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Depth helps Avon swimmers beat Hall for first time since 2011

Swimming graphicNEW BRITAIN, Jan. 23 – It was a thrilling finish Friday in Avon’s boys swimming meet with Hall-West Hartford at Central Connecticut State University. The meet came down to the 12th and final event – the 400-yard freestyle relay. 

If Avon captured the event, they would beat Hall for the first time since 2011. If they finished second, it would be a tie. If Avon was third, they would lose. Halfway through the race, Avon trailed by 1.22 seconds. Avon’s Stephen Pang cut the deficit to 0.30 of a second before exiting the pool for Avon’s All-State swimmer Riley Strassner. 

Strassner beat Hall’s anchor leg swimming by four seconds to help Avon earn a 90-86 decision over Hall and their fourth win of the season. Strassner won two individual events – the 200 and 500-yard freestyle and swam on two winning relays. 

Stephen Pang (200 IM, 100 backstroke), Kyle Emery (50 free, 100 free), Matt Bagley (100 fly) and freshman Brendan Downey (diving) also picked up individual victories for Avon (4-2). Bagley was second in the 200 IM and Megan Boswell was second in the 100 backstroke. 

But Avon wouldn’t have won without its depth. The top five finishers in each event score points. Fourth and fifth place finishes from Sarah Preleski, Connor Murphy, Megan Foley, Jennifer Wall, Sam Johnson and Stephanie Rosenthal picked up 12 points. There wouldn’t have been a thrilling finish without those points. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of this team of young student athletes,” Avon High coach Diana Cesaro said. “We are working as a team. The boys and girls together are winning. They know that every place counts.” 

Winning two of three relays didn’t hurt, either. Emery, Johnson, Matt Bagley and Strassner won the 200 medley relay by nearly three seconds. Emergy, Matt Bagley, Pang and Strassner swam on the winning 400 freestyle relay, 

Avon has won three of its last four meets. The Falcons easily beat Granby for the sixth straight time with a 93-77 victory at the Farmington Valley YMCA in Granby. 

Emery (200 free), Pang (200 IM, 100 free), Strassner (50 free, 500 free), Downey (diving) and Megan Foley (100 fly) each won individual events for the Falcons. Avon swam the last four events unofficially so they wouldn’t run up the score. 

The only loss in that stretch was a 99-84 decision to the Bristol co-op team (Central, Eastern, St. Paul). The team was shorthanded because of the flu and some swimmers fulfilled their commitment to participate in the Northern Regional music festival – a regional All-Star event for student musicians. 

The upcoming road won’t be easy for Avon – which joins the Central Connecticut Conference next fall. Depending on the weather, Avon is scheduled to swim against Berlin (0-4) on Tuesday at Central Connecticut State at 4 p.m. The Falcons host Middletown on Friday at Central at 4 p.m. 

And next week, Avon will travel to Miss Porter’s School in Farmington (3-3) to take on Farmington High, looking for their first win over the Indians since 2009. 

“We have more tough meets ahead and we will see how they pull together and work hard,” Cesaro said. “Middletown will be another nail biter!”

Avon 90, Hall 86
At New Britain
200 medley relay: Avon (Kyle Emery, Sam Johnson, Matt Bagley, Riley Strassner) 1:50.93, 2. Hall 1:53.76, 3. Avon (Megan Boswell, Alex Traktovenko, Megan Foley, Emily Foley) 1:57.44
200 free: Riley Strassner (A) 1:51.83, 2. Reid Beukeboom (H) 2:00.09, 3. Nate Bidwell (H) 2:02.89, 4. Matt Cashman (H) 2:05.39, 5. Sarah Preleski (A) 2:11.71
200 IM: Stephen Pang (A) 2:14.81, 2. Matt Bagley (A) 2:15.62, 3. Jordan Polun (H) 2:16.51, 4. Peter Hoyle (H) 2:19.49, 5. Nick Gianoulis (H) 2:30.27
50 free: Kyle Emery (A) 23.84 2. Jakob Woods Weber (H) 24.81, 3. Jake Gothers (H) 25.92, 4. Michael Stamber (H) 26.09, 5. Connor Murphy (A) 26.36
Diving: Brendan Downey (A) 180.20
100 fly: Matt Bagley (A) 1:00.68, 2. Jordan Polun (H) 1:01.32, 3. Peter Hoyle (H) 1:01.92, 4. Megan Foley (A) 1:05.82, 5. Andrew Swain (H) 1:07.68
100 free: Kyle Emery (A) 52.84, 2. Matt Cashman (H) 55.88, 3. Chance George (H) 56.93, 4. Jake Gothers (H) 58.13, 5. Connor Murphy (A) 58.54
500 free: Riley Strassner (A) 5:02.84, 2. Reid Beukeboom (H) 5:26.54, 3. Nate Bidwell (H) 5:27.32, 4. Sarah Preleski (A) 5:52.43, 5. Andre Courtois (H) 5:54.78
200 free relay: Hall (Jakob Woods Weber, Michael Stambler, Jake Gothers, Peter Hoyle) 1:41.22, Avon (Alec Traktovemko, Emily Foley, Connor Murphy, Stephen Pang) 1:43.92, Hall 1:45.84
100 back: Stephen Pang (A) 1:02.65, 2. Megan Boswell (A) 1:06.45, 3. Jack Hosey (H) 1:07.88, 4. Jennifer Wall (A) 1:09.36, 5. Matt Kloss (H) 1:09.72
100 breast: Andrew Swain (H) 1:10.31, 2. Jakob Woods Weber (H) 1:12.87, 3. Nick Gianoulis (H) 1:13.94, 4. Sam Johnson (A) 1:15.33, 5. Stephanie Rosenthal (A) 1:16.85
400 free relay: Avon (Kyle Emery, Matt Bagley, Stephen Pang, Riley Strassner) 3:31.89, Hall 3:36.16, Hall 3:51.90
Records: Avon 4-2, Hall 4-3 

Avon 93, Granby 77
At Granby
200 medley relay: Avon (Kyle Emery, Sam Johnson, Matthews Bagley, Riley Strassner 1:52.09, Avon, 1:59.50, Granby 2:07,52
200 free: Kyle Emery (A) 1:57.61, Grant Kimble (G) 1:58.02, Matt Bagley (A) 2:07.32
200 IM: Stephen Pang (A) 2:12.94, Sarah Preleski (A) 2:28.72, Jennifer Wall (A) 2:30.88
50 free: Riley Strassner (A) 22.71, Andrew Monckton (G) 26.08, Alex Traktovenko (A) 26.19
Diving: Brendan Downey (A) 182, Emily Farrell (A) 76.3
100 butterfly: Megan Foley (A) 1:06.43, Ryley Higgins (A) 1:12.31, Abigail Phillips (G) 1:14.28
100 free: Stephen Pang (A) 55.72, Kayla Bucci (A) 59.35, Alex Traktovenko (A) 59.88
500 free: Riley Strassner (A) 5:05.21, Grant Kimble (G) 5:22.25, Matt Bagley (A) 5:44.49
200 free relay: Granby 1:50.99, Granby 2:08.14
100 back: Kaylee Jermaine (G) 1:13.34, Rachel LaFlamme (G) 1:21.66, Victoria Myers (G) 1:22.84
100 breast: Abigail Phillips (G) 1:16.53, Celine Latona (G) 1:24.99, Claire Hutchinson (G) 1:29.43
400 free relay: Granby 4:18.43, Granby 5:12.33
Records: Avon 3-2

 

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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