Hawks go from rebuilding to reloading

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BEACON FALLS — This year was supposed to be a rebuilding season, but this winter hasn’t turned out too badly for the Woodland boys swim team.

After setting program records with a strong senior class last season, a solid returning group — with a few newcomers — has picked up the slack this winter.

“It’s been a great season,” Woodland coach Tom Currier said. “They’ve been working hard. They’re a little beat up, so we’ve been bringing it down (in practice) and working on getting faster. They’re pumped and ready to go.”

Top swimmers have included Noah Scott, Aiden Kennedy, Tyler Cyr, Zac Bertrand, Ryan Curtin, Tyler Macdowall and Pat Zieba, as well as diver D.J. Mulligan.

Although Woodland lost a lot of its star swimmers from last year’s third-place finisher in the Naugatuck Valley League, Currier said he isn’t surprised about how well his sophomores and juniors, among others, have swum.

“The bulk of fast swimmers switched from seniors to sophomores,” Currier said. “The seniors and juniors we have fill the spots, and adding three divers helps. We have some good freshmen who are swimming well, too.”

In a recent 94-91 win over Oxford, Scott (50 freestyle), Kennedy (500 freestyle) and Zieba (100 backstroke) all picked individual swimming victories. Zieba, Curtin, Scott and Kian Sirowich also teamed up to win the 200 medley relay.

In the same meet, Mulligan continued his diving success. He’s now the Hawks’ top diver after the graduation of three-time NVL champion Riley Clark, and Currier is impressed with the way Mulligan has filled the role.

“It’s always different going into your sophomore year because you have a base,” Currier said. “Al (Ricard) is a great coach. Now (Mulligan) is the big-dog diver and he’s taken that on by being a leader to the two first-time divers. He’s stepped up to the challenge and has embraced it.”

With the postseason approaching, the Hawks are dialing in their practices to emphasize speed. The league diving finals are Friday at Kennedy, followed by swim trials Saturday at Kennedy and swim finals Tuesday at Kennedy. Currier said he expects three or four Hawks in each of the event finals, which should place them among the top half of teams.

“We go, we have fun, we try hard, and we want to go faster than we’ve gone before,” Currier said. “Most of them are either close to or already at their (personal) best times, so we’ve had a great training year. They’re a team. They work hard together and they have fun together, so I’ve already won this year.”