BRISTOL â€• The undefeated streak lives on for the Bristol boys swimming and diving co-op as it entered the weekend with a 97-86 win over Conard on Friday afternoon at the Dennis Malone Aquatics Center.
Each side won six events in the meet, but Bristol maximized its team scoring by taking the top two spots in two races while avoiding last place in all but two events, which means nearly every swimmer earned points for Bristol each time they entered the pool.
Senior Mikel Palaj led the charge for Bristol with two individual wins while also contributing to two relay wins. Bristol almost had two additional first-place finishers, but Conard swimmers took those races by less than a second.
â€śI always tell them that they go against the clock, it doesnâ€™t matter whoâ€™s on the other side of the lane with you,â€ť Bristol head coach Adrienne Bentley said. â€śItâ€™s the clock, itâ€™s [seeing] the right numbers.â€ť
Bristol will look to keep the undefeated streak alive Tuesday when they return to their home pool as the road team against Lewis Mils.
Palaj started his dominant afternoon early as he won the first two races of the day. He began helping Bristol pull away in the third leg of the 200 medley relay, which Bristol won by more than 13 seconds with a time of 1:44.97. Bristol only competed with itself in this race as sophomore Aidan Collins put the other relay team in second place to start, but it fell off in the later legs.
Palaj immediately followed his first performance with a 10-second win in the 200 freestyle where he was never challenged. He finished that event in 1:48.61, which was two hundredths of a second behind his seed time for the day.
His other individual win came in the 100 breaststroke where his time of 1:04.20 beat his seed time by six tenths of a second. Bristol nearly took second in that race as well, but junior Davis Krollâ€™s time of 1:09.44 was edged out by 17 hundredths of a second by Conardâ€™s Jeffry Rosborg.
Palaj and Kroll teamed up alongside Collins and senior Nathan Stellmach for the 200 freestyle relay, which they won by nearly seven seconds with a time of 1:34.88.
Stellmach and Kroll scored big for Bristol earlier in the meet by taking the top two places in the 50 freestyle. The two were racing each other more than Conard as Stellmach won with a time of 22.71 seconds and was closely followed by Kroll, who touched the wall in 23.64 seconds.
Stellmach was 17 hundredths of a second away from another win, but failed to stay in front of Conard junior Keaden Nguyen. The two were essentially even for the first 10 laps of the race before Stellmach builts a small lead over the next five laps. Nguyen fought back to catch Stellmach and snuck ahead at the last moment to earn six points for Conard. Bristol scored more points from the race, however, by taking second, third and fourth place.
Collins added a first-place finish for Bristol in the 100 freestyle with a winning time of 53.09 seconds, which beat his seed time by 1.3 seconds. He was followed by junior Miles Jennings who added an important second-place result for Bristol, finishing in 57.72 seconds.
Collins also finished second in the 100 backstroke, touching the wall less than a second after Conard sophomore Nicholas Hall. Bristolâ€™s other near-win came in the 100 butterfly where senior Noah Taylor battled Conard sophomore Andrew Filotto for the entire race until Filotto pulled away. Taylor ended up finishing third as he was passed by teammate Thomas Masotti in the final moments.
Taylor had another impressive effort to close the meet as he came close to erasing a large lead Conard had at the end of the 400 freestyle relay. Conard jumped out to a massive advantage in the first leg of the race and primarily added to it until Taylor dove into the pool and brought Bristol within two seconds of Conardâ€™s winning group.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.