Hawks look for team effort to follow up record year

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Woodland girls swimming captains, from left, junior Jesse Erickson, seniors Chrissy Leeper, and Sydney Corneau will guide the Hawks as they seek to follow up a record year last season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — There are 13 events at a high school swim meet, so some simple math allows us to figure out each school has 13 records.

Of those 13 all-time marks at Woodland, all but two have the digits “11” alongside.

That’s how good the Hawks were last fall.

But most of those records belong to athletes who are now in college. There’s no more Jen Tavares, who set an astounding eight school records last season en route to earning all-league and all-state recognition. There’s no more Katie-Jean Hinckley, who owns four records and several all-league and all-state honors. And there’s no more Dayna Chucta, who holds both school records and won the Naugatuck Valley League and Class S titles in 2011.

Those three helped the Hawks to a 13-1-1 record, a third-place finish at the NVL finals and a fourth-place showing at the Class S meet — all program records.

“I don’t know if we can fill those holes and those times with only one person,” coach Mike Magas said. “It will probably have to come from depth and multiple swimmers doing well.”

There are only four names on the Woodland girls record board that don’t include “Tavares,” “Hinckley” or “Chucta,” and two of them are back on the squad this year.

Senior co-captains Chrissy Leeper and Sydney Corneau were both part of the three record-setting relay teams last season and should be among the Hawks’ best individual swimmers this year. Jesse Erickson is the team’s third senior co-captain.

“We’re looking for them to swim lifetime bests this season,” Magas said of Leeper and Corneau. “For as good as they were last season, we need them to be even better this year.”

Rachel Gerard, Sarah Parker, Whitney Stow, and Emily Trumbley are among the Hawks’ other senior swimmers. Together, they cover every event in the pool.

“We have a lot of seniors, it’s just a matter of them stepping up,” Magas said. “They have to realize this is their year to step up.”

Seniors Kim Thrasher and Liz Martin will try to take over Chucta’s top spot on the diving board. Chucta smashed both school records formerly held by her sister, Heather, and is now at Towson University.

“We’re still counting on our divers to score a lot of points,” Magas said. “It’s always been like that. Even though Dayna’s graduated, we expect a lot from Kim and Liz.”

Freshman Lauren Lombardo hopes to join Thrasher and Martin as the team’s top divers.

Other young swimmers Magas noted were junior Brianna Christiano, sophomore Emma Sardinskas and freshmen Chloe Ariola and Erin Mascoli, who Magas thinks could break out by the end of the fall.

“By the end of the season she could be special,” he said of Mascoli.

While Magas doesn’t expect as many records to fall this season — although he says Steph O’Donnell’s 100 butterfly and Chelsea Germer’s 100 breaststroke remaining marks are goals — he thinks the team could challenge near the top of the league.

“It’s Watertown and everyone else in the league,” Magas said. “On paper it’s a battle for second place. We should be in that mix. It’s all about what we do in practice. Last year gave validation to the program and the kids’ hard work.”

The Hawks open the season Friday against Holy Cross before traveling to meet Sheehan next Wednesday.