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Avon swimmers dominate at Splash Classic with ninth straight championship

Avon won the Splash Classic for the ninth straight season with a dominating performance Saturday.

Avon won the Splash Classic for the ninth straight season with a dominating performance Saturday.

PLAINVILLE, Feb. 27 – Girls on the Avon High boys swimming team got their chance to shine Saturday at the annual Splash Classic swim meet, the unofficial state championship meet for girls that compete during the boys swim season. 

And once again, Avon’s performance was bright. Three Falcon relays set school and meet records as Avon captured the Splash Classic championship for the ninth consecutive year. Avon won seven of the meet’s 12 events as the Falcons nearly doubled the score of second place Northwestern Regional, 366 to 187. Simsbury was third with 153 points. 

“We had some wonderful swims,” Avon High coach Diana Cesaro said. ”Every girl on the team swam fast and it was a great team effort. We had so many personal bests. These girls worked so hard to get here and hopefully, some will swim even faster in the Class M (boys) championship meets.” 

The girls swimming season is during the fall. Girls are allowed to compete on boys swim teams during the winter season and they can swim in the CIAC championship meets. But they must meet boys qualifying times. 

Avon sophomore Sarah Preleski took home four gold medals. She won the 200-yard freestyle by more than 2½ seconds over teammate Annie Hayes, won the 500-yard freestyle by 11 seconds and swam on two winning relay teams – the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay. 

Hayes captured the 100 yard freestyle race while co-captain Ryley Higgins knocked nearly two seconds off her seed time to win the 100-yard backstroke by 0.04 of a second over teammate Megan Boswell. 

Avon High swimmers cheer on the deck during the Splash Classic.

Avon High swimmers cheer on the deck during the Splash Classic.

Avon began the meet with a record-setting performance in the 200-yard medley relay. The team of freshman Megan Boswell, junior Stephanie Rosenthal, junior Megan Foley and freshman Megan Foley won the race in 1:55.95, snapping the school and meet record of 1:58.03 set 10 years ago in 2005 by Caitlin Pulling, Ally O’Connor, Lindsey Stone and current U.S. national team swimmer Madison Kennedy. 

Avon’s B team (Jennifer Wall, Claire Donnelly, Emily Boswell, Lexi Pastizzo) actually finished fifth in the 200 medley relay but only the varsity relay teams could earn points at the meet. 

Avon’s 200 freestyle relay team (Preliski, Bucci, Emily Foley, Hayes) set a new meet and school record in winning the race in 1:45.00. That broke the previous record of 1:45.38 set by Avon’s Cassandra Cesaro, Kelly Higgins, Kelly Culkin and Jillian Strassner in 2009. Avon’s B team (Sarah Osiecki, Higgins, Emily Boswell, Adrienne Nguyen) was third but wasn’t allowed to score. 

The Falcons closed the meet out with a record in the 400 freestyle relay. The team of Preleski, Higgins, Megan Foley and Hayes won the race in 3:47.92, breaking the mark of 3:50.44 set in 2009 by Avon’s Culkin, Tierney Corrigan, Strassner and Cassandra Cesaro. Again, Avon’s B team (Osiecki, Megan Boswell, Bucci, Nguyen) finished third but no points were awarded. 

Avon’s depth was apparent throughout the meet. They were first, second and fourth in the 200 freestyle. In the 200 IM, Avon captured second, third and sixth place. They had four of the top 12 in the 50 free and four of the top nine in the 100 free. Avon had three of the top seven in the 500 freestyle. 

Megan Foley was second for the Falcons in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly while Hayes was second in the 200 free and Rosenthal took second in the 100 breast stroke. 

From left, Avon High coach Diana Cesaro, junior co-captains Megan Foley and Ryley Higgins and assistant coach Sibylle Gunzl.

From left, Avon High coach Diana Cesaro, junior co-captains Megan Foley and Ryley Higgins and assistant coach Sibylle Gunzl.

Northwestern Regional’s Kelly Stotler won two events, taking the 200 IM in meet record time of 2:11.28 and winning the 100 breast stroke. In the 200 IM, Stotler broke the record set by Avon’s Madison Kennedy of 2:12.13 in 2003. 

The girls will continue to train with the boys team, which finished its dual meet season last week. The Falcons were 8-5 before Friday’s season finale at Wethersfield High. The Class M qualifying trials are Saturday, March 14 at Masuk in Monroe. The Class M championship meet is Wednesday, March 18 at Wesleyan in Middletown. 

