NAUGATUCK — There is no substitute for depth when it comes to competing for a championship in swimming. As Naugatuck turns the corner on the midpoint of the season, the Greyhounds and first-year head coach Dan Knepple are hard at work building their depth with an eye on the postseason.
Heading into the season, Knepple knew what he had with a roster full of seasoned upperclassmen. Over the past few meets, Knepple has been assessing the team’s abilities while expanding its depth in the process. Several swimmers have been encouraged to go beyond their comfort zone, and the results are beginning to show up.
“I have had Austin (Herb), Joe (Rafala) and sophomore Jacob Hall try out different swims outside of their normal events to try and expand our team’s depth,” Knepple said. “I knew the core that we had coming into the season, and it was a process of bringing along some of the younger swimmers as well to ensure that their presence was felt.”
Naugatuck saw that effort pay off in a 98-78 win over Wilby-Kaynor on Jan. 11.
Herb, the Greyhounds’ long distance specialist, went out and picked up a pair of victories in the 200 IM (2:28.46) and the 100 freestyle (57.01). Spencer Maher (a 100, 200 swimmer) tried his hand in the 500 freestyle and came out with first (5:08.33). Bailey Ceryak won the 100 fly (1:08.63), a new event for the junior.
“A lot of the guys who thought they could only swim one event are starting to see they can be successful in other events as well,” Knepple said. “That is only going to make us a stronger team as we go forward in the season. Bailey (Ceryak), our 200 IM and backstroke guy, is now doing the 100 fly. Some of these younger guys, sophomore Kevin Healy and freshman Steven Herb and Gavin McKeon, are beginning to see their efforts paying off.”
Naugy’s (5-2) depth is bolstered by a solid diving team that is led by senior Logan Martin, who put up a season-best score of 214.69 in Naugatuck’s 98-57 win over Crosby-Waterbury Career on Jan 15.
Sophomore William Brown gives Naugatuck a sturdy one-two punch on the diving board. Senior Tsering Dhondup and junior Ethan Phaneuf round out the top four divers for the Greyhounds.
Ceryak won the 100 butterfly again versus Crosby-Waterbury Career. Maher (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle), Dale Wakeley (200 IM), Hall (50 freestyle) and Ryan Vincent (500 freestyle) won individual events as well.
The Greyhounds picked up a 98-80 win over Oxford — Knepple’s alma mater — last Friday. Individual event winners included Maher (200 IM, 100 butterfly), Alex Manasoiu (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle) and Brown (diving).
The Greyhounds will host Holy Cross on Friday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the article published in the Jan. 24 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on a swim meet held after press time.
Correction: Dan Knepple’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this article.