Hawk swimmers and divers benefit from tough nonleague slate

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BY KEVIN ROBERTS
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
The Woodland High boys swimming and diving program gets ready for the NVL schedule with some challenging nonleague meets.
This season, the Hawks went up against area teams like perennial BL power Northwestern and Cheshire.
There was also a meet against Notre Dame-West Haven of the Southern Connecticut Conference.
After a 97-93 loss to the Highlanders in the season opener, the Hawks bounced back with wins over both the Rams (93-79) and the Green Knights (94-89) to finish the nonleague schedule 2-1.
“The guys are buying into the consistent hard work and focus we are looking for at practice,” Hawk coach Brendan Heller said. “It is starting to show, and we are excited about what’s to come. We are just getting started.”
Woodland picked up the victory over Cheshire on Jan. 6.
The Rams aren’t the power they normally are, considering they had just 10 swimmers and no divers in the meet against the Hawks.
Still, a win is a win.
“The boys were excited to notch our first victory of the season over Cheshire,” Heller said. “We fell short to Northwestern by four points, so they were pretty hungry to get a ‘W.’ We knew we had to string together and execute a full meet in order to pull out a win.”
Among the strong efforts against Cheshire were the ones turned in by sophomore Alex Weisenbacher, who swam the 200 freestyle relay and 100 backstroke back-to-back. Weisenbacher was part of the winning relay, along with junior Chase Starzman, sophomore Nolan Bernier and sophomore Ryan Iannone (1:38.41). Weisenbacher was first in the backstroke in 1:03.75.
“Alex Weisenbacher pulled through strong in the backstroke right out of the relay right before,” Heller said.
Starzman’s effort in the 100 butterfly was impressive.
“Chase Starzman had a great race in the 100 fly,” Heller said, adding: “57 (seconds) at this point in the season is very good for him.”
Diver Matt Silva, just a sophomore, won his event.
Fellow sophomore Jaden Khy also did well.
“They are improving and doing a great job under the instruction of our first-year coach, Lauren Lombardo,” Heller said. “She replaced longtime coach Al Ricard, is a Woodland alum, and is doing a fantastic job rebuilding our dive program after we graduated three divers, including two-time defending champ DJ Mulligan.”
Woodland’s first NVL meet is against Naugatuck on Jan. 20 at home at 4 p.m.