Hawks add another program first

Woodland’s Zack Arisian competes in the 100 butterfly during a meet with Masuk Feb. 14 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — As the dual-meet season wound down, the Woodland boys swim team added one more first in a season full of them.

The Hawks beat Watertown, 91-80, on Feb. 8 for the first time in program history. That was the third opponent this season against whom Woodland earned its first-ever victory after earlier victories over Torrington and Sacred Heart.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Woodland coach Tom Currier said. “I’ve been here 10 years, so to finally get to this point where we can say that, it’s really nice.”

The Hawks ended the season with a 9-3 record (9-1 in the Naugatuck Valley League) after beating Naugatuck, 95-91, their final meet on Feb. 15

While Currier admitted all the dual-meet wins have been nice, he maintained that he’s much prouder of the times that have produced those victories.

“I don’t even keep track of wins and losses,” Currier said. “You can have a team swim all (personal)-best times and lose the meet, and that’s a win to me. You can have a team not swim best times and still win a meet. I try to enforce the fact that we’re always racing the clock. We can feed off the competition and let it push you, but ultimately you have to focus on the clock and do your best. We’re right on or exceeding their shaved best times, so it’s great.”

Greg Aldrich (200 freestyle), Noah Scott (50 free), Jake Arisian (100 free, 100 backstroke), and Riley Clark (diving) all won individual events against the Indians. The Hawks also won the 200 medley and 200 free relays in that meet.

Woodland suffered a nonleague defeat against Masuk on senior night Feb. 14, but it was a night to celebrate the success and leadership of the team’s six seniors: Greg Aldrich, Riley Clark, Zack Hummel, Jeff Varesio, Joe Flaherty and Zack Arisian.

“They epitomize what I want the team to be,” Currier said. “They’re the examples of how I want this team run, led, and having fun. They’re Woodland Hawks. They’ve definitely set the tone I’ve been working for over 10 years. They’re running the show — I really don’t have to do much.”

Woodland’s Greg Aldrich does the butterfly during the 200 IM during a meet with Masuk Feb. 14 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

After the final meet against Naugatuck, Woodland faced a week and a half of preparation time before NVL trials Tuesday at Kennedy. Clark will defend his two straight NVL diving titles Wednesday at Kennedy, and the league’s swim finals are Friday at Kennedy.

Currier expects Clark and Aldrich to be among his top individual contenders for gold medals. The coach is also excited about the 200 free relay team of Aldrich, Flaherty, Scott and Varesio, which has a chance to break a decade-old school record and challenge for the top of the podium.

“I honestly don’t know (what’s going to happen),” Currier said. “It’s going to be interesting.”

Practice time before the championship meets will become much more focused, the coach noted.

“It’s speed and rest,” Currier said. “You get rid of some of the garbage yardage and now it’s race-specific. You run fast races and take lots of rest in between. Breaststrokers do breaststroke; sprinters just sprint. We focus and let them rest.”