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Staples finishes fourth in Class LL championship meet

Updated 4:39 pm, Thursday, March 20, 2014

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  • Greenwich's Thomas Dillinger competes in the 500 freestyle event during the Class LL Boys Swimming championship at the Freeman Athletic Center at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. on Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2014. Photo: Amy Mortensen / Connecticut Post Freelance
    Greenwich's Thomas Dillinger competes in the 500 freestyle event during the Class LL Boys Swimming championship at the Freeman Athletic Center at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. on Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2014. Photo: Amy Mortensen

 

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The Staples boys swim team's hopes of a runner-up finish to Greenwich at the Class LL state championship were dashed almost completely before the first event took place at the Wesleyan University pool in Middletown on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the absense of senior captain Jonathan Blansfield, who was out with an illness, the Wreckers regrouped and finished fourth (369 points) among a strong field. Staples finished just 17 points behind third place Glastonbury.

"We were right there for third place," Staples coach Frisk Driscoll said. "With (Blansfield) we would have had third. A big thing, though, is that a lot of the guys showed that this isn't a one-horse team. Today those guys stepped up and showed up as a team."

Greenwich won the meet by winning 10 of the 12 events to score an amazing 913 points. That's 21 of the last 22 Class LL titles if you're scoring at home. Enough tradition to make the New York Yankees jealous.

"It was a very satisfying meet," Greenwich veteran head coach Terry Lowe said. "I felt this group had the potential to be great. Our frontline talent and the depth of this squad are tremendous things to have. We did nearly everything we wanted to."

Fairfield Prep more than earned its runner-up plaque with 698 points. Manchester finished fifth (256), and Newtown (252), Ridgefield (248.5), Cheshire (245.5). Amity Regional (236.5) and Trumbull (229) completed the top 10.

"Greenwich is a great team, and they make us a better team," said Prep head coach Rick Hutchinson. "I couldn't be happier with our performance. After all, we broke two state records in events we finished second in."

It was indeed recordmania at the Freeman Athletic Center pool.

The Wreckers began the meet with a fifth place finish in the 200 yard medley relay, which Max Wimer, Ethan Hunter, Chris Mombello and North Woods completed in a time of 1:40.09. Michael Deluca finished eighth in the 50 (24.98) and 100 (56.61) freestyles.

Dan Williams (4:39.59) finished fourth in the 500 freestyle. Woods (59.65) finished third in the 100 breaststroke while Mombello (59.25) finished fifth.

The Wreckers 200 freestyle relay team of Woods, Mombello, Kevin Xiang and Williams (1:30.74) took home fourth place.

Driscoll singled out the contribution of sophomore Harrison Knapp, who swam a leg in the 400 freestyle relay that finished seventh (3:19.36) as a result of the shuffling of the Wreckers lineup.

"Here's a guy that had never swam in a B final, let alone an A final," Driscoll said. And he gets up there and swims the second fastest time on the team."

Greenwich lowered five state records and six Class LL marks in its tour de force performance.

Prep was faster than both state and Class LL record times while being topped by GHS in 200 yard freestyle relay and 400 yard free relay.

Junior Bryce Keblish lowered the LL mark by .65 seconds while winning the 200-yard individual medley in 1:49.46. Prep's Andrew Grinalds (1:50.11, 2009) had the old mark.

"To swim state record times is special. It was a brilliant day for our kids. Keblish's performance in the IM and the relays was a grand highlight," Hutchinson said.

But it wasn't enough to stop the Greenwich express from its appointed crown.

GHS sent the message early by capturing the opening event, the 200 medley relay in 1:31.99. GHS won the event by five seconds and lowered their own state record by 3 seconds to 1:31.99.

"This is one of Fairfield Prep's best teams. They drive us to records," Lowe said. "Having them battle us side by side made it a great meet for both."

And Prep has the proper perspective on the rivalry.

"We will continue to do what we do," Hutchinson said. "There are so many great boys swim programs in the state so second place in Class LL has meaning. We had great swims. So the times and the places will fall into place. That was what I asked from our boys and they performed."

Ryan Lacey contributed to this story

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