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Avon swimmers continue to push toward big end-of-season meets – The Collinsville Press
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Avon swimmers continue to push toward big end-of-season meets

Avon senior Charlie Anderson cuts through the water in the 100 butterfly.

Avon senior Charlie Anderson cuts through the water in the 100 butterfly.

AVON – The success of the Avon High boys swim team this season will be found in nine-point type on the pages of season-ending meets. It is not likely to be found in the win and loss ledger.

There are some talented swimmers on the Falcon roster this year. There just aren’t enough to make an impact in dual meets against predominantly boys teams.

Half of the Avon team is girls, putting the Falcons at a competitive disadvantage against all-boys team such as Conard-West Hartford in a 94-84 loss on Tuesday night at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington.

For teams, such as Avon, that don’t operate a girls swim team during the fall when the CIAC season is held, girls can participate on boys teams in the winter. They can participate in the CIAC swimming meets but they have to meet boys qualifying times.

For most girls on the Falcons, the big meet is the Splash Classic at the end of February. It’s a girls-only meet with athletes from across the state that swim on the boys teams in the winter. Avon has won the Splash Classic six years in a row.

Avon lost four of their first five meets this winter against some solid programs – Holy Cross, Conard, Farmington and Hall. In the past week, Avon also raced against strong swimming programs from Middletown and Watertown.

Second-year coach Diana Cesaro isn’t fazed. “We graduated 17 seniors from last year’s team,” she said. “We graduated 18 from the year before that.” And she wants the tough competition for her swimmers.

“We’re in Class M and the qualifying times (for the CIAC tournament) are the fastest,” she said. “I would prefer to swim the tougher teams. To make the states, we’re going to need some fast races.”

The Falcons (1-4) are led by three captains – senior sprinter Charlie Anderson, diver Thomas Yokubinas and backstroke and individual medley specialist Kristen Wall.

Anderson swims the 50 and 100 yard freestyle sprints. He won the 50 free against Granby and was second against Conard. Yokubinas was first against Granby and second against Conard. Wall was Avon’s top backstroke finisher against Conard.

Anderson and freshman Riley Strassner are among the top swimmers for the boys. Strassner won two events against Conard, taking the 200 freestyle in 1:52.71 and the 100 freestyle in 50.98. Yokubinas does well in diving. Fabrizio Tropea, Ben Hartigan and Billy Hollman are some other top swimmers for the boys. Hollman had best time so far this season in the 100 breast stroke with a 1:05.78.

On the girls side, Wall, Kylie Panczner, Megan Foley, Amanda Arroyo and Katie Emery have been swimming well along with diver Mimi Murphy. Lauren Cooper and Ryley Higgins have been slowed by injuries.

“We’re focusing on best times (for each swimmer),” Cesaro said. “We want to get our best times in every meet.”

As the season winds down, Avon will be facing teams that they have been more competitive with in dual meets such as Suffield, Shepaug Valley, Berlin and Haddam-Killingworth. But Cesaro will be pushing them to keep dropping those times.

In a 91-84 victory over Granby, Avon won seven of the first seven events with Tropea (200 free), Strassner (200 IM), Anderson (50 and 100 free), Yokubinas (diving), Foley (100 fly) each winning.

Against Conard, the Chieftains were too deep for the Falcons. Strassner won the 200 free (1:52.71) and 100 freestyle (50.98) for the Falcons but that was it. Wall won the 100 backstroke (1:06.09) as Conard swam the event unofficially to not run the score up. She had the third fastest time in the event. Holloman was first in the 100 breast stroke in 1:05.78 and fourth overall as Conard swam unofficially.

The Splash Classic is Saturday February 23. The Class M trials will be March 9 at Masuk in Monroe with the Class M finals on March 13 at Wesleyan University in Middletown.

Upcoming schedule
January: 25 at Suffield; 29: SHEPAUG
February 1: BERLIN, 5 at Haddam-Killingworth; 8 at Sacred Heart; 23 at Splash Classic; 25: at E.O. Smith/Tolland
March 9: Class M trials at Masuk; 13: Class M finals at Wesleyan
Home meets are at Miss Porter’s in Farmington.

Conard 94, Avon 84
At Farmington
200 medley relay: 1. Conard 1:48.65, 2. Conard 1:52. 16, 3. Avon (Riley Strassner, Billy Holloman, Megan Foley, Charlie Anderson) 1:53.02
200 free: 1. Riley Strassner (A) 1:52.71, 2. John Rinaldi (C) 2:02.77, Colin Burke (C) 2:03.78
200 IM: 1. Christian Bouzyk (C) 2:14.45, 2. Juan Lopez (C) 2:23.23, 3. Kristen Wall (A) 2:29.37
50 free: 1. Josiah Ryan (C) 24.31, 2. Charlie Anderson (A) 24.39, 3. Matt Thomas (C) 25.58
Diving: 1. Colin Wilkinson (C) 183.95, 2. Thomas Yokubinas (A) 167.15, 3. Tim Lopes (C) 156.45
100 fly: 1. Chris Warren (C) 57.57, 2. Christian Bouzyk (C) 1:00.44, 3. Charlie Anderson (A) 1:03.44
100 free: 1. Riley Strassner (A) 50.98, 2. David Walsh (C) 54.50, 3. Juan Lopez (C) 55.08
500 free: 1. Josiah Ryan (C) 5:19.77, 2. Colin Burke (C) 5:36.43, 3. Matt Thomas (C) 5:49.61
200 free relay: 1. Conard 1:39.25, 2. Avon (Charlie Anderson, Ben Hartigan, Devon Chambers, Riley Strassner) 1:39.95, .3. Conard 1:42.20
100 back: 1. Kristen Wall (A) 1:06.99, Adrienne Nguyen (A) 1:17.75, 3. Mitchell Pastizo (A) 1:21.34
100 breast: 1. Billy Holloman (A) 1:13.08, 2. Amanda Arroyo (C) 1:21.06, 3. Stephanie Rosenthal (A) 1:22.15
400 free relay: 1. Avon (Jeff Cox, Sophie Greenbaum, Kristen Wall, Fabrizio Tropea) 4:09.61, Avon
Records: Avon 1-4


Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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