Darien swims to third consecutive state title, 12th in 14 years
MIDDLETOWN -- The championships are really piling up for the Darien High School girls swimming and diving team.
Fresh off their victory at the FCIAC championship meet, the Blue Wave captured their third consecutive Class L championship and their 12th state title in the last 14 years at Tuesday night's championship meet at Wesleyan University.
"It felt really good," Darien captain Natalie Grune said. "It's definitely different, since we lost some superstars from last year, so we had to work as a team and use our depth to win."
Darien won with 866 points, while border-rival New Canaan finished a distant second -- again with 611 points. New Canaan has taken second to Darien six times in the state class meet since 2004. Last year, the Blue Wave won both the Class L and the State Open titles, with New Canaan claiming runner-up honors in both meets. Darien won nine straight state titles from 1999 to 2007.
Wilton took third with 504 points, followed by Cheshire with 464 and Hall of West Hartford with 453.
The meet quickly became a two-horse race, with those two teams, of course, being Darien and New Canaan.
New Canaan chipped away at Darien's early lead, and by taking three of the top eight spots in the 100 freestyle, the Rams trailed the Blue Wave by only 73 points with five events remaining.
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New Canaan's Meghan Egan took second in the 100 freestyle (52.35) behind E.O. Smith's Siobhan Dale (52.35). New Canaan's Katie Colwell placed third (52.84), Darien's Lauren Rutledge finished fifth (53.04), Fairfield Warde's Chelsea Pond came in seventh (53.56) and New Canaan's Alex Aliapoulios took eighth (53.90).
Darien came right back and took four of the top seven spots in the 500 freestyle to extend its lead to 152 points with four events to go. Wilton's Kristen Moss won the 500 (5:02.36), followed by Darien's Courtney Ferreira in second (5:02.93), Darien's Amanda Bieler in third (5:04.94), Darien's Julia Stobbie in fifth (5:12.17), Wilton's Emma Kauffeld in sixth (5:14.77) and Darien's Samantha Schrenker in seventh (5:15.09).
"My 500 freestylers all did a phenomenal job," said Darien coach Marj Trifone, who has been at the helm since 1999. "That was a great event for us."
New Canaan then won the 200 freestyle relay with the team of Jenna Egan, Libby O'Hare, Aliapoulios and Meghan Egan finishing in 1:36.98, but Darien was right behind in second, with the quartet of Emily Nixon, Mackenzie Coughlin, Ferreira and Bieler finishing in 1:39.51. Wilton's team of Moss, Emma Holmquist, Brooke Hendee and Kauffeld took seventh (1:43.85).
Darien placed three in the top six in the 100 backstroke to further extend its lead. Maggie Orem took first for the Blue Wave (58.25), followed by teammates Rebecca Maroney in fifth (1:00.05) and Elizabeth Kearney in sixth (1:00.20). Wilton's Stephanie Moriarty placed second (58.46).
O'Hare then won the 100 breaststroke for New Canaan (1:04.99), but Darien placed three in the top five to further expand its lead heading into the final event. The Wave's Victoria Chao took second (1:07.08), Michelle Wall placed third (1:07.56) and Lia Barsanti finished fifth (1:07.67). Wilton's Holmquist took fourth (1:07.63) and Lindsay Cooney finished seventh (1:08.60).
Darien entered the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, with an insurmountable 281-point lead over New Canaan.
New Canaan won that final relay, with the foursome of Colwell, Aliapoulios, Meghan Egan and Jenna Egan finishing in 3:32.66. Darien's team of Bieler, Stobbie, Rutledge and Ferreira took second (3:34.64), while Wilton's team of Kauffeld, Julia Lewis, Moss and Moriarty placed sixth (3:44.89).
Darien opened the evening's festivities with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay, with the team of Kearney, Lia Barsanti, Orem and Rutledge finishing in 1:48.84. New Canaan's quartet of Olivia Rusch, O'Hare, Audrey Ettinger and Colwell took second (1:49.32) and Wilton's foursome of Moriarty, Holmquist, Hannah Armstrong and Hendee finished fourth (1:50.83).
New Canaan's Jenna Egan won the 200 freestyle (1:52.95), followed by teammate Aliapoulios in fifth (1:55.09). Darien's Bieler placed fourth (1:55.00) and teammate Kearney took eighth (1:59.85). Wilton's Moss swam fast enough for sixth place (1:55.19), but had to settle for ninth because she was in a slower heat based on her time at the trials.
Meghan Egan won the 200 individual medley for New Canaan (2:05.29), while Darien placed three swimmers in the top six in the event -- Ferreira in second (2:06.16), Stobbie in fifth (2:12.80) and Coughlin in seventh (2:13.64). Wilton's Julia Lewis placed sixth (2:14.49), while teammates Hendee (2:13.12) and Holmquist (2:13.41) both swam fast enough for seventh place, but had to settle for 11th and 12th, respectively, because they were in a slower heat.
After the diving break, Darien's Orem took second in the 100 butterfly (56.67) behind Cheshire's Lindsay Smalec (56.67). New Canaan's Jenna Egan took third (57.68), Wilton's Moriarty placed fourth (58.62), New Canaan's Ettinger finished seventh (1:00.38) and Darien's Coughlin placed eighth (1:05.53).
