NVL boys swimming championship preview: Greyhounds riding high heading into meet

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BY KEN MORSE
CITIZEN’S NEWS
The Naugatuck boys swim team has gained a little momentum heading down the stretch of the season by putting together a four meet win streak.
The Greyhounds (4-3) earned victories over Torrington, 101-77, on Feb. 16, and Seymour, 83-73, on Feb. 18 to close the regular season.
“I know our seniors will be looking forward to making the most of their opportunities at the post season meets,” said Naugatuck coach Dan Knepple. “There have been no state meets for the past two seasons so they are really looking forward to this.”
Senior tri-captain Steven Herb (100-yard butterfly, 1:00.25; 50 freestyle, 23.35) and freshman Kellen Maher (100 freestyle, 54.11; 200 freestyle, 1:57.41) led the way over the Raiders as double winners.
Senior tri-captain Gavin McKeon won the 100 breaststroke at 1:16.06 and secured second place in the 500 free at 5:33.98. Fellow senior tri-captain Maxwell Napoli earned a couple of third place finishes (100 freestyle, 1:02.91; 200 freestyle, 2:20.66).
Naugy grabbed a 1-2-3 finish in diving. Junior Blake Stone finished first with a solid score of 193.80, Jayson Main took second with 174.75 and sophomore Nicholas Montini claimed third.
The 200 freestyle relay of Herb, Jack Healy, Maher and Eric Fortney raced to a first place finish in 1:40.17. Healy also took two second place finishes (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly), Fortney finished second in the 200 IM and third in the 500, with Hudson Bombery adding a second in the 50 free and placing third in the 200 IM.
“I’m very optimistic that some of our guys will be able to break into the top 24 in the states,” said Knepple. “I know with Wilby-Kaynor and Sacred Heart being out of the league this year that will open up some opportunities for some of our guys to make that top 24.”
Herb (100 butterfly, 1:02.15; 200 free, 1:56.99) and Maher (100 freestyle, 51.96; 50 freestyle, 23.35) again led the Greyhounds as double winners in the victory over Seymour.
Bombery was first in the 500 freestyle in 5:49.84 and second in the 200 freestyle while Fortney swam to victory in the 200 IM at 2:20.58. McKeon was second in the 200 IM, Napoli finished second in the 500 fresetyle and Ethan McKeon was third in the 500 freestyle.
The 200 free relay team of Herb, Fortney, Healy and Maher swam to victory again and lowered its time with a 1:36.19.
“You can do two individuals and two relays in the NVL championship meet,” said Knepple. “Or you can do three relays and one individual, just like the dual meets. It comes down to having the depth and I think our middle guys have been working to fix the issues in their strokes.
“I’m looking forward to having several more swimmers qualify for states at the NVL championship. So regardless of how the standings go, there is a lot to swim for with state qualifying still up for grabs “I think as a team we are starting to come around. Some of the younger guys may still need some time to develop but I think come Saturday at the time trials we are going to be in a good place.”