Grand opening: Ridgefield swims past Greenwich
One meet. That's all it took for the Ridgefield High boys swim team to deliver a statement victory.
Finishing first in 11 of 12 events, the Tigers defeated perennial conference and state kingpin Greenwich, 99-86, in the season opener for both teams Thursday at Greenwich High School.
It was Ridgefield's first win in seven years (and just the third in 29 years) over the Cardinals, who are the five-time reigning FCIAC, Class LL and State Open champs.
"We thought we had a chance, but it's still a great way to start the season," said Ridgefield head coach Emmanuel Lanzo. "Greenwich is not as good as they were last year, and we have a good combination of freshmen and returning swimmers."
Ridgefield opened an early 34-28 lead before Greenwich took 11 of 15 points in the diving competition to go ahead, 39-38. But the Tigers regained the lead for good in the next event, as Luke Hruska (54.55) and Linney O'Malley (55.28) finished first and second, respectively, in the 100-yard butterfly, putting the visitors in front, 48-45.
Although Greenwich closed within one point at 55-54, it wasn't able to overtake the Tigers. Ridgefield eventually widened its lead to nine points before clinching the triumph by placing first and third in the meet-ending 400 freestyle relay.
Senior standouts AJ Bornstein and Kieran Smith combined to win four individual events for the Tigers. Bornstein won the 200 individual medley (1:58.45) and the 100 breaststroke (1:10.11); Smith finished first in the 50 freestyle (21.80) and the 500 freestyle (4:34.71).
Hruska, a sophomore, also contributed a pair of victories for Ridgefield. In addition to his victory in the 100 butterfly, Hruska won the 100 backstroke in a time of 55.85.
Junior Will Bryant added a first-place finish in the 100 freestyle (50.03), and highly regarded freshman Connor Hunt prevailed in the 200 freestyle (1:46.97).
The Tigers also swept all three relay races: Smith, Bornstein, Hruska and Bryant were first in the 200 medley (1:37.97); Hruska, O’Malley, Hunt and Bryant won the 200 freestyle (1:32.31); and Hunt, Gavin Egerton, Smith and O'Malley combined to triumph in the 400 freestyle (3:18.45).
Greenwich's lone victory came from Sergei Shaw, who won the diving competition with 279.80 points.
Notes: Finishing second for Ridgefield were Bryant in the 50 freestyle, O'Malley in the 100 butterfly, Hunt in the 500 freestyle, and Caitlin Inall in the diving. "That was big for us to have Caitlin place second," said Lanzo. "Greenwich always has good divers, so for her to finish second and give us four points was a big help."
Lanzo said that Smith, a captain, delivered an inspirational talk to the rest of the team before the meet. "Kieran had the meet more figured out than anyone," said Lanzo. "His speech helped give the other swimmers confidence."
Following a holiday break, the Tigers resume the season on Jan. 5 against host Danbury at Western Connecticut State University.