Woodland girls make a splash at State Open

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By KEN MORSE

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland High girls swim team may not have drawn a whole lot of interest among the field of 49 teams represented at the Nov. 21 State Open at the Cornerstone Aquatic Center in West Hartford.
But by the end of the meet, more than a few teams knew who the Hawks were, even if they were still trying to figure out where Beacon Falls is. Woodland put up some competitive times against the best teams in the state and finished 29th with a team total of 45 points.
“We finished in the middle of the pack,” said Woodland coach Mike Magas. “I can’t be disappointed with that, considering we were facing the best teams in the state and little Woodland made a name for itself.
“They may not know where Beacon Falls is, but they certainly know who the Woodland Hawks are. That is a credit to the girls and all the hard work they put in.”
The Hawks were one of seven teams from Class S that qualified for the State Open, while thrown in against much larger schools. Woodland put up the kind of times that landed the Hawks in third place in Class S, but the State Open competition was that much more intense.
“The competition at the State Open is like night and day,” said Magas. “Especially when you go against the LL and L schools. Those teams swim year-round with their swimmers on club teams.”
Sophomore Emme Starzman won the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.49 at the Class S meet. In the State Open, she put up a time of 1:09.74 and finished 23rd. That’s the kind of competition Woodland faced. Starzman also finished fifth in the 100 butterfly in 1:00.07 in Class S. In the State Open, her time of 1:00.60 took 24th.
Woodland junior Ella Bernegger, the NVL champion and the Class S runner-up, scored a 370.18 to finish 15th out of 25 divers. She was competing in her first State Open competition.
“Ella is a hard worker. She’s determined and wants to do even better next year,” said Magas. “She is going to work even harder in the off season and come back stronger.
“Emme put up similar times as she did in Class S and ended up in 23rd and 24th places. That shows you how competitive this field was.”
The Woodland 200 medley relay team of senior Kyla Behrle, Starzman and juniors Maura Beltrami and Molly Kennedy finished 16th in a time of 1:54.17.
The 400 freestyle relay squad of Behrle, freshman Laura DeGennaro, Kennedy and Starzman posted a time of 3:46.44 to finish 21st.
“They may not know exactly where we are from,” said Magas. “But after this year and looking forward to next season, they will know the name of Woodland.”