BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls swim team set the high water mark in 2011 with a school record in wins going 13-1-1 and tying a school-best third place finish at the NVL championship.
The following year head coach Mike Magas ushered in a talented group of eight freshman to try and pick up the pieces. Those freshman are now entering their senior year and are poised to make some waves this season.
Last year, the Hawks put together their first winning season at 7-6 since 2011. Woodland graduated five athletes, including Sara Fowler the 2014 NVL champion diver. Fowler, a 2013 and 2014 All-NVL diver, became the fourth Woodland girl to win the NVL diving championship in the last 11 seasons.
The Hawks will use diving as their strength again this season led by 2013 All-NVL diver and senior Lauren Lombardo along with seniors Lisa Thrasher and Lexie Byczko.
“Diving will again be one of our strengths,” Magas said. “We have three seniors who will lead a group of seven girls trying out for the diving team.”
Senior captains Sarah Bryden, Chloe Ariola and Erin Mascoli will lead a very talented and experienced Woodland squad that is looking to move up the ladder in the NVL after finishing seventh at the league championship last season.
“We have been pretty consistent the past few seasons,” said Magas, entering his 12th season at the helm. “But this year we come in with a tremendous amount of experience. Even in our junior and sophomore class, they gained a lot of quality experience at the NVL championship and in the states.”
Magas said the Hawks have depth across the board.
“Overall we have depth in just about every event and I know these seniors are looking to take it up a notch,” he said.
Woodland returns six swimmers who finished in the top 20 at the NVL championship and a bulk of three relay teams that qualified for the finals in the Class S state meet.
Thrasher was part of all three relay squads — the 200 freestyle, 200 medley and 400 freestyle — at the state meet that finished 15th out of the 31 school field. She was also the Hawks speedster, finishing 14th at the NVL championship in the 50 freestyle and 15th in the 100 freestyle.
Sophomore Kyla Drewry made her mark as a freshman finishing just out of the top ten with a 12th place finish in the butterfly at the NVL championship. Juniors Taylor Amore, 14th in the 500 freestyle, and Veronica Dergachev, 16th at the NVL meet, showed that the Hawks have a couple of distance threats, as well.
Senior Morgan Reichard was 17th in the 200 IM and sophomore Brooke Pope finished 19th adding to the Hawks all-around depth. Junior Tatianna Lynn swam on two of the three relay squads in the states along with Bryden as Woodland brings back an experienced foursome in the relays.
“The girls are coming into this season knowing what it takes to get to compete,” Magas said. “We have a lot of swimmers who can contribute points for us at every event and that will make us very competitive.”
Senior Karli Reynolds along with juniors Jordan Williams and Olivia Rua add to the experience coming back, which gives the Hawks a legitimate chance to be one of the teams in the hunt.
“A lot of our younger swimmers are ready to step up,” Magas added. “Williams is much improved and Pope and Drewry are ready to take it up a notch. But the NVL is not an easy league to compete in. We will be tested the first month facing two-time champion Sacred Heart and a tough Oxford team.”
Woodland has a stable of sophomores who will be looking to step up their game and add to an already deep and diverse lineup. Carly Erickson and Jordon Theroux lead a strong group of sophomores along with Maia Rosario, Morgan McSherry, Marissa Johnson, Madison Hoxie and Zarina Garcia. The Hawks also have one freshman, Natalie Katrenya, who will be looking to score some points, as well.
Woodland gets the season underway on Friday at the Kennedy High School pool for a 4 p.m. matchup with an always tough Holy Cross team. On Sept. 15, the Hawks will be back at Kennedy for a 7 p.m. showdown with two-time defending champion Sacred Heart. The first home meet for the Hawks will be Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. against Oxford.