Season marked by Hawks’ record-breaking performances


By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

Woodland’s Emme Starzman does the breaststroke while competing in the 200 medley relay during a meet against Oxford at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls on Oct. 13. Starzman, a freshman, set the school record in the 100 breaststroke Nov. 2 in a virtual meet against Naugatuck with a time of 1:09.89. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls swim team didn’t get a chance to defend its Naugatuck Valley League championship this year due to the cancelation of the postseason, but the Hawks still made some waves, including setting a couple school records.

Freshman Emme Starzman set the record in the 100 breaststroke Nov. 2 in a virtual meet against Naugatuck with a time of 1:09.89. It marked the third time this season she set a record in the event.

“It’s thrilling to know that I was able to break a record as a freshman,” Starzman said. “I knew from the start that it would be a challenge considering the situation I was in not being able to race against anyone. So I had to go out and sprint the first 50. I could not have succeeded without the support of my coaches and teammates.”

Woodland head coach Mike Magas told the Republican-American that Starzman has unlimited potential.

“She’s a solid, all-around swimmer,” he said. “Hard work pays off.”

Another record fell Nov. 2. Starzman, junior Kyla Behrle and sophomores Molly Kennedy and Maura Beltrami set a school record in the 200 medley relay in 1:55.22 in the win over Naugatuck.

“We have been building over the past couple of years,” Magas said. “Coming into this season, with all its challenges, we had a large group of seniors who have been part of two championship seasons so they understand what it takes to be successful.”

Seniors Emily Beyer, Spenser Burkowsky, Ainsley Clark, Samantha Erickson, Kayleigh Huk, Meghan Letournea, Taylor Muharem, Emily Rindos and Taylor Wasilewski guided the Hawks, who finished 5-3, through this pandemic season.

“Their leadership going into this season was very important in overcoming everything we had to navigate,” Magas said. “We have developed a solid core and there are still a lot of younger swimmers still coming up. We look forward to continuing the tradition that we have been establishing here at Woodland.”

Woodland will return a very deep and talented squad, including a diving team led by junior Kayleigh Theroux, who won the 2019 NVL championship, and sophomore Ella Bernegger, who finished runner-up last year.

Juniors Shaelin DiGioia and Adrianna Heeman and freshman Olivia Schwenger give the Hawks depth on the diving board.

“Olivia ended up as a swimmer (this season) because there was just no room and she turned out to be an awesome swimmer for us,” Magas said.

There is talent up and down the Hawks’ lineup. Add in contributions from some of the up-and-coming younger swimmers, like sophomores Sara Cooley, Samantha Sharkey and Mia Sansone, and the Hawks will be in the hunt for another NVL title next season.