Staples swimming star Verity Abel helped the Wreckers place fifth as a team at the Class LL Championships on Tuesday night at Southern Connecticut State University's Moore Fieldhouse.
Abel had a stellar evening in the pool, taking first place in the 200 freestyle (1:51.00) and 500 freestyle (4:58.98) for the second straight year. Her time in the 200 free was a new Class LL record. Sophomore teammate Amelia Bullock also won two events -- the 200 IM (2:07.54) and 100 butterfly. Bullock and Abel were both part of a 400 freestyle relay that finished second. The Wreckers placed fifth as a team (380).
"It feels amazing, I was glad I was able to defending both of those events and come back in my second year and perform as strong as I did last year," Abel said. "Getting the points for the team to secure fifth place is awesome."
Abel said afterward she wasn't feeling her best. The senior set a Class LL record in the 500 freestyle (4:54.90) in Prelims last week.
"It's about how you feel on that day and for me I wasn't feeling as strong today. I was happy in the 200 free because I was able to lower my time from last year. By the time I got to the 500 free I was a little winded."
Bullock faced stiff competition from Greenwich's Christina Frias in the 100 butterfly, but made a late charge to claim the win.
"I knew I had really tight competition with Frias," Bullock said. "I saw that she was ahead of me at one point so I just put my head down the last lap and I just went for it. I was really happy."
The Greenwich girls swim team did not want to let Dick Hawks down in his penultimate meet as long-time head coach.
Hawks, who is retiring at the end of the season following the State Open at Yale Saturday as his wife takes a job abroad, got the best possible going away present from his talented group.
Hawks and the Cardinals easily claimed their 13th Class LL title and eighth in the last nine years by taking first place in two of 12 events for a score of 805, finishing well ahead of Amity (513), Glastonbury (500.5) and Norwalk/McMahon (477).
"It feels amazing," Greenwich senior Sara Rodgers said. "I'm a senior; it feels like (Hawks) is a senior. And for this to be our second-to-last big meet and to win it feels great to win it for him."
The Cardinals set the tone with a victory in the first event -- the 200 Medley Relay -- but it was the overall depth of the group that prevailed. Eight different swimmers took part in at least one Championship heat and Greenwich had a third-place finisher in all but two events.
"The 200 freestyle was good for us right away and we knew the 50 freestyle was really going to be a strong event for us," Hawks said.
The Cardinals also took first in the 200 Freestyle Relay, finishing just ahead of Norwalk/McMahon. Frias finished second in the 200 Freestyle (1:53.22) and the 100 Butterfly (56.61) for Greenwich. Frias, Isobel Walker and Kim Hill were part of both relay triumphs.
Ridgefield took first in three events, thanks to a pair of outstanding freshman. Marcy Maguire captured the 100 Freestyle and 100 Backstroke (56.69) while teammate Lindsey Gordon (1:06.05) won 100 Breaststroke. The Tigers (379) finished sixth as a team.
But the evening belonged to Hawks, who refused to reflect on what has been a sparkling and unparrelled 25-year career.
"I can't go there," Hawks said. "I have to think State Open on Saturday, then the team dinner and talking about what they have to do to get better next year," Hawks said. "Probably in two weeks when I'm in Singapore I'll be crying like a baby but right now I have too much to do."