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Northwestern breaks Avon’s hold on Splash Classic championship

WEST HARTFORD, February 23 – It’s been a long time since a team other than Avon raised the Splash Classic trophy high into the air. The Stotler sisters from Northwestern helped ensure that the Highlanders would get that chance.

Cassidy Stotler and Kelly Stotler each won two individual events and swam on two winning relays to lead Northwestern to a 291-241 win over Litchfield and the 2019 Splash Classic championship at Cornerstone Pool. Avon, which had won the meet for the past 12 straight years, was third with 229 points.

Caroline Crone also won two individual events for Northwestern and swam on the Highlanders’ winning relays in the 400 freestyle relay and the 200 individual medley relay.

The meet is a girls-only event for athletes that swim on boys swimming teams during the winter. The official CIAC swimming season for girls is in the fall. Girls are still invited to compete in the CIAC championship meets in the winter but they must meet boys qualifying times to do so.

The Highlanders have been closing in on Avon the past few years. This year, they were able to move past the Falcons. “We just didn’t have the number of strong girls that we had in the past,” Avon High coach Diana Cesaro said. “Our four senior girls (Kelly Zhou, Karen Zhou, Sarah Thomas, Jade Strassner) did all they could.”

All four (Zhou, Zhou, Thomas, Strassner) swam on the 400 freestyle relay team that finished second behind Northwestern and swam on the 200 freestyle relay that was second behind Litchfield.

Kelly Zhou finished second in the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle while Sarah Thomas was third in the 100 breast stroke.

Cassidy Stotler won the 200 IM and 100 butterfly for the second consecutive year. She set a new meet record in the 100 butterfly with a winning time of 58.60 seconds, breaking the previous record set by Avon’s Laura Pringle in 2017 of 59.78.

Kelly Stotler won the 100 backstroke for the third straight year along with a first place medal in the 200 freestyle. Crone won the 100 breast stroke for the third consecutive season as well.

Litchfield’s Sarah McCarthy swept the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.


2019 Splash Classic
At West Hartford (Cornerstone)
Team results – 1. Northwestern Regional 291, 2. Litchfield 241, 3. Avon 229, 4. Simsbury 110, 5. Shepaug 98, 6. Nonnewaug 80, 7. Granby 65, 8. Southington 58, 9. Lewis Mills 49, 10. Northwest Catholic 47, 11. Wamogo 46, 12. Conard and Gilbert 23, 14. Holy Cross 14, 15. Classical/University 12

200-yard medley relay: 1. Northwestern (Karoline Morton, Caroline Crone, Cassidy Stotler, Kelly Stotler) 1:52.06, 2. Litchfield 1:55.60, 3. Avon (Gina Nunziata, Sarah Thomas, Shreya Sinha, Jenna Langan) 2:02.14, 4. Shepaug 2:04.11, 5. Simsbury (Madeleine Shiman, Jocelyn Ducalo, Mia Cirelli, Emma Zematis) 2:07.50, 6. Southington 2:09.11

200 freestyle: 1. Kelly Stotler, Northwestern, 2:00.74, 2. Kelly Zhou, Avon, 2:05.19, 3. Clair Vailionis, Litchfield, 2:05.66, 4. Sara Chute, Avon, 2:09.39, 5. Nicole Novotny, Northwestern 2:15.84, 6. Hailey White, Litchfield 2:16.28

200 IM: 1. Cassidy Stotler, Northwestern, 2:14.12, 2. Kenyon Prenoveau, Litchfield, 2:23.65, 3. Ellie Olsen, Northwestern, 2:25.26, 4. Grace Karangekis, NW Catholic, 2:26.05, 5. Mia Cirelli, Simsbury, 2:28.16, 6. Isabella Giansanti, Wamogo 2:30.79

50 free: 1. Sarah McCarthy, Litchfield, 24.91, 2. Caroline Smith, Conard, 25.96, 3. Sydney Johnston, Northwestern, 26.49, 4. Karen Zhou, Avon, 26.58, 5. Ellen McCarthy, Litchfield, 26.94, 6. Sydney Donahue, Litchfield 27.76

Diving: 1. Evelyn Neagoy, Simsbury, 354.25, 2. Casidhe Hughes, Northwestern, 307.70, 3. Diana Goldman, Granby, 277.95, 4. Mariah Jennison, Gilbert, 275.40, 5. Sarah Thomas, Avon, 255.20, 6. Ivy Grosk, Northwestern 250.10

