NVL boys swimming championship preview: Hawks hope depth leads to title

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BY KYLE BRENNAN
CITIZEN’S NEWS
Two dual-meet losses mar the Woodland boys swim team’s schedule this season. The Hawks’ thoughts about those defeats? No big deal.
That’s because the Naugatuck Valley League championships are on the horizon, and that’s the only one that matters to Woodland.
“We lost two dual meets, but our focus has been on this meet all season,” said Woodland coach Brendan Heller, whose team’s only league losses came against Holy Cross on Feb. 8 and Oxford on Feb. 17.
That focus stems partially from the Hawks’ last few performances at the league championships. Woodland narrowly lost to the Crusaders at least year’s league meet, and that followed back-to-back third-place finishes.
“Our senior class is very motivated,” Heller said. “They’re hoping to go out on top. They’re pretty fired up.”
One senior gold-medal favorite is diver D.J. Mulligan, the defending champion. He’s joined by fellow senior divers DeAngelo Allen and Taha Turshani, a trio that should give the Hawks a comfortable lead in points after the March 2 diving finals.
“D.J. has won every dual meet so far,” Heller said. “DeAngelo has done a very good job and he should be in medal contention, and Taha has done a nice job this season.”
There’s also plenty of senior talent in swimming events, including Aiden Kennedy, Tyler Macdowall, and Tyler Cyr. Heller also pointed to freshman Alex Weisenbacher and sophomore Chase Starzman as medal contenders.
“Alex Weisenbacher’s had a great season,” Heller said. “He’s challenged everybody in every race he’s been in all year, so he’s going to have a great first NVL meet. Chase Starzman should be in the hunt for two races.”
The key at the championships — with trials set for Feb. 26 and finals set for March 5 — is depth to maximize scoring. Heller is happy with the number of quality swimmers the Hawks have entering the postseason.
“We’ve worked really hard to develop some depth,” Heller said. “Some of the other teams in the league don’t necessarily have the numbers that we have, so that’ll be a big help for us. We’re trying to get four guys to qualify for the finals in every event.”