Wreckers leave Greenwich encouraged despite falling short
Updated 2:12 am, Friday, January 6, 2012
The Staples boys swimming and diving team couldn't have faced a more difficult endeavor after the holiday vacation.
Staples had to travel to top-ranked Greenwich, the defending State Open champions.
The holiday break was no roadblock to the mighty Greenwich Cardinals.
Showing few signs of rust, GHS returned to the pool with an emphatic 118-67 victory over Staples Wednesday at Greenwich High School.
After defeating New Canaan 106-80 in their season opener, the Cardinals (2-0) didn't miss a beat in their first meet in nearly two weeks. The hosts took nine of the 12 events, many of which came in dominating fashion.
Greenwich did have to overcome an early hiccup in the first event. In the 200-yard medley relay, the winning team of Alex Lewis, Klinger, Luca Fikre, and Matt Fraser were disqualifying for an early jump by Fikre.
"It was pretty clear there was early jump there," Cardinals coach Terry Lowe said. "We had to come back a bit after getting disqualified and we did."
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Although meets are usually dominated by All-State juniors and seniors, a pair of underclassman stole the show. Greenwich freshman Thomas Dillinger and Wreckers sophomore Jonathan Blansfield were extremely competitive in the 200 and 500 freestyle, with Blansfield claiming wins by the narrowest of margins (1:48.06-1:48.15 and 4:48.67-4:49.00).
"Blansfield's talented. He works his tail off in the pool. He's been training hard over the vacation to get ready for this meet. Frankly this has been the first time that he's come out on top. It's a huge confidence builder and can only carry momentum for him throughout the season," Wreckers coach Jeff Schare said.
The Cardinals took the top three spots in the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, expanding their commanding lead each time.
"Typically the sprints are one of our strengths for a lot of reasons. We obviously have a good program and the kids that play polo come up in good shape," Lowe said. "It takes a little longer to develop the distance guys sometimes."
For Staples (2-1), the meet was a learning process for a group aiming to challenge the elite of the FCIAC. The Wreckers were without Nathaniel Boley, who the 2010 FCIAC 100 backstroke champion.
"This meet would have been far more competitive if Boley were around," Lowe said. "Missing an all-state swimmer is always tough."
Schare had a positive take on the meet for the Wreckers.
"I'm pleased with the racing. We finally got the get up and see some great competition. We want to race fast against fast high schools. We are going to get something out of competing against high caliber opponents," Wreckers coach Jeff Schare said.
Staples began the season with easy victories over Trumbull and Danbury before the holiday break but came crashing down to earth after going face-to-face with the Cardinals.
"Our first two meets we had this year were against two teams on the opposite end of the spectrum. This just wakes your awareness to the level of competition in the league," Schare said.
The Wreckers host Darien today and travel to New Canaan Wednesday. Both teams may not be at Greenwich's level but they are not easy teams either. However, Staples had many positive swims against the Cardinals, and it hopes to build off of it. Senior captain Kyle Bacon posted a 1:53.44 in the 200-free and 52.06 (fourth) in the 100-free. Freshman Danny Williams took second in the 200 individual medley (2:06.05) and third in the 500-free (5:09.57). Senior captain Joss Abel took third in the breaststroke (1:06.25) and fourth in the 200-IM (2:08.93).
In fact, the breastroke seemed to be a strong event for the Wreckers as sophmore Chris Mombello 1:06.28 and freshman North Woods (1:08.05) took fourth and fifth in it, respectively, and also qualified for states.
Overall, Staples had 18 Class LL qualifying marks in the meet. Bacon, Blansfield, Williams, Abel, Matt Wetmore, David Katter, Tanner Blank, Andrew Cohen, Matt Wisher, Marcus Russi, Mombello, and Woods punched in their tickets for the meet.
"We were simply out gunned by the reining State Open Champions but Staples swam fast today," Schare said. "Based on our individual results, we have a lot to look forward to this season."