2:14.40).
“The 200 IM was very important for us to win in that meet, because they had a very strong swimmer in that event,” Lanzo said. “After that, all the kids were fired up.”
Hunt also touched the wall first in the 400-meter freestyle (4:09.77), while senior Will Bryant (50 freestyle, 24.65), junior Trey O’Malley (100 butterfly, 1:00.38), sophomore Andrew Yu (100 freestyle, 54.17, 100 backstroke 1:00.88) and senior Caitlin Inhall (diving 250.55) each won their respective events against Greenwich.
In each meet, Hunt, Hruska, Bryant, O’Malley and Yu have helped pace the Tigers, whose roster includes 11 sophomores and eight freshmen.
“We have 28 swimmers and everyone means a lot to the team,” Lanzo said. “Everyone brings their own spirit, their own energy to the team. The members of our team do a great job of supporting each other.”
Lanzo is in his fourth season as coach of the Tigers. Last season saw Ridgefield place fourth in the team standings at the State Open Championships and fourth at the Class LL finals. Ridgefield was sixth at the State Open and fourth in Class LL in 2017 and seventh at the Open and fifth (Class LL) in 2016.
The Tigers began their 2018-19 campaign by defeating a strong New Canaan squad and also produced victories against conference and state contenders Darien and Staples.
“We knew after our first meet against New Canaan that we could be a strong team,” Lanzo said. “Going into every season we know the caliber of teams Greenwich, New Canaan and Darien are. We also knew we had some depth this year and a lot USA swimmers who swim all year-round.”
Along with coach at Ridgefield, Lanzo is CEO and head coach of Ridgefield Aquatic Club, which has teams competing in national and regional swimming events throughout the year.
The majority of the Tigers’ team swims at Lanzo’s Ridgefield Aquatic Club, including hunt, who swam at the 2018 FINA Junior World Open Water Championships and has showcased his skills at numerous junior national competitions.
“I have been watching the competition in the area and I have been trying to match programs from so many teams that are successful,” Lanzo said. “A team like Greenwich, they have a swimming culture and that’s what we are creating — a culture of year-round swimming. Our athletes take great pride in representing our high school.”
Following their 10-0 regular season, the Tigers have their sights set on the postseason, which begins Feb. 26 with the trials of the FCIAC Championships at Greenwich High School. The finals of the conference meet is scheduled for Feb. 28.
NORWALK/MCMAHON MAKING WAVES
After producing a solid 2017-2018 season, Norwalk/McMahon has turned in a successful showing this winter.
One of the team’s latest victories came against a talented Amity squad. Senior Mateo Roldan and junior Henry Velazquez each won two events for Norwalk/McMahon, which edged Amity, 97-88.
Roldan finished first in the 200 individual medley (2:09.57) and touched the wall first in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.93). Velazquez posted winning efforts in the 100 freestyle (49.11) and 500 freestyle (5:08.41).
Senior Kevin Bradley, the defending State Open and Class LL diving champion, won the 1-meter diving event against Amity, totaling 323.55 points.
Seymour senior Aleksej Cupic enjoyed a record-breaking night during his team’s meet against Torrington on Wednesday.
Cupic won the 200-yard individual medley in a school-record time of 1:58.03. He then took first-place honors in the 100 backstroke in 55.90 seconds — which was also a school-record time.
Ben Michaelson set the previous record in the 200 IM back in 1999, clocking in at 1:59.43. Cupic broke the 2009 mark of 56.08 set by Chris Durette in the 100 backstroke.
Andrew Buehler, Sheehan: Placed first on the 1-meter diving board for Sheehan in its victory against Milford (290.40 points). Buehler also swam on the winning 200 medley relay (1:50.00)
Brody Biebel, Fairfield Prep: Biebel produced winning efforts in the 50 freestyle (25.53) and the 100 freestyle (51.37) for Fairfield Prep in its 98-75 victory against Notre Dame-West Haven.
Jack Crocamo, Seymour: In Seymour’s meet vs. Sacred Heart, Crocamo touched the wall first in the 200 individual medley (55.99) and was the 500 freestyle winner. He was also part of the team’s 200 medley relay squad.
Aleksej Cupic, Seymour: Cupic won the 100 butterfly in 55.99 seconds, then took first in the 100 backstroke (56.77) for Seymour, which beat Sacred Heart, 90-78. He also swam on Seymour’s first-place 200 medley relay team (1:54.50).
Ian Harker, Hall: Posted wins in the 200 IM (2:07.58) and 100 butterfly (56.46) in a 96-88 win over Farmington.
Connor Hunt, Ridgefield: The sophomore won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:58.28 and took first in the 400 freestyle (4:09.77) in Ridgefield’s victory against Greenwich.
Patrick Keith, Hall: Won the 100 freestyle (53.12) and 100 backstroke (57.20) against Farmington.
Andrew Mitchill, Xavier: Mitchill had first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle (1:50.21) and 100 freestyle (50.43) for the Falcons in their 99-72 win vs. Shelton.
Edward Platonov, Milford: Was the 200 individual medley winner (2:02.77) and 100 butterfly (55.14) winner for Milford in its meet against Sheehan.
William Regan, Pomperaug: Was a double-winner in the team’s victory vs. Naugatuck, touching the wall first in the 200 IM (1:59.60) and 100 breaststroke (58.10).
Andrew Yu, Ridgefield: Placed first in the 100-meter freestyle (54.17) and won the 100 backstroke (1:00.88) vs. Greenwich.