eschickler@bcnnew.com

Having someone like senior captain Helene Neuhaus in the lineup would bolster any swimming team. Just ask her Staples teammates and they will tell you the same thing. Neuhaus took second place in both of her individual events and in the two relays she swum in, Staples took third and fourth in helping the team reaching its goal of finishing fifth at the Class LL championship meet on Wednesday with 360 points at Southern Connecticut State University.

Cheshire (875) won the 21-team field and was followed by Greenwich (788.5), Glastonbury (480.5) and Trumbull (449).

"I'm really proud of all of us," said Neuhaus. "We brought it together. We fed off each other's energies and cheered for each other."

The Lady Wreckers beat out Amity (320) for sixth place but after the 100-yard butterfly, they were tied for fifth. Staples established distance from Amity in the 200-yard freestyle relay, which finished third behind senior captain Charlotte Katter, Neuhaus, sophomore Gabby Wimer and senior captain Cat Friel with a time of 1:42.09. The Lady Wreckers had momentum after that race.

"We changed the order in the relay and it made a difference," said Staples coach Mike Laux.

During trials, Neuhaus led off and Katter was second but Laux noticed something that made the latter perfect for the leadoff leg and her start was instrumental.

"Everyone had their best times and swam amazing," said Katter. "We were so pumped and excited going into it and I think that helped a lot. I had a good start, made good turns, kept my head up and kicked."

Friel brought it home as the anchor.

"Everyone was pumped and it was easy to get up for it," said Friel. "We were excited and it made it easy."

Neuhaus took second in the 50-yard freestyle (24.59). Wimer took 12th (26.15) and Katter was 17th (26.04). Although Katter, who won her heat, had a faster time than Wimer, she settled for 17th because she was in the first heat and Wimer was in the middle heat. Neuhaus was in the last heat -- the championship heat.

"I had to get up and go," said Neuhaus. "You have to be more motivated because you are sick."

In the 100-yard freestyle, Neuhaus grabbed second (52.98) and Katter (56.46) won her heat in placing 17th.

"I tried really hard and I knew I had to hold my speed and hope for the best," said Neuhaus.

Katter, Neuhaus, senior captain Natalie LeBlanc and junior Molly Loftus carried the 400-yard freestyle relay team (3:42.29) to fourth place. LeBlanc performed admirably despite being sick.

"I knew I had to give it my all because it just wasn't about me but three other girls and I didn't want to let them down," said LeBlanc. "I was feeling better at the end of the meet and we want to make State Open because it's our last time together as a relay."

LeBlanc took fourth place in the 100-yard backstroke (1:01.11) and 13th in the 200-yard individual medley (2:16.77).

"I didn't feel well and I knew it was one of my last chances to swim a good time and make State Open, so I found it in me to swim fast and give all the energy I have," said LeBlanc.

Freshman Sarah Cooperman also swum the 200-IM (2:21.95) and finished 22nd. Cooperman's best performance came in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:12.80) where she took 17th.

"It was really exciting," said Cooperman on her first-ever state meet. "I had the whole team cheering for me, which helped me out a lot. I didn't have good times lately and to have one today is refreshing."

Loftus took fifth in the 500-yard freestyle (5:11.09) and 10th in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.13).

"I was really motivated in the 500-free," said Loftus. "I didn't do well all season and it was my chance for redemption."

Junior Schaefer Andrews (345.8) led the divers and took sixth. Senior diving captain Megan Kratky (269.15) and sophomore Michelle Mastrianni (244.10) were 16th and 23rd, respectively, in diving. Wimer was 23rd in the 100-fly (1:03.83). LeBlanc, Cooperman, Loftus and Wimer carried the 200-yard medley relay team (1:55.82) to eighth place.

"I'm very to finish fifth," said Laux. "The girls swam well. I was worried after trials but we swam better today."

Katter said, "We're definitely happy to finish fifth because Laux told us it would be a fight with Amity. We trained hard and we were determined to get it."

LeBlanc said, "It feels great because we set a bunch of goals at championship season and finishing in the top five was one of them."