Hawks boast deep, balanced squad

Woodland girls swim captains, from left, Morgan Swift, Casey Brooks, Grace Rua, Aly Rojcov and Camille Terrell will lead the Hawks this season. –KYLE BRENNAN

BEACON FALLS — Two years removed from a Naugatuck Valley League girls swimming title and fresh off another top-three performance, Woodland’s deep and balanced squad may have eyes on another championship this fall.

Complete with 18 upperclassmen and 10 freshmen, the Hawks have plenty of talent that should make them a championship contender.

“With the strong freshman class that came in, we’ll look to be competitive in the league and be among the top three finishers (at the NVL championships),” Woodland coach Mike Magas said.

The Hawks graduated just three athletes, including Natalie Katrenya and divers Alyssa VanAlstyne and Adrianna Byczko. Nine seniors return, including five captains: Aly Rojcov, Camille Terrell, Casey Brooks, Morgan Swift and Grace Rua. Four of those swimmers earned top-six medals in either individual or relay events at last year’s league championship meet.

“We’ve got a strong senior class with five captains,” Magas said. “They’ll all be solid and leading the charge.”

Woodland also boasts nine juniors, including potentially key contributors in Emily Beyer, Spenser Burkowsky, Ainsley Clark, Meghan Letourneau and Taylor Muharem. The sophomore class is small but includes Kyla Behrle, the team’s MVP a season ago after two individual bronze medals at the NVL finals, and divers Shaelin DiGioia and Kayleigh Theroux.

Magas is particularly excited about the large freshman class that brings plenty of experience from Long River Middle School’s program — one that uses the same pool and has a record board that hangs next to Woodland’s.

“We’ve been pretty lucky because our middle school program has really blossomed,” Magas said. “It’s showing in the pool. We have strong kids coming in. A lot of them have two or three years of experience at the middle school level, so that’s helped. Actually, some of the freshmen hold school records in relays from the middle school. It’s definitely a solid freshman class.”

With regular-season dual meets no longer playing a role in the league championship, Magas said the first month of the year will see swimmers take on a number of different roles to see where they fit best individually and for the team.

“The goal is to move girls around into different events and start lining things up for the end of the season,” Magas said. “Our goal is to see where our strengths will lie for the end of the season.”

The Hawks will open the season Friday with a long trip to Waterford before hosting four consecutive home meets against Naugatuck (Tuesday), Watertown (Sept. 20), St. Paul (Sept. 24) and Seymour (Sept. 27).