Hawks earn best finish at NVL swim championships

WATERBURY — In a season that seemingly featured an historic achievement each week for the Woodland boys swim team, there was no better way to end the Naugatuck Valley League season than to do it one more time.

At the NVL championships March 1 at Kennedy High, the Hawks finished in a school-record third place with 698.5 points, behind only five-time reigning champion Holy Cross (1,010) and Naugatuck (722).

“It was the best season ever for the boys,” Woodland assistant coach Mike Magas said.

Although the Hawks boasted only one gold medalist in diver Riley Clark, Woodland surged toward into the top three on the strength of its depth and quality finishes throughout the meet.

Greg Aldrich was the top individual swimmer for the Hawks, finishing third in the 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 1.99 seconds) and fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:07.96). At the NVL trials Feb. 26, his 100 breast time of 1:01.86 broke the school record.

Aldrich was also part of a pair of third-place relay squads. His 200 free relay group with Noah Scott, Joe Flaherty and Jeff Varesio touched in 1:34.62, and his 400 free relay team with Flaherty, Varesio and Zack Arisian finished in 3:32.16.

The 200 medley relay team of Scott, Jake Arisian, Pat Zieba, and Ryan Curtin opened the meet with a fifth-place finish in 1:48.91. Flaherty placed fifth in the 100 free with a time of 52.71 seconds, and Zieba was sixth in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.12.

The NVL championship meet was memorable for the Hawks in more ways than their strong finish. They also enjoyed some of the best fan support at the competition, complete with signage posted to the back wall of the John Reardon Pool.

“Our fan base has been great,” Aldrich told the Republican-American. “They wear the black and gold sweatshirts. It’s kind of like a good-luck thing, a superstitious thing. More people have followed us than ever before. We’ve had more success and that got everyone more excited about the season.”

All that remained for the Hawks was the Class S state championships. The finals are Monday at Wesleyan. Barring any State Open berths that come from the meet, it will be the final competition for seniors Aldrich, Flaherty, Varesio, Zach Hummel and Zack Arisian, along with Clark.

“We’re losing some really great seniors, but the guys who are here are going to keep getting better and we have some good swimmers coming up,” Magas said. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”