BRISTOL - Winning four of the first five events gave the St. Paul girls swimming and diving team the necessary lead to enter the weekend with an 80-75 win over Torrington.
The Falcons lost a close meet on the road against the Red Raiders on Oct. 14, but were able to avenge that at home and earn their fifth win of the season by jumping out to an early nine-point lead after the first five events.
“There’s no doubt today was definitely the best meet of the season,” head coach Karim Marbrouk said. “The girls really, truly stepped it up. We knew it was going to be a close meet, Torrington beat us on the away meet. We really weren’t expecting it to be an in-person meet today, so we were glad to see them come in because that always makes it a little more exciting. We had a few changes in the lineup and the girls just toughened up and didn’t complain.”
The critical win for St. Paul came in the 200-yard individual medley when junior Amelia Badzioch, who closely trailed Torrington’s lead swimmer for the first 150 yards of the race, made a final push to take the lead and won by half a second with a time of 2:27.78. Badzioch also posted a second-place finishes in the 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relay.
“It seems like she (Badzioch) kind of pushed the girls,” Marbrouk said. “Once they saw what she did in the 200 IM, she came from behind to take the win, that was really the turning point in the meet. We were [leading] 15-13 going into the IM and all of a sudden we were up 24-17 and we kind of never looked back. They were close the entire time, but that really was the event. When Amelia went from second to first on the very last leg of the 200 IM things really turned around for us.”
St. Paul was also boosted by taking two events uncontested. Junior Adrianna Raymond opened the meet as the competition’s lone diver, which gave the Falcons an unbothered six points. Similarly, junior Payton Upson was the only swimmer in the 100-yard butterfly and posted her best time of the season in that event (1:39.84).
“I think we swam probably the hardest so far,” Upson said. “I think I did the best [I have done]. I did the best time for butterfly so far.”
Upson and Raymond both made strong contributions throughout the meet, highlighted by their winning effort in the 200-yard medley relay. As the coach of a small team, Marbrouk is consistently thankful to have someone with Raymond’s versatility.
“You take the diver away and that always has a big consequence,” Marbrouk said. “We’re lucky that we have a diver so that we basically always start the meet up 6-0. Thanks to Adrianna Raymond who’s always there to step it up and dive for us, but also swim for us.”
The Falcons’ next meet will be next Friday at 7 p.m. on the road against Sacred Heart. These teams already swam against each other twice this season with Sacred Heart winning both meets by scores of 79-76 and 93-72, respectively.
“The mindset going forward is just give it our all,” Upson said. “The last few meets we have are against the teams we’ve been neck and neck with, lose one, win one. So if we give it our all we should finish strong.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org