Mix of experience, youth propels Hawks

BEACON FALLS — With an equal mix of seasoned veterans and young swimmers who are making their presence felt, the Woodland girls swim team is measuring up quite well to the competition this season.

“I’m really pleased at where we are,” Woodland head coach Mike Magas said. “They have been working real hard and the younger girls are coming along and making a difference.”

After rattling off four straight wins to start the season, Woodland fell to defending Naugatuck Valley League champion Seymour, 99-82, Sept. 27.

Kyla Behrle won the 100 butterfly in 1 minute, 3.16 seconds for the Hawks against the Wildcats, and Ella Bernegger won the diving competition with a score of 170.65. The 400 freestyle relay team of Behrle, Molly Kennedy, Maura Beltrami and Aly Rojcov also took first (4:08.25).

Woodland bounced back with an 88-73 win over Torrington on Friday. Morgan Swift (50 freestyle, 28.96) and Kennedy (500 freestyle, 6:15.92) won individual events for the Hawks (5-1).

Magas said the time off between the Seymour and Torrington meets gave the Hawks a chance to work on some things the team doesn’t normally get a chance to work on.

“I’m happy at where we are at this point in the season,” he said.

With 18 upperclassmen, including nine seniors, Woodland has a lot of experienced swimmers to show the younger girls how it’s done.

Seniors Camille Terrell, Swift and Rojcov make up 75% of the 200 medley relay team. Seniors Casey Brooks (200 free), Lauren Avery (50 free), Grace Rua (100 back), Victoria Gugliotti (relays), Hailey Bernier (500 free) and Mairead Reilly are hard at work in their senior year.

“The team is buying into the fact that the extra work is going to pay off,” Magas added. “We have a large group of upperclassmen who are providing a good example and the younger girls are stepping up and making the most out of their opportunity.”

Bernegger, a freshman, and sophomores Kayleigh Theroux and Shaelin DiGioia lead the diving team. Behrle, a sophomore, and freshmen Beltrami and Kennedy have consistently won events for the Hawks.

“We have a big freshman class and they are all solid swimmers,” Magas said. “So it doesn’t surprise me the success they are having early in the season. We are just taking it one day at a time. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Woodland will face Oxford Tuesday, before heading to Sacred Heart on Friday.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the article published in the Oct. 10 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on the Torrington meet, which was held after press time.