Woodland fires on all cylinders

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BEACON FALLS — The Woodland High girls swim team experienced all the highs and lows of a season within just a few days.

The previously unbeaten Hawks suffered their first defeat in a lopsided meet against Seymour last Friday, but they enjoyed a strong rebound Tuesday to post their first dual-meet win over Sacred Heart in several years.

Woodland (5-1) dominated Tuesday’s meet, knocking off the Hearts by a 101-77 score. The Hawks won the first eight races before swimming unofficial times late in the meet. Dia Gawronski picked up four victories: two in the relays, one in the 200-yard individual medley (2:17.77) and one in the 100 butterfly (1:01.83).

Brooke Pope also gained three wins, including both freestyle sprints (26.55 seconds in the 50, 59.25 seconds in the 100) and the 200 medley relay. Casey Brooks claimed two wins, taking the 200 free (2:23.02) and the 500 free (6:32.55).

“It was fantastic,” Woodland coach Mike Magas said of Tuesday’s meet. “There was a lot of energy and excitement. Swimming is a very emotional sport, and the girls came out and were firing on all cylinders.”

The performance against Sacred Heart was exactly what Magas wanted to see after last Friday’s loss to Seymour. The Wildcats, who arguably are the favorites to win the Naugatuck Valley League championship, won all but one event in the meet. Pope’s victory in the 100 butterfly (1:09.66) was the Hawks’ only first-place finish.

“Seymour swam exceptionally well, and we came out a little flat,” Magas said. “I have to tip my cap to them. They took it to us. Our girls did OK. I think it was tough to come off a big win like we did against Watertown (on Sept. 19), and there seemed to be a little lull in excitement.”

But Magas said the loss served a purpose in that it helped the team refocus.

“That was my point to the girls at the end of the meet,” Magas said. “We have a long way to go if we want to compete with them. They’re one of the top teams in the league, if not the best team in the league. Typically in the swim season, by midseason you start getting tired. The girls might see their times level off or go up a little, but it’s typical. There’s a little midseason bump that they hit, so it’s all about making sure they’re keeping their heads up.”

Woodland will visit Naugatuck on Friday at 4 p.m. before meeting Holy Cross at Kennedy on Tuesday at 4 p.m.