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The Cheshire High School boys’ swim and dive team came together, as the final results were announced at Wesleyan University. Pomperaug High School had dominated the Class L Final to the tune of 852.5 points, but the other places were up for grabs on March 17.
The Rams erupted when they heard that Newtown had finished third (393.5 points). In a team effort, Cheshire beat Newtown by a single point (394.5 points) for second place.
“I’m thrilled. The kids had a tremendous Saturday (trials at Yale University) and that is where we got it done,” said Cheshire Head Coach Fran Connolly. “We did just enough to hold them (Newtown) off tonight.”
The celebration reflected their perseverance. Cheshire dropped their last five dual meets (7-9 record), including losses to Amity (fourth, 370 points) and Naugatuck (sixth, 345 points). The Rams finished seventh last winter.
“I thought it was pretty amazing,” added junior Dan Mongillo. “We were all pretty surprised by the standings. When we heard Newtown, we went nuts. Fran was very proud of us. We all stepped up.”
While not cracking the top five, depth was essential. Their top finishes came from freshman Greg Han, who took sixth in the 200-yard individual medley (2:02.85) and 100-yard breaststroke (1:01.2). The former time was a personal-best.
“I thought I did well in the IM (individual medley). I’ve been trying to break 2:04 since the Xavier meet (Feb. 17),” said Han.
Han also added to the 200-yard medley (sophomore Ray Chen, seniors Miguel Rodriguez Lapman and Ethan Medling; seventh, 1:42.88) and 400-yard freestyle (sophomore Brendan Smalec, Mongillo, junior Peter Broadbridge; eighth, 3:27.39) relays.
“As a freshman, that is pretty solid. Greg has a lot of potential,” stated Connolly, of his top scorer. “His 400 free relay was absolutely tremendous.”
Chen (200-yard individual medley, eighth, 2:07.08; 100-yard backstroke, seventh, 57.2) and Medling (50-yard freestyle, 10th, 22.67; 100-yard freestyle, eighth, 49.87) each added a pair of top 10 times. Medling opened for the 200-yard freestyle relay team (Mongillo, Rodriguez Lapman, Broadbridge; eighth, 1:33.68).
“I’m a little disappointed. I finally hit 22 (seconds in 50-yard freestyle), but I’m not going faster,” reflected Medling.
The 500- and 200-yard freestyle were key events. Mongillo (seventh, 5:01.59; 20th, 1:53.42), Smalec (ninth, 5:00.55; 15th, 1:53.25), and sophomore Andrew Davison (14th, 5:14.05; 23rd, 1:56.22) swam both events. Prior to clocking 4:55.4 during the trials, Mongillo hadn’t gone under five minutes in the 500-yard freestyle.
“It’s amazing to go from 5:07 to 4:55 by the end of the season. That is more than a 10-second drop. I’m proud of myself,” Mongillo explained. “I was hoping to make All-State, but kept thinking about it. I feel that hurt my performance.”
Sophomore Erin Williams (100-yard butterfly, 19th, 1:00.58; 100-yard backstroke, 16th, 1:01.88), Broadbridge (200-yard freestyle, 21st, 1:54.66; 100-yard freestyle, 20th, 52.52), and Rodriguez Lapman (50-yard freestyle, 22nd, 23.88; 100-yard freestyle, 24th, 53.56) contributed two individual finishes apiece. Diving also played a pivotal role six days earlier at Bulkeley High School. Seniors Jordan Attwood (398.3) and Mike Topitzer (378.15) finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Junior Matt Annenberg placed 11th with 311.25 points.
“The best feeling was that I had a part in that,” reflected Attwood, a captain with senior Dan Sweeney. “It was amazing to beat that team (Newtown) by one point.”
Attwood and Topitzer both cracked the top 10 dual-meet scores at CHS this season. But when Attwood joined the program four years ago, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do.
“I went to their summer meeting. I had always enjoyed swimming, but had not done it competitively. They asked me my best strokes and times and I didn't have any,” reflected Attwood. “I had gymnastics background and became a diver.”
In earning the respect of teammates, Attwood and senior swimmer Dan Sweeney were elected senior captains.
“I didn't know what kind of bond I would have with the guys. It's been great,” said Attwood, who plans to continue diving in college. “It's going to be weird not having that friendly rivalry with Mike Topitzer.”
Attwood (17th, 346.65) and Topitzer (23rd, 293.4) made their second straight State Open appearance on March 20. Later in the day, Han swam the 100-yard breaststroke (18th, 1:02.07) and 200-yard medley relay (22nd, 1:44.04). The Rams placed 38th with 23 points, while Pomperaug won the overall title (489 points).
“I didn’t do so well, but I have three more chances to get back here,” added Han.
Cheshire was encouraged, after not qualifying for the swim meet last year. Six seniors will graduate, but the Rams have a deep group of underclassmen.
“I’m happy we got back here,” said Connolly. “We’re getting some new kids. I think the state and league are tough, but we’re headed in the right direction.”