West Hartford’s Conard and Hall boys swim and dive teams competed Wednesday night at Cornerstone Aquatics Center.
By Paul Palmer. Photos by Paul Palmer and Craig Rosenberg
For the seniors from the Hall and Conard boys swim and dive teams that were honored Wednesday night, it has been a long strange trip.
As freshmen and sophomores, COVID eliminated parts of their regular and post seasons. For two years they were able to return to the pool under more normal conditions to try and finish their careers.
“They had a tough time with COVID,” said longtime Hall head coach John McClure. “They have done very well. “
Conard coach Jen Pollard echoed those sentiments, calling her seniors the leaders of a “unique, hardworking team that is gritty.” She added that “they always have the attitude of ‘you can’t beat me.’”
In this year’s regular season finale, the Titans led from the opening event and proved too deep for the smaller squad from Conard. Hall’s opening relay of Carson Raisner, Cyrus Xu, Carter Morton, and Jack O’Neil won the 200-yard Medley Relay by nearly four and a half seconds. The Red Wolves’ “A” and “B” relays rounded out the point scoring with second and third place finishes.
The next two events finished in the same order with Hall winning and Conard swimmers taking second and third. In the 200-yard Individual Medley, Xu took first place in a time of 2:06:04 with Nick Hall and Andrew Phan of Conard finishing 2-3, and Conard’s Andy Filotto fourth.
Heading into the fourth event of the night – the 50-yard freestyle – the score was tied at 23. But O’Neil won the event in 23.43 seconds, followed by Morton. Conard’s Alex Petit was third, and Hall’s Quinn O’Neill was fourth. That finish gave Hall a 35-27 lead heading into diving, where Hall senior Jonah Genser turned in another strong performance off the board to outduel Conard’s James Auciello by 107 points. Ben Hughes of Hall was third.
Raisner would get the first of his two individual wins in the 100-yard Butterfly, before coming back four events later to take the 100-yard Back. The wins cemented a strong career for the University of Delaware commit and earned him high praise from his coach. “He has six school records on the board,” said McClure of his senior. “Four individual and two relays and he is probably the best kid to ever swim for Hall.”
Hall teammate Xu would pick up his second individual win in the 500 Freestyle winning in a time of 5:03:17. Their teammate Morton would take honors in the 100-yard Freestyle, followed by Conard’s Petit.
Hall finishes its season as the co-champion of the CCC West with Southington.
Both teams will next take part in the CCC Championship, before their qualified swimmers head to states. The Red Wolves already have 10 swimmers who have qualifying times for states and Hall has a strong group as well.
McClure is enjoying the ride this season, but he is not sure what lies ahead. “They have been a good group, but we only have 10 swimmers coming back next season.”
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