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Avon swimmers rally to capture Splash Classic again – The Collinsville Press
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Avon swimmers rally to capture Splash Classic again

Avon's Katie Panczner moves through the water in the 500 freestyle.

Avon’s Katie Panczner moves through the water in the 500 freestyle.

PLAINVILLE, Feb. 23 — On paper, it looked easy. Avon High puts together a solid effort across the board to win the Splash Classic for the seventh straight year.

But the annual unofficial championship meet for girls who compete on boys swimming teams across the state was a struggle for the Falcons. In the end, Avon held off spirited challenges from Northwestern Regional and Simsbury to win the event.

Avon finished with 247 points with a 13-point edge over Northwestern with 234. Simsbury was right there with 230 points.

Avon's Katie Emery won the 100 backstroke.

Avon’s Katie Emery won the 100 backstroke.

“The girls were outstanding swimming in this meet as a team,” Avon coach Diana Cesaro said. “We swam this meet strategically by not necessary swimming everyone in their best event but in the events we needed the points and it paid off.”

Avon had to battle from the opening event. In the 200 medley relay, Avon finished second but the team was disqualified due to an early jump during a relay exchange. That cost the Falcons 26 points.

That put the pressure on the Falcons but they came up with some terrific performances.

Junior Kylie Panczner dropped four seconds off her best time this winter and took fourth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:08.99.

In the 50 freestyle, Avon had three swimmers in the top five. Junior Kathryn Emery was second in 26.74 seconds with freshman Megan Foley (26.97) and junior Sophie Greenbaum (27.32) taking fourth and fifth, respectively.

The Falcons picked up more points in the 100 butterfly again placing three swimmers in the top five. Avon sophomore Lauren Cooper was second in 1:05, just 0.03 of a second off the pace set by Litchfield’s Alex Kavle. Freshman Megan Foley (1:07.18) and sophomore Tia Glover (1:08.31) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Greenbaum was fourth in the 100 freestyle and Cooper took second in the 500 freestyle, about a second behind Shepaug’s Clara Wolfe. Panczner took fourth.

Avon took a close second in the 200 freestyle relay, finishing just 0.42 behind Simsbury. Greenbaum, Kristen Wall, Emery and Foley finished in 1:48.51 to give Avon a two-point lead with four events to go.

A second 200 freestyle relay from Avon (Adrienne Nguyen, Cooper, Tia Glover, Panczner) actually finished third in the event but only the first relay scores points.

Avon extended its lead with a strong performance in the 100 backstoke with Emery winning in 1:02.91 and three Falcon swimmers among the top seven. Wall was second in 1:05.56 with freshman Ryley Higgins seventh in 1:10.62.

Northwestern had three swimmers among the top 8 in the 100 breast stroke to tie the meet with two events to go – 400 freestyle relay and diving. Freshman Stephanie Rosenthal finished ninth in the 100 breast stroke, picking up four crucial points for Avon.

The 400 freestyle relay was a thriller with Avon and Northwestern swimming together, battling for the lead the entire race. The Highlanders led after the first 100 meters but Avon’s Lauren Cooper swam her 100 meter leg in 56.62 seconds to give the Falcons the lead.

Panczner and Wall were able to hold off the Highlanders as Avon won the event by 0.03 of a second in 3:54.74. Greenbaum swam the first leg and the Falcons were just 0.05 seconds out of first place. The victory gave Avon a six-point lead.

Avon sophomore Mimi Murphy clinched the meet with a sixth place finish. Northwestern’s top diver finished in 11th place.

“It was the first time since I have been coaching high school swimming that the pressure of the big meet was on the divers,” Cesaro said. “Mimi Murphy did an outstanding job. She dove solid and true to form.”

Avon won the Splash Classic title for the sixth straight year.

Avon won the Splash Classic title for the sixth straight year.

Simsbury finished third with several solid performances.

Junior Sammi Dowd won the 50 yard freestyle in 25.47 seconds, winning by over a second. She was second in the 100 freestyle, just 0.05 seconds behind Northwest Catholic senior Gracie Kunkel with a time of 53.64 seconds.

Simsbury’s 200 yard freestyle relay (Max Braun, Nikki Kowalski, Kaitlyn May and Dowd) beat Avon by 0.42 seconds to win that event with a stellar anchor leg swim from Dowd, who swam her 50 meter leg in 24.92 seconds.

Simsbury’s 200 yard medley relay team (Brenna Welsh, Ana Johrstofer, Kelly Savino, Nikki Kowalski) finished second, beating Lewis Mills by 0.05 of a second for the silver medal.

Other medalwinners included junior Katie Amarell, who was second in diving, freshman Ana Jahrstofer who was third in the 100 breast stroke and fourth in the 200 IM and sophomore Brenna Walsh, who was fifth in the 500 free and 100 backstroke.

Granby took fifth in the 200 medley relay as Kayle Jerman, Celine Latona, Anna Fede and Sarah Wutka finished with a time of 2:11.17. Granby’s 200 free relay (Amy Bilodeau, Wutka, Kaylee Jerman, Fede) and the 400 free relay (Molly Hammack, Erika Martenson, Latona and Kaitlin Fish) each finished eighth.