2015 Splash Classic
At Plainville
Team results – 1. Avon 366, 2. Northwestern Regional 187, 3. Simsbury 153, 4. N.W. Catholic 131, 5. Shepaug 115, 6. Wamogo 72, 7. Granby 61, 8. Litchfield 57, 9. Haddam-Killingworth 47, 10. Bethel 41, 11. Gilbert 38, 12. Woodland 32, 13. Hartford Classical 28, 14. Torrington 21, 15. Farmington 16, 16. Danbury 11, 17. Southington 3

Individual results
200-yard individual medley: 1. Avon (Megan Boswell, Stephanie Rosenthal, Megan Foley, Emily Foley) 1:55.95, new meet record. Old mark set by Avon (Caitlin Pulling, Ally O’Connor, Madison Kennedy, Lindsey Stone) 2005, 1:58.03, 2. NW Catholic 2:02.64, 3. Northwestern Regional 2:04.82, 4. Shepaug 2:05.71, 5. Simsbury (Allison May, Maxine Braun, Annika Hildebrandt, Emily Fritz) 2:07.24, 6. Wamogo 2:08.07

200 free: 1. Sarah Preliski, Avon, 2:00.53, 2. Annie Hayes, Avon, 2:03.95, 3. Haley Pesce, Shepaug, 2:10.12, 4. Kayla Bucci, Avon 2:08.84, 5. Rachel Coady, Haddam-Killingworth 2:08.95, 6. Kaitlyn May, Simsbury, 2:11.46

200 IM: 1. Kiley Stotler, Northwestern, 2:11.28, new meet record. Old record: Madison Kennedy, Avon, 2:12.13, 2003; 2. Megan Foley, Avon, 2:23.82, 3. Megan Boswell, Avon, 2:27.18, 4. Allison Murphy, HK, 2:31.04, 5. Maxine Braun, Simsbury, 2:31.72, 6. Jennifer Wall, Avon, 2:32.86

50 free: 1. Natalie Smith, NW Catholic, 24.82, 2. Laura Kunkel, NW Catholic 25.28, 3. Emily Foley, Avon, 25.69, 4. Adrienne Nguyen, Avon, 26.65, 5. Nicole Kowalski, Simsbury, 27.10, 6. Lilly Vincens, NW Catholic 27.44

Diving (1 meter): 1. Katja Zoner, Farmington 210.90, 2. Lauren Parente, Northwestern, 287.25, 3. Jamie Little, HK, 270.60, 4. Keisha Kittle, Torrington, 264.70, 5. Emily Manchester, Torrington, 261.25, 6. Sophie Bjornson, Bethel, 249.0

100 butterfly: 1. Natalie Smith, NW Catholic 1:01.44, 2. Megan Foley, Avon, 1:02.67, 3. Ryley Higgins, Avon, 1:08.00, 4. Emily Fritz, Simsbury, 1:11.43, 5. Ashley Peck, Hartford Classical 1:13.31, 6. Elena Davis, Northwestern 1:14.75

100 free: 1. Anne Hayes, Avon, 56.55, 2. Michaela O’Malley, Shepaug, 56.86, 3. Emily Foley, Avon, 57.89, 4. Rachael Pulica, Northwestern 58.65, 5. Adrienne Nguyen, Avon, 59.11, 6. Nicole Kowalski, Simsbury, 59.65

500 free: 1. Sarah Preleski, Avon, 5:30.15, 2. Laura Kunkel, NW Catholic 5:41.40, 3. Haley Pesce, Shepaug, 5:43.38, 4. Emily Boswell, Avon, 5:45.95, 5. Rachel Coady, HK 5:46.57, 6. Julie Hinckley, Woodland, 5:51.18

200 free relay: 1. Avon (Sarah Preleski, Kayla Bucci, Emily Foley, Annie Hayes) 1:45.00, new meet record. Old record, Avon (Cassandra Cesaro, Kelly Higgins, Kelly Culkin, Jillian Strassner) 2009, 1:45.38, 2. NW Catholic 1:45.79, 3. Simsbury (Emily Fritz, Annika Hildebrandt, Kaitlyn May, Nicole Kowalski) 1:52.70, 4. Wamogo 1:53.35, 5. Litchfield 1:57.71, 6. Northwestern 1:58.97.

100 back: 1. Ryley Higgins, Avon, 1:05.17, 2. Megan Boswell, Avon, 1:05.21, 3. Tiffany D’Andrea, Litchfield 1:05.89, 4. Emily Boswell, Avon, 1:06.27, 5. Micaela O’Malley, Shepaug 1:06.51, 6. Rachael Pulica, Northwestern, 1:07.09

100 breast stroke: 1. Kiley Stotler, Northwestern, 1:08.98, 2. Stephanie Rosenthal, Avon, 1:15.06, 3. Abby Phillips, Granby, 1:15.58, 4. Charlotte Miller, Wamogo, 1:15.69, 5. Maxine Braun, Simsbury 1:16.58, 6. Amber Wright, Shepaug 1:16.98

400 free relay: 1. Avon (Sarah Preleski, Ryley Higgins, Megan Foley, Annie Hayes) 3:47.92, new meet record. Old record Avon (Kelly Culkin, Tierney Corrigan, Jillian Strassner, Cassandra Cesaro) 3:50.44, 2009; 2. Northwestern 3:58.93, 3. Simsbury (Allison May, Kaitlyn May, Maxine Braun, Nicole Kowalski) 4:04.34, 4. Shepaug 4:09.33, 5. Granby (Kaylee Jerman, Celine LaTona, Taylor Schwalm, Abby Phillips) 4:31.99, 6. Gilbert 4:33.52

15 Splash Classic

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.

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