Tigers travel to Exeter to open season, lose a close, exciting meet...
Suffield Girls 90 Exeter Girls 96
Suffield Boys 71 Exeter Boys 115
Suffield and Exeter have enjoyed a long and rich tradition of competition between the two teams in swimming & diving. Exeter's boys' teams had a run of almost fifteen years atop the preps, winning every championship from 1991 to 2006, excepting 1998 (captured by Hopkins). Their girls' teams are always a contender in the championship meet, and won in 1974-80, 1988, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2010, and 2011. Recent dual meets between and the Tigers have been back and forth affairs, with Suffield prevailing in 2016, and Exeter splitting with Suffield in 2015.
This year Suffield brought squads significantly depleted by graduation, but the Orange athletes nonetheless intended to challenge the host powerhouse in the Monday afternoon season opener in New Hampshire.
Suffield's medley relay, the opening event in dual and championship meets, has been its best known asset, and the Tigerwomen hoped that they could continue to count on first place in the event. Shaun Johnson (backstroke), Sydney Winters (breaststroke), Samantha Hagberg (fly), and Caitlin Lally (free) raced to a highly respectable 1:51.08 to earn a victory. In the first individual event, the 200 free, Devina Bhalla and Jenna Polidoro grabbed the top two spots, and Jenna Daly swam to sixth place in a season best performance. Sophomores Hagberg and Lally were back in action in the 200 individual medley, where they swam to fine finishes and times, with Hagberg taking the event easily in 2:12.31 (PB) and Lally securing third in 2:23.88. The sprint freestyle (50 yards) featured Academy record holder Johnson, who took on a talented trio of Exeter girls in the event. Johnson sped to a 25.23, but was shut out of the top three places.
Suffield was counting on diving to help them in the meet, and the lady divers did not disappoint. A 1-2 finish was secured by freshman Emma Krasemann (233.55) and captain Carlin Molander (214.65), and they were helped by Grace Reeves' fourth place finish, giving Suffield an eight-point advantage over Exeter in the event.
The return to swimming brought fireworks as Winters, just returned from a successful Junior Nationals competition, flew to a new pool record in the 100 fly in 55.71, and fellow Orangewoman Hagberg, sped to second place, achieving a new PB and improved top 25 ranking in the event on the strength of a fine 59.02 swim. Bhalla was pushed by the same speedy Exeter sprinters in the next event (100 free) that Johnson faced in the 50, and she swam to an unrested best 55.23 in a gutsy performance. Polidoro and Lally, along with freshman Jenna Daly, swam the distance freestyle event (500 yards) against a talented trio from Exeter, with encouraging early season performances by all three girls resulting in a 1-3-6 finish. The 200 free relay was closely contested but Exeter's sprint depth was too much to overcome. Johnson returned to the backstroke for the individual event swim, and won the race, with Juana Bourgeois, Abby James, and Cecile Meier-Scherling vying for fifth place honors. Winters chased records again in the final individual event, the 100 breaststroke, succeeding in breaking the pool record with a league leading 1:04.19. Maya Grant swam to a 5th place finish. A good battle was waged in the concluding 400 free relay, with the Tigers managing to thwart an Exeter surge late in the race. Winters (52.18), Polidoro (58.35), Bhalla (55.63), and Johnson (55.19) earned top honors with a solid 3:41.35 swim.
The boys figured they needed wins in all three relays, a sweep in diving, victory in most individual events, and some strong supporting swims, to be able to keep pace with a deeper and talented Exeter team. This was not to be…
The first relay made a promising impression, as Marco Secchiaroli (back), Joe Rusnock (breast), Max Miranda (fly), and Westley Bartlett (free) challenged a fierce Exeter foursome, swimming to a 1:39.61 time (second place). Next up, the 200 free: Cian Beaulieu led the way for the Tigers, as he swam to a fast 1:47.01 for first place. Co-captain Matt Titterton also swam well (1:51.72 – third place), as did Mike Giugliano (1:59.81). Miranda, Suffield's school record holder and 2017 All American in the 200 IM, cruised to victory in the event (1:54.93). The 50 free was hotly contended by sprinters from both teams; Bartlett finished 3rd (22.84), Rusnock fifth (23.45), and Melvin Ku grabbed sixth in a lifetime best 23.93.
Divers made a huge impact on the boys' meet by sweeping the event, giving Suffield 13 points, as compared with the hosts' 2 points. Alec Wright, Charlie TIlney-Volk, and Kevin Kuzmeski soared to high scores of 282.50, 256.35, and 199.00. Wright's big performance earned him a new school record, eclipsing the old record by nearly twenty points!
Returning to the swim competition, Miranda blazed to a fast 100 fly (51.45), but he was beat to the wall by Exeter's new superstar sprinter, Andrew Benson. Miranda was supported by strong swims by Bartlett (55.80 – third place) and Ku (1:02.95). Secchiaroli performed laudably in his first ever individual event for Suffield, the 100 free, finishing third, followed closely by Titterton, who came in fourth. Max Bass and Neil Budge swam to PBs in the event. In the most exciting event of the meet, Beaulieu chased Exeter's Jared Zhang, falling short by only .07 (4:43.96 – PB and new all time top 25 ranking). Giugliano swam to an unrested best 5:31.82 for fifth place. A good battle then ensued in the 200 free relay, in which Exeter prevailed, 1:31.60 to 1:32.30.
Secchiaroli swam to third place in the 100 back, while Andrew Budge recorded a lifetime best 1:06.14 (fifth) in the race. In the breaststroke, Rusnock chased Exeter's Junior National qualifier Charles Venci, completing the race in 1:03.58. Leon Leung captured fifth place in 1:10.45. Suffield closed on Exeter in the 400 free relay, but could not completely erase the gap created by Benson's 45.99 leadoff leg. Notably, Beaulieu split 48.47 and Miranda 47.04 in the relay.
Home opener vs. Choate on Wednesday, December 13 (3:00 pm)
Suffield's home opener versus Choate offers the Orange hopefuls another chance to come together as a team, and improve upon their Exeter efforts.