MIDDLETOWN — The Naugatuck and Woodland boys’ swim teams capped off incredible seasons with sixth-place finishes in their respective classes at last week’s state championship swim meets.
Seven days after winning their fourth straight Naugatuck Valley League championship, the Greyhounds squared off against some of the top programs in the state and scored a team total of 345 points, good for sixth place at the Class L state championship meet at Wesleyan University last Wednesday.
The 200-yard freestyle relay team earned all-state honors, when Dalton Fennell, James Vaz, Trevor Heller and Kyle Conrad raced to a state championship, with a first-place time of 1:28.74.
The 400 freestyle team of Chris Branco, Vaz, Heller and Conrad finished third, in 3:17.78, a second behind New Milford.
Pomperaug won the Class L championship, amassing a team total of 852 points, with Cheshire finishing as the runner-up, with 394 points. They were followed by Newtown, Amity, Conard and Naugatuck in a field of 21 teams.
“There is so much emotion going on at the NVL meet, and then seven days later, you have to muster that emotion up again,” Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee said. “That’s not easy, and I felt maybe we just ran out of gas, as we started out slow at the Class L meet.
“Then the 200 relay team made our season. There are 80 banners on the wall of the pool, and 50 are for state champions and only two are for relay teams—that’s how hard it is. “We were only 49 points out of second place, as a team, and that is elite company,” McKee continued. “These guys will have their names up on the wall forever, and that’s something to be proud of, being state champions.”
Naugatuck also received a strong individual effort from Heller, the Hounds’ only all-state swimmer last season, who finished fourth in the 100 butterfly, in 53.90, and seventh in the 50 freestyle, in 22.31.
Conrad raced to a seventh-place finish in the 100 freestyle, in 49.20, and Branco swam to an eighth-place finish in the 500 freestyle, with a time of 5:02.34.
In the State Open, held Saturday at Yale, Naugatuck finished 22nd, with a team total of 76 points. The state champion 200 freestyle relay team of Fennell, Vaz, Heller and Conrad raced to a seventh-place finish in 1:28.60, a season-best time.
The Woodland Hawks, under first-year head coach Tom Currier, had to overcome a lot of challenges this season but capped the campaign with a solid, sixth-place finish in the Class S championship meet last Thursday. In a field of 26, the Black and Gold finished just 49 points out of third place, with a team total of 286 points.
Weston won the Class S title, with a team total of 567 points, while the NVL’s Sacred Heart finished second, with 535.
“I was impressed with the way the kids came together and fought real hard throughout the season,” Currier said. “In the Class S meet, the 200 and 400 relay teams lived up to expectations. They really went out there and responded.”
Senior captains Will Gerard and Tim Korzinski brought the team together and helped to push the Woodland boys to new heights during the postseason.
The 200 medley relay team of Gerard, Adam Trumbley, Patrick O’Dell, and Eric Dietz broke the school record at the state qualifier then raced to a sixth-place finish in the final, with a time of 1:46.64.
The 400 freestyle relay team of Gerard, Trumbley, O’Dell and Dietz finished seventh, with an effort of 3:30.97.
Gerard also broke the school record in the 500 freestyle, and the Hawks got solid efforts from Trumbley, who finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke, in 1:05.27; and O’Dell, who took sixth in the 100 backstroke, in 57.96, and eighth in the 200 individual medley, in 2:08.73.
“We accomplished some of our goals this season,” Currier said. “No one made the State Open, but we have a lot coming back next season, and we are looking forward to accomplishing that next year.”