Staples trounces Fairfield on Senior Day
The five students who make up the senior class on Staples boys swimming team may not be the largest head coach Jeffrey Schare has had during his seven-year tenure -- but certainly one of the most accomplished.
"Even though they're smaller they seem to contribute as much as any other class does, just because of the quality of athlete that they are," Schare said of the group that features multiple conference and state qualifiers and finalists.
On Feb. 11, the quintet added to its collective résumé with a 110-74 victory against the Fairfied co-op team, a squad composed of swimmers from both Warde and Ludlowe. In the final home dual meet of the season, the Wreckers, who leveled their dual meet record to 5-5, had four more team members qualify for the state tournament in March -- two of whom were seniors.
In diving, senior Matthew Mirkine earned his first spot at the state meet by registering a 158.65 to place third. Freshman Tanner Blank also qualified for state with second-place finish of 159.95 while junior Zachary Slater lead all divers with a 220.80. Mirkine's qualification meant that all five seniors (Larry Abel, Cameron Bruce, Trevor Lally, Mombello and Mirkine) have at least all qualified for the state tournament during their four years at Staples.
"Seeing Mac make his state cut at that meet and Matt Mirkine also qualifying for the state meet for the first time at this senior meet... That just speaks, I guess, to the pride that they take in their achievements with the program," Schare said. "It was getting that point of the season where the guys know that it's time to make the state qualifying time if they want to go that meet."
Staples' margin of victory was largely aided by the efforts of junior Cory Bacon and freshman Nathaniel Boley. Bacon began the day be serving as the butterfly specialist on the winning 200-meter medley relay team (2:02.50). He went on to win the 200-meter individual medley (2:27.24) and the 100-meter freestyle (1:00.25) before helping lead the winning foursome in the 200 freestyle relay with its time of 1:49.08. Boley won the 200-meter freestyle (2:03.76) and 100-meter backstroke (1:05.36) while being a part of the winning 400-meter freestyle relay team (4:05.47).
In addition, freshman Marcus Russi qualified for state with a third-place outing in the 100-meter butterfly.
Boley, who plans on competing in both the 200-free and 100-back in both the FCIAC and state meets, said that the seniors have been doing a good time stressing to the younger members the significance of having their best performances in the pool at this juncture in the season.
"It's great to come in as a freshman and have good role models and just something to look up into," Boley said. "They explained the whole process, how dual meets are important, but the time to swim fast is at the end of the year when championships come around. It's a much different mentality. Everyone is a lot more focused and working towards a goal, which is just getting the team to place. That's the main goal for the team right now."
The meet watched two squads that were fairly familiar with each other given the fact that many of the members of both teams compete and train year-round with swimmers from Fairfield as part of the Water Rats swim club based at the Westport YMCA.
"That in itself I think made this a fun meet, almost like an inter-squad type of Water Rat meet," Schare said.
The team will close out its dual schedule with a meet Wednesday against the Westhill-Stamford co-op at 3 p.m. at Westhill. The Wreckers will then focus their attention on the FCIAC swim trials March 2 at Greenwich and the diving competition March 3 at Westhill.
The swimmers that advance will take part in the conference finals March 4 in Greenwich.