TORRINGTON >> Sacred Heart (12-0) has its best girls swimming team since the early ’90s.
Torrington (8-3 overall; 8-2 NVL) drew them for its final regular season meet, ending up as impressed with the Hearts as the rest of the league is, in an 89-75 loss.
“They have some amazing freshman and sophomores,” said Torrington coach Katie Gregory. “We knew they’d be good after (the pre-season) indicational meet.
“I’m pleased,” she continued. “They were good competition. I’d rather put my girls in the pool against a Sacred Heart and see what they can do.”
Payton and Makenzie Welch were Torrington’s sole winners, in the butterfly (1:07.60) and backstroke (1:05.14), amidst a sea of great swims by the Hearts.
“You race against the clock,” said senior Chloe Vollaro, who dropped time in all her events, finishing fourth in the backstroke, where the Red Raiders took first, third and fourth.
By then, the Hearts had the meet in the bag, but not the spirit that drives the Raiders.
“You pace off them,” said Payton Welch, a junior.
Doing that, Torrington sophomore Jessica Gray finished fourth in the 200 freestyle and third in the backstroke.
“I’m impressed with my times,” she said.
Meanwhile, veteran Sacred Heart coach Butch Savage is having the time of his life.
“We did better than I thought,” he grinned after the meet. “It’s always a roller coaster – some surprises and some shocks – but overall, we did very well.”
In addition to their great swimmers, the Hearts have a senior diver, Danielle Hughes, with high hopes for states.
Without any diving boards at Torrington’s home pool, the Torrington Y, the Hearts’ biggest strength was in their freestyle.
Abby Walsh won the 50 and 100 freestyle sprints. Sophomore Margaret Flaherty won the 200. The Hearts clinched the meet, 85-39, with a first and second-place in the 200 free relay.
“A lot of the best teams are really strong in the freestyle,” said Coach Gregory. “Sacred Heart gets a lot more pool time than we do. They spend a lot of time on starts and turns. It pays off. With our limited time in the pool, which are you going to concentrate on, yardage or turns? You have to find the balance.”
The Raiders are having a great year by any other standards but Sacred Hearts’, with losses only to non-conference Wethersfield and a close (95-90) scrape with Watertown.
Wednesday, they stuck with the Hearts through the first two events. The Raiders took second (Payton Welch, Hailey Ross, Makenzie Welch and Sara Heath) and third (Jessica Gray, Devon Donovan, Cara McCarthy and Chloe Vollaro) in the opening 200 medley relay.
Payton Welch, Melanie Nadle and Jessica Gray took second, third and fourth behind Sacred Heart’s Flaherty in the 200 free.
That tied the score 15-15.
Heart sophomore Alizabeth Sullivan won the 200 IM, with Makenzie Welch right behind.
Then the Hearts began to pull away for good.
Abby Walsh and Meaghan Spagnolo were first and second in the 50 free.
Payton Welch won the 100 fly, but Hearts Heather Brown and Jocelyn Medina were second and third.
When Hearts Walsh and Kiersten Snyder tied for first in the 100 free with Biranna Montambault right behind in third, Sacred Heart was well on its way, 60-34.
It was Coach Savage’s first pleasant surprise in the meet.
“I didn’t expect one, two and three in the 100,” he said.
“The freestyles killed us,” said Coach Gregory.
Nevertheless, by the time the meet was over, Gregory and her team were back to happy.
“We finished right where I thought we would (in pre-meet time comparisons),” she said. “The NVL Meet (a week from Saturday) should be a race for second, third and fourth (behind Sacred Heart).”
Sacred Heart 89, Torrington 75
Results: 200 medley relay: 1. Sacred Heart (Erin Brown; Meaghan Spagnolo; Kiersten Snyder; Jocelyn Medina), 2:01.83. 2. Torrington (Makenzie Welch; Hailey Ross; Payton Welch; Sara Heath), 2:05.66. 3. Torrington (Jessica Gray; Devon Donovan; Cara McCarthy; Chloe Vollaro), 2:11.31. 200 freestyle: 1. Margaret Flaherty (SH), 2:04.23. 2. Payton Welch (T), 2:11.83. 3. Melanie Nadle (T), 2:20.80. 200 IM: 1. Alizabeth Sullivan (SH), 2:23.62. 2. Makenzie Welch (T), 2:27.63. 3. Kiersten Snyder (SH), 2:30.32. 50 freestyle: 1. Abby Walsh (SH), 27.39. 2. Meaghan Spagnolo (SH), 28.03. 3. Sara Heath (T), 28.21. 100 butterfly: 1. Payton Welch (T), 1:07.60. 2. Heather Brown (SH), 1:10.88. 3. Jocelyn Medina (SH), 1:14.66. 100 freestyle: 1. Kiersten Snyder (SH), 1:00.56. 1. Abby Walsh (SH), 1:00.56. 3. Brianna Montambault (SH), 1:04.54. 500 freestyle: 1. Margaret Flaherty (SH), 5:30. 08. 2. Alizabeth Sullivan (SH), 5:54.59. 3. Julie McGuire (SH), 6:18.04. 200 freestyle relay: 1. Sacred Heart (Abby Walsh; Meaghan Spagnolo; Alizabeth Sullivan; Margaret Flaherty), 1:51.20. 2. Sacred Heart (Jocelyn Medina; Danielle Hughes; Emily Negron; Brianna Montambault), 2:01.38. 3. Torrington (Sarah Todd; Taryn Canfield; Cara McCarthy; Melanie Nadle), 2:04.50. 100 backstroke: 1. Makenzie Welch (T), 1:05.14. 2. Erin Brown (SH), 1:08.85. 3. Jessica Gray (T), 1:09.99. 100 breaststroke: 1. Hailey Ross (T), 1:23.36. 2. Devon Donovan (T), 1:25.05. 3. Sarah Todd (T), 1:28.48. 400 freestyle relay: 1. Torrington (Payton Welch; Jessica Gray; Chloe Vollaro; Makenzie Welch), 4:06.66. 2. Torrington (Olivia Vollaro; Sara Heath; Hailey Ross; Melanie Nadle.)