Woodland girls swimming and diving has another strong team this fall


If you thought the Woodland girls swim team that won back-to-back NVL titles – 2019 and 2021 with the COVID-shortened season of 2020 having no postseason meets – was good last year, they are even a tad bit scarier this season.
Woodland, which graduated five seniors ,come back with a staggering number of 10 seniors this year that are in let’s finish what we started mode.
“It’s crazy how it goes, in any sport really,” said Woodland head coach Mike Magas. “You get your peaks and valleys. Some years you just have a large group of kids and some years you don’t. “I hit a peak a few years back and then it followed a few valleys. Over the last five years we’ve climbed back up and we are at a point where we are competitive in the league.”
Competitive is a bit of an understatement when you return a solid core of accomplished seniors who were very much a past of the last two championship teams.
Maura Beltrami, Sarah Cooley, Ella Bernegger, Samantha Sharkey and Molly Kennedy have been making noise since their freshmen season. Seniors Mackayla Bernier, Dylan Burkowsky, Liana Demirs, Alexia Rossi and Mia Sansone have been solid contributors during the championship runs.
Add that to the handful of underclassmen that straight out can put this team over the top with junior Emme Starzman and sophomore Laura DeGennaro, and Woodland looks like the team to beat.
“I don’t know about that, there are several very good teams out there and nothing is a given,” added Magas. “We need to continue to work hard and take it one meet and one race at a time.”
The Hawks got off to a winning start, earning a 95-83 victory over Jonathan Law of Milford. DeGennaro put up some astounding times, winning the 200-yard freestyle (2:02.73) and the 500 free (5:32.55).
Beltrami was another double winner, taking the 100 butterfly (1:08.43) and 200 IM (2:34.96). Starzman won the 50 free (26.54), Kennedy won the 100 free (59.64) and Ava Muharem won the 100 backstroke (1:17.77).
“I use to coach down at the middle school, andeight of the 10 seniors I coached when they were in sixth grade, so I’ve been coaching them for seven seasons,” Magas said. “They know how bad my jokes are, but most importantly they know the system and they know what is expected. They are very excited and raring to go. Our biggest thing is to just stay healthy. We look good on paper but nothing is going to happen if we don’t stay healthy and we don’t work hard.”
The Hawks were scheduled to get the NVL portion of the season underway against Wilby/Kaynor on Sept. 16. Woodland hosts Seymour on Friday at 3 p.m.