Hawks, ‘Hounds swimming in different directions

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Alan Katrenya and the Hawks have won three of their last four meets after starting the season 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the Naugatuck Valley League. –FILE PHOTO

Woodland swimming with current

The Woodland boys swim team is starting to gain momentum.

After starting the season 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the Naugatuck Valley League, the Hawks have rallied to win three of their last four meets, including two in the league to improve to 3-5 and 2-2 in the NVL.

Meanwhile, all of this is happening with one of the smallest teams in school history. But the size of the team hasn’t affected the squad too much, other than making top finishes in each race a little more important.

“Individually, I don’t think it’s much different,” Woodland coach Tom Currier said. “All the kids are used to swimming four events a meet, so it’s not that I’m putting any more workload on them.”

The Hawks’ winless start to the season was deceiving, Currier said. The team’s solid showings of late are much more representative.

“We started off the season with some of the best teams in the area,” Currier said. “Sacred Heart is a potential state champion, Naugatuck is one of the best teams in the league, Haddam-Killingworth is strong, and Pomperaug is a State Open champion. We started off with the toughest parts of the schedule and now everyone is finally getting in swimming shape.”

On Tuesday, Woodland evened its league record with an 81-73 win at Seymour in a meet that wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. The Hawks swept the first eight events, gaining enough points to pull up in the final three events.

The 200 medley relay team of Eric Dietz, Alan Katrenya, Steve McCusker, and Andy O’Dell started the meet with a victory in 1:59.50 while the 200 freestyle relay squad of Patrick Dietz, Ryan Greenwood, Aidan Music, and Patrick O’Dell provided the Hawks’ final victory of the day in 1:48.28.

In between, Woodland’s best individual swimmers racked up their own victories. Patrick O’Dell won the 200 free in 1:55.53 and the 100 free in 53.68 seconds while younger brother Andy took the 100 fly in 59.33 seconds. Those two, along with freestyle sprinter Eric Dietz, have made up the backbone for the team throughout the season.

“Pat O’Dell, Andy O’Dell, and Eric Dietz have definitely been the standouts,” Currier said. “Those are my big dogs. They’re very important. They’re the three that I try to spread around if I need someone in a different event to race against the other team’s fastest kids.”

But production has gone beyond the top three.

“Everybody else has been pulling their weight,” Currier said. “Mike Christiano and Steve McCusker have been gaining valuable points for us in diving. Alan Katrenya has been great in breaststroke, Jimmy Tompkins has been good in backstroke, and Aidan Music is a good all-around swimmer. I’m putting him in events where I can use a good body.”

Music won the 500 free in 5:50.84 against the Wildcats for Woodland’s final event win of the night. Patrick Dietz earlier won the 50 free in 26.69 seconds while Andrew Cullen took the 200 IM in 2:28.32.

“Andrew Cullen has been huge,” Currier said. “He’s been my guy to fill in for a lot of events this year.”

Lacking depth, Currier isn’t as concerned with where the team will finish in the league championships at the end of February and beginning of March. Individual records and successes are much more important.

“My goal is for everybody to get personal bests,” Currier said. “If everyone gets their fastest times, it’s a successful season to me. For the team, with the smaller numbers, I’m not stressing that. Our relays should break some school records. That should be fabulous. I think that we should have some individuals — the O’Dells and Eric Dietz — that will be competing for medals.”

Woodland continues NVL competition with two more road meets this week, at Torrington on Friday and at Watertown on Tuesday.

Naugatuck on rare losing streak

After the Greyhounds suffered their first dual-meet loss to Holy Cross since 1983 on Jan. 13, they were unable to rebound last Friday in a tri-meet against Conard and Pomperaug, two of the state’s most powerful programs.

Conard defeated Naugatuck, 116-70, while Pomperaug beat the ‘Hounds, 117-69, in the borough. Only Naugy’s Isabelle Moody earned an event victory when she won the diving portion with 197.40 points.

Pomperaug and Conard battled for the rest of the points in a meet that the Panthers ended up winning, 97-89.

The losses sent the Greyhounds to 2-4 on the season while they sit at 2-1 in the NVL. Naugatuck will finish the regular season against league competition with six dual meets over the next month. An important NVL meet against potential favorite Sacred Heart is set for Friday night at Kennedy.