Staples places eighth at State Open swimming championship
The Staples boys swimming team wrapped up its season on Saturday at the State Open Swimming Championships, at Yale University's Kiputh Pool and came home with its best finish since 2009.
The Wreckers (181 points) placed eighth out of 54 teams, just 2.5 points behind seventh-place finisher Darien and 25.5 points ahead of ninth place Manchester.
"We had a few less swims than what we were anticipating with health issues and everything, but we made the swims count today," Staples coach Frisk Driscoll said. "We dropped time in the 200 freestyle relay and the 400 free relay. This is one of our higher places in a while. We've worked hard all season long and this is where I thought we were capable of being."
Alex Lewis ended his brilliant four-year career in style, winning two individual events, helping the Greenwich Cardinals take the first-place medal in two relay events and breaking numerous records along the way in Greenwich's latest State Open triumph.
Winning the majority of the events, Greenwich garnered its 31st CIAC State Open title in 43 years, amassing an astounding 652 team points during Saturday's championship meet. Fairfield Prep finished as the runner-up to Greenwich for the second straight year, posting a score of 455.5. Pomperaug placed third (391), followed by Brookfield (250) and Middletown (232.5).
"We absolutely blew away how we thought we were going to do in most of our events," the Princeton University-bound Lewis said. "Every event we achieved something and exceeded our own expectations."
Said Lowe, who has guided Greenwich to all of its titles: "This has to be considered the best team we've ever had when you look at the performances we put forth this week."
Lewis broke the CIAC record he set during Wednesday Class LL finals in the 100 freestyle on Saturday, winning the event in an All-American time of 44.16 seconds. He also established a State Open mark in winning the 100-yard backstroke for the second straight year (49.08, All-American time).
The Wreckers bookended the meet with an 11th place finish in the 200-yard medley relay (1:40.86) and a 10th place effort in the 400 freestyle relay (3:16.82). Jonathan Blansfield, who was back after missing the Class LL meet with an illness, swam a leg in both.
Daniel Williams swam a pair of individual events, coming home 11th in the 200 individual medley (1:56.33) and eighth in the 500 freestyle (4:39.96).
North Woods finished 15th in the 200 individual medley (1:58.75).
Woods (59.98) and Chris Mombello (1:00.44) each swam in the 100 breaststroke, one of the closest events of the meet. Woods missed out on sixth by .06 seconds while Mombello missed out on a top 10 finish by .05. Ethan Hunter finished 20th (1:02.96) in the same event.
"It's the details," Driscoll said. "The little things add up because you're doing the little things correctly over and over and it takes off time and builds. It really shows in these tight races."
The quartet of Woods, Mombello, Kevin Xiang and Williams finished 11th in the 200 freestyle relay (1:30.28).
Many of the Westport swimmers that enjoyed individual success Saturday will now return to their club team, the Water Rats. Driscoll, who is a coach on that club, guided his seniors for the final time in a Staples shirt.
"They were freshmen when I first started coaching, so this is the first class I've seen through," Driscoll said. "Seeing them go from freshmen to be absolute beasts out there; that process was fun."
It didn't take Greenwich long to break its first record on the day. The Cardinals' 200-yard medley relay team of John Montesi, Iain Edmundson, Julian Fraser and Lewis won the meet's opening event in a State Open record/All-American time of 1:33.06. The Cardinals' quartet own the state record in the event - a mark of 1:31.99 they set at the Class LL Championships on Wednesday. Pomperaug placed second (1:36.25), followed by Wethersfield (136.44).
Fairfeld Prep senior Nick Wargo won the meet's first individual event, touching the wall in the 200 freestyle in 1:41.27. Riley Strassner of Avon took second in 1:42.34, while Brookfield senior Daniel Krentsa was third and Greenwich's Ben Wurst finished fourth.
Greenwich junior Thomas Dillinger claimed two first-place medals in two individual events, winning the 200-yard individual medley (1:49.64, All-American time) and the 500 freestyle (4:36.50). Fairfield Prep junior Bryce Keblish was second in the 200 IM (1:50.47), while Pomperaug's John Feller finished third in the 500 freestyle (4:38.86).
Junior Ed Moss successfully defended his State Open title in the 50 freestyle, touching the wall in 20.87. Fairfield Prep's Bjorn Davis was the runner-up (20.96).
"I had to get really psyched up to hold my position as the top seed," Moss said. "It was good to have someone like Bjorn beside me to drive me to swim harder. It feels amazing to be on a championship team like this."
In one of the most exciting races of the afternoon, Keblish edged Greenwich's Montesi of GHS for the 100 butterfly title, posting a time of 49.59 (All-American). Pomperaug's James Davey was third (50.61), followed by Norwalk/McMahon junior Eddie Donovan (52.23).
"That's the first time I broke 50 (seconds) in the 100 butterfly and my first title in the event," Keblish said. "From top to bottom, it's been an incredible ride for our team. We have a lot of guys coming back next year, so we'll see what we can do."
Said Donovan: "I missed our school record by one tenth of a second in the butterfly, I really wanted to get that record. But I'm happy finishing fourth in the event."
Donovan's Norwalk/McMahon teammate Anthony Dell'Isola placed fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:43.85), followed by Darien sophomore Zac Pear.
"Even though I didn't want to fall as far behind as I did, I thought I did a good job of coming back," Dell'Isola said. "A 1:43 is a school record, so I can't complain about where I finished. It was a really fast meet."
The 200 and 400-yard freestyle events were races that had everyone's attention. Fairfield Prep's squad of Wargo, Brandon Cole, Keblish and Davis won the event in a state and State Open record time of 1:23.18. Greenwich (Nick Hyden, Julian Fraser, Moss, Dillinger) placed second in a state/State Open record showing of 1:23.53.
The 400 freestyle saw Greenwich (Montesi, Moss, Dillinger, Lewis) win in a CIAC/State Open record finish of 3:00.59. Runner-up Fairfield Prep also had a record-setting swim (3:01.08). Both times were among the best in the nation.
"What a thrill those relays were," Fairfield Prep coach Rick Hutchinson said. "We push each other to be the best and that's what happened at the end. That final relay was amazing."
Said Lewis: "We couldn't have done it without Prep next to us. Many colleges don't go as fast as we did today in the relays. Those races were incredible."
Ryan Lacey contributed to this story.