The official season for girls swimming in Connecticut is in the fall with the boys swimming season in the winter. Girls are allowed to participate on boys teams and can qualify for the respective CIAC championship meets but they must meet boys qualifying times. So, for most girls swimming on boys teams during the winter, this is their championship meet.

2013 Splash Classic
At Plainville
Team results – 1. Avon 247, 2. Northwestern Regional 234, 3. Simsbury 230, 4. Shepaug Valley 140, 5. Lewis Mills 105½, 6. Litchfield 100, 7. Northwest Catholic 76, 8. Wamogo 65, 9. Granby 54, 10. Joel Barlow 50, 11. East Hartford 22, 13. Southington 14, 14. Gilbert 10, 15. Plainville 7½, 16. Danbury 4, 17. Torrington 1
Individual results
200 yard medley relay: 1. Northwestern 1:58.39, 2. Simsbury (Brenna Walsh, Ana Jahrstofer, Kelly Savino, Nikki Kowalski) 2:04.19, 3. Lewis Mills 2:04.26, 4. Litchfield 2:08.84, 5. Granby (Kaylee German, Celine Latona, Anna Fede, Sarah Wutka) 2:11.17, 6. Wamogo 2:16.42

200 free: 1. Gracie Kunkel (NWC) 1:57.45, 2. Clara Wolfe (Shepaug) 2:06.59, 3. Haley Pesce (Shepaug) 2:07.93, 4. Kylie Panczner (A) 2:08.09, 5. Allison Surian (Mills) 2:09.53, 6. Max Braun (Simsbury) 2:15.92

200 IM: 1. Kiley Stotler (NWR) 2:16.61, 2. Kristen Wall (A) 2:26.84, 3. Olivia Morris (NWR) 2:30.76, 4. Ana Jahrstofer (Simsbury) 2:33.55, 5. Tia Glover (A) 2:33.64, 6. Alise Martel (Mills) 2:33.69

50 free: 1. Sammi Dowd (Simsbury) 25.47, 2. Kathryn Emery (A) 26.74, 3. Molly Traub (NWR) 26.75, 4. Megan Foley (A) 26.97, 5. Sophie Greenbaum (A) 27.32, 6. Casey Stotler (NWR)

Diving: 1. Mariah Hoffman (Shepaug) 319.7, 2. Katie Amarell (Simsbury) 294.2, 3. Kelsey Baker (NWC) 266.85, 4. Gloria Davey (Barlow) 265, 5. Vicky Cowdell (W) 264.5, 6. Mimi Murphy (A) 260.5

100 butterfly: 1. Alex Kavle (Litchfield) 1:04.57, 2. Lauren Cooper (A) 1:05.00, 3. Olivia Morris (NWR) 1:05.34, 4. Megan Foley (A) 1:07.18, 5. Tia Glover (A) 1:08.31, 6. Kelly Savino (Simsbury) 1:06.79

100 free: 1. Gracie Kunkel (NWC) 53.64, 2. Sammi Dowd (Simsbury) 55.69, 3. Rachael Pulica (NWR) 58.04, 4. Sophie Greenbaum (A) 59.98, 5. Casey Stotler (NWR) 1:00.01, 6. Molly Traub (NWR) 1:00.18

500 free: 1. Clara Wolfe (Shepaug) 5:32.99, 2. Lauren Cooper (A) 5:33.03, 3. Allison Surian (Mills) 5:34.38, 4. Kylie Panczner (A) 5:50.47, 5. Brenna Welsh (Simsbury) 5:58.78, 6. Marissa DiBella (Barlow) 6:09.40

200 free relay: 1. Simsbury (Max Braun, Nikki Kowalski, Kaitlyn May, Sammi Dowd) 1:48.09, 2. Avon (Sophie Greenbaum, Kristen Wall, Kathryn Emery, Megan Foley) 1:48.51, 3. Shepaug 1:51.96, 4. Lewis Mills 1:52.07, 5. Northwestern 1:54.09, 6. Wamogo 1:58.19

100 backstroke: 1. Kathryn Emergy (A) 1:02.91, 2. Kristen Wall (A) 1:05.56, 3. Jess Dumas (Shepaug) 1:06.43, 4. Rachael Pulica (NWR) 1:06.93, 5. Brenna Welsh (Simsbury) 1:07.61, 6. Allison Dionne (Mills) 1:08.72

100 breast stroke: 1. Kiley Stotler (NWR) 1:11.59, 2. Alex Kavle (Litchfield) 1:14.30, 3. Ana Jahrstofer (Simsbury) 1:15.70, 4. Charlotte Miller (Wamogo )1:16.26, 5. Mary Dinnean (NWR) 1:17.90. 6. Max Braun (Simsbury) 1:18.19

400 free relay: 1. Avon (Sophie Greenbaum, Lauren Cooper, Kylie Panczner, Kristen Wall) 3:54.74, 2. Northwestern 3:54.77, 3. Simsbury (Max Braun, Nikki Kowalski, Kaitlyn May, Sammi Dowd) 3:58.50, 4. Litchfield 4:05.25, 5. Shepaug 4:06.64, 6. Northwest Catholic 4:14.79

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 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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