PLAINVILLE - The Plainville boys swim team dug itself an early hole during Friday’s meet against Southington, but eventually fell short of the powerhouse Blue Knights in a 91-87 loss.
Southington had the top time in all but one event.
“Against Southington, you’re not necessarily going to come out with a win, and it’s tough swimming sometimes when that’s the most likely outcome,” Plainville head coach Chris Zagorski said of his team’s tall task of taking down Southington. “But to [our swimmers’] credit, they were pushing through it and trying to get best times and improve from Tuesday and a lot of our swimmers did that, which is great to see.”
While the Blue Devils gutted out a hard-fought day at the pool with multiple second place finishes, Southington created too much separation with early victories that helped build a 72-38 lead after the first seven events.
In what was a collective effort, Southington posted 22 personal bests in various different events.
“We had a great day performance wise,” Blue Knights head coach Evan Tuttle said. “Not only was it a win, but it was done so with their best effort and best times.”
Southington got off to a quick start thanks to the 200 medley relay team of Derek Melanson, Jackson Malsheske, Landon Colby and Brian Egan, which took first place with a time of 1:49.79.
For Melanson, it was just the beginning of a monster afternoon.
The junior also helped the Blue Knights place first in the 400 free relay, while winning both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke. His time of 59.13 in the latter was a personal best, though the wins didn’t come easy. Plainville’s Joe Michalic was neck-and-neck with Melanson the whole way during the 100 butterfly, until Melanson broke away in the final 15 yards.
“The swim team did a fantastic job,” Southington senior Kian Siadat said, who watched his teammates dominate in the pool before he posted a score of 149.45 on the diving board. “Coach was trying out a lot of people in new events today and trying to get more in depth with the team to see which guys should go where for other meets, other bigger meets that really matter in our season to determine the conference champion.”
Jackson Malsheske took first place in the 500 freestyle for the Blue Knights, but in the eyes of Zagorski, it was a win for Plainville, as all three Blue Devils swimmers, including Nathan Lyman, Colin Blake and Matt Lagassey, set personal bests in the event.
A strong showing on the diving board by Siadat and EJ Suski helped Southington extend its lead to 49-29, as both teams had “home pool advantage” for the event, since both teams practice diving at Plainville. Suski took first with a score of 244.55.
While Michalic came up just short in the 100 butterfly, he earned a first-place finish in the 200 individual medley, finishing with a time of 2:15.12, just three seconds ahead of Malsheske.
The win for Michalic and the personal record finish for Lagassey were reasons for Zagorski to walk away optimistic, as the pair of underclassmen showed plenty of promise against one of the toughest swim teams in the area.
“It’s nice to have some of those young kids starting to do well and thrive at something they didn’t initially think would be their cup of tea.” Zagorski said.
Tuttle also saw plenty of promise in his Blue Knights, as the plethora of personal bests would suggest. Two more of the 22 personal bests were recorded by Tyler Heidgerd, who placed first in the 200 free and the 100 free to help Southington improve to 2-2 on the season.
“This week of practice was spent on improvements [our swimmers] needed in their strokes,” Tuttle said. “So we split up into starts, turns, stroke technique and hammered those little things home. I liked to think that shown through today, and those little things added up to a big difference in quality of performance.”