Darien and New Canaan both entered Tuesday's meet with pocketfuls of points from the diving competition, with New Canaan placing three divers in the top 15 and Darien placing four in the top 15. New Canaan's Kylie Towbin won the event with a Class L-record 455.80 points. She broke the previous Class L mark of 432.00, set in 2001 by Bunnell's Gia Santoro, and finished less than 38 points shy of the state record of 493.40, set in 1997 by Darien's Katherine Mattison, who went on to star at Princeton.
New Canaan freshman Katie Kushner took sixth in the diving (315.90) and Olivia Park finished 14th (297.30). For Darien, Kyla Pech took seventh (312.10), Olivia Piazza eighth (309.35), Molly Klein ninth (306.70) and Jennifer Schrenker 11th (298.85). New Milford's Alison Profeta placed 17th (272.25).
With its FCIAC and Class L crowns firmly in place, Darien now turns its attention to the State Open, set for Saturday at Yale. The top 24 finishers in each event from the four state class meets qualify.
"It's definitely on our list, and we'd definitely like to get the Triple Crown," Grune said.
Class L championships at Wesleyan
Team scores: 1. Darien 886, 2. New Canaan 611, 3. Wilton 504, 4. Cheshire 464, 5. Hall 453, 6. South Windsor 227, 7. Conard 224, 8. Hand 220, 9. Fairfield Warde 208, 10. E.O. Smith 203, 11. Fitch/St. Bernard 186, 12. Newington 159, 13. Lyman Hall 136, 14. Mercy 129, 15. North Haven 119, 16. Fermi/Enfield/Somers 114, 17. Middletown 89, 18. Naugatuck 69, 19. Bristol Central 50, 20. Kennedy 27, 21. New Milford 9.
Winner in each event and regional finishers among top eight
200 medley relay: 1. Darien (Elizabeth Kearney, Lia Barsanti, Maggie Orem, Lauren Rutledge) 1:48.84; 2. New Canaan (Olivia Rusch, Libby O'Hare, Audrey Ettinger, Katie Colwell) 1:49.32; 4. Wilton (Stephanie Moriarty, Emma Holmquist, Hannah Armstrong, Brooke Hendee) 1:50.83; 200 freestyle: 1. Jenna Egan (New Canaan) 1:52.95; 4. Amanda Bieler (Darien) 1:55.00; 5. Alex Aliapoulios (New Canaan) 1:55.09; 8. Kearney (Darien) 1:59.85; 200 IM: 1. Meghan Egan (New Canaan) 2:05.29; 2. Courtney Ferreira (Darien) 2:06.16; 5. Julia Stobbie (Darien) 2:12.80; 7. Mackenzie Coughlin (Darien) 2:13.64; 8. Julia Lewis (Wilton) 2:14.49; 50 freestyle: 1. Siobhan Dale (E.O. Smith) 23.56; 3. Chelsea Pond (Fairfield Warde) 24.19; 4. Colwell (New Canaan) 24.30; 5. O'Hare (New Canaan) 24.51; 6. Rutledge (Darien) 24.57; 100 butterfly: 1. Lindsay Smalec (Cheshire) 56.67; 2. Orem (Darien) 56.86; 3. J. Egan (New Canaan) 57.68; 4. Moriarty (Wilton) 58.62; 7. Ettinger (New Canaan) 1:00.38; 8. Coughlin (Darien) 1:00.53; 100 freestyle: 1. Dale (E.O. Smith) 51.59; 2. M. Egan (New Canaan) 52.35; 3. Colwell (New Canaan) 52.84; 5. Rutledge (Darien) 53.04; 7. Pond (Fairfield Warde) 53.56; 8. Aliapoulios (New Canaan) 53.90; 500 freestyle: 1. Kristen Moss (Wilton) 5:02.36; 2. Ferreira (Darien) 5:02.93; 3. Bieler (Darien) 5:04.94; 5. Stobbie (Darien) 5:12.17; 6. Emma Kauffeld (Wilton) 5:14.77; 7. Samantha Schrenker (Darien) 5:14.81; 200 freestyle relay: 1. New Canaan (J. Egan, O'Hare, Aliapoulios, M. Egan) 1:36.98; 2. Darien (Emily Nixon, Coughlin, Ferreira, Bierler) 1:39.51; 7. Wilton (Moss, Holmquist, Hendee, Kauffeld) 1:43.85; 100 backstroke: 1. Orem (Darien) 58.25; 2. Moriarty (Wilton) 58.46; 5. Rebecca Maroney (Darien) 1:00.05; 6. Kearney (Darien) 1:00.20; 100 breaststroke: 1. O'Hare (New Canaan) 1:04.99; 2. Victoria Chao (Darien) 1:07.08; 3. Michelle Wall (Darien) 1:07.56; 4. Holmquist (Wilton) 1:07.63; 5. Barsanti (Darien) 1:07.67; 7. Lindsay Cooney (Wilton) 1:08.60; 400 freestyle relay: 1. New Canaan (Colwell, Aliapoulios, M. Egan, J. Egan) 3:32.66; 2. Darien (Bieler, Stobbie, Rutledge, Ferreira) 3:34.64; 6. Wilton (Kauffeld, Lewis, Moss, Moriarty) 3:44.89.