Hawks impress at NVLs

WATERBURY — The Woodland girls swim team followed up its most successful season since 2011 with an impressive fifth-place showing at the Naugatuck Valley League championships on Nov. 6 at Kennedy High School.

The Hawks (8-4-1), led by senior captains Sarah Bryden, Chloe Ariola and Erin Mascoli, swam to their best finish at NVLs in the last four years with 459 points. Three-time NVL champion Sacred Heart won the meet with 780 points followed by Watertown (719 points) and Seymour (654 points). Oxford edged Woodland for fourth with 493 points.

“The top three teams certainly presented us with a challenge,” Woodland head coach Mike Magas said. “We did come in with a lot of momentum based on the results of our diving team.”

Woodland went into the NVL championships with a full head of steam. The Hawks outscored the rest of the league in the diving competition held the night before at the Kennedy pool.

The Hawks racked up 77 team points in diving.

Senior Lauren Lombardo, a two-time All-NVL diver, finished third with a score of 342.6 and took home the bronze medal.

Lisa Thrasher came in fifth with a score of 316.2 and Lexi Byczko finished seventh with a score of 295.5 to give the Hawks a little momentum heading into the finals.

“Diving coach Doug Mariano does a great job with the girls, and year after year we are at the top of the league in diving,” Magas said.

The Hawks consistently broke into the top ten at the championship meet.

“We had a great week of practice getting ready for the NVL meet,” Magas said. “All three of our relays posted best times and 95 percent of the girls swam to personal best times.”

Bryden led the way with a sixth-place finish in the backstroke in 1:09.45. The 200 medley relay foursome of Bryden, Thrasher along with sophomores Kyla Drewry and Brooke Pope swam to a sixth in 2:06.93.

Juniors Tatianna Lynn and Veronica Dergachev teamed up with Bryden and Pope to finish sixth in the 400 freestyle relay in 4:15.76.

Pope added a seventh-place finish in the 50 freestyle in 27.24. The 200 freestyle relay team of Thrasher, Drewry, Dergachev and Lynn placed eighth, and Bryden finished ninth in the 100 freestyle.

Lynn added to the Hawks’ team points finishing 10th in the 500 freestyle in 6:08.84.

Magas said the team is on the upswing.

“We had great leadership from our seniors and a lot of the younger girls are looking forward to swimming during the offseason to gain more confidence and experience,” he said.

Woodland’s swimmers will now prepare for the Class S meet.

The diving competition was Wednesday at Middletown High School. Lombardo finished eighth (306.85) and Thrasher finished 11th (300.30)

Swimmers will hit the pool Saturday for qualifying. The championship is Nov. 17 at Wesleyan University in Middletown.

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