NAUGATUCK — To be the best, you need to compete against the best. That’s how the Naugatuck boys swim team began the season as the Greyhounds took on perennial state title contender Glastonbury to open the season Dec. 14.
Glastonbury has finished in the Class LL top five over the last nine seasons and placed in the top 10 in the State Open the last two years. On the other side, the last time Naugatuck finished ahead of Glastonbury in Class LL was in 2002 when the Greyhounds placed third.
“We picked up Glastonbury quite a few years back and have kept up that relationship with them,” Naugatuck coach Jim McKee said. “They are a good measuring stick to start the season. They are a quality program and if you want to get better you need to swim quality teams like that.”
The Tomahawks got out to a substantial lead, winning the first eight events on their way to a 94-82 victory over the ‘Hounds. Naugatuck put up a strong showing, posting 95 best times and winning the final four events when Glastonbury swam unofficial times.
“The best times are good and we reinforce that and want to do 100 best times next time out,” McKee said. “There are a lot of new kids on the team and we want to show them that all the hard work is paying off. There are always good and bad things you take out of any meet. What you need to do is learn from each meet and strive to do better every time you get in the pool.”
Eric Hanley led the Greyhounds with first- and fourth-place finishes in the 100-yard breaststroke and 50 freestyle, respectively. Mitchell Santos also swam to first- and fifth-place marks in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly, respectively.
Scott Sill took third place in the 200 free and the 100 free while George Vygoder had fourth-place finishes in the 200 free and the 500 free, and Matt Hall raced to a second-place finish in the 50 free and a fourth-place time in the 100 fly.
The foursome of Santos, Adam Branco, Hall and Mikhail Bourdev were second in the 200 medley relay in 1:53.22 while the team of Vinny Thoren, Hanley, Marcus Cruz and John Dean took fourth in 2:00.67.
Jake Morrissey had fifth-place finishes in the 200 IM and the 500 free, while Cruz took fourth in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 fly.
The Greyhounds divers fared well with Ryan Lewis taking second with 172.20 points and Frank Ruela coming in fifth with an effort of 105.22.
Naugatuck captured its initial event victory in the 200 free relay with Hall, Bourdev, Sill and Hanley racing to a 1:40.82 finish. Branco, Evan Vaz, Morrissey and Vygoder were right behind in second place in 1:47.91.
Santos won the 100 back in 1:05.69 with Thoren and Simon Brondum coming in second and third, while Hanley took the 100 breast ahead of Branco and Dean.
Naugy finished out the meet in the 400 free relay. The team of Vygoder, Santos, Sill and Cruz took first in a time of 3:58.45. Bourdev, Roberto Rodrigues, Morrissey and Thoren finished second, while Colby Storm, Nicholas Ryan, Michael Lauer and Jonathan Savage placed third.
The loss did not deter McKee.
“Wins and losses are not the measuring stick right now in the season,” he said. “Of course you don’t want to lose once the league meets start but for now you want to see what’s out there as far as the best competition and see where you measure up.”
McKee pointed out the importance of Naugy’s annual alumni meet, which was set for Thursday.
“That’s always nice to see the former swimmers come back and see us, even if they are not competing,” McKee said. “But they will be coming out to beat us and give us a challenge. Of course we want the younger kids to see all the things that the alumni swimmers do and see what it takes to get to that level.”
The first Naugatuck Valley League meet for the Greyhounds will be Jan. 4 in Seymour. That will lead up to a neighboring showdown with Woodland on Jan. 8.
“We have some tough competition coming up once the NVL season starts,” McKee said. “We have three meets in [eight] days with Seymour, Woodland and Holy Cross so we still have a lot of work ahead of us to be ready to compete at our best.”