Boys swimming: Warriors look to newcomers to move up FCIAC ranks
With several of the team's big scorers returning and some new talent ready to contribute, the Wilton High boys swim and dive team expects to equal and maybe surpass last year’s accomplishments.
Head coach Todd Stevens said he will find out a lot about the team when it opens the season with three meets in seven days, starting with today's opener at home against Trumbull.
“It’s hard to say at this juncture how good we’re going to be, but I’m optimistic that we’ll be pretty good,” said Stevens. “We did lose some really good sprint freestylers. We have a couple of people who moved in from out of town who will contribute, and I think the freshmen will do an outstanding job as well.”
Wilton is coming off a season that saw the Warriors finish at 5-5, and place sixth at the FCIAC championships, fourth at the Class L state championships, and 13th at the State Open.
Graduation took the team’s top four sprint freestylers, including two of the best in the FCIAC in Derek Benison and Ryan Robb.
Benison was third in the 50-yard freestyle at both the FCIAC and Class L meet, and had top nine finishes at both meets in the 100 free. Robb was third at FCIACs in the 100 free, but didn’t compete at states due to injury. Charlie Owens scored points in both the 50 and 100 free at the Class L meet.
In addition, the Warriors graduated their diver, Sean Bergen, and lost their top butterfly swimmer, and another sprinter freestyler, in Christian Larsen, who transferred to another school.
“We’re not as dominant in the sprint freestyle as we have been but I think we can make up for it in other areas,” said Stevens.
The losses aside, the team returns some big guns in senior captains Kyle Wilson, Harrison McCool and Will Suchy, and junior Jack Lewis.
Suchy had an outstanding season last year in the distance freestyle events, with top-four finishes in both the 200 and 500 free at FCIACs. He also was third in Class L in the 500 free, and fifth in the 200 free. He finished the season by taking ninth in the 500 free at the State Open.
Suchy will again swim the freestyle, but “can do just about anything we need him to do,” said coach Stevens.
McCool, another distance freestyler, finished eighth in the 500 free at the Class L meet last season, and 11th in the 200 free. He had top 12 finishes in both events at FCIACs. He will also swim the backstroke.
Wilson, who swims the breaststroke and individual medley, was ninth last year at the state meet in the breaststroke, and 11th in the 200 IM.
Lewis is coming off a huge sophomore season that saw him take second at the Class L meet in both the 200 IM and 100 backstroke. He will also swim the breaststroke. Lewis was seeded third for FCIAC finals in both the IM and back, but didn’t swim due to a conflict.
The Warriors also return three other swimmers from last year who are expected to contribute points — juniors Jake Florio, Matt Martin and Jackson Dill.
Florio and Martin are distance freestylers. Florio scored at the Class L meet last season in both the 200 and 500 freestyle events, while Martin scored in the 500 free. Dill is a sprint freestyler. Another returning junior is Jason Cai, a breaststroker.
Returning sophomores are Dylan Flanagan (butterfly, breaststroke), Ryan Frankel (backstroke and butterfly), Ryan Looney (backstroke, IM) and Alex Li.
Transfer students Gordan Steward and James Steward, both sophomores, will be key additions in the pool. And James Steward will also help the team out by competing in the diving — something Stevens thought Wilton would be lacking this season.
Rounding out the roster are freshmen Maxwell Downing, Jubair Huq, Matthew Lamanna, Mattias Schaller, Nathaniel Synder and Will Trentos.
“I don’t think there’s any superstars in terms of FCIAC and states, but in terms of dual meets and depth they’re going to help out nicely,” Stevens said of the freshmen.
The relays will have to fill some holes. The 400-yard free relay returns in the best shape, with Lewis, McCool and Suchy all part of the unit that was third in Class L last season.
The medley relay lost its butterflyer (Larsen) and freestyler (Benison), but returns Suchy (breastroke) and Lewis (backstroke) from the team that took fourth in Class L last season.
The 200 free relay, which was sixth at the Class L meet, took the biggest hit, with only McCool back.
In addition to returners like Suchy, McCool and Lewis, Stevens will look to newcomers like the Steward brothers to fill out the relay teams.
Stevens expects the key meets during the dual-meet schedule will be the same as last year, when the Warriors losses came to Ridgefield, New Canaan, Darien, Staples and Greenwich.
Some of those teams should be down a little this season, which gives the Warriors a chance to perhaps move up the ranks. It’s just a question if Wilton is able to make up for the points it lost from last year’s team.
“Any improvements we have in dual meets will be a result of other teams not being as good as they were. We could be a 5-5 team or 6-5 team if nothing goes our way,” Stevens said.
On the state level, he thinks the Warriors should be able to hold their own, and doesn’t expect them to drop.
“We’ll probably be a top-four team at states. We’ll be right there again.”