BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys swim team is heading down the stretch of the season and gearing up for the Naugatuck Valley League championship meet to be held at Kennedy at the end of the month.
With only 11 swimmers, the Hawks may be outmanned at most meets but that doesn’t stop them from pushing opponents to the limit as they did with Seymour last Tuesday.
The Wildcats escaped with a slim, 92-84 win over Woodland by capturing first place in the final two events, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 400 freestyle relay.
Seymour took two of the three relays, the 200 and 400 freestyles, along with a pair of two-win performances by Kevin Saska (200 and 500 free) and Neeraj Madivala (50 and 100 free) and it was enough to edge out the Hawks.
“Our team stacks up pretty well with most competitors in spite of our low numbers,” Woodland head coach Tom Currier said. “We have been looking pretty good lately but Seymour just ended up having a little too much depth. I think what hurts us the most is the relays. We just don’t have that kind of depth to fill all three races competitively.”
But the Hawks do have able-bodied athletes that could pose a handful at the NVL championships. Woodland showed its athleticism with a first-place finish in the 200 medley relay against Seymour with the foursome of Andy O’Dell, Patrick Dietz, Aidan Music and Jimmy Jensen posting a winning time of 1 minute, 55.62 seconds.
Seymour, behind the strength of Saska and Madivala, began to pull away. But Woodland wasn’t done yet as Music bested the field in the 200 IM with an effort of 2:18.24 and Steve McCusker put up a six-dive score of 182.65 to capture first place.
Woodland was breathing down the necks of the Wildcats but the Hawks began to run out of steam. Seymour put a few more first-place finishes in its pocket and gained a sizeable advantage.
Then the Hawks showed what they lacked in depth they made up for in talent as O’Dell ripped off wins in the 100 butterfly (59.02 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (1:03.74).
That closed the gap and the meet came down to the final two events. Seymour held the upper hand down the stretch but Woodland certainly left its mark.
“We have a couple of more meets left to gear up for the NVLs,” said Currier. “Kennedy lost a few swimmers from last year and Wilby is an up-and-coming team. If the kids come ready to compete we should be able to do well.”
Woodland has juniors Alan Katrenya and Lauren Tompkins along with sophomores John Dyckman and Pat Conway to fill in most of the events at NVLs with freshmen Jordan Baer and Donavan White looking to make an impact at the league championships. NVL swim trials are set for Feb. 26 before diving finals Feb. 27 and swim finals March 1.
“We should fare well at the NVLs,” Currier said. “I’m looking for us to do well individually anyway as we have some pretty good athletes.”