MIDDLETOWN — The Woodland girls swim team didn’t bring back a haul of medals from the Class S state championships, but coach Mike Magas didn’t let that get in the way of a positive assessment from the final meet of the year.
“Considering they were coming off an emotional NVL (championship meet), they did very well,” Magas said. “NVLs are so emotional and exciting for them, so it’s tough to get highly motivated for states. They were a little down for the trials, but they came back to swim well in the finals.”
The Hawks placed 10th in Class S, behind champion Weston and runner-up Lauralton Hall. Woodland finished third-highest among Naugatuck Valley League squads, behind Seymour (third) and Oxford (eighth).
Freshman Kyla Behrle posted some of Woodland’s most impressive performances at the meet, which was held Nov. 14 at Wesleyan University. Behrle placed eighth in the 100 butterfly and 12th in the 200 individual medley, and she was part of two eighth-place relay squads.
“She’s been swimming with the Cheshire (club) program for a few years and I coached her in middle school,” Magas said. “She’s got the drive and determination to want to be a good swimmer. Some athletes talk about wanting to be great athletes but don’t put in the work, but she definitely does. It pays off.”
Aly Rojcov (21st in the 100 fly, 24th in the 100 backstroke) and Camille Terrell (24th in the 100 freestyle) also qualified for event finals.
Rojcov, Terrell and Behrle also swam on a pair of eighth-place relay teams. They joined Morgan Swift on the 200 medley relay squad and Casey Brooks on the 400 free relay group. Swift, Brooks, Hailey Bernier and Emily Beyer teamed up to place 17th in the 200 free relay.
In earlier competition, Alyssa VanAlstyne placed fifth in the diving competition while Adrianna Byczko finished 16th.
Reflecting upon the season, Magas said he was thrilled with the leadership displayed by his captains — senior Natalie Katrenya and juniors Rojcov, Brooks, Terrell and Swift.
“They were the first juniors I’ve ever named captains and they did admirably,” Magas said. “They swam well enough to be in state finals. They work hard and score valuable points for us. I think it’s really going to boost their confidence. This year was a bit of feeling-out process, but next year they’re going to know what they need to do for themselves and their teammates.”
Magas also said the team’s third-place finish in the league was just one of the many factors he uses to rate this season as a success.
“I’d give us a grade of A,” Magas said. “It was a very successful year. Everybody swam their personal-best times and the divers hit their best scores. When we start a season, one of our main goals is to have everyone swim faster at the end of the year than they started. Everyone rooted for each other, and everybody really stuck together.”