TORRINGTON >> Woodland’s girls swimming and diving team nipped Torrington 88-82 in an historic win for the Hawks.
The rivalry always produces a close score and, once, even tied. Nevertheless, the Hawks went nine years without beating Torrington – until Friday night at Torrington’s YMCA.
“It always comes down to the final relay,” said Torrington coach Katie Gregory before the meet.
Trailing Woodland for the last five events (out of 11), Torrington needed a first and third in the 400-yard freestyle relay to pull out the win.
Red Raiders Jess Gray, Cara McCarthy, Victoria Masucci and Payton Welch pulled out the win, with Woodland’s Emma Sardinskas, Brooke Pope, Tatiana Lynn and Sarah Bryden right behind them.
The race – and the meet – rose and fell on who finished third.
Veronica Dergachev, Taylor Amore, Katie Drewry and Sara Fowler rode it home for Woodland by three seconds.
“We stayed strong and supported each other,” said senior captain Emma Sardinskas.
“Even if you come in fifth, it counts,” said junior Sara Byden, one of just three individual winners for the Hawks (sophomores Chloe Ariola and Tatiana Lynn were the others).
In many ways, the final race was a picture of the meet.
Torrington took the wins; this time, the Hawks had the depth.
Gray, Olivia Vollaro, Welch and Masucci powered the Red Raiders to a first-event win in the 200 medley relay. Gray and Welch followed with wins in the 200 freestyle and 200 IM.
Torrington led 31-15. Then the tide shifted.
Woodland swept the 50 freestyle behind Ariola, bringing Torrington’s lead to 34-28.
Gregory and 11-year Woodland coach Mike Magas agreed: “This is about where we thought it would be.”
Woodland was in the hunt. Torrington Coach Gregory and assistant coach Jessica Hurd were thrilled their first three 50-free-stylers had individual bests.
Welch polished off her third win of the night in the 100-yard butterfly, losing her goggles in the process.
“I’m nervous,” said the Raider senior on her hopes for the meet.
Torrington’s lead was 44-34, then 49-45 after Byden took the 100 freestyle for Woodland.
A win by Lynn in the 500 free led the Hawks to their first lead of the night, 57-53.
Ariola, Pope, Lisa Thrasher and Lynn raised the stakes, 67-57, Woodland, with a win in the 200 freestyle relay.
Red Raider Gray won the 100 backstroke, but Torrington trailed 76-64.
“I had us ahead by 20 (on paper),” said Coach Magas in his pre-race figuring. “(Torrington) made up a lot of points. Are we going to win? I’ll tell you when it’s over.”
Raider Vollaro won the 100 breaststroke. Torrington trailed 82-74.
The final horn blew. The Hawks took second and third, then broke into celebration.
“We’ve been talking about this meet for a week,” said Coach Magas. “It’s a tribute to Torrington that it was so important to us.”
“Our girls swam really well today,” said Coach Gregory. “We would like to have won the meet, but we’re excited about our times.”
Woodland goes to 4-0 (3-0 NVL). Torrington is 2-2 (2-1 NVL).
Woodland 88, Torrington 82
At Torrington YMCA
200-yard medley relay: Torrington (Jess Gray, Olivia Vollaro, Payton Welch, Victoria Masucci), 2:07.95; 2. Woodland; 3. Torrington. 200 freestyle: 1. Gray (T), 2:17.97; 2. Tatiana Lynn (W); 3. Jen Friscia (T). 200 Individual Medley: 1. Welch (T), 2:27.78; 2. Emma Sardinskas (W); 3. Cara McCarthy (T). 50 free: 1. Chloe Ariola (W), :29.78; 2. Brooke Pope (W); 3. Lauren Lombardo (W). 100 butterfly: 1. Welch (T), 1:09.25; Sardinskas (W); McCarthy (T). 100 free: 1. Sarah Bryden (W), 1:14.70; 2. Pope (W); 3. Masucci (T). 500 free: 1. Lynn (W), 6:20.08; 2. Veronica Dergachev (W); 3. Friscia (T). 200 free relay: 1. Woodland (Ariola, Pope, Lisa Thrasher, Lynn), 2:00.43; 2. Torrington; 3. Woodland. 100 backstroke: 1. Gray (T), 1:08.16; 2. Bryden (W); 3. Kyla Drewry (W). 100 breaststroke: 1. Vollaro (T), 1:26.91; 2. Thrasher (W); 3. Emily Mazzorelli (T). 400 free relay: 1. Torrington (Gray, McCarthy, Masucci, Welch), 4:17.91; 2. Woodland; 3. Woodland.
Records: Woodland 4-0; Torrington 2-2.