Enthusiasm abounds in the pool

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

Energy helps fuel Greyhounds, Hawks after year of mostly virtual meets

Woodland’s Josie Nesta does the breaststroke while swimming the 200 individual medley during a meet against St. Paul Sept. 21 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

After a season of swimming all or nearly all virtual meets, the enthusiasm and energy is back on the pool decks.

Following Woodland’s first meet Sept. 10 against Jonathan Law, the large crowd in attendance rose to their feet to give the Hawks a standing ovation.

“I know the kids were excited to be back with a little competition in the next lane,” Woodland head coach Mike Magas said. “But the fans were equally excited and gave us a standing ovation after the meet.”

The extra energy helped Woodland and Naugatuck usher in the new season with enthusiasm and success.

The Hawks started 3-0 following a win over Wilby, 76-45, Sept. 17 and a 95-82 victory Sept. 21 over St. Paul.

“We are definitely seeing a lot more excitement not only with opponents swimming in the next lane but the crowds in the stands have been very vocal,” Magas said.

“I’ve received quite a few emails from parents who are excited to be back in the stands watching their kids again,” he added. “So it’s having a positive impact and giving us a little normalcy back after a long year facing restrictions.”

Two relay squads helped lead the Hawks against St. Paul. The 200 medley team of Kyla Behrle, Emme Starzman, Maura Beltrami and Laura DeGennaro posted a winning time of 2 minutes, 0.25 seconds. The 200 free relay squad of Starzman, Olivia Schwenger, Sarah Cooley and Beltrami finished first in 1:54.58.

Woodland’s Dylan Burkowsky swims the 200 freestyle during a meet against St. Paul on Sept. 21 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Woodland also got first-place finishes from Josie Nesta (200 IM, 2:36.85), DeGennaro (50 free, 27.19), Behrle (100 fly, 1:03.50), Starzman (100 free, 58.46) and Ella Bernegger (diving, 219.50 points).

Naugatuck coach Jim McKee saw a significant difference in times from practice to the Greyhounds’ first meet. The Greyhounds got off to a strong start with an opening-season win at Watertown, 92-83, Sept. 17.

“We had one heck of a first meet,” McKee said. “I was looking for the girls to pick it up a notch now that they had some competition in the next lane after a year of virtual meets. I’m happy to say they picked it up ten notches.”

Naugy scored heavily in the relays, taking first and second in the 200 medley and the 200 free relays.

Haley Deller, Ayana Williams, Jacqueline Uva and Kayla Bartlett won the 200 medley relay in 2:04.05. Leticia DoNascimento, Tara Fitzgerald, Bartlett and Lily Jason took first in the 200 free relay in 1:54.03.

The relays helped Naugy make up for having no divers and losing out on 13 possible points, as did several first-place finishes.

Kelly Brodeur (200 free 2:25.73), Deller (200 IM, 2:31.78), Uva (100 fly, 1:04.97) and Davinity Smallwood (500 free, 6:01.78) all won individual events.

McKee was looking to see how his new group of freshmen would impact the outcome, and he wasn’t disappointed.

Jason won the 50 free (26.62) and the 100 free (1:00.51) and was solid as the anchor in the 200 free relay, posting a time of 26.59 seconds in the last leg.

“The excitement of having some competitors in the next lane really showed in our times,” McKee said. “After giving up 13 points in diving, we kind of got it all back taking first and second in two relays. That is huge and shows the depth that we have.”

Naugatuck is scheduled to face Oxford on Sept. 24 and Seymour on Sept. 28.

Woodland is scheduled to face Seymour on Sept. 24 and Pomperaug on Sept 28.