Darien set and met its goal of claiming a state championship in boys swimming and diving last winter, taking the crown for the first time in 17 years.
While a championship like that could serve to make a team hungrier for more, the Blue Wave is content to focus on the task at hand.
“We’re just coming to swim,” senior co-captain Spencer Erickson said. “We’re going to do what we can and see how it goes. We’ll work towards the end of the season, but we’re not looking at anything right now. We’re swimming as hard as we can and focusing on the moment.”
The Wave was rolling on Friday as they won seven events and defeated the Staples Wreckers, 108-74, in Westport. The meet was a battle of teams which finish in the top six at last year’s State Open — Staples was third and Darien sixth — and the Wave’s depth showed.
“We swam really well,” Darien head coach Liz Blau said. “They are really, really tired. They worked really hard over Christmas break and I’m really pleased with the way they swam today. We’ve got a lot of depth, we’re doing well, and they’re working really hard every day. I’m not surprised that all of them are stepping up when they have to.”
The victory boosted Darien to 2-1 and was its second straight win since a season-opening loss to defending FCIAC champ Greenwich. Staples dropped to 1-2 but saw its times continue to improve.
“We had some really strong top performances from some of our seniors,” Staples head coach Todd Gordon said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids who are learning and we’re building. We’ve had three meets and their times are dropping and their improving. You don’t expect them to be faster every meet, but you expect them to feel better with each swim and looking stronger.”
Darien won seven of the 12 events, with junior Connor Martin scoring victories in two events: The 100-meter butterfly (59.09) and the 500-meter freestyle (4:19.90).
Erickson won the 100-meter backstroke (1:02.01) and was second in the 200 freestyle (2:03.05); junior Scotty Tuck won the 200-meter individual medley (2:17.79); senior Karl Wadleigh won the 50-meter freestyle (25.71); and freshman Thomas Dupont won the 100-meter breaststroke (1:12.40).
Darien also closed out the meet with a sweep of the top three spots on the 400-meter freestyle relay, after the Wreckers had won the first two relay events. The team of Erickson, Wadleigh, senior Connor Zielinski, and Martin finished finished in 3:51.00, while sophomore Griffin Trygg, Tuck, sophomore Jack Stobbie, and freshman Max Scalise were second in 3:58.21.
“That was a good finish, especially since they got us in the other two relays,” Erickson said. “Coming out 1-2-3 in the last one felt goods. We finished up strong. It gives everybody on the team to keep going in practice no matter how hard it gets.”
For Staples, senior co-captain John McNab delivered two victories, winning the 100- and 200-meter freestyles in 54.60 and 1:59.57, respectively.
Junior Brayden Klein won the diving competition, as the Wreckers outscored the Wave 12-4 in that event.
Staples’ 200-meter medley relay team of senior co-captains Austin Twiss, McNab, and Justin Lovro with sophomore Justin Lessing won the opening race to give the Wreckers an early 8-6 lead,
The Wreckers’ other relay victory came in the 200 freestyle, as Twiss, Lessing, Lovro, and McNabb won in 1:44.16.
“Darien has a really deep team, so we knew we had to pick our battles,” Gordon said. “We chose the relays we knew we could win and we put our best swimmers there. It was a great meet. I was impressed with our diver (Klein), and that’s the kind of thing you look for — progression and the skills to take hold. You don’t expect them to be faster every meet, but you expect them to feel better with each swim and looking stronger.”
Darien countered Staples’ win in the opening event by taking the second through four spots in the 200 freestyle to tie the score at 15-15. McNabb won that race and was followed by Erickson in second, Trygg in third (2:09.84), and sophomore Hayden Puff in fourth (2:14.84).
In the 200 IM, Tuck won and Stobbie was third (2:21.85), putting Darien up for good at 24-19.
Staples made some noise in the diving, with Klein edging Darien’s Matthew Magnotta for the top spot, and the Wreckers’ Oscar Hechter and Lucas Amlicke taking the next two spots.
