Wilton finishes strong to take second at FCIAC championships

It was one of the most exciting FCIAC girls swim championships in memory and when the dust had settled, the Wilton High team found itself as FCIAC runner-up at Thursday’s conference finals in Greenwich.

Coach Todd Stevens, who thought the Warriors could finish as high as fourth before the FCIAC trials earlier in the week, was pleasantly surprised at the result.

“I’m very happy. It’s only the third time in my tenure we’ve been runner-up,” said Stevens. “We had great swims from a lot of young swimmers, freshmen and sophomores in particular.”

The last time Wilton finished second at FCIACs was 2013.

The Warriors beat out Staples and Greenwich for second place, in a fight that went down to the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay.

The Warriors were two points ahead of Greenwich going into the relay and needed to finish ahead of the Cardinals to hold onto second place. That they did, as the team of Emma Babashak, Emma Kauffeld, Ellen Holmquist and Taylor Loud finished third, .43 of a second ahead of Greenwich.

Staples took second in the final relay to surge ahead of Greenwich for third place overall.

Ridgefield won the meet going away with 340.5 points to win its first-ever FCIAC title. Wilton finished with 260.5 points, followed by Staples (258), Greenwich (256.5) and Fairfield Ludlowe (244) in the top five.

“I don’t remember the last time we came down to the final race with that many teams (fighting) for second place,” said Stevens. “The place was exploding for that final relay. It was really loud. All the teams were up yelling for that last relay.”

Kauffeld, a senior, led the way with a pair of top-five finishers. She was third in the 500-yard freestyle (5:07.94) and fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.96).

Also earning first-team All-FCIAC honors was Holmquist, a freshman, who placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:07.83). She was also ninth in 200-yard individual medley (2:11.98).

Babashak, another freshman, had a pair of top-six finishers, taking fourth in the 100 butterfly (59.64) and sixth in the 500 free (5:17.19).

Loud, a sophomore, also finaled in two events, placing seventh in the 50 freestyle (25.09) and eighth in the 100 freestyle (55.29)

Liela Hastings, another sophomore, was sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.04), and also took 12th in the 200 IM (2:15.95).

Two other sophomores turned in a pair of top-16 finishes in the sprint freestyle events. Katie Stevenson was 10th in both the 50 free (25.24) and the 100 free (55.0), and Morgan Dill took 11th in 50 free (25.28) and 13th in the 100 free (55.93).

Junior Emily Walden was 11th in the 200 free (2:00.26) and 14th in the 500 free (5:26.39).

Lily Kealy, also a sophomore, was 15th in the 100 butterfly (1:03.32), while senior NoraNoël Nolan placed 16th in the 200 IM (2:22.01).

The team of Holmquist, Stevenson, Loud and Kauffeld was fourth in the 200-yard free relay, and the foursome of Dill, Hastings, Babashak and Stevenson took seventh in the medley relay.

“It was nice to have kids score in the meet who had never scored before,” said Stevens. “The meet was fast at the top but the depth was the weakest that it’s been in the past, which presented opportunities for other people.”

Wilton also had a fourth-place finish in the diving on Wednesday from senior Allie Courtney.

Next up is the Class L championships, which begin on Wednesday with the diving at Middletown High School. The swim trials will be Saturday, Nov. 12, at East Hartford High School, and the finals on Nov. 15 at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.

Coach Stevens said Cheshire and Darien should be the teams to beat in Class L, and that he would have a better idea of where the Warriors stand after the swim trials. Darien, which was sixth at FCIACs, is focusing on defending its Class LL title and didn’t go at full strength on Thursday.

“I know Darien has a lot more than was apparent at the meet,” he said.