100 butterfly: 1. Cassidy Stotler, Northwestern, 58.60, new record (Old record: Laura Pringle, Avon, 59.78, 2017), 2. Kenyon Prenoveau, Litchfield, 1:00.36, 3. Mia Cirelli, Simsbury, 1:03.60, 4. Olivia Ashe, Granby 1:04.23, 5. Karen Zhou, Avon, 1:06.13, 6. Shreya Sinha, Avon, 1:07.04

100 freestyle: 1. Sarah McCarthy, Litchfield, 53.96, 2. Kelly Zhou, Avon, 55.52, 3. Jessica Kisling, Shepaug, 57.12, 4. Claire Vailinois, Litchfield, 57.14, 5. Caroline Smith, Conard, 58.03, 6. Lucy Kraut, Litchfield, 58.31

500 freestyle: 1. Caroline Crone, Northwestern 5:38.29, 2. Grace Karangekis, NW Catholic 5:42.14, 3. Ellie Olsen, Northwestern 5:52.81, 4. Ellen McCarthy, Litchfield, 5:53.26, 5. Sara Chute, Avon, 5:54.46, 6. Nicole Novotny, Northwestern, 6:02.94

200 freestyle relay: 1. Litchfield (Claire Vailionis, Lucy Kraut, Kenyon Prenoveau, Sarah McCarthy) 1:42.50, 2. Avon (Karen Zhou, Jade Strassner, Sara Chute, Kelly Zhou) 1:44.31, 3. Northwestern 1:49.79, 4. Shepaug 1:53.29, 5. Lewis Mills (Hanna LaBerge, Chloe Yescott, Kathryn Bergstrom, Natalie Costa) 1:57.26, 6. Southington 1:57.37

100 backstroke: 1. Kelly Stotler, Northwestern, 1:01.25, 2. Jessica Kisling, Shepaug 1:03.30, 3. Karoline Morton, Northwestern, 1:06.32, 4. Sindy Gorka, Nonnewaug, 1:07.20, 5. Jade Strassner, Avon, 1:08.08, 6. Gina Nunziata, Avon, 1:08.13

100 breast stroke: 1. Caroline Crone, Northwestern, 1:08.18, 2. Sydney Donahue, Litchfield, 1:17.62, 3. Sarah Thomas, Avon, 1:18.00, 4. Victoria York, Nonnewaug, 1:18.40, 5. Ava Adiletti, Shepaug, 1:19.34, 6. Olivia Prusak, Granby, 1:19.38

400 freestyle relay: 1. Northwestern (Sydney Johnston, Caroline Crone, Cassidy Stotler, Kelly Stotler) 3:45.11, 2. Avon (Karen Zhou, Sara Chute, Jade Strassner, Kelly Zhou) 3:51.42, 3. Litchfield 3:53.65, 4. Nonnewaug 4:18.48, 5. Simsbury (Madeleine Shiman, Sydney Marcy, Nicole Jimenez, Mia Cirelli) 4:22.59, 6. Wamogo 4:35.19

Splash Classic Record Book
200 medley relay: Northwestern (Karolin Morton, Caroline Crone, Cassidy Stoter, Kelly Stolter) 1:54.33, 2018
200 freestyle: Madison Kennedy (Avon), 1:56.68, 2004
200 IM: Kiley Stoler (Northwestern), 2:11.10, 2016
50 free: Madison Kennedy (Avon), 24.13, 2005
Diving: Monica Marcello (Middletown), 430.95, 2014
100 butterfly: Cassidy Stotler (Northwestern), 58.60, 2019
100 freestyle: Madison Kennedy (Avon), 52.60, 2005
500 free: Molly Egan (Simsbury), 5:17.42, 2017
200 free relay: N.W. Catholic (Frankie Link, Natalie Smith, Bianca Ceolin, Laura Kunkel) 1:41.678, 2016
100 backstroke: Kasey Gill (Litchfield), 59.25, 1995
100 breast stroke: Kiley Stotler (Northwestern), 1:07.70, 2016
400 freestyle relay: Avon (Kelly Zhou, Sarah Preleski, Annie Hayes, Laura Pringle), 3:42.72, 2017

2019 Splash Classic championships

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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