That made it 40-34 at the time, but Darien outscored Staples 68-38 the rest of the way to win by 34 points.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” Erickson said of the meet. “Staples was a powerhouse last year and they had some solid seniors, so we were just coming to race. We wanted to put down the best times that we could. We’re coming off some super hard practices so it was tough. We gave it our all, gave it everything we could and swam really well. That was a solid showing.”
“Last year when they said that they wanted to win states, we thought they were reaching, but it was such a crazy goal, we went with it, They did the work every day and they got it. Now, they’ve got a target on their back and everyone’s going after them. They know they need to work even harder and be smarter. They are absolutely stepping up to the challenge.” — Darien head coach Liz Blau
Darien 108, Staples 74
Friday, Jan. 4, at Staples HS
200 Medley Relay: 1 Staples (Austin Twiss, John McNab, Justin Lovro, Justin Lessing); 2 Darien (Spencer Erickson, Thomas Dupont, Connor Martin, Connor Zielinski), 1:54.06; 3 Darien (Scotty Tuck, Ryan Roberts, Harry FitzPatrick, Matthew Freeman), 1:59.31
200 Freestyle: 1 John McNab (S) 1:59.57; 2 Spencer Erickson (D) 2:03.05; 3 Griffin Trygg (D) 2:09.84; 4 Hayden Puff (D) 2:14.84; 5 Matt Lott (S) 2:24.99
200 Individual Medley: 1 Scotty Tuck (D) 2:17.79; 2 Justin Lovro (S) 2:19.89; 3 Jack Stobbie (D) 2:21.85
50 Freestyle: 1 Karl Wadleigh (D) 25.71; 2 Matthew Freeman (D) 25.72; 3 Justin Lessing (S) 26.27; 4 Connor Zielinski (D) 26.67; 5 Lucas Amlicke (S) 27.74
Diving: 1 Brayden Klein (S); 2 Matthew Magnotta (D); 3 Oscar Hechter (S); 4 Lucas Amlicke (S)
100 Butterfly: 1 Connor Martin (D) 59.09; 2 Austin Twiss (S) 1:00.44; 3 Harry FitzPatrick (D); 4; Scotty Tuck (D) 1:05.29; 5 Justin Lessing (S) 1:09.92
100 Freestyle: 1 John McNab (S) 54.60; 2 Karl Wadleigh (D) 56.11; 3 Max Scalise (D) 59.45; 4 Jacob Lee (S) 1:00.42; 5 Connor Zielinski (D) 1:00.58
500 Freestyle: 1 Connor Martin (D) 4:19.90; 2 Nick Lott (S) 4:24.50; 3 Jack Stobbie (D) 4:29.12; 4 Will Doran (D) 4:38.72; 5 Matt Lott (S) 5:13.91
200 Freestyle Relay: 1 Staples (Austin Twiss, Justin Lessing, Justin Lovro, John McNabb) 1:44.16; 2 Darien (Matthew Freeman, Thomas Dupont, Karl Wadleigh, Max Scalise) 1:45.10; 3 Darien (Nick Giotis, Nolan Lovegrove, Ryan Roberts, Griffin Trygg) 1:53.88
100 Backstroke: 1 Spencer Erickson (D) 1:02.01; 2 Austin Twiss (S) 1:06.09; 3 Nick Lott (S) 1:06.47; 4 Nick Giotis (D) 1:07.82; 5 Nolan Lovegrove (D) 1:08.92
100 Breaststroke: 1 Thomas Dupont (D) 1:12.40; 2 Justin Lovro (S) 1:12.62; 3 Ryan Roberts (D) 1:14.34; 4 Cormac Brown (D) 1:16.26; 5 Jacob Lee (S) 1:20.62
400 Freestyle Relay: 1 Darien (Spencer Erickson, Karl Wadleigh, Connor Zielinski, Connor Martin), 3:51.00; 2 Darien (Griffin Trygg, Scotty Tuck, Jack Stobbie, Max Scalise) 3:58.21