The Staples boys swimming team, led by Nathaniel Boley's victory in the 100-yard backstroke, captured fifth in the Class LL State Championships this week Tuesday at Wesleyan University. The Wreckers, with 451 points, easily beat out FCIAC rival and sixth-place Ridgefield (415) for a top-five finish among 20 teams.

Greenwich (667) won the meet. Fairfield Prep (480.5) was runner-up and followed by Westhill (471) placed third; and Glastonbury (455), was fourth.

Boley won the backstroke competition in a time of 53.01. "I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm excited about the next two years," said Boley, only a sophomore.

Staples Coach Jeffrey Schare said that Boley could threaten to set state records given that he has the talent and two years with which to improve. "He's just so focused and he works hard. He practices every morning, every evening," said the coach, referring to morning practices with his YMCA team and after-school practices with the Wreckers. "He definitely puts the time in and he deserves everything that comes his way -- and will come his way in the future."

Boley made his second state championship appearance and noted that this year's competition featured stronger swims among more competitors than a season ago. "There was definitely a lot more depth than there was last year -- and I think that holds true for all of the events," he said.

The Wreckers had several other strong finishes in a variety of events, some personal best times, and set a new record in one competition.

In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Staples placed sixth as the team of Scott Feder, Matthew Wetmore, Kyle Bacon and Cory Bacon finished in 1:30.85. The relay team had actually set the school record in the LL qualifying meet on Saturday when it finished a little faster -- in 1:30.81. Both marks bested the school record time of 1:30.5.

Cory Bacon placed fifth in the 50-yard freestyle, finishing in 21.94 -- a personal best time for the senior. The record at Stapes is 21.52, set by Chris Weissman back in 1980. Bacon is only the second Staples student to finish in under 22 seconds.

"I'm just really proud of Cory. He "I'm just really proud of Corey. He struggled a little bit last season. To see him come back this year, really focused with some big goals in mind -- it's nice to see him really focused," Schare said.

Matthew Wisher was sixth in the backstroke in a time of 54.95 and Abel was 10th in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:02.12. Boley and Cory Bacon finished back-to-back in the 100-yard freestyle, with Boley fifth in 48.39 and Bacon next in a time of 48.86. Kyle Bacon was 10th in the 100-free, finishing in 49.48. In the 200-yard medley relay, Staples came in third. The relay group of Wisher, Joss Abel, Scott Feder and Boley finished in 1:40.01. Staples' 400 free relay team of Kyle Bacon, Wisher, Bacon and Boley came in third in 3:17.46.

Jonathan Blansfield, only a freshman, came in sixth in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:52.72 and 10th in the 200-yard freestyle, making his final touch in 1:49.27. Abel was 10th in the 200-yard individual medley, finishing in 2:01.64.

"We were well-represented in the meet. I think it shows some of the depth we have," said Schare, noting that team members from all four grades contributed to the team's success at the championships.

Among the up-and-coming swimmers whom Schare expects big things from down the road is freshman Christopher Mombello, who was 12th in the 100-breaststroke in a time of 1:02.90. "It's great to see some of the younger guys get into the groove early," said the coach, adding that the seniors are also going out on a high note.

"We did very well. We had a bunch of swims that were really an indication of how hard we've been training this year," Boley added.

In the diving competition, which was held March 10 at Hamden, Zach Slater came in fourth with a score of 389.75.

"It felt great to be able to get a medal and be at the top after all of the hard work that (my coach and I) put in," Slater said. "I think, as a team, we did really well and we placed very high -- and we swam and dove to the best of our abilities."

"We had a lot of fun. we had fun going up on the bus. ... But we all knew in the backs of our minds that it was a really important meet," Cory Bacon said. "Once we were up on the blocks there was no messing around."

There will be no messing around at the State Open at Yale tomorrow. The best of the best from all of the class sizes in Connecticut will battle it out for year-end bragging rights.

Cory Bacon notes that it's a deep, fast pool with long blocks that suit him well, and he'll be tapered and ready to make a push at the school mark in the 50. And when Bacon's not in the water, the intensity of the meet is sure to be a thrilling experience. "You're heart rate's up even when you're sitting there watching people swim."

"Based on the stiff competition we faced, and how the guys stepped up to it, we have a legitimate shot of at least looking good," said Schare, referring to the Class LL finish and prospects for a solid showing at the State Open. "If some things go right, we could sneak into the top 10."