Prep swimmers learn from loss to Greenwich
Fairfield Prep might have been beaten but the Jesuits were by no means broken.
In a mid-season showdown with two-time defending state open champion Greenwich last Saturday, Prep lost 11 of the 12 events on the card but despite the 125-61 loss, head coach Rick Hutchinson took satisfaction that nearly all of his swimmers were close to, or exceeded, personal best times in going head-to-head against the might Cardinals.
"We're a little younger, we might not a lot of the top firepower that they (Greenwich) have," Hutchinson said. "I'm not surprised at some of the outcomes today but I'm thrilled with how we did. Almost universally across the board we swam our best times on the season, some guys swam lifetime bets, so I can't ask much more from my guys and what they gave today."
One of the highlights for Prep was a sweep of the top three places in the 400 meter freestyle with Fox -- who's just a freshman -- winning with a time of 4:30.02 and Christopher Fusco (4:34.70) and Gianni Leito (4:37.19) placing second and third, respectively.
"I think a real standout for us was actually a freshman, Ben Fox won the 400 freestyle, freshman year, first varsity win against Greenwich. That's something probably he'll never forget, so I was really happy with that. I think Guido Balderamma was another standout for us in the 200 IM (individual medley) and the 100 back (backstroke). He didn't place wins (he took second in both races) but had really terrific times and really pushed some of their top guys."
And that's what Greenwich was looking for. To be pushed.
"We wanted to go out and swim well in the key matchups," said Cardinals head coach Terry Lowe, said Lowe, who has led the Cardinals to 44 FCIAC titles, 40 Class LL crowns and 31 State Open championships in his 47 years as coach. "We wanted to go out and win the big races and dominate the relays. We wanted to have some good performances where we knew that there would definitely be some excellent races."
Like in the 100 meter butterfly, a race between Prep's big gun, Bryce Keblish and John Montesi, and the 100 meter breaststroke as Keblish went against Iain Edmundson and the 200 meter freestyle between Greenwich's Ray Warner and Prep's Ben Fox.
And those key races lived up to Lowe's expectations as Montesi (:56.13) edged Keblish (:56.55) in the 100 meter butterfly, Edmundson (1:04.53) pulled away in the last 25 meters to nip Keblish (1:05.96) in the 100 meter breaststroke and Warner (2:05.51) got past Fox (2:06.91) in the 200 meter freestyle.
"They certainly know that Bryce is our top guy and I'm glad they did that, let's put the best against the best and get out and race," Prep coach Rick Hutchinson. "Bryce is a competitor, it's going to inspire him. He'll dig down because he knows he's going to face those guys again."
And while Greenwich continues to swim like a well-oiled veteran, machine, Fairfield Prep is looking to pick up valuable experience as it heads into the second half of the season and both the Class SS and State Open tournaments.
"Right now we have to focus on our league (Southern Connecticut Conference)," Hutchinson said. "We've got some really tough league meets coming up, that's our focus and later we'll start thinking about (Class) LL's. Our league championship is going to set the table for the LL's."
Speaking of LL's, For the past decade, dating back to 2005, it's been either the Greenwich or Prep show as the Cardinals have won nine of the last 10 titles with the Jesuits finishing second each year, except for 2012, when they won the LL crown.
And in the last 10 State Open meets, Prep has finished second to Greenwich four times (finished third three times) and defeated the Cardinals in 2012.
"It's been a great rivalry," said Lowe. "Both teams know how much we help each other out, competition-wise. having two teams really, really battle makes such a difference in performance. It always lifts the performances of both teams."