FAIRFIELD -- The stands were full, the atmosphere was electric and as is always the case when the Greenwich High School and Fairfield Prep swim teams meet, the performances were outstanding.
Though Saturday's competition at Fairfield University was a dual meet, it had the feel of the Class LL and State Open championships -- that's nearly how much energy was in the building. The time will soon come when the Cardinals and Jesuits will battle it out for those titles, but Saturday, Greenwich had the first say.
Exacting a measure of revenge after watching Fairfield Prep end its State Open and Class LL title reign last season, Greenwich placed first in the final event of the day -- the 400-meter freestyle relay -- hanging on to defeat the Jesuits, 96.5-89.5.
"We won the LL meet every year for 19 years until Fairfield Prep won it last year, so this was a huge win for us," Lewis said. "This shows that we are going to be right in it at the LL finals this year and that we'll be ready for them."
The loss was the first for defending Open and Class LL champion Fairfield Prep (6-1), while Greenwich improved to 9-0.
"Our guys showed they were ready to compete today," said Cardinals coach Terry Lowe, who coached his 45th dual meet against the rival Jesuits. "It wasn't like Fairfield Prep gave them anything, they had to earn every single point out there today."
It wasn't a surprise to see the meet come down to the final event. Trailing 88.5-83.5, the Jesuits needed a first and third place finish in the 400 free relay to pull out a victory. But the Cardinals rose to the occasion, winning the race in 3:38.47. Prep placed second (3:40.24).
"We were all really pumped up for the last race, our adrenaline was flowing," said Dillinger, who anchored the relay. "We couldn't have done it without the support we got from the crowd. They were great."
The Cardinals took the lead for good at 80.5-75.5, after Lewis and freshman Jack Montesi placed first and second, respectively, in the 100 backstroke. Leading from the first lap, Lewis touched the wall in :59.18, while Montesi clocked in at 1:00.47. Sophomore Edward Stolarski of Prep placed third (1:00.71).
"Jack finishing second in the backstroke helped put us ahead, he really stepped up," said Lewis, who also won the 100 butterfly in :58.54.
"It was really a great meet between two evenly matched teams," said Jesuits coach Rick Hutchinson, who took over the helm when Bruce Jaffe retired after 46 years last season. "It's always exciting when it goes down to the last relay. Greenwich is a great team and showed it today, but I couldn't be prouder of our guys. We only won four of the 12 events, but we still pushed them to the last event."
Said Hoin: "Every time we face Greenwich, we know it's going to be a great meet. We always look forward to competing against them. It prepares us for the atmosphere at the state meet."
Greenwich began the meet by winning the 200 medley relay in 1:48, then received a first-place finish from Dillinger in the 200 freestyle (1:56.26). He edged the Jesuits' Nicholas Wargo (1:58.88).
"The 200 was the closest race I had all day, he really put up a good fight," Dillinger said. "Seeing that crowd gave me a lot of motivation to get first place."
Junior Brandon Cole gave the Jesuits their first win of the day touching the wall in 2:12.51 in the 200 individual medley.
"I knew the 200 IM was going to be a very tough race," Cole said. "With Edmundson, Stotesbery and Jake in there, I had to focus on swimming my best."
Moss produced one of the most significant efforts of the meet for GHS, winning the 50 freestyle in :24.30. Prep's Bjorn Davis was the runner-up (:24.59).
"Ed Moss had a phenomenal day," Lowe said. Anchoring the medley relay as a sophomore, then coming back to beat Bjorn Davis in the 50 free was outstanding."
Said Moss: "To pull out a victory like this was really important to us. I pulled out a best time against a great competitor like Bjorn Davis, so it was really exciting."
Prep's Jake Bowtell, a junior, won the one-meter diving event with a score of 298.90, followed by Greenwich's Jeff Aselin (249.30). Davis (100 freestyle, :53.54) and Dillinger (400 freestyle 4:13.91) also had first-place finishes.
"Today, I think we showed we're pretty close to Greenwich," Hutchinson said. "We're excited to get another shot at them."
Greenwich 96.5, Fairfield Prep 89.5
200-meter medley relay -- 1. Greenwich 1:48; 200 freestyle -- 1. Thomas Dillinger (G) 1:56.26; 200 individual medley -- 1. Brandon Cole (FP) 2:12.51; 50 freestyle -- 1. Edward Moss (G) :24.30; Diving -- 1. Jake Bowtell (FP) 298.90; 100 freestyle -- 1. Bjorn Davis (FP) :53.54; 100 butterfly -- 1. Alex Lewis (G) 58.54; 400 freestyle -- 1. Thomas Dillinger (G) 4:13.91; 200 freestyle relay -- 1. Greenwich 1:37.37; 100 backstroke -- 1. Alex Lewis (G) :59.18; 100 breaststroke -- 1. Jake Hoin (FP) 1:08.86; 400 freestyle relay -- 1. Greenwich 3:38.47.
Records: Greenwich 9-0; Prep 